Rev Curtiss Deyoung outside site of mosque explosion pic.twitter.com/ShNwIFRF5P
— Peter Cox (@peterncox) August 5, 2017
As news of an apparent firebombing at a mosque in Minnesota filters out into the ether, press coverage has largely treated the turn of events as some sort of fiery explosion ex nihilo.
That is to say, many headlines so far have framed the bombing as a “blast” or “explosion” without a cause or preceding action–even though one of the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Taskforces is currently investigating what happened this morning in Bloomington.
Authorities themselves are hesitant to characterize the firebombing as a hate crime. The Bloomington Police Department and FBI have both said it is “too early” to do so. It’s certainly bit too early for official hate crimes charges to brought against a person who is yet to be apprehended under either Minnesota or federal law. But this pedantic clarification misses the point entirely.
Such reticence to call a spade a spade is typical of crimes targeting Muslims in the West.
Muslims are the group most targeted by terrorist attacks worldwide. The press frequently over-reports attacks committed by Muslims while underplaying attacks directed against them. An eight-year-long media study conclusively showed that press coverage overwhelmingly focuses on fringe Islamic groups while mostly ignoring average Muslims.
The question essentially boils down to: Why does most of the media act like most of the media?
The answer: most journalists operate within an elite bubble where their own Islamophobia is never discussed or even acknowledged. (Think about the upper class white liberals in “Get Out“.) Heavily influenced by DC-LA-NY groupthink, Islam is mostly a story when it’s violent and the average journalist has as much ability to discern shades of nuance as their own lavishly-cared-for and colorblind fur babies.
Additionally–and in no small part–there are the still-rippling effects of messages and actions by successive administrations and the permanent U.S. government over the past decade and lustrum; America has bombed at least seven Muslim-majority countries in the aftermath of 9/11. George W. Bush attacked a lot. Barack H. Obama attacked even more. When the nation’s two putatively-opposite political parties and their apparatchiks in media consistently join hands to treat Muslim lives as disposable, the moral rot tends to consume even the lowly and lowest-tier liberal journalist.
But while the state and media who toe the line are slow to categorize attacks against Muslims as terrorism, people in the communities affected by the violence are speaking out.
Rev. Curtiss DeYoung, CEO of the Minnesota Council of Churches, spoke to a crowd assembled outside of the mosque just this morning. He said:
“An attack on a mosque is an attack on a synagogue, is an attack on a church, it’s an attack on all faith communities. And so we stand with you–a million Protestants in Minnesota.”
Imraan Siddiqi, executive director of CAIR-Arizona, fumed about the way the explosion has been framed by the media so far. He tweeted: ‘Blast (EDIT: You mean “terror attack”)’.
Blast (EDIT: You mean “terror attack”) investigated at Bloomington (MN) Islamic Center https://t.co/Jcl30Gg4Sg
— Imraan Siddiqi (@imraansiddiqi) August 5, 2017
Sidiqqi’s criticism is nowhere near off-base.
[image via FBI; video courtesy Dar Al Farooq Islamic Center/Twitter]
Editor’s note: A prior version of this article identified Mr. Sidiqqi as an actor. That oversight has since been corrected.
This is an opinion piece. The views expressed in this article are those of just the author.