The ONLY active voice for American Arab Journalists.

Friday, July 20, 2012

White Terrorist James Holmes -- what, no demonization of "his" people?

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You can bet your last Falafel that if James Holmes were Abdullah Arak, or some Middle Easterner, the United States would be on the brink of racist chaos and the media would be stoke the flames of hatred using its worthless newsprint.

But James Holmes, 24, is a White Man who walked into a movie theater featuring one of the most recent violent movies to hit the big screen, and he was carrying a rifle, a shotgun and two handguns, along with a few other incendiary devices. He was wearing a mask and bullet-proof vest.

Yes, a White dud in a bullet proof vest with his arms full of weapons won't raise an eyebrow or cause anyone to wonder or ask, "What is that guy up to?"

But put a Black kid in a hoodie and a neighborhood watch activist with a jittery gun can shoot him dead. And it will take a month before anyone figures that maybe, just maybe, George Zimmerman should be arrested and the crime properly and fully investigated.

Welcome to America, the land of the free ability to stereotype and pre-judge people based on their skin color, the exotic clothing they might wear and their religious beliefs.

The murder of 12 innocent movie-goers and the wounding of 72 others is a horrendous tragedy. But it is also a tragedy that it occurred in the middle of a national debate about how a crazy Tea Party Congressman, Michele Bachmann, can denounce a woman who is a top aide to Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton because of that aide's religion. The controversy surrounding Huma Abedin was knocked right out of the headlines by James Holmes, a person who surely will be labeled a "lone gunman," an adjective phrase used mainly to describe non-Arabs who commit horrific acts of violence.

It's not the worst act of mass murder in America. That was and is Sept. 11, 2001 and the killing of nearly 3,000 people that day by 19 religious extremists with a political agenda who happen to be Muslim. But the massacre at the Aurora, Colorado theater sure comes close to being one of the worst individual acts of killing we've seen in a long time.

There will be the obligatory flame war of words over gun control. And some will talk about the need to increase security. But no one will say that people of Holmes' age -- he was only 24 -- should be rounded up and profiled in order to prevent this kind of mass murder from happening again. They won't call for White males who might be collecting guns and other weapons to be rounded up and investigated and monitored. Although, maybe they should!

Holmes was a brilliant student, his friends testified to frenzied reporters who converged on the town just outside of Denver. Imagine saying that Mohammed Ata, the lead hijacker int he Sept. 11, 2001 was a brilliant man. Watch out!

Arab terrorist can never be described in any positive way. But White murderers can be excused because, well, they acted alone. Alone in the physical context. But what about the crowded world of hysteria that dominates our political environment, where hate passes off for debate and stereotyping is considered evidence?

Don't hold your breath for a badly needed public discussion on this topic.

-- Ray Hanania

Monday, July 09, 2012

Why mainstream news media keeps American Arabs out of the system

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Tragically, most American Arab journalists are so under siege or have been intimidated and bullied because of their Arab heritage that they are gun shy about  defending the idea of increasing American Arab presence in the mainstream American media.

We know that many American Arabs are excluded from mainstream American media jobs. But when they are, they are targeted and even bullied to discourage them from addressing issues related to being Arab or the Middle East.

Every other ethnic and racial group is encouraged to address and cover their own heritage on the premise that ethnic and racial minorities in journalism can bring an experience that mainstream journalists do not have and therefore offer insight into issues involving race and ethnicity.

But that's only for the "accepted" minorities in mainstream journalism, which are African American, Hispanic, Asian and Native American, the four core members of UNITY: Journalists of Color. Although the Black journalists have broken from UNITY, it is over power and funding, not representation or diversity among the minority institutions.

The truth is, minority groups that have power do everything they can to prevent other minority groups from sharing that power. There are only a limited number of seats set aside for minority groups and those minority groups at the "table" do more to prevent other minority groups from sharing in their seats than they do advocating for more minority voices.

That's why the National American Arab Journalists Association is so important to American Arab journalists. Because no other minority group is so ostracized from the mainstream news media than American Arabs. They are the number one targeted ethnic group when it comes to news media discrimination, bias and exclusion.

The mainstream news media is biased against minorities. It is a White-driven institution. The media has its hands full dealing with minority groups that are already around the table, like Blacks, Hispanics, Asians and Native Americans. It's their token way of saying. "Hey, we are addressing the issue of diversity."

But their "diversity" practices are limited diversity. Diversity is narrowly defined to keep unwanted minority groups out, like American Arabs.

Why? They know that being at the media table gives minorities a voice and a say in how the mainstream news media covers major stories.

For example, if American Arabs have a seat at the table -- and they were not intentionally excluded by UNITY and the mainstream news media -- the news media would be going crazy with coverage of the story of the death of two-time Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Anthony Shadid. Shadid died on Feb. 16, 2012, everyone was told, because he had an asthma attack while secretly entering Syria to cover the conflict there. But, it turns out, the New York Times where he worked, did a poor job of preparing his entrance into Syria, where Shadid was a wanted man. Before he died, Shadid told his wife that if he died, she should blame the New York Times. (Click to read more. Click to hear radio podcast on topic.)

Here's an example of how being a part of the media can influence the media and why the mainstream media takes this entire issue so seriously, not from the standpoint of doing something about it but from the standpoint of their energetic refusal to keep American Arabs out of news media ranks.

Politico was forced to hire an African American, Joe Williams, two years ago to respond to charges that Politico lacked diversity. But recently, when Joe Williams made some critical comments of Mitt Romney, he was fired. The National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) which was a part of UNITY and has backed policies excluding American Arabs from joining UNITY as equal partners, attacked Politico and questioned their journalism ethics. Politico is in a dilemma today. (Click to read the story.)

Apparently, diversity is only important in the news media when it involves Blacks, Hispanics, Asians and Native Americans. 

That's why American Arabs need a professional journalism organization like NAAJA. NAAJA can be their voice to put a spotlight on the absence of diversity in the news media. NAAJA can be the platform from which demands to investigate the circumstances of Anthony Shadid's death can be made. NAAJA is the empowerment of American Arabs.

That's why the Society of Professional Journalists worked so hard to eliminate the voices of American Arabs in their ranks. They didn't want American Arabs to have a voice. Their leadership, which consisted of anti-Arab haters and biased, compromised presidents with self-serving political agendas, worked hard to destroy the American Arab presence at the SPJ a few years back.

American Arabs can't rely on UNITY or SPJ to defend our rights or fight for justice. We have to do it ourselves.

-- Ray Hanania

Tuesday, July 03, 2012

Controversy over Anthony Shadid's death

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Anthony Shadid's cousin Edward. a doctor from Oklahoma, where Shadid was from, was speaking at the ADC Convention dinner June 24 when he revealed some inside information about Anthony Shadid's death that the New York Times has been keeping secret and hoping no one would explore.

Shadid, a brilliant journalist and two-time Pulitzer Prize winner (and good friend and supporter of American Arab journalism) died Feb. 16, 2012 while crossing into Syria through some rugged mountains. Apparently, Syria had Shadid listed as a Wanted Person in newspapers and on TV there, according to the cousin.

But what is amazing, is that story that Edward Shadid told at the convention got so little traction, making many American Arabs wonder about how serious the ineffectiveness factor is in our community. ADC Legal Director Abed Ayoub protested to the New York Times after Edward Shadid's remarks, but the New York Times just brushed that protest aside.

Nothing in the community whatsoever. Word was distributed by one of the extremists who insinuate themselves among the many American Arabs who attend and who are concerned about the challenges we face in this country but that apparently no organization, from ADC to AAI to long lost groups like the AAUG, NAAA and others, have and continued to fail to overcome.

In it, Edward Shadid claimed that Anthony Shadid called his wife, Nada Bakri, and said after a heated fight with his editors about going into Syria, "I want the world to know that the New York Times Killed me."

Anthony Shadid's widow, Nada Bakri, released this Tweet days later after the cousin's speech aroused some concern. She's an employee of the New York Times, too.

#AnthonyShadid "I do not approve of and will not be a part of any public discussion of Anthony's passing. It does nothing but sadden Anthony's children to have to endure repeated public discussion of the circumstances of their father's death."   (Click here for link)

So here is the video from the ADC convention. Start watching at 5 minutes into it. 

You decide. But it seems the New York Times newspaper which spends so much time, resources and money to expose every scandal and accusation made about everyone else in this world, should address this in more than just a paragraph press release issued by a flak from their PR department. 

Pathetic both for the American Arab community reflecting how ineffective and worthless their leaders really are, and the mainstream American news media in this country that is so biased, worse than the corruption politicians, mobsters and street gang members, too.

Ray Hanania
trending #JournalismDemise