In the latest installment of Racist Theater, Rush Limbaugh (pictured) has a bone to pick with the coverage of captured Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhakar Tsarnaev. Rush takes issue with the way in which the media — excuse me, the “liberal media” — has shown images of Tsarnaev when he was as young as 14 years old. According to the conservative radio host, such depictions are intended to make him appear as a “normal” or a “mixed-up” kid to the public, instead of an accused terrorist and killer.
Rush lamented, “They’re regularly showing a photo of Dzhokhar that was taken when he was about 14. Soft, angelic, nice little boy. Harmless. Cute. Big, loveable eyes.” As Limbaugh points out, this is “not at all what he looks like today.” The same goes for Osama bin Laden, when he is shown “in his shepherd pose with his walking stick, walking through the mountains or whatever,” he added.
Of course, there’s a catch and his stupidity is two-fold.
What does an unarmed teenager who was shot and killed by a vigilante with reported issues of racism between both he and other members of his family have to do with a man accusing of murdering three people and injuring 264 others — then allegedly itching to party afterward?
Your guess is as good as mine.
Do I even need to address how utterly sophomoric it is to insinuate that the big bad “liberal media” is sympathetic to terrorists? Just in case: That’s dense as hell, and for the record, there’s only so much “liberal bias” you can get from a conglomerate.
As irony would have it, Racist Rush went on to cry out, “Why do we do this? Why do we take what we know is truth and reality and try to hide from it?”
Apparently, because it’s quite the profitable profession.
That said, while Rush Limbaugh has just certainly upped his tally on the B.S. barometer with this latest ill-conceived comparison, there is something to be said about the way in which the media has categorized Tsarnaev. I, for one, do think the cartoonish way we depict people under the categories of “good” and “evil” do need a bit of nuance, particularly if we are to go about being better about evaluating the people around us and their intentions (when given reason for caution, of course).
However, the mainstream media probably wouldn’t have gone out of its way to humanize these terrorist suspects if they were a wee bit darker. Still, despite them showing Tsarnaev as a baby-faced teenager in the press, right-wingers have quickly gone out of their way to further foreignize the suspects to push their own agendas.
Kendzior wrote of much of the coverage:
Knowing nothing of the Tsarnaevs’ motives, and little about Chechens, the American media tore in to Wikipedia and came back with stereotypes. The Tsarnaevs were stripped of their 21st century American life and became symbols of a distant land, forever frozen in time. Journalist Eliza Shapiro proclaimed that Tamerlan Tsarnaev was “named after a brutal warlord,” despite the fact that Tamerlan, or Timur, is an ordinary first name in the Caucasus and Central Asia.
Her claim is equivalent to saying a child named Nicholas must be named in honour of ruthless Russian tsar Nicholas I — an irony apparently lost on New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof, who made a similar denouncement on Twitter (to his credit, Kristof quickly retracted the comment).
Kendzior’s scathing but justified criticism goes on, but it all essentially boils down to her issues with members of the press not bothering to know about the subjects they’re covering.
All they got was an ethnic name — and zoom — the rush to play in to whatever stereotypes springs forth. When one doesn’t make the effort to actually know what they’re talking about — particularly when it involves communities they exist outside of — what you end up getting is a cartoonish account of something that only further perpetuates a bunch of falsehoods. To the delight of bigots, no less.
Now if there’s anyone who knows a thing or 12 about that, it’s truth-soiler Rush Limbaugh.
- ^Rush lamented (www.mediaite.com)
- ^Alphonza Bryant: Bronx Teen Shot, Killed While Hanging With Friends (newsone.com)
- ^reported issues of racism (www.huffingtonpost.com)
- ^other members of his family (www.alternet.org)
- ^264 (www.guardian.co.uk)
- ^allegedly itching to party afterward (www.esquire.com)
- ^that’s a thing (americablog.com)
- ^with in an op-ed for Al Jazeera (www.aljazeera.com)
- ^proclaimed (www.thedailybeast.com)
- ^similar denouncement (twitter.com)
- ^retracted (twitter.com)
- ^Chechnya And The Tsarnaev Brothers: An Unfair Connection (newsone.com)
- ^The Cynical Ones (thecynicalones.com)
- ^@youngsinick (twitter.com)