In the post-9/11 climate, the American people are bombarded with emotive images and language in the media to the point of reaching simply untrue conclusions about members of the Muslim world creating questions of an ethical bias in the United States media mainstream. This ethical assault on the emotions of the American people and the ensuing indoctrination of hatred toward people in the Middle East and Muslims living in the United States is an achievement that benefits politicians by instilling the emotions of fear and hate.
The images that are depicted selectively, although in no way thoroughly, as they relate to the so-called War on Terror show events that create fear that a trend may be occurring, when in fact, the images depict isolated incidents that cannot be tied into one specific trend. As well, the wording that is used in various media outlets, namely the word “terror” and “terrorist” instills fear and brings about emotions to American viewers that are vulnerable to what they see and hear.
As well, much of what is missing from the media in terms of the lives of average Muslim people only serves to further the bias that all Muslims must be terrorists, because when Muslims are depicted in the news, it is for violent acts. This, of course, is an emotive fallacy. This type of emotional appeal to fear has been studied by numerous academics and point to a propaganda model of what is presented to the people. “Propaganda does try to sway a mass audience to accept a conclusion based on premises that are popularly and widely accepted, and it does typically work by exciting the emotions and enthusiasms of the crowd” (Walton, 102).
Certainly then, when emotions and enthusiasms are utilized by the media in portraying countries and peoples in a negative light and as enemies of the United States, this enthusiasm of an America united against a common enemy seems to serve just as well as demonizing these declared enemies. However, when the term “War on Terror” is used this is so unspecific that it also hinders reasoning by connecting people that belong to the Muslim religion in one group, instead of accurately portraying the members of the Muslim community as mostly peaceful with only a fringe element in question.
The intended effect of this by unscrupulous politicians is to instill so much fear and hate as to replace compassion for the majority of Muslims in places like Iraq and Afghanistan. Another part of the propaganda model is to make sure that a country or a group of people are depicted as immoral and for this idea to be widely accepted. “Constant reference to a ‘war on terror’ did accomplish one major objective: It stimulated the emergence of a culture of fear. Fear obscures reason, intensifies emotions and makes it easier for demagogic politicians to mobilize the public” (Glassner, xii).
So it seems that the reaction of the majority of people on America was to be initially immobilized by fear after 9/11 and they then were easily manipulated into mobilizing for politicians with an agenda. It becomes apparent that real and present dangers and social problems are deemed not interesting enough to make it to mainstream media, so instead the heroic stories of soldiers along with the horrific and largely isolated attacks by Muslim extremists are shown.
It has also been argued that the presence of political analysts and other experts in a field are used to inform the people of the real dangers in the world, when in fact, it appears that these experts are chosen selectively and politically in order to boost television ratings. It also appears that television is a much more dangerous mode for the American citizen due to the very few sources of ownership in the media. This media monopoly, therefore, virtually suppresses the balanced voices of Americans who realize that the media serves as a weapon of propaganda.
Again television news is the most troublesome. “Studies conducted… have shown that people who are heavy television viewers, including viewers of television news shows, believe their communities are much more dangerous than do light television viewers” (Postman& Powers, 23). Certainly then, the media does instill fear as research has shown and it is the most dangerous of people that are portrayed, because this is more entertaining than showing Muslims living in peace or wanting peace.
The news then, does not educate people by using logical means, what is used is an appeal to emotion. This appeal to emotion equals viewers resulting to the emotive fallacy of coming to the conclusion that Muslims and countries with the majority of it’s peoples as Muslims are inherently dangerous. Of course, there is nothing ethical about this presentation not on the part of media conglomerates or the politicians, who use propaganda as a tool to serve themselves politically.
The fear now is that this “War on Terror” will never cease due to the media spin on the dangers of terrorism and the ensuing jump to the illogical conclusions that this group and these peoples are dangerous. In conclusion, the emotive fallacy of coming to a popularly held belief that is held by the American people that Muslims and Muslim countries are dangerous is perpetuated by the media. Research has indicated that this is nothing less than propaganda and an unethical disinformation campaign. As well, other research has pointed out that television viewers are more likely to fall into this illogical thinking.
Then if it is not fear that creates tensions and hatred toward this group it is the mobilization of citizens under a common goal, to defeat a declared enemy in a most-confusing war. References Glassner, Barry. (1999). The Culture of Fear: Why Americans are Scared of the Wrong Things. New York, NY: Basic Books. Postman, Neil & Powers, Steve. (1992). How to Watch TV News. New York, NY: Penguin Books Walton, Douglas. (2007). Media Argumentation: Dialectic, Persuasion, and Rhetoric. Cambridge, MA: Cambridge University P