By Hani Hamdan, Engage Minnesota
Media is now more about manipulation than ever before.
The buzz these days is about fake news and how it apparently had a role in the election of Donald Trump. I worry, however, that a portrayal of fake news as being somehow proprietary to conservative websites is misleading, if not disingenuous.
Minorities, including Muslims, have been subjected to a barrage of hair-raising news warning that white people are basically out to get them. Every single incident involving racist remarks, letters, attacks, graffiti, salutes, conferences, flags, posters, or associations is amplified to the tenth degree by people who cannot care less about minorities.
I say they do not care because if they did, they would have drawn their readers’ attention to the hundreds of Muslim civilians killed by US drones overseas, or to the NDA act that president Obama wanted to pass, or to CVE programs, or to the terror watch list, all of which impacted many, many more Muslims than a few isolated incidents of bigotry during the elections. They did not give nearly the same coverage to any of these inflictions that have become reality on the hands of a Democratic president than they do for Trump’s professed plan to create a Muslim registry that is yet to be implemented.
Similarly, if they cared about Mexican immigrants, they would have given the same amount of coverage to Obama’s deportation of millions of Mexicans compared to their incessant alarmist trumpeting of everything Trump uttered regarding Mexican immigrants, of whom he’s yet to deport any.
Minorities, including Muslims, need to realize that they too are being duped by sensationalist media. The same machine that scares Americans of all Muslims wants to scare Muslims of all white people. This is not done in the name of tolerance or civil rights, but in the context of two sparring factions, each using basic human emotions as cannon fodder for its own interests. We should think twice before allowing ourselves to become such fodder.
Fake news is more than news that is factually false. News that effects a false representation of society by exaggerating rare hostilities should be treated as “fake”. If you are experiencing fear or anxiety that seems incongruent given your pleasant daily interactions with people, you should become highly suspicious of your news. Likewise, news that is accurate but serves to distract from more worthy events should be treated as fake. Media manipulation comes in many flavors, and in our age, there is no excuse for not being expert scrutinizers.
It is all too easy for people to build their perception of reality on social media feeds than on real life. Looking back at all the years in which I’ve been a keen follower of news, I’m unable to see how the emotional load that I carried from my daily news readings helped me attain any good or avoid any harm. In the end, my life would have been largely the same whether I had followed such news or not. All I got out of it was stress, and now that Trump has been elected, my Facebook news feed is sure to give anyone PTSD.
I’ve declared to myself that I’ve had enough, and I hope you all consider declaring the same.
Hani Hamdan lives in Burnsville and practices dentistry in Lakeville, Minn. He is a contributor and editor of Engagemn.com and a source in MPR’s Public Insight Network.
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