Chapel Hill shootings: Ungrievable deaths: The double standards of US media

The author of the article, Bradley Williams

The United States is no stranger to lone-gunman shooting massacres. Happening once every two weeks, they rarely make headlines. The US media confronts them as if inclement weather or major traffic jams. Certain massacres do catch the American attention span for a moment, primarily the gorier of school shootings and bizarre stories, such as the Colorado movie-theatre massacre at the premier of the film Batman in 2011. The carnage occurs at the hands of primarily white, always heterosexual males. Yet, their acts of mass murder are never classified as “terrorism”.

The murder of three Muslim Americans in the state of North Carolina has barely made traction in the mainstream US media. The story is absent from the main pages of the major US media: the New York Times, CNN, MSNBC. The only broadcast medium to carry this story is the religious right-wing mouthpiece, Fox News, never shy about their Islamophobia. In the lower right hand corner of the page reads: “Was ‘hate’ (sic) a motive in the shooting deaths of Muslim students?” The hashtag #Muslimlivesmatter and #callitterrorism is trending on Facebook and Twitter. Al Jazeera and BBC Arabic are covering this story in their main headlines. Where has it gone in the US?

The US media does not know how to frame acts of racist violence against blacks and Muslims in the US. Blacks and Muslims are in the headlines only when they are perpetrators of violence, not victims. As philosopher Judith Butler put it, media “framing” determines whose deaths are “grievable” and whose are not…

A particular stupid piece: I checked NYT last night and left the following comment (Disqus commenting):

“The New York Times has 27 articles on the subject as of Monday, 9:30 PM EST. Ignored? You’re full of it.”