Fake News?


By:  Masood Malikyar

How would you react if someone made the following 4 statements:

1) Sherry is blond. Sherry is a murderer. Therefore, all women with blond hair are murderers.  Or, all murderers are blond. 

2) Chen is a Buddhist.  Chen is a trained killer.  Therefore, all Buddhists are trained killers. Or, all trained killers are Buddhists.

3) Paul is an Irish Christian.  Paul is a terrorist.  Therefore, all terrorists are Irish Christians.  Or, all Christians are terrorists (substitute your own creed)…

4) Karim shouted Allah-o-Akbar which leads to the conclusion he is a Muslim.  Karim stabbed 7 people.  Therefore, all terrorists are Muslims.  Or, all Muslims are terrorists.  Or, anyone shouting Allah-o-Akbar is a terrorist.  Or, everyone named Karim is a terrorist. Or, any variation associating two premises without proper rational justification.

The above premises and resulting conclusions are categorized by logicians into a category of fallacies called Associations Fallacy.  It has a simple formula:
Premise A is a B.
Premise A is also a C.
Conclusion: therefore, all Bs are Cs or all Cs are Bs.

Here is a graphical depiction of this type of fallacy:


It is very unfortunate that almost monthly as of late we hear of some egregious act of terror occurring within the European continent in the name of Islam.  It is even more unfortunate that these events receive continuous coverage in the Western media ad nauseaum, fueling further discord, tension, hatred, and fear.

The fact remains, that during any one period of time, Muslims are, in much larger numbers and more frequently, subjected to terrorism all over the world – especially in hotspots such as Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria. However, these incidents never receive a fraction of the treatment or coverage by the same media, as if those victims are somehow sub human or not deserving of similar compassion.

I am not arguing for long coverage of any act of terror.  In fact, I would argue for the opposite: bare minimum coverage.  Otherwise, it becomes what is aptly called Argumentum in Terrorem or Appeal to Fear which will only promote fear, hatred, and tension.  In other words, it terrorizes masses and enables terrorists to achieve their target of making people afraid.

I am simply positing that every life should be valued and held just as sacred as any other.

Many are searching for an urgent panacea to all manifestations of terror in the name of Islam.  Talking heads on 24/7 cable news channels offer solutions ranging from snake oil to internments.

However, if you think about it rationally, there is only one solution that will ultimately work.

Fight the hateful ideology of terror with compassion and justice while respecting all lives regardless of race, color, creed, or nationality.

Next time, compare how the media covers acts of terror in different parts of the world.  You will notice how torn and bloody body parts are flashed across the screen over and over in a way that is desensitizing. Such victims and their families are shown in a different light – if shown in the first place.  Their life stories are skipped wholesale. 

On the other hand, you will right away notice the bias towards other victims as their life stories are told in positive detail and as their photos are shown from happier times.  Your feelings of sorrow and empathy are naturally provoked for one set of victims and not for the other.  Why should you bother giving a second thought to nameless and faceless victims?

When one lost life is met with sadness and another with indifference, then we have truly failed each other as human beings.  These lives should all be met with the same sense of tragedy because every single one of these lives is important, regardless of their appearances or beliefs.  We are all the same.  The only reason God made us of different communities is to promote diversity.  Here is what Quran says:

وَلَوْ شَاء رَبُّكَ لَجَعَلَ النَّاسَ أُمَّةً وَاحِدَةً وَلاَ يَزَالُونَ مُخْتَلِفِينَ

And had thy Sustainer so willed, He could surely have made all mankind one single community: but [He willed it otherwise, and so] they continue to hold divergent views – 11:118 (Asad)

Next time you watch coverage of an act of terror, you will notice the media does treat victims of terror very differently and very deliberately.  But that is only a small part of the story….a much smaller part.  The larger part stems from the biases of the politicians in power towards one group of people vs. another.  Some lives are clearly valued more than others.

Unchecked, these biases by media and politicians collude efficaciously to recruit future terrorists.  And the cycle will continue for a long time to come…  What can you do?  Call your representatives and voice your opinion on various foreign and domestic policies.  Vote for people that are honest, that are not war-mongering, fear-mongering alarmists. Write to the media and share your opinions on social media platforms.  Influence your circle of friends and family. Be active in your communities, but more than that, be aware and informed.  I would implore you to be conscious of the information you consume and to seek out the truth in what is occurring around you.  Unfortunately, misinformation seems more easily accessible these days than truth. 

It is no wonder then that the media is increasingly known nowadays as fake news!

Published in: on June 6, 2017 at 12:18 am  Leave a Comment  
%d bloggers like this: