One of history's most deceptive, barbaric, and inhumane dictators once said, "Make the lie big, make it simple, keep saying it, and eventually they will believe it."
While Fox News has apologized for their "no-go zones" claim, the after-effects of their repeated lie are far from over. Lies have consequences that aren't remedied by a simple apology.
Not long ago, mosque arsonist Randolph Linn told an Ohio judge, "[I don't know any Muslims] I only know what I hear on Fox News... Muslims are killing Americans and trying to blow stuff up. Most Muslims are terrorists and don't believe in Jesus Christ."
As Daily Beast journalist Dean Obeidallah points out, less than 2 percent of terrorist attacks in Europe were committed by Muslims in the past five years. And in America, the FBI reports that Muslims account for only 6 percent of all acts of terrorism in the past 25 years.
But unfortunately Linn isn't the exception to the growing campaign of anti-Muslim sentiment. In fact, studies demonstrate people who watch no news are more informed than people who watch Fox News.
Fox anchors and all media who perpetuate the "no-go zone" myth, among the greater myth that Islam is an extremist faith, only add to the increasing anti-Muslim violence witnessed in the Western world. When it comes to Islam, media is all too often intoxicated by its own ignorance and propagation of falsehood. Too many in media refuse to engage in honest dialogue about the root causes of extremism and instead write ignorant narratives blaming all Islam and Muslims. Such falsehood has deep ramifications that a simple apology cannot resolve.
For example, France recorded 133 anti-Muslim events in all of 2014. This month alone at least 128 anti-Muslim incidents have occurred in France. These incidents include public threats, arson, use of fire arms, and cold-blooded murder.It is no wonder that a 2011 study by the nonpartisan Public Religion Research Institute discovered that:
83 percent of Americans say people who commit violence and claim to be Christians are not really Christian, while less than half of Americans - 48 percent - think that self-proclaimed Muslims who commit violence in the name of Islam aren't truly Muslims.
This is true at the highest levels of government. For example, George Bush acknowledged his Christian faith drove him to wage the (illegal) war in Iraq that has caused up to 1 million deaths of innocent lives. Dick Cheney boasts about torturing prisoners of war -- a barbaric position the majority of Christians in America support. Tony Blair was motivated by his Christian faith to wage war.
But when was the last time you heard media blame all Christians or Christianity in general for such violent and intolerant positions? Nor should they, but they should drop the double standard with Muslims.
This doesn't absolve extremist clerics in the Muslim world, nor does it mean only western imperialism is the issue. Substantive issues exist in Muslim majority countries like death for blasphemy laws, oppression of women, and despots and dictators. The point is, however, that such issues cannot and will not be resolved when media perpetuates incomprehensible myths such as "no-go zones."
Instead, media has a responsibility to report accurately and consistently. When media and anti-Islam critics over-represent Muslims as terrorists, they do material harm, including to Muslim children, and promote fear in an already vulnerable demographic. If media and anti-Islam critics had responded to the Charlie Hebdo attacks by putting the blame where it rested -- on the individual attackers -- and not all Islam and Muslims, they could have helped promote peace. But peace comes from education, compassion, truth, and integrity -- each of which is lacking in the media's current portrayal of Islam. As Islam teaches, the first step in peace is to say and do what's right -- even if it is against yourself.
It makes me wonder, however, when even after Fox News apologized for its blatant disregard for facts, why certain right-wing politicians perpetuate the "no-go zone" myth?
Maybe it's to win votes, maybe to win funding, maybe it's to win power -- or maybe it is to inadvertently follow Hitler's barbarism to, "Make the lie big, make it simple, keep saying it, and eventually they will believe it."
The 1,200 percent increase in anti-Muslim incidents in France, the record breaking anti-Islam marches in Germany, and the rising anti-Muslim sentiment in America prove too many in the West believe the media's anti-Islam lies. Extremist politicians likewise mimic Hitler ideology when they demand banning the Qur'an, stopping all immigration from Muslim nations, and promote racial hatred.
No, an apology alone simply won't do. When reporting on Islam, it is high time media stopped treating education, compassion, integrity, and truth as "no-go zones."