Tobias J Song
On March 22nd, a horrendous terror attack occurred in London, United Kingdom. The assailant was Khalid Masood, 52, who was born in Kent with the birth name Adrian Russell Ajao. He was believed to have been living recently in the West Midlands. In the attack, he drove a car into pedestrians on Westminster Bridge. Because of this attack, five people died so far including two of whom died on site and three who died of injuries in the hospital. According to the police officials, the number of injured people from this attack is 50: Twelve Britons including three police officers, four university students, three French children, four South Koreans, two Romanians, two Greeks, a Chinese national, etc. While the attacker was trying to enter the parliament, he stabbed an unarmed police officer who later died from the injuries. Police then shot the attacker. The dead officer was identified as PC Keith Palmer, 48, who had 15 years of service with the governmental and diplomatic protection service and was a husband and father.
Although the investigation is ongoing, the Briton government classified this event as a terror attack and the identification of the attacker was so obvious; Middle Eastern or Pakistani at the very first time. You may just identify that from his name. However, the most disturbing and untasteful insult to Asian Americans occurred by the United States mainstream so called media right after the attack happened.
Media reports from the press of the United Kingdom in the aftermath of Wednesday’s attack on Parliament, have focused in on the identity of the perpetrator in vague terms. We know, according to The Telegraph (UK) that the attacker was reported by witnesses as an “Asian guy in about his 40s carrying a knife about seven or eight inches long.” The Daily Star (UK) calls the suspect an “African or Asian man who was spotted running with an eight-inch knife.” The Daily Mirror (UK) called him “reportedly Asian in appearance.”
In America, Asian has a different connotation than it does in the British press. In the United Kingdom, it means people of Pakistani or Indian descent, not people from Southeast or East Asia, as it does in the United States. I am pretty sure the news reporters in the United States who mostly major in English or communication study in their college education are aware of this difference. Even the immigrants with science major (the writer of this article) who has lived in the United States for three years know this. It is also often a mask for Islamic background: the press will avoid talking about the religion of a suspect for focusing in on ethnicity, and they will broaden out the ethnic label to include people who are not Pakistani to avoid the impression that the Pakistani perpetrator might be a Muslim.
This is how media turn criminal issues into actual racial conflicts. By refusing to hold everyone to the same standard, refusing to admit that not all cultures are equally compatible with Western standards of virtue, and instead using ethnic descriptors rather than ideological ones, the media and authorities encourage xenophobia rather than alleviating it, as well as classifying the upright people to the guilty net. Sikhs and Hindus do not deserve to be placed in the same risk group as radical Muslims about terrorism; attempting to protect moderate Muslims by ignoring all ideological leanings whatsoever is imprudence. And using the overbroad ethnic descriptor “Asian” – pretending that Indians and even Japanese are part of the same ethnic group for hopes of avoiding the ideological conclusion. This is purposeful obfuscation of accuracy.
Although ISIS claims that this is their responsibility, perhaps this terrorist is not a Muslim. That is entirely possible. But it is not fine to give the misleading public information because they might conclude the news delivery by probabilistic thinking. Obviously, the so-called media did that, though.