President Obama, extending condolences to the community at Fort Hood, Tex., reminded Americans on Saturday that people of “every race, faith and station” serve in the military — an oblique attempt to prevent a backlash against Muslims in the wake of Thursday’s shootings at the base that left 13 dead.
The phrase "oblique attempt" should cause readers some concern. The wording implies the backlash has already been done and that the president's condolences, though nice, are simply unrealistic. Yet should you blame the reporter for using that assumption? Glance at the NYT's topic tab on Fort Hood and you will be bombarded with articles not on a shooting but on Islam.
I guess I bring up this article because I wonder how this shooting would be treated if Hasan was not a Muslim. Did we center around Hasan because his Islamic faith feeds our terrorist fears? Sadly the news media seems more than happy to indulge us in our fears of a religion we do not know that much about. Does anyone remember the Orlando shooting that happened one day after Fort Hood? Anyone know what the shooter's religion was? If you do please let me know.
The article then goes on to say:
Mr. Obama did not address that concern directly. But, speaking in his weekly address, he seemed to urge Americans not to dwell on the suspect’s religion by reminding the nation of the broad diversity of those who serve.
While this story is on our president's speech urging Americans not to jump to unfair conclusions about Islam, it does not give context why Obama would be forced to do so in the first place. Perhaps the reporter doesn't follow Tod Starnes, Fox News radio reporter, on Twitter. Starnes is already calling Hasan a "Muslim extremist" on his twitter feed while ABC has Hasan contacting people who may be connected with Al Qaeda.
From the very beginning, Hasan's religion was the main focus of the shooting yet no one can say for sure if Islam actually caused Hasan to go on a shooting spree.
Many Muslims have been concerned that their faith will somehow be blamed after an Army psychiatrist, Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, who prayed regularly at the Fort Hood mosque, was accused of being the lone gunman in the attack.
Who are these "Many Muslims"? No where else in the article does the reporter give what Muslims who are actually worried Islam will now be blamed for Hasan's actions-- besides the overwhelming amount of articles analyzing Islam to find one thread of evidence linking Islam to the shooting. The article simply assumed, perhaps correctly, that Islam is being treated differently than if Hasan was a atheist.
Another point is to notice that the article is only barely 400 words long. It seems ironic that a brief article on the president encouraging people not to focus or blame Islam for the Fort Hood shooting is right next to a 2500 word article on the build up Hasan's breaking point- Islam is the main subject.
One final quote I would like to point out:
The shootings at Fort Hood, however, pose a different problem for the president, by shining a spotlight on the tensions Muslims can feel inside the United States.
I would have liked the article to dig deeper into this tension. Is this tension only in the religious community or has it affected a broader audience? It doesn't say. Also the article puts the responsibility of islamic problems on the president. I would argue that the news media has an equal role to play in handling the tensions. What stories get what coverage and attention affect how people will view Islam. Sadly, I feel Islam is getting the raw end of the deal in news these days.