Comedian | Professor | Writer
(& Smartest) Arab
This morning I woke up to the tragic news of the murders of Deah Shaddy Barakat, 23, Yusor Abu-Salah, 21, and Razan Abu-Salah, 19. Deah and Yusor were recently married, and Razan was Yusor’s sister. They were a family. And they were killed by a white man, 46-year-old Craig Stephen Hicks. I learned about their killings through a text message as I was just waking up. Then I did what I always do each morning. I turned on CNN.
CNN would give me more info, right? It had to be the top story, right? This must be hot news, right?
As I switched to CNN, I felt a weird sense of anticipation. Arabs and Muslims are always in the news, but not like this. I was wondering how CNN might cover this. Would they call it terrorism? Would they profile the victims? Would they bring on experts?
It didn’t take me long to see exactly what CNN would give me… Nothing. That’s right. I watched CNN for an hour. I saw Brian Williams. I saw Jon Stewart. I saw Kayla Mueller. But I didn’t see Deah, Yusor, and Razan. I turned to MSNBC. Deah, Yusor, and Razan weren’t there either. But Bobby Kristina was. And so was snow in Boston. In a desperate, last-ditch effort, I even turned to Fox News. Maybe, in some weird twist, I would see Deah, Yusor, and Razan there. Nope. All I saw was “Breaking News” coverage of ISIS. I should have known better.
Let’s be clear on what occurred. A middle-aged white man shot three young American Muslims. In their apartment. In the head. Deah was a student at the University of North Carolina School of Dentistry. His wife Yusor was to join him there soon. Razan was a student at North Carolina State University. And CNN was unfazed.
According to Hick’s Facebook page, he once wrote, “When it comes to insults, your religion started this, not me. If your religion kept its big mouth shut, so would I.” It seems from early news report that Hicks was anti-religion. And he found convenient targets in his Muslim neighbors, two of whom, Yusor and Razan, wore Islamic headscarfs.
Some will undoubtedly argue that this murder had nothing to do with the victim’s particular religion, as Hicks apparently hated all faiths. You can engage in that nonsense if you wish. But if his neighbors were young religious Christian students, would he have executed them in this manner? My mind says, “I don’t know.” My heart gives a different answer.
Amazingly, however, I am more disgusted by the news coverage (or lack of it) than I am by the murder itself. It really is a sort of sick testament to the state of American media that CNN, MSNBC, and Fox could anger and insult me this morning more than Hicks himself could.
The media has disregarded Deah, Yusor, and Razan. There is no argument here. And in a world where these young American Muslims’ lives are bypassed by our television news outlets, I am left to ponder.
I imagine what sort of wall-to-wall news coverage we would see if white victims were gunned down around a college campus. I imagine how much I would be hearing the word “terrorism” if a middle-aged Arab man murdered three young white Americans in their own home. I imagine how many “experts” would be dominating CNN right now if Hicks last name were Mohammad and Yusor’s last name were Hicks.
We have seen what happens on American news channels when Muslim criminals target non-Muslim victims in France, Australia, and Israel. And now, we get to see what happens on American news channels when non-Muslim criminals target Muslim victims right here.
It is now the middle of the day, and CNN is starting to give the story a few minutes of coverage. I’m not seeing condemnations, I’m not seeing “experts,” and I’m not seeing profiles of Deah, Yusor, and Razan. I’m not seeing any of that. Instead, CNN is telling me that they might have been killed because they were Muslim. But they also might have been killed over a parking spot… a parking spot. And you wonder why we get a little angry at the news every now and then.
After a few minutes of coverage about the execution of three young American Muslims, CNN moves on. The next story? Chris Kyle…