Wednesday, March 9, 2015
Presenter: Jack Shaheen. Moderator: John Miller
In opening remarks Neil Funnell positioned the discussion to be an ethical dilemma: Is it ethical to profile an individual or individual groups based upon ethnicity, race, religion or country of origin and has the public media unfairly treated certain groups? Is this treatment justified?
Jack is an internationally acclaimed author and media critic, a committed internationalist and a devoted humanist. A Pittsburgh native and former CBS news consultant on Middle East Affairs, Dr. Shaheen addresses stereotypical images of racial and ethnic groups. His writings and lectures illustrate that stereotypes injure innocent people. He explains why such crude caricatures persist, and provides workable solutions to help shatter misperceptions. His lifelong commitment is to bring a better understanding towards peace for all mankind. professor Shaheen has given over 1,000 lectures in nearly all the 50 states and three continents.
He started by mentioning historic issues of prejudice, bias and misinformation regarding Native Americans, Afro Americans, Jews, Japanese Americans, and varied
immigrant issues. He also cited the Religious biases, such as with JFK and others. He then focused on how current events are impacting Islamophobia and also provided an overview as to how media systems have portrayed Arabs and Muslims in American popular culture for more than a century. He then discussed certain about stereotypes—cartoons shown to children,—and explained why such images exist, their impact on opinion and policy, and what if anything should be done to counter such images. He mentioned that 9/11, al Qaeda, Osama bin Laden, have all accentuated the image that all Arabs/Muslims are evil. Jack also explained why he, an American Christian, has focused on this issue?
Jack also stated that we all have certain biases and prejudices, that we are often unaware of, contributing to our misconceptions of varied cultures/religions/skin colors et al., often being fed by our media. He remains optimistic and hopes/expects that we can all learn to address most of these issues in a more reasonable way and encourage a future, peaceful coexistence for all humanity.
From the audience & Presenter:
What do you think of the movie “Lawrence of Arabia”, which shaped my early images of Arabs? Jack added that he liked it, except for the ending.
Many newspapers, now even including the New York Times are editorializing on the front page.
Why have these stereotypical images persisted and why do they remain more or less unchallenged today?
Are you more or less optimistic that future images will be more balanced?
How would Hilton Head residents react if some Muslims wanted to build a mosque here?