The US press coverage of the Boston bombing aftermath betrayed widespread “incompetence in understanding the role of race, ethnicity and nationality”, writes author, trend analyst and blogger Eric Garland.
In the florid accounts of the men’s Chechen background, the media served up “every possible stereotype and disjointed factoid from Wikipedia their interns could gather”, he says – pointing, for example, to this, and this.
All of which led Garland to wonder, in a post that has gained plenty of pick-up in recent days: “what if media covered America the way we cover foreign cultures?”
He suggests a scenario:
Let us say that a guy got drunk at a bar outside of Mobile, Alabama, got in a fight with some dudes about University of Alabama versus Ole Miss college football, and ended up shooting them dead in the parking lot.
Were a foreign journalist to “slap a crappy pseudo-anthropological analysis on top”, says Garland, it might read like this:
Yet another massacre has occurred in the historically war-torn region of the Southern United States – and so soon after the religious festival of Easter. Brian McConkey, 27, a Christian fundamentalist militiaman living in the formerly occupied territory of Alabama, gunned down three men from an opposing tribe in the village square near Montgomery, the capitol, over a discussion that may have involved the rituals of the local football cult. In this region full of heavily-armed local warlords and radical Christian clerics, gun violence is part of the life of many.
Many of the militiamen here are ethnic Scots-Irish tribesmen, a famously indomitable mountain people who have killed civilised men – and each other – for centuries. It appears that the wars that started on the fields of Bannockburn and Stirling have come to America. As the sun sets over the former Confederate States of America, one wonders – can peace ever come to this land?