Your Voice | Stereotyping through advertising

· March 13, 2013, 12:30 am

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The conflicts plaguing the Middle East are some of the more complex issues of our century anda as sucha should be discussed and debated with diplomacy, respect and some basic level of open-mindedness on all fronts.

The recent paid advertisement that was featured of page six of the March 11 edition of The Daily Pennsylvanian was neither diplomatic nor respectful, and in many ways verged on propagandistic.

Ignoring the fact that the ad misappropriates Islam’s sacred “star and crescent” as a symbol of violence, the full-page spread perpetuates a conception of Islam that is racist, parochial and quite simply inaccurate.

Current Muslim doctrine explicitly dictates the nature of religious punishment and, as such, radicals who act on their own sense of vigilante religious justice are by definition acting outside the jurisdiction of Islamic law. To associate vindictive, deranged killers with Islam, a religion of compassion and reverence, is about as morally reprehensible as equating greed and stinginess with financially successful Jews. It is a stereotype: a vile, reductive, inaccurate, immature stereotype.

Some portions of the ad, such as the example of Amina and Sarah Said — “Texas teenagers shot dead by their father, Yaser Said, an Egyptian-born Muslim” — completely misrepresent facts for the sake of posturing the ad’s argument. Upon further inspection of the Said case, one finds that Said, guilty of a so-called “honor killing,” was operating on principles ““outside of mainstream Islam” One cannot present Said as exemplary of Islam because he operated outside of accepted Islamic practice.

I am personally offended by this ad, and I am not even Muslim. I am offended by the misuse of the word “apartheid” — a form of racial segregation, not religiously fueled assassination. I am offended by the tradition of racism that this ad continues. I would like to remind the DP that the very same propaganda tactics were used in the slave-era south, where the faces of black men accused of seducing or raping white women were published in widely read newspapers and continued through the garish caricatures of Jews in Nazi-occupied Europe.

Perhaps most of all, I am offended that the chief editors of the DP insist on parading these images as factual representations of a minority that is time and time again grossly misrepresented on Penn’s campus.

Rather than addressing the issue of terrorism with factual rhetoric or maturity, the DP has chosen instead to placate the juvenile opinions of people who, several decades from now, will be remembered as agents of intolerance and ignorance. The language currently used to talk about terrorism is founded on a perception of Islamic culture that is inherently xenophobic. Words like “jihad” and “Islamofascism” link Islam with a religious sadism that does not exist.

Nick DeFina is a College freshman

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