Let me start off my saying, as a first generation American who moved here from Iran, I will be the last person to devalue America. I grew up here, and I will always be extremely grateful for all of the opportunities and rights I’m given in this country, because I know I wouldn’t have them if my parents had not moved here. I actually do care a lot about this country, and despite common perceptions of me, I am “patriotic” enough to want to improve and contribute to it and make it a better place for everyone. Criticizing unjust and hateful institutions within America, or mistakes it has made regarding foreign relations does not equal hating America. I’ve been told “if you don’t like it here, go home” numerous times when criticizing problems I notice (and ironically enough, I’m being told this while exercising my right to free speech, which in other circumstances people would jump to defend).
The most recent issue I’ve seen come
up is regarding the movie “American Sniper”. No, I haven’t seen the movie in its entirely nor read the book, but I have done my research on it, and on the issues it’s supposedly covering. First of all, it is politically and historically inaccurate and leaves out huge, vital parts of the Bush Administration and the timeline for events that actually happened in the Middle East. It gives a very false perception of what was actually going on, and tugs of your cute little American heart strings with vivid propaganda instead. That’s not even my biggest beef with it.
By doing this, the movie is spreading Islamophobia and even more misconceptions about the Middle East and it’s culture. The vast majority of Americans, especially those seeing this movie, are not actually educated on the religion, the culture, or the politics of this region. So the fact that it’s pushing one side of the story without any accuracy or accountability for the actual events is a huge issue. I grew up in post-9/11 America, and it’s a horrible time and place for Muslims. Ironically, I am not Muslim and I have never identified as one, but my family does and I have always felt the stigma around simply saying I’m from Iran when people ask. When I was a kid, I would wish I had a “white” name so people would stop asking me where I was from when I met them. I remember looking at a map of Europe and literally picking a random country to say I was from instead. That’s how ashamed I was and how badly this toxic, anti-Islamic mindset affected me as an 8 year old.
Being anti-terrorism is very different from the anti-Islamic propaganda America has been pushing ever since 9/11. If America were really concerned about terrorism, you’d think they’d care about the domestic terrorism happening. There are police officers brutally murdering and attacking black people in this country, but America doesn’t seem to see that as an issue. Also look at the domestic terror attacks we’ve seen done by white people. What am I talking about? Exactly. They aren’t nearly as hyped up or plastered on the news.
Let’s also address that this is a “heroic” story of a man who killed the most people. Honestly I don’t know what else
to comment here because that statement speaks for itself. To what extent are we conditioned and brainwashed to where we think of someone who kills hundreds of innocent people to be a hero?
In my history class the other day, we were watching a video on Hitler and Nazi Germany. Specifically, when Germany took over Poland and how he got the support to do so. One detail that I found interesting was that Nazis made movies that portrayed Polish people as violent and brutal, attacking innocent Nazis. He used this propaganda to rally hate for the Polish and get people to support him taking over it.
No, I’m not trying to equate America with Nazi Germany. I just noticed the use of propaganda and portrayal of specific groups of people was interesting, and I immediately thought of the Islamophobia that American Sniper exudes. I think the comparison might help people notice the point I’m making. I get that a lot of people don’t understand this because they’ve never had to experience it, but it still blows my mind that more people don’t notice these blatant fallacies (or choose to ignore them).
Overall, I think mass
media that spreads hate, perpetuates negative stereotypes, and fails to educate people on relevant historical facts is hugely problematic, and American Sniper is all of those things. I want America to be a safer and more comfortable place for people of color, somewhere that certain groups of people don’t have to live in constant shame and fear for their lives due to their ethnicity or skin color. I want America to be accountable for its actions and to not romanticize killing innocent people by calling it heroism.