The Rittenhouse Review

A Philadelphia Journal of Politics, Finance, Ethics, and Culture


Monday, April 15, 2002  

WHERE ARE THE ARAB-AMERICAN BYLINES?

We just today ran across Robert Scheer's recent essay in the Los Angeles Times in which he points out the painfully obvious: The absence of Arab-Americans as regular, ongoing voices in the American media, something other than the occasional guest on Nightline or somtime commentator on this or that opinion page.

"While Jews are hardly monolithic, even in their views of Israel, their large presence in the media contrasts sharply with a near total exclusion of Palestinian Americans," writes Scheer.

"Palestinian Americans in particular, and Arabs in general, are the ghosts haunting U.S. newsrooms by their embarrassing absence. As journalists, we do not know them as a people, we have little connection with their slights and sorrows, and we can only, even with the best of intentions, experience their suffering as an abstraction.

"While the family tales of Jewish oppression during the pogroms of czars, the Holocaust and Soviet anti-Semitism have been merged into the dominant American culture, horrific tales of Arab suffering are systematically ignored. But, as when blacks and Latinos were absent from newsrooms and nightly death in the ghetto was not thought to be news, it is difficult to escape the notion that many in the media, Jews and non-Jews alike, lean to the view that Arab life is cheap."

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