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An exploration of the physical frontiers that define race in America


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Another angle on the media’s response to the Boston bombing suspects’ heritage

Interview conducted at the scene of the Boston Marathon bombing on April 15, 2013 (Photo Credit: Flickr user thebudman623 via Creative Commons License)

Interview conducted at the scene of the Boston Marathon bombing on April 15, 2013 (Photo Credit: Flickr user thebudman623 via Creative Commons License)

Shortly after I published my own post on the media response to Boston bombing suspects’ Muslim heritage, another article about the suspects’ background began to go viral. The article, written by Sarah Kendzior for Al Jazeera, focuses in on the media’s treatment of the Tsarnaev brothers’ Chechen heritage.

First, let’s start with a little background. The two bombing suspects, Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev are of Chechen descent – their family comes from the Chechnya region of southern Russia, located in the Caucasus mountains. The region tried to gain independence from the Soviet Union in 1991, during the communist state’s collapse. Rebel groups from the area waged a bloody battle against the Russian army in this effort, and the region remains unstable and (according to the US and Russian governments) susceptible to terrorist influences to this day. Continue reading

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The Boston Marathon bombing and the media’s treatment of the ‘Muslim community’

Boston Marathon Bombing

An overhead image of the scene immediately after the Boston Marathon bombing (Photo Credit: Aaron Tang via Creative Commons License)

It’s certainly hard to believe, but it has only been a week since the horrific Boston Marathon bombing that took place on Monday, April 15. Maybe that’s because the story has been covered so exhaustively by everyone from surprisingly accurate random Twitter users to disturbingly inaccurate media conglomerates. Of the many story lines that emerged from this senseless tragedy – the suspects’ brazen attempted escape, the resiliency of the city of Boston, the heroism of the first-responders – the storytellers themselves also became part of the spotlight.

But among those many story lines was also the fascination with the suspects’ background and heritage. Namely, as this Fox News headline so poignantly opines, the fact that both suspects were Muslim extremists. This fact, once it became widely known, added yet another element of extreme interest for the 24-hour news cycle to dive into.

Immediately, articles began exploring the suspects’ heritage as immigrants from the separatist Chechnya region of Russia, their association with other Islamic extremists, and even their potential connections to the terrorist attacks of 9/11. But more notably, several articles written after the suspects’ identities had been revealed took into account the thoughts and opinions of the ‘Muslim community’. Continue reading