Friday, August 10, 2012

Sikh shootings reflect societal racism, not military culture

From the editor: Below is a FB post from a former student/friend/veteran/law school student named Javier Centonzio about the Sikh shootings.

A crazed idiot shoots up a Sikh temple and the media focuses on his military service over 10 years ago. This tragedy has nothing to do with his military service. This had everything to do with his racist views.

There are racists in the military, because the military accepts people from all segments of society. However, I know of more racist people who I attended law school with, than those who I served with. Hate and intolerance that is hidden is just as dangerous and destructive as a gunman shooting innocent people. In the military, incidents of racism are dealt with swiftly and punished severely. It isn't perfect, but it is much better than what happens in the civilian sector.

In the civilian realm, racists have nationally syndicated radio shows, television shows, and run for/are elected to public office. Someone has to stand up for the military, because all the media shows is our shortcomings and failures. Perhaps people should start looking inside their own homes before they go condemning and criticizing others. Racism is learned, not a trait one is born with.

More from the editor: Javier's comment about racism in the military rings true to me, as does his observation that racists in the civilian world get talk shows.

However, I'm not sure that I agree with Javier's comment that "all the media shows is (the military's) shortcomings and failures." I believe that coverage of individual soldiers, and even of individual units, is overwhelmingly positive, particularly coverage from embedded reporters. I also believe the press does a pretty good job of going to bat for vets in need. CNN has spent the better part of two weeks blasting a charity for not delivering promised aid to veterans, for example. I Googled "needy vets", and many of the 3.6 million hits were media outlets soliciting sympathy (or funds) for vets. Yes, the media could do even more to help vets (by spotlighting issues like homelessness and the high suicide rate, for example), but I wouldn't say that they are doing a poor job of this now.

However, it's hard to be definitive about any of this without some hard data. I would like to see some statistics about the amount of positive vs. negative coverage of the U.S. military in the media.

Thanks, Javier, for your comments and your service.

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