The “Others” in our Society

The concept of the “others” in our world, especially being Americans, is an ever changing idea and perception. The discrimination and labeling of those outside the groups traditionally viewed as American or even in a broader sense “western” has been an ongoing issue throughout history.

Currently these “others” are predominately from the Middle East. Simply turning on any major news network or reading a paper will confirm this. With constant reports of Jihad and ISIS plotting terror attacks through the region and the world. The focus of these reports is not “how can we fix this issue,” so much as it is, “look how backwards this region is.” This issue is further emphasized by the recent attacks on Charlie Hebdo in Paris. The attacks were instigated by numerous depictions of Islam and Mohammed in a negative light. Had this been a “nothing is sacred in satire” series of cartoons perhaps there would be much less issue. However, while the attacks are in no way being condoned, this is not the case. Recent reports have shown that Charlie Hebdo been reported to, in the past take action to avoid anti-semetic remarks and cartoons while still viciously pursuing the satire on Islam

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One key answer to this is that currently Muslims are the “others” in western society therefore they are the ones being persecuted. Our perception in the media of these people is that of bloodthirsty, radical, religious extremists. This is not the case. Sure, there is a group of people who do embody this image yet they are a very small portion of the population.

In reality the average Middle Easterner is in many ways quite similar to the average westerner. Despite obvious differences in region and societal norms such as prevalence of McDonalds, the average Middle Easterner is motivated by food, shelter, providing for their family and other core principles of human existence. For this reason we shouldn’t view the few extremists as representative of the society as a whole but instead understand that they are just that, extremists and the average person is no different than you or me.

I have no doubts that changing ones views towards the “others” in our society would change the way we deal with the region as a whole, in the case of the Middle East. This would ultimately reduce tensions and improve relations, thus, improving the world.

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