Quiz: Can You Guess the Race of a Mass Murder Suspect Based on the Headline About Him?

Major media outlets have very different ways of describing white Christian suspects and near-Eastern Muslim suspects. It gets tiring constantly pointing out the racist implications of the way these networks describe violent attacks. When Muslims kill, headlines point out the suspects’ religion and prematurely suggest connections to major Islamic fundamentalist networks while using coded, racist language. White, non-Muslim killers, on the other hand, are often described as “troubled” or “lone wolves.”

The double-standard has become so common that whenever a bombing or shooting occurs, you can expect a bigoted tweet or headline from the New York Times or ABC News within a few minutes.

Progressive media critics have been pointing this out for years, but the legacy media corporations that feed Americans most of their breaking news don’t seem to be listening. So instead of the usual lecture about how violent white men deserve to be called domestic terrorists and not “lonely outsiders,” here’s a nifty quiz.

By trying to guess the race of the person described in these headlines about recent, highly publicized mass killings, see if you can spot the racial double-standard at play. (The location of the murders and the names of the killers have been removed so it's not too obvious who they are.)

1. ABC News: “Police: shooter was apparently lovesick teen.”

2. Los Angeles Times: “Attack suspect's family was 'very mysterious,' neighbor says.”

3. New York Times: “The suspect was a quiet, ‘nerdy’ young man who came from a ‘tight-knit, godly family,’ said Donna Sebastian Harp, who had known the family for nearly 18 years.”

4. Washington Post: “Gunman enjoyed gambling, country music; lived quiet life before massacre.”

5. Washington Post: “Suspect in shooting, a Muslim, asked Army to discharge him, aunt said.”

6. New York Post: “Terror eyed as couple slaughters 14. MUSLIM KILLERS.”

7. New York Post: “‘Clean-cut American kid’ suspected of race murders.”

8. Global News: “People who knew truck attack suspect say he was ‘aggressive.’"

Answers: 1: white; 2: Uzbek Muslim; 3: white; 4: white; 5: Palestinian-American Muslim; 6: Pakistani and Pakistani-American Muslims; 7: white; 8: Uzbek Muslim

Enjoy this piece?

… then let us make a small request. AlterNet’s journalists work tirelessly to counter the traditional corporate media narrative. We’re here seven days a week, 365 days a year. And we’re proud to say that we’ve been bringing you the real, unfiltered news for 20 years—longer than any other progressive news site on the Internet.

It’s through the generosity of our supporters that we’re able to share with you all the underreported news you need to know. Independent journalism is increasingly imperiled; ads alone can’t pay our bills. AlterNet counts on readers like you to support our coverage. Did you enjoy content from David Cay Johnston, Common Dreams, Raw Story and Robert Reich? Opinion from Salon and Jim Hightower? Analysis by The Conversation? Then join the hundreds of readers who have supported AlterNet this year.

Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Help ensure AlterNet remains independent long into the future. Support progressive journalism with a one-time contribution to AlterNet, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you. Click here to donate by check.

DonateDonate by credit card


Thanks for your support!

Did you enjoy AlterNet this year? Join us! We're offering AlterNet ad-free for 15% off - just $2 per week. From now until March 15th.