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Media Panics Hearing Chechnya For First Time — Tries to Explain this 'Other'

I can only imagine the panic breaking news reporters felt when they heard on Friday morning that the Boston bombing suspects were from Chechnya — a region they obviously know nothing about based on the crap that was coming out of their mouths.

So what’s a reporter stuck on TV for 24 hours to do? Apparently attempt to become a Chechnya expert, live on air.

Now, I see the merit of explaining the basic facts about the region — where it is, its history, etc. — because many have never heard of it. But to frame it as this ‘other,’ strange region that may have played a key role in influencing the suspects is racist and dangerous, especially when no one was wondering at all how the United States may have influenced them.

Tuning into both CNN and MSNBC’s breaking news, I honestly couldn’t even keep up with the crazy ways they were framing the story. Reporters said that the United States doesn’t have “beef” with Chechnya, so it was odd that they would just “come over here and kill Americans (though the suspects have lived here for 11 years). Then they would link Chechnya with “radicalism,” “al-Qaeda,” “jihad” and made references to 9/11. After the media’s past few days of racist speculation (i.e. the “Saudi National,” the “Bag Men,” and the “dark-skinned male”), you would think the media would stop trying to push this story in a xenophobic direction.

Why won’t they stop?

Perhaps MSNBC Chris Matthews explained it best when he said on Friday that they keep pushing for a connection because if they don’t find one between the suspects and religion or ideology, then “we’re left with nothing here.”

But I don’t care how uncomfortable so-called “senseless” violence makes us, we don’t scapegoat certain nationalities or ethnicities to make us feel better.

On MSNBC, Al Sharpton tried to save his ass by warning that they aren’t “drawing any conclusions.” But speculation isthe problem, and encourages people to draw certain conclusions. And these have conclusions have dangerous consequences, as post-Boston Islamophobic hate crimes have already begun.

Now, as the second suspect has allegedly been caught alive, we may soon know the bombers' actual motive. But even if all the speculation has some legitmacy, that still doesn’t make it okay to discriminate against a whole population because of the actions of a few individuals. Instead, we should reflect on why violence is ever so prevalent in our society.

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