Has the New York Times Negatively

Muslims for the Past Forty Years ?


The Abstract








DATA ANALYSIS on Random Article Review Of The New York Times



This study examines stereotyping of Arab Muslims in the New York Times for the past forty years. Theorists suggest that stereotyping of a minority group effects the public's opinion of that group. Other communication media theorists say that only under extreme conditions will the negative stereotypes reflect the publics' opinions of the portrayed minority group. The parallel theory between propaganda and stereotyping by the mass media is examined. Theorists including Thomson, (1977) & Myers, (1992), related to mass media effects strongly agree claiming that repetitive and non-contradictive images in the media are an effective form of propaganda. The research samples are random article reviews of the New York Times for the past forty years. Using every fifth year and 2 random numbers ranging from 1 to 12 is used to select an article search date. Islam was the search term. The Gudykunst & Kim( ? ) method of analyzing a stereotype is used to evaluate the 8 New York Times articles. The results indicate 95% of the articles were "vague," labeling entire group rather than individual. Out of the total 100%, 70% of the article used unfavorable trait characteristic labeling.

Has the New York Times negatively stereotyped Arab Muslims for the past forty years? The goal of this research project is to reveal the negative stereotypes directed towards Arab Muslims in the New York Times. The critical focus of the research is the consistency of the negative stereotypes. The underlying focus is what theoretical and historical effects result from the negative stereotypes.


The operational definition is "an idea, expression, lacking in originality or inventiveness. A simplified and standardized conception or image of a person or group held in common by members of a group." (Dictionary). Theorist's Gudykunst & Kim claims the word stereotype originated from an author named Walter Lippman. In this study, the independent variable is the New York Times and the dependent variable is the Islamic religious group.


"And seek assistance through patience and prayer, and most surely it is a hard thing except for the humble ones" (Holy Qur'an 2:45). To announce you are a Muslim, you have to follow the five pillars of Islam that are:

1. Pray five times a day.

2. Fast during the month of Ramadan.

3. Make a pilgrimage to Mecca.

4. Pay homage to the poor and.

5. Believe that there is only one God.

and Mohammed is the prophet of God.

Otherwise one is untruthful if one calls him or her self a Muslim.


New York Times is accepted world wide as the number 1 international news paper Atef, (1994). Consistency of negative stereotyping for 40 years is believed by media theorists to be a key factor in shaping public opinion. Prophet Mohammed says "The pen is mightier than the sword ". Is the media a significantly a dangerous weapon to 8 million Muslims in America, 48 Muslim nation's worldwide, 1 billion Muslims on Earth, and the fastest growing religion. More humans have died because of their religion than any other cause of death. Torah, Bible, and the Holy Koran are the sacred books of these religions.

With the Disney and ABC Cap city and Warner and CBS and other mergers, the media is becoming more consolidated. The significance of negative stereotyping is outlined by Thomson, (1977) who reveals the results of negative stereotyping as Polarization, Trivialization, Tension, and Depoliticisation. Single owners have more control over what one watches and reads.


Many communication theorists have studied stereotyping in the different facets of the mass media concerning minority groups. Theorist Zillman's study on stereotyping examines the desensitization effect of negative stereotyping in a rape case. Zillman's (1982) study: The impact of heavy pornography viewing on the juror's decision concluded that the consistent viewing of pornography desensitized the jurors regarding an assaulted victim. Concerning what previous theorists have hypothesized equates to the media shaping individualism more than the non-actor role models. When the traits depicted in media message are repeated and not contradicted, negative stereotyping is very effective.

Theorists such as Kahn, (1992) & Fisher, (1989) agree on the extent of effects of negative stereotyping.

Fisher's theory takes into effect in many different situations including maximum-security prisons. A study by Glenn Fisher, "Mass Media Effects on Sex Role Attitudes of Incarcerated Men," examines the conscious state of mind of prisoners in reflection to media messages.

The benefit of this research would reassure society that the prisoners are well adjusted to return to society. The foundation of the research is that these incarcerated men are disconnected from the outside world except for the mass media. This is a very interesting situation because of the fact that it is a controlled environment with minimum outside variables to interfere with prisoner's perceptions of the mass media's portrayals.

Fisher, (1989) intend to record the opinions and attitudes of the prisoners concerning stereotypical beliefs towards women. Because these men have been imprisoned for over 4 years, this makes them very good subjects. The prisoners are dependent on the mass media as a current description of the society. This study quizzes their traditional sex role attitudes, to see if they have kept up to current times through to the media.

The survey then compares the results to the male population's opinion on pre incarceration sex role attitudes. The results would prove Fisher's, (1989) hypothesis, "The amount of media consumption did have a significant effect on sex role attitudes" (p.192). The results showed that the general population's opinion towards the survey: "A working mother can establish just as warm and secure a relationship with children as a mother who does not work"(p.200). General population males scored significantly less. The incarcerated men seemed to have more current modern attitudes towards women in the work force Fisher, (1989). This is because the media are portraying women as doctors, engineers, and less and less as house spouses. "The media is not a mindless distraction but a tool to keep pace with the evolving social world outside the prison walls" (p.201). In conclusion, Fisher feels that the mass media does have an effect on opinions of the imprisoned subjects.

This brings up an interesting research paper entitled "Does Being Male Help?" An Investigation of Candidate Gender Coverage on Evaluations of US Senate Candidates" by Kim Fridkin Kahn, (1992). This research examines the media's influence on the voter's opinion by systematically covering female candidates differently.

The mass media is expressing their sex role attitudes towards

Females in news coverage and it boils down to stereotyping. Kahn, (1992) attempts to prove this issue in her research paper. First, a survey is taken to show the lack of women presently in high ranking political offices Kahn, (1992). "Of the 25 women who ran for the US Senate between 1984 and 1990, only two succeeded" (p. 498). With over 300 Senate chairs, 2 is a very low. The difference is extreme so this is the drive that leads Kahn to do her experiment. Kahn went though great extremes to prove her point. Kahn's theory is consistent with the significance of negative stereotyping. Negative stereotyping is one form of propaganda, which effects politics.

Negative stereotyping in the New York Times is hypothetically used to instill hate and desensitization in people young and old. Negative stereotyping is as equally a serious issue when it is used against people as a result of their religious beliefs.


Shaakeem's (1985) "Portrayal of the Middle East" will be used as support for the hypotheses of negative stereotypes of Arab Muslims in the New York Times. Lamb (1985) also stated that in "lifestyle, traditions, and beliefs, the Arabs are different and any time an ethnic group is different that group tends to be stereotyped" (p.522). The New York Times does not make direct offenses to the targeted group. Instead they carefully choose words and subtly generalize radical individuals into a selected group. An example of negative stereotyping of Arab Muslims is Shaaheen, (1985) "TV Guide use of language, when the Palestinians were attacked, they were labeled as "targets" suggesting that military areas were being hit. When Israelis were attacked the reporter referred to it as "the state of Israel" a civilian area (p.293). The negative stereotyping aspect of propaganda is pronounced even more when negative stereotype of a monotheistic religion is exclusively attached to the faith of the Arab Muslims. Tim McVay is not labeled as an American Christian terrorist, representing the entire faith of Christianity. Serbian leaders are not labeled as Serbian Christian terrorists. The rabbi who went on a shooting spree inside a Muslim masque was not labeled as an Israeli Jewish terrorist. An example of negative stereotyping occurs when three individuals blow up a building and are labeled as Arab Muslim terrorists, or Islamic fundamentalists.

The Western world is afraid of the growth of Islam because of the difference in culture, anti-democratic infrastructure and treatment of women Atef Al Gamri, (1994). In a study by Shaleen, (1985) he observes how even the Webster Dictionary is participating negatively stereotyping. "Definition of an Arab in the 1947 Edition of Webster's new International Dictionary definition is: One of the oldest and purist of people and with the Jews constitute the best modern representative of the Semitic Race. Then the comparisons to today's dictionary use of slang for Arab: "Vagabond", "Peddler", "Bum", "Derelict." From Merrian Webster Thesaurus" (p.165).

The negative stereotypes are instilled in a younger generation as well. Jack Shaaheen, (1985) gives examples of cartoon portrayals. Children are the most susceptible and the largest group of media absorption. Children are exposed to this propaganda in the comic book: "Superman: romantic Shaykh {who is the equivalent of a Christian priest in the Christian world} seduces Lois Lane. Then it's revealed that the Shaykh is a ruthless killer of several spouses (Captive Princess 1965). GI Combat sets a bomb and many Arabs are killed. The sergeant boasts "The Vultures will feast on human Arab hyenas" God of Steel, (1980), (p.165). These negative stereotypes are up to 30 years old. The children who read the comic books in the sixties have grown up with the consistent message of a negative stereotyped group. This is one of the main element for propaganda to be effective Garth & O'Donnell, (1986). Negative Stereotyping is also effective when the message is not contradicted. When the many voices of the mass media are in unison concerning the negative stereotypes of Arab Muslims, then the portrayal is believed. Shaakeen, (1985) continues to demonstrate the negative stereotypes from the many facets of mass media including movies. This outlet alone gives the American mass media one billion viewers, children and adults. Movies with big box office sellers such as Goldie Hawn, Eddy Murphy, and Arnold Schwarzeneger to name a few, have been used to stereotype the Muslim Arabs. In the film "Protocol", Goldie Hawn warns that the Arabs threaten America's security. In the movie "Best Defense" starring Eddie Murphy, Kuwaiti children throw stones at Eddie Murphy's tank. Murphy yells "Okay you desert rats, now you die!" (p.165). Chuck Norris, and Arnold Schwarzeneger went from fighting the Vietcong to fighting the "Muslim terrorist groups".

This content analyzed is a strong message. Propaganda and media effects theorists agree that the amount of exposure can effect the viewer's attitudes. Myers (1992) claims that just half an hour can effect the viewer. David Pearl, Chief of the National Institute of Mental Health's Behavioral Science Research states "Today's children are spending twice as long in front of a television than a classroom." This study raises concerns regarding the manipulating factors of media by elite group owners especially concerning the content.


What are the benefits for stereotyping a billion humans world wide for the random acts of a few individuals?

Negative stereotypes serve a function. Sandra Whitehead, (1987) an obvious example of stereotype is the lazy, servile black sambo that served to justify slavery. The heavy media coverage of the World Trade Center has practically stopped all foreigners from Arab Muslim countries including: Egypt, Iraq, Syria, and Saudi Arabia to obtain visas into the land of power, America.

What is the underlying purpose of negative stereotypes? Ogawa, (1885) states that the negative "Jap" stereotypes in 1924 was to arouse anti-Japanese emotions in the United States. Shortly afterwards, mass genocide in Hiroshima took place. Hitler used similar negative stereotypes as a portrayal of the Jews to justify concentration camps tortures and genocide. The United States government Thomson, (1977) used propaganda to incite anti-German emotion. The government paid to build a movie studio specifically to create movies that would create hate towards the Germans. A short time afterwards, America entered World War I. Similarly the mass genocide of the Bosnian Muslims by the Serbs Christians has been active for over ten years. Present genocide of Hundreds of thousand humans, including children in Russia, Palestine, India to name a few, while the Western public's "desensitized and depoliticalasized and polarized" Thomas,(1977). Is the reason behind negative stereotyping in the New York Times to justify allowing thousands of people to be slaughtered? This seems to be the case throughout history. The negative stereotypes and fears rooted as far up into the political infrastructure of America as the President's Administration and the Vice Ex-President. Ex-Vise President Dan Qualye warning the Arab Muslims are like Nazism in a previous speech. This form of subliminal desensitization is a common practice as previously discussed. Today and at least for the past forty years, the negative stereotypes are strongly focused on the Arab Muslims in the New York Times. Negative Stereotyping based on fear of a growing Islamic movement that's financially supported by the Arab countries? The hypothesis of an American political fear of Islam's supported by a critique of articles in the May 1994, the World Press Review. A summary of articles that provided information about the reasoning behind the stereotypes. (March 94) New York Times described the rise of militant Islam as a threat to world peace and security, similar to Nazism and Fascism in the 1930's and Communism in the 1950's. A summary of why the West fears the steadily growing Muslim nations. (In Central Asian Republics of the former Soviet Union, "Mosques spring up overnight like mushrooms" Viva (1994). Islamic Fundamentalism is gaining ground across the entire stretch from North Africa to South East Asia, changing the daily lives of millions of people, "frightening established governments and sending shock waves to the west Viva (1994). The fear of a similar victory as in 1979 when the victory of the Muslims in Iran changed an entire regions map.

There is support concerning political involvement negatively stereotyping. "For the West particularly, the need for an [enemy] to replace the Soviet specter." Atef, (1994) rationalize the reasons for the portrayals of Muslims as an economical benefit. (p.9) "The specter of an enemy incites national passions that support large defense budgets, high quotas of arm's production and military intervention abroad" Atef Al Ghamri (1994).


Articles from the New York Times will be the data for the research project. 40 years of New York Times newspapers is needed to conduct the research. The Western Connecticut State University Mid-town library have the newspapers on microfiche. No unforeseeable problems with the will of God can occur in obtaining the research data. The limitations of reporting the data is minimal with exception to a(daily tri-religious review for past 40 years), which would be an optimal research. The conductor of the research will provide the data for the research. The population, which is being studied in this research, are Muslims in the New York Times articles. The sample size for the research is 40 years, ranging from 1956 to 1996. The systematic sample will be divided by 5, every fifth year, one article will be analyzed. A random pick of two numbers ranging from 1 to 12 will be chosen from a pile of numbered out of sight pieces of paper. When the two pieces of papers are randomly for example: (2 and 4) then on February the forth, 1956, an article from the New York Times concerning Muslims will be photo copied from the micro fiche machine. The same process will be repeated until 40 years are covered. The instrument which will be used to analyze if stereotypes exist in the articles is a previously accepted list to reveal the existence of stereotypes by Gudykunst and Kim( ? ). The archival method of research will be used to collect the data. The independent variable is the New York Times and the dependant variable is Islam. Very little can effect the validity of the research project except for personal bias. The bias will be controlled by disconnecting prejudice from the researcher concerning the research

DATA ANALYSIS on Random Article Review Of The New York Times

On April 21, 1995,almost all the print media referred to the Middle East concerning the Oklahoma Federal building bombing that's classified as worse than the World Trade Center bombing. This comparison implied Middle Eastern involvement. When the accused Tim McVay was detained, no reference's made concerning McVay's religious, ethnic, or place of origin background. Mcvay's not labeled an American Christian terrorist, nor was his name an issue or analyzed for Biblical significance. A

A non random article review shows New York Times article following the World Trade Center bombing is loaded with negative stereotypes. The description used by the New York Times on June 25 1993 section B:3:3 are as follows "Muslim Extremists", Violent faction of militant Muslims", "Terrorist uses a Muslim name", "mysterious people", "Radical Islamic Extremists", "fundamentalists", "Islamic Sect Linked to string of crime in the United States", "Clinton Administration officials say arrest of Muslims accused of plotting bomb." These quotations are but a few that reflect the biased labeling that its political roots go as far as the President.

What can be done in the future to prevent other groups from being victimized by propaganda. Examples are: Hitler and Jews, America and Germans and Japanese, etc...} not to mention the negative stereotyping of women, blacks and Hispanics to name a few. How can individuals and groups alike shield themselves against this war?

Education is the answer to the tumultuous but subtle stereotypes the media injects into the minds of children and adults. Concerning the negative stereotypes toward Arab Muslims, most Americans do not know about the Islamic beliefs and values. Therefore, when a message is presented, the Americans do not have the fundamental tool to combat the deception: knowledge. Modern Middle Eastern classes with a topic discussion of propaganda and a criminal statistical comparison of United States and the Middle East should be a standard curriculum for grade schools and for college students.

Humans are a creature of precaution, therefore, before information's accepted, it is in the best interest of society to know what is being accepted as truth. (Garth & O'Donnell, 1986) Claim many American biases are superficial, simply the residue of poisonous entertainment. It may be helpful to know which shows, newspapers, and movies are participants negatively stereotyping and prevent the children from viewing the propaganda material. If so the children are conditioned (Thomson, 1977) in the effects of media. (Shaheen 1985) Programs presented by PBS are the least biased if at all.

If history and theorists conclude propaganda is a tool to justify killing thousands of people it's the tool of the devil. The minds of society are currently being worked on by this tool as demonstrated. To leave children susceptible to this tool is being the devil's advocate such as Hitler was. Mass media is commonly accepted as a very dangerous weapon and it have been rightly proven so. The majority of the people do not recognize these subtle vicious attacks, that's why they continue and that's why they are believed.

If all people are created equal, they should be portrayed as equal. Not one group labeled evil and another group good, inferior and superior, ugly and beautiful, weak and strong. The intention of this project is not to demonize the media, but to reveal the politically overlooked biases and tactics of an internationally established media giant, the New York Times.


Atef, G. (1994) Fear of Islam. World Press Review. May 1994, p.9

Fisher, Glen (1989) Mass media Effects on Sex Role Attitudes of Incarcerated Men. Sex Roles, v20, pp. 191-202.
Gerbner, G. (1993). Defense and the Media in Time of Limited War. Armed Forces and Society, v20, pp.147-9.

Jowett, G. & O'Donnell, V.(1986). Propaganda and Persuasion. Beverly Hills: Sage Publications.
Kahn, K. (1992). Does being male help? The Journal of Politics, v.54, pp.498-512.

Lamb, D. (1989). The Arabs: Journey Beyond Mirage. The Middle East Journal, v.43, pp.522.
Myers, Philip (1992) The Elastic Body Image. The effect of
Television advertising. Journal of Communications, v.42, pp.109-33.

Ogawa, D. (1993) The Japanese of Los Angeles. Journal of Asian and African Studies, v19, pp.142-3.
Rodwell, J. (1909) Translation of the Koran. New York: Dutton.
Shaheen, J. (1985). Media Coverage of the Middle East: Perception of Foreign Policy. The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, v482, pp. 160-75.
Thomson, O. (1977). Mass Persuasion in History. Edinburgh: Paul Harris Publishing.

Zillman, Bryant (1982) The Impact of Heavy Viewing of Pornography on Jurors Decision. Journal of Communication, v40, pp.165-7

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