Stereotyping and ethic profiling ESLR (to kill a mockingbird)

December 23, 2011
By dotn_me BRONZE, Camarillo, California
dotn_me BRONZE, Camarillo, California
2 articles 0 photos 23 comments

Gandhi once said “Anger and intolerance are the enemies of correct understanding.”(Gandhi).
For the Muslim people, trying to overcome intolerance is a large challenge, especially because of the stereotypes and racial profiling they must undergo largely because of the event that took place on 9/11/2001, an act committed by a group of radicals.
Fear or hatred of another caused by mistrust and lack of tolerance is a theme in Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird, but is also part of the lives of countless Muslim people in the United States because it has led to them being stereotyped, ethnically profiled and discriminated.

A. Background of research subject
1. History of Muslim stereotyping

a. As said in Wikipedia, “Billionaires, bombers and belly dancers” was the common stereotype given to the Muslim people in the United States from the late 1800’s onward, because the media had portrayed Muslim men as either wealthy oil merchants, or as terrorists intent upon destroying the United States, while the women were seen as exotic maidens (Wikipedia 2).

b. Stereotyping of Muslims increased even more after 9/11 because many people began seeing all Muslims as terrorists, “In a poll conducted by the Boston Globe, 71 percent of blacks, and 57 percent of whites believed that Arabs and Arab Americans should undergo special, more intensive security checks before boarding airplanes.” (Wikipedia 3).

2. Present day condition

a. Today, Muslims are racially profiled for government backed security purposes. The practice of racial profiling has according to ACLU “led countless people to live in fear and created a system of law enforcement that casts entire communities as suspects” (ACLU 1).

b. Muslim profiling is also considered a constitutional crisis, because the 14th amendment of the Constitution of the United States clearly states “All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”, which clearly states that any citizen of the United States is equally protected under the law. This seems to be ignored in the unfair method of ethnically and racially profiling Muslims (14th Amendment of the United States). Also, according to ACLU “Racial profiling continues to be a prevalent and egregious form of discrimination in the United States” (ACLU 1).

B. Prejudice leads to stereotyping and ethnic profiling because the truth is ignored.

1. ESLR Research Topic Evidence

a. As stated in, “..terrorism profiling, like traditional profiling is based on broad and inaccurate stereotypes about the propensity of certain racial, religious or ethnic groups to engage in particular criminal activity. Not all drug crimes are committed by African Americans, Hispanics and other minorities. Likewise, not all terrorism is committed by Arabs or Muslims, and not all Arabs and Muslims are terrorists.” ( 2).

b. The United Methodist Church has also said on their website, “These persons [Arab Americans] are suffering the effects of a particularly virulent prejudice too often aided and abetted by statements and images in the media and by rhetoric from some of the highest political leadership. The suffering of this community has increased dramatically since the tragic events of September 11, 2001. As part of the fabric of racism in the USA, in which both subtle and violent acts continue against ethnic groups and persons, such acts are also being perpetrated against the Arab and Muslim communities in the USA.” (UMC 1).

2. To Kill a Mockingbird Text Quotations

a. When Miss Gates is teaching her class about democracy, and what is happening to the Jews in Germany at the time, she tells them ““Over here, we don’t believe in persecuting anybody. Persecution comes from people who are prejudiced. Prejudice.” She enunciated carefully. “There are no better people than the Jews, and why Hitler doesn’t think so is a mystery to me.”” (Lee 329).

b. Scout narrates to Jem, “I heard her say that its time somebody taught ‘em a lesson, they were gettin’ way above themselves, an’ the next thing they think they can do is marry us. Jem, how can you hate Hitler so bad an’ then turn around an’ be ugly about folks right at home-” which is what she heard her teacher Miss Gates say afterschool to Stephanie Crawford (Lee 331).

3. Commentary/Analysis

a. When Ms. Gates is teaching the children, she refers to Hitler’s persecution of the Jewish people. When Scout overhears her speaking with Stephanie Crawford, they are speaking of the black people, and Ms. Gates openly shows her prejudice and narrow mindedness toward the Negro people. The only reason she has prejudice is because she was brought up in a society that is convinced that black people are an inferior race.

b. When a person is prejudiced to a group of people, or even one person, they show how they just assume that one group is “evil” based on their own dislike built up on misinterpretation. Not all Muslims are extremists, and the people who think they are also show their prejudice, because they have a state of mind similar to Miss Gates in thinking that blacks are inferior.

The stupid and violent acts that a certain group commits affect the people that are supposedly like them, but are completely different in behavior, which leads to stereotypes being formed.

1. ESLR Research Topic Evidence

a. Also reported on “The 19 men who hijacked airplanes to carry out the horrific attacks on the world trade center and the pentagon were Arabs form Muslim countries. The federal government immediately focused massive investigative resources and law enforcement on those perceived to be Arabs, Arab Americans and Muslims” ( 1).

b. The website also states “terrorism profiling, like traditional profiling is based on broad and inaccurate stereotypes about the propensity of certain racial, religious or ethnic groups to engage in particular criminal activity” ( 2).
2. To Kill a Mockingbird Text Quotations

a. When delivering his closing argument in an appeal to the jury to find Robinson innocent, Atticus says “confident that you gentlemen would go along with them on the assumption-the evil assumption that all Negroes lie, that all Negroes are basically immoral beings, that all Negro men are not to be trusted around our women, an assumption one associates with minds of their caliber.” (Lee 273)..

b. When Mayella Ewell gives her statement in court, she testifies against Robinson by saying ““He done what he was after”” (Lee 242).
3. Commentary/Analysis

a. Atticus finch, in his closing argument makes a very important point- people can only assume that all negroes are immoral or untrustworthy. Likewise, when the assumption that all Muslims are terrorists was made, people did not realize that 19 terrorists out of the entire Islamic population did not mean that all Muslims are terrorists. Furthermore, because of this, people that appear to look Arabic or Muslim are also harassed.

b. In To Kill a Mockingbird, Tom Robinson, the man accused is a parallel to the many Muslims profiled or stereotyped because they are Islamic, while in Tom’s case he is stereotyped and accused because he is black.

D. Acceptance of differences leads to tolerance.

1. ESLR Research Topic Evidence

a. In her research paper, Michelle Malkin states that“ In the wake of 9/11, opponents of profiling have shifted away from arguing against it because its “racist” and now claim that it endangers security because it is a drain on resources and damages relations with ethnic and religious minorities.” (Malkin 2).

b. In a research paper by Tim Recuver, he says that “After September 11 “the government sent clear messages that Muslim Americans are Americans and are not to be mistreated. President Bush visited a mosque in the Washington area and said those who want to mistreat Muslim Americans do not represent America.”” (Receveur 2).
2. To Kill a Mockingbird Text Quotations

a. When Scout asks Atticus for advice on how to get along with others, he says ““You never understand a person until you consider things from his point of view-”” (Lee 39).

b. When Calpurnia decides to take Scout and Jem to the black church they receive a less than welcome comment from Lula, a black churchgoer “Lula stopped, but she said, "You ain't got no business bringin' white chillun here – they got their church, we got our'n. It is our church, ain't it, Miss Cal?"
Calpurnia said, "It's the same God, ain't it?" (Lee 158).

3. Commentary/Analysis

a. Harper Lee uses the character Atticus Finch in the first quote to show us that acceptance comes from understanding another. In Scout’s case, getting along with Walter Cunningham was her problem because she had issues with him and his family being different.

b. Since there are so many different people in the world, acceptance is difficult. Diversity is wonderful, but it creates problems too, because not all differences are accepted. In the second quote from TKAM, Calpurnia taking the kids to her church invoked the controversy of another woman there, because she believed that blacks were black and whites were white. There was no acceptance in her thoughts that both races were human. Similarly, people who are prejudiced toward Muslims must see the world as a whole, not Muslim and non-Muslim. This will definitely improve all the ethnic profiling going on with the Muslims because it will show how they are accepted as human beings too.

In conclusion, hating, or fearing another because of prejudice, unproven stereotypes, and lack of acceptance is prevalent in To Kill a Mockingbird, but has also changed the lives of many Muslim people, who have been shunned and type cast as terrorists and discriminated.
To prevent ethnic intolerance to anyone, people, whether they are Muslim or not, should be seen with an open minded point of view, with no stereotypes prevalent at the time. Their individuality should be acknowledged, and they should be known for their own identity, and not be misjudged and feared because of their race.

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