Art, especially of the political variety, is often a telling reflection of political currents. It isn’t unusual to find major newspapers that feature cartoons ridiculing Islam/Muslims. In fact, it is becoming an increasingly regular occurrence as segments of society more readily accept that Muslims are a national security threat lurking in the shadows. The “conservative press” is naturally more likely to reflect these currents, but with its wide reach and audience, the impact they have is doubly disturbing.
Here are 10 very recent cartoons from News Corp’s Australian publications that show just how blatant the scapegoating of Muslims has become.
1) The Oppressed Muslim woman. This cartoon is simple but effective. It depicts the age old stereotype of the oppressed Muslim woman. Her hijab, her niqab – all they do is keep her “locked” away and perpetually oppressed. Don’t forget the desperate, searching-for-a-saviour eyes, too.
2) Home Grown Terrorism. Here we see a cartoon depicting the “home grown” Muslim terrorist threat. In the ultimate desecration of the Australian flag as a symbol and representative of a way of life (supposedly), it forms an evil terrorist, complete with the terrorist weapon of choice, an AK-47. The implication here is clear – any Muslim might have been born here, might live here, might have grown up here but they could be an extremist/Islamist/Jihadist/terrorist.
3) It could be anyone, anywhere. That Muslim that catches the bus with you in the morning? Yeah, he could be hiding a bomb in his beard. Or an enormously oversized gun and belt of ammunition over his shoulder. Remember, you’re not safe because the Muslims all have the potential to have weapons and evil intent materialise from thin air and go on a terrorist rampage.
4) Australians are normal. They do normal things, like have BBQs on Sunday arvos with some snags. Muslims though, are scary and angry. All the time. Even at those glorious BBQs. In fact, they turn up not with aprons like normal Aussies, but with suicide bomb vests. Then they stand there all angry and explosive looking.
5) Save Muslims from evil Muslims. This one is great. It does so much in so little. Firstly, the brave Australian soldier (Kim Beazley) is saving helpless Muslims, because Muslims always need saving. From who? The evil extremist terrorist Muslims of course! Never mind the historic and political conditions created by the West itself leading to much of the carnage in the Muslim world. But this cartoon captures that dichotomy – that Muslims are either to be fought or to be saved, or even to be saved by being fought.
6) Save the Muslim kids. Speaks for itself. The shady Muslim radical is the devil with horns and dark wings. White guy is an angel with a halo and light wings. Both are battling for the souls of our children. Muslims here are being characterised as the very essence, the very embodiment of evil whilst a white person (school staff?) is entirely the opposite.
7) The Muslim world dictator (at least there is an honest depiction of Australia’s cosy relationship with his likes) crushes activists for democracy on the one hand, but keeps those burly, cavemen extremists at bay. Because, of course, Muslims (hundreds of millions of them) who live under the yoke of these tyrants must either aspire to Western models of governance on the one hand or be terrorists and cavemen on the other, right?
8) Even when escaping from a warzone that Australia is aiding in making even more unlivable and hellish, Muslims are treated with suspicion. This cartoon is probably more analytical than it is polemical or bigoted, but it accurately captures the current political climate surrounding refugees from the Muslim world. Men, women, children, the elderly – if they are Muslim then, even in the most glaring of humanitarian crises – they are feared and denied.
9) A depiction of the Parramatta shooting. The perpetrator killed at the scene of the crime is, of course, represented by nothing less than the Prophetic seal of Islam. Never mind that he is a 15 year old child who could have been affected by any number of things, and never mind that it has not yet been established that he was an adherent to ISIS’ methods; but anything goes in the current climate, including using possibly Islam’s most precious seal to depict the slain “terrorist”.
10) The Pied Piper of Radical Islam. This one is probably the most sinister one of the lot, and a hark back to the bone-chilling cartoons of Nazi Germany (and their depiction of Jews at the time) in their notoriously disgusting portrayals. Brainless Muslims – kids and all – beating to the tune of an evil, demonic Pied Piper, hell bent on violent and carnage. “Do you know where your kids are?” is asked – but of course, they are all being brainwashed to commit atrocities, without a mind of their to consider good or bad.
News Corp Australia has nearly three-quarters of daily metropolitan newspaper circulation, and so maintains huge social influence. Literally millions and millions of people see the kinds of cartoons featured here. The media has a massive hand in creating the social conditions which perpetuate hatred and today’s climate of Islamophobia can be significantly credited to the media. The vicious cycle in regards to Muslim depiction thus feeds the very anger that it critiques.
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