Words Matter: The Boston Globe Continues to Connect “Immigrant” to “Terrorist”

Apr 22, 2013
7:29 AM

Much has been written about the alleged Boston Marathon bombers, and The Boston Globe has been providing some of the best coverage around, give the outlet’s locale. However, the newspaper continues to generalize and make the story one of an “immigrant” who did something evil. And we wonder why.

As the second paragraph in today’s paper says (bold italics our emphasis):

In the days since the suspects were identified last week, a picture has emerged of 26-year-old Tamerlan Tsarnaev — the elder of the two brothers, who was killed Friday in the battle with police — as an increasingly militant immigrant, whom family members described as unhappy and mean.

That paragraph came right after this one:

Tamerlan Tsarnaev, one of the brothers accused of bombing the Boston Marathon, angrily disrupted a January talk at a Cambridge mosque when a speaker compared the Prophet Mohammed and the peace activist Martin Luther King Jr., the second time in recent months that Tsarnaev’s radical theology collided with mainstream Muslim faith at a public religious talk.

What do you think the narrative is trying to present? Within two paragraphs from the front cover of one of the country’s top papers, we read the words “the Prophet Mohammed,” “radical theology,” and “an increasingly militant immigrant.”

This is not the first time that the Globe has done this. Last week the paper ran an unfortunate headline about the Tsarneav brothers. Such labels and terms do nothing for the dialogue. It only leads to increasingly overgeneralized perceptions about immigrants and comments such as Sen. Chuck Grassley’s. And then you have all those who will use this story to call to “deport them all.”

If the Globe chooses to present the narrative of how Tsarnaev become more “radicalized,” why not just say that he was an “increasingly militant person?” Why choose “immigrant?”

Words matter.