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Stereotype of the Month Entry

Another Stereotype of the Month entry:

Published on Monday, May 10, 2004 by the Inter Press Service
Bush Circles Wagons, But Cavalry Has Joined the Indians
by Jim Lobe

WASHINGTON -- In the old Hollywood westerns, the white settlers circle the wagons to defend themselves against attacks by the Indians until the U.S. Cavalry can arrive to rescue them and chase off their assailants. But in Washington over the last few days it seems that the Cavalry has joined the Indians.

U.S. President George W. Bush, backed by his vice president and national security adviser, have been circling the wagons around Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld since the White House told reporters that the president had given him a mild rebuke over the prisoner abuse scandal in Iraq.

But the embattled Pentagon chief may have made too made enemies -- particularly within his armed forces -- to be saved.

While Bush praised Rumsfeld for "doing a superb job" during a rare visit to the Pentagon Monday morning, his words were somehow unable to overcome the distinct sounds of knives being sharpened in the hallways just outside, as well as across town on Capitol Hill and at the State Department, where Secretary of State (and former army general) Colin Powell compared the possible impact on U.S. foreign policy of the abuse photographs to the 1969 disclosure of the infamous My Lai Massacre in Vietnam.

Rob's comment
This article's headline theme is the problem here.

For starters, the headline is vague. Who are the "Indians" supposed to be...Bush's critics? And who are the "Cavalry" supposed to be...the military officials who are joining the criticism?

More important, the headline repeats the age-old stereotype of the vicious, marauding Indians. That it couches it in terms of old Westerns doesn't soften the point. The article compares Bush's critics to "enemies" and says they're "sharpening their knives." The subtle implication is that Bush is on the side of goodness and his critics aren't.

Instead of using the "circling the wagons" analogy, how about comparing Bush and gang to Al Capone in his hideout and his critics to the G-Men who captured him. Then the implication changes: Bush's critics are on the side of truth and justice and Bush isn't. (Since that's the actual case, this analogy is much more appropriate.)

The media should never speak of cowboys (or settlers, or Cavalry) vs. Indians in any context (unless it's to criticize the non-Indians). Indians weren't the victimizers in America's history, they were the victims. This analogy obscures that point.

Related links
Savage Indians

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