Why It is Important To Do Your Research First: Fox News on Birmingham

This evening I received a number of notifications on my Facebook page – somebody had tagged me in a link to a video. It was a clip taken from a recent Fox News broadcast, and when I watched it, I was horrified. I discovered that the reporter – terrorism ‘expert’ Steven Emerson – was informing everyone about Birmingham (UK), my beloved city, and the apparent fact that not only is it totally Muslim, but it is a ‘no go’ area for non-Muslims. To add insult to injury, he went on by stating that in parts of London, there are religious police that go around ‘beating and wounding’ people if they aren’t dressed in Muslim dress. This is clearly in response to the awful events of the last week in Paris – the anchor genuinely looks a little worried as headlines of  ‘FRANCE URGES EXTREME VIGILACE’ and ‘TERROR IN PARIS’ fills the bottom of the screen and once again Fox News is attempting to incite racial hatred and using completely fabricated stories to justify it.

I moved to Birmingham in 2001 to do my degree at a respected music conservatoire. I was nervous, having only visited once before during my audition. It took about half a day to completely fall in love with the city, and it’s has been a love affair that has continued ever since. It’s a beautiful, vibrant and fast-paced place, with one of it’s greatest attributes being that it proudly hosts a hugely diverse and multi-cultural community. I have made friends from all over the world who have introduced me to their culture, their food, their music and their beliefs – I’ve been taught how to make Caribbean dishes, I’ve participated in Sikh weddings (which were the best ceremonies I have ever been to), I’ve been taught how to Bhangra dance, sang in Gospel choirs, celebrated Chinese New Year with Chinese friends and I  now teach students that have interesting and varied ancestries… and I’m a better person for it.

Here are a few ‘facts’ that I would like to set straight for Fox News and their report.

1. Being a white girl with dark blonde hair and blue eyes, I am in the majority – in the 2011 census I was one of 621,636 people registered as ‘white,’ which is 58% of the population. 494,398 people were registered as Christian, which is 46%, and 234,411 people in the city were registered as Muslim. That’s just 21.85% of the population. Hardly ‘totally Muslim’ is it? It isn’t even a quarter.

2. While it does have areas in which different communities of people live, Birmingham does not have places that are considered to be ‘no go’ for anybody. Common sense tells me that wandering around alone late at night in any city is not the safest thing to do, but I have never been made to feel uncomfortable and unwelcome in any place that I have visited or lived. In fact, when I have attended parties and events that have been hosted by people of a different race or religious background to my own, they have gone out of their way to make me feel accepted.

3. Birmingham was recently voted as one of the ten most exciting destinations to visit in 2015 by travel guidebook Rough Guide and welcomed 34 million tourists last year from all over the world. In 2012, Birmingham was named number 19 in the New York Times’ ’45 Places to Go’ – the only English city outside of London to be selected. Why? Because it’s a wonderful place to be and the diversity in culture makes it an entertaining and educational experience for all who visit.

4. London does not have Muslim police that beat others up for not wearing the correct Muslim dress. Do I really need to justify that ridiculous statement with any further explanation?

After understandably receiving an enormous backlash from thousands of people over his comments, Steven Emerson has recently issued an apology, along with a donation to Birmingham’s Children’s Hospital. I should think so too…

Perhaps it may have made a little more sense to actually do the research first rather than using a wonderful city to incite racial hatred towards valuable and welcome members of my community?

You can also find me on Twitter and Tumblr @suzie81blog and don’t forget to check out my Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/suzie81speaks.

 

Video Credit: Stephen Walmsley

89 thoughts on “Why It is Important To Do Your Research First: Fox News on Birmingham

  1. Perhaps it’s my provincialism, but isn’t willfully spreading divisive lies in order to incite violence a crime? And isn’t it odd that a “Free Country” has a network that offers nothing but empty and hateful propaganda? I often feel as if the Confederacy won the American Civil War.

      • I’ve no idea! In the UK I think they’d be censored for it, people could complain to the ombudsman or it might even constitute insitement to a hate crime. The US seems to have fewer routes to stop it (although I’m really not up on the US systems), possibly because the right to free speech is the most important thing. Personally I don’t understand how “free speech” means being able to blatantly tell lies but hey, what do I know?! I was glad to see the Twitter reaction against Fox but sadly I doubt it will make them change their hateful ways. :o(

  2. Ugh. It’s a sad state of affairs when popular news sources blatantly spread misinformation. And Fox News constantly makes these kinds of mistakes. The worst part is that people are so quick to believe and repeat this kind of stuff without checking their facts, because it fits into the larger story we’ve been sold. Thanks for standing up for your fellow citizens!

  3. I’m not sure what baffles me more: that this media outlet continues to report outlandish lies or that many people in the public will easily accept it as truth when it can be so easily refuted.

    You know what’s really sad? I saw this on my FB feed and someone posted in the comments it seemed less than accurate. There were people who feverishly defended Fox because they only report ‘the truth’. This isn’t about reporting different sides; they are lying and spinning fear. It is unethical.

  4. Suzie, I don’t believe but about 10% of what I hear and see in the mainstream media. Many of the reporters are lazy as exemplified by this one. It would be nice if they were actually held to standards.

    • Absolutely! These people are in a position of power and have a responsibility to remain neutral and maintain integrity… I doubt anyone will be held accountable for it though unfortunately

    • Absolutely! There’s enough tension around as it is and I was really annoyed that this sort of fabricated report could hurt our tourism in the future… Luckily the backlash has been so huge I think it has had the opposite effect!

  5. Sometimes I think that Fox “News” is as extremist as the Muslim jihadists. If it makes you feel any better, I’ve heard nothing but good things about Birmingham and would love to visit someday. Please don’t think that Fox News represents the viewpoint of all Americans. Fox News represents the hyper-conservative political right that I regard as generally reprehensible.

  6. Oh wow. I don’t watch the news so much as read about it, but haven’t been able to really look into it recently and so missed this mess-up. I’m kind of glad to miss out on stupidity sometimes. I’m glad that people called him out on it though.

  7. What nonsense, as a Midlands girl myself I can’t believe someone would make such a generalisation. Birmingham may have its rougher areas but so does everywhere else, race and creed has nothing to do with it.

  8. What worries me, is that there are thousands of people in America and even globally that believe the nonsense sly FOX news spews out! Ridiculous.
    Also why hasn’t anyone shut down that damn station already?! That’s one outlet that should be sued immediately!
    Great post – I agree Birrrrmingham is a great city! 😉

  9. The media is a very powerful tool that often steps out of line with sensationalism that has little bearing on reality. This is exactly what many in their audiences are looking for – shocking titles and broad conclusions to repeat mindlessly whilst tarring all with the same brush.

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  11. Fox News here in America is only on pay cable, internet, and various satelite providers. They are not broadcast “over the air” to your home TV antenna. Broadcast over the air TV is free, and that is all I use. The choices are much less, but so much less is the @#%&!

  12. If it’s on Fox ‘News’ I tend NOT to listen…it is shocking how much on their air is wrong or completely fabricated…and this is not the only story….they recently had to make a public apology to Paris for making up some more stuff about Muslims. They have no shame. Then again…media in general is shameful these days…

    • Hi stranger! Hope you’re doing well! They issued an apology about the report on Birmingham but they blamed the ‘expert’ rather than themselves… I still can’t believe that they are allowed to broadcast – all the comments I’ve received have been about how incompetent Fox News is…

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