In this post, I want to look at how Breitbart News constructs fear by using the title and image in a recent article as an example. On April 3rd, an article appeared on the Breitbart News web page describing an incident which took place in Germany, the title was as follows:
There are various points related to the title that I found of relevance. Firstly, the location, a small town. If a violent attack takes place in a small town, if the inhabitants of a small town become victims of an act of violence, then no one is safe; we are all living under a cloud of threat and danger, and must live in the likelihood that one day, we too will be attacked. No matter who we are, or where we will, we are threatened by the violence which now is present in our societies. The fact that the small town was attacked, and not an individual, or a single property appears to indicate the scale of the violence and the seriousness of the situation.
And so, who were the attackers? ‘African, Arab Men‘! The out-group has been formed. The ‘Other’ has been constructed. It is African and Arab men who are attacking ‘Our’ small towns and villages. It is African and Arab men who we must fear and protect ourselves from. Their existence in our societies threats us, and our way of life is now under attack.
African and Arab men are thieves; they enter our towns and villages and steal our property, our tools, objects which we used to construct and build our societies and now these tools are being stolen from us and used as weapons against us and our families by African and Arab men. They are thieves and they wish to destroy us.
They terrorize us and bring terror to our local communities. We live far from the war zones of the Middle East, yet we face terror on a daily basis. We live in fear of these intruders who have entered our societies, these African and Arab men.
Who are we? We are the locals, the indigenous population. We have always lived here, this is our land, our community, we have our way of life. It is now being threatened and we live in fear of these African and Arab men.
The picture is a stock image, not one taken from the actual scene of the event, but it certainly represents an image the writer or editor at Breitbart wishes to convey. Our small towns have become militarized zones because of the threat of the African and Arab men who now prowl our street, steal, attack and terrorize us,we, the local inhabitants.
The picture has been intentionally cropped and the police officer is literally headless. He has become a faceless militarized police officer, a man without identity who is now needed to protect us against African and Arab men.
The focus of the image is on the weapons and armory. He is wearing body armor and heavy protective gloves, but the focus is on the high-tech, semi-automatic rifle he is carrying, a weapon which is necessary to protect us and our way of life in our small town homes.
He is carrying other weapons; on his belt there is a pistol and possibly a truncheon or stun gun device; weapons which are needed, as we live in fear.
Therefore, our societies, not just our capital cities, but also our small towns, have been turned into militarized zones, our way of life is now under threat.
The editors of the Breitbart News are have a clear message they wish to convey.
They attempt to construct fear in the readership. Fear of the other. Fear of African and Arab men.