Op-ed pick: Did the media turn to stereotypes when covering the Tsarnaevs?

An op-ed from Al Jazeera, headlined “The Wrong Kind of Caucasian,” caught the attention of producer Kryssy Pease.

“When the news broke about the suspects on Friday, the Daily Circuit staff faced a choice about how to cover — if at all — the ethnic background of the two suspects,” Pease recalled. “This op-ed about how different news organizations chose to discuss the Chechen roots of the Tsarnaev brothers is well-documented, well-reasoned, and well worth a read.”

Here’s a taste of it:

Despite the Tsarnaevs’ American upbringing, the media has presented their lives through a Chechen lens. Political strife in the North Caucasus, ignored by the press for years, has become the default rationale for a domestic crime.

“Did Boston carnage have its roots in Stalin’s ruthless displacement of Muslims from Chechnya decades ago?” asked The Daily News, a question echoed by the National Post, the Washington Post, and other publications that refuse to see the Tsarnaevs as anything but walking symbols of age-old conflicts. Blame Stalin, the pundits cry, echoing the argument made every time something bad happens in the former Soviet Union. Blame Stalin, because we can pronounce that name.