For several years now, I have been working with Alan Chin to capture significant political events beyond the media filter. Whether covering presidential primaries or the aftermath of disasters such as Hurricane Katrina, our interest, besides the scene “on the ground,” has involved how the media chooses to put words and a literal frame around the scene.
Speaking of “ground,” it’s hard to find a larger disconnect between reality and the media storyline than the one Alan photographed at Ground Zero this weekend on the anniversary of 9/11. Whereas the media’s coverage of Ground Zero and Cordoba Islamic Center protests tend to soft pedal the conflict as a battle of left vs. right, or protectors of freedom of religion vs. defenders of the victims of 9/11, Chin’s photos offer us a different, if obvious message.
What the pictures have to say is that people who take their citizenship and their rights all-too-for granted have turned the terror attack; the commemoration of the terror attack; the election of a half-black Christian president; and this current election season into an opportunity, in the most sanctimonious way, to use classic American symbols, as well as symbols of Christianity, to scapegoat otherwise patriotic, hardworking American Muslims.
What Alan shot and represented in a simple eight frame slideshow is how American Muslims and Muslims in America are overwhelming true to the ideals the haters exploit, and on Saturday, in symbolism and self-expression (whether the media chose to notice or not), they showed up and made it known.
— Michael Shaw
(Revised: 9/12. 2:45pm PST)