Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Almost Forgotten

One of the really frustrating things about working for justice for Palestinians is the way our U.S. mainstream news covers Palestinian stories so poorly. One little-known story from the attack on the Free Gaza flotilla is that one of the nine victims was a U.S. citizen. Furkan Dogan was born in the U.S.; when he was two, his family returned to Turkey, where he grew up. He was nineteen; he had just graduated from high school and planned to become a doctor. He responded to an online invitation and won a lottery to join the flotilla, which was bringing humanitarian aid to Gazans (photo is Furkan's picture).

If he had been white, would we have heard more about him in our news? If his family had been British, living briefly in the U.S. when he was born, would our news media have covered the story? I can imagine that our local Denver news channels would have headlined his story if he had lived in Denver—and if he were white. I wonder if his being Muslim and Turkish had an effect on the lack of information about him in U.S. news?

Roger Cohen, an op-ed columnist for the New York Times, introduces us to Furkan in his Monday column:

TROY, New York — The Dogans were a quiet family little noticed by their neighbors here in upstate New York. Ahmet Dogan had come to the area from Turkey to study accounting at the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.

He was a serious student; the Dogans did little entertaining. But when their younger son, Furkan, was born in 1991, the family threw a party and a neighbor recalled a toast “to the first U.S. citizen in the family.”

Furkan Dogan would live just two years in Troy, returning to Turkey with his family in 1993. But he was proud of his American passport and dreamt of coming back after completing medical school. Five Israeli bullets — at least two of them to the head — ended that dream on May 31. Dogan was 19.

See photos of the other victims of the attack:

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