Wednesday, February 6, 2008

'Covering Islam remains a struggle'

Terry Mattingly at GetReligion just posted part of a discussion he had with Andrea Useem, the freelance journalist who runs the site (and is a proud God Blog groupie, I might add). Their discussion focused on the challenge of reporting on Islam, to which Useem is a convert.
Then, of course, there is the ultimate issue: Whether or not to link Islamic beliefs with acts of violence. How can reporters cover the facts — the terrorists themselves trumpet their faith — without implying that this interpretation of Islam is “normal” or “right” to millions of other Muslims? This was a major concern, both to me and to Useem.

It’s crucial to remember this fact — there is no one Islam.
ReligionWriter: In Jimmy Allen’s 2007 update to Bridging the Gap (text here), Allen lamented that most editors did not see 9/11 as a religious story. But in a way I agree with the editors: Is calling 9/11 an Islam story like saying the Virginia Tech massacre is an Asian-American culture story?

Mattingly: To leave out the religious content of the lives of the bombers would be strange. Let’s look at an example in Christianity. Remember the man who lived out in the woods in North Carolina after blowing up abortion clinics? He had been thrown out of several different very conservative religious groups, and was living as a kind of Christian loner. Yet the press continued to identify him as a Presbyterian. First of all, there’s like 15 different Presbyterian churches: which the heck denomination do you mean? He doesn’t strike me as a PCUSA kind of guy; the world is not full of PCUSA bombers. But for that matter, the world isn’t full of PCA conservative bombers either. In fact, the PCA had thrown Rudolph out — the Orthodox Presbyterians had thrown him out. If you want to accurately describe Rudolph’s life, you end up saying, “Here is a man who said he acted on strong religious motivations, yet the religious groups he was involved with threw him out, and here is why they said they did.” . . .

There, once again, is a debate that has to be covered. You can’t say Eric Rudolph blew up abortion clinics because he was a conservative Christian. You can’t say the guys flew the planes into the towers because they were conservative Muslims. There are too many other conservative Muslims who disagree with them. But the question for journalists is: What are they disagreeing about? And where are the conservative Muslims who will stand up and critique Osama’s interpretation?
I know this struggle, and I've tried to tease out the American brand of Islam with stories like this one. But it's difficult to separate Islam from violence when young American Muslims say their religion justifies suicide bombings or a father is accused of killing his daughter for not wearing the hijab (that was in Canada, but it's close enough culturally).

Killing the infidel is, of course, not the chief focus of Islam. As despicable as some of the murderous Muslims of the Middle East are, they do not represent Islam to me. I'm led to believe that they are, like so many opportunists throughout history, simply using the endemic religion for political gain.

So how can journalists report the fact that there is variance in Islam -- and it's typically peaceful in the States -- when media tend to focus on the dramatic over the mundane, on outrageous actions over everyday interactions? And are we giving most Americans the wrong impression?


ExNihilo said...

I found your blog through a brief string of links starting originally with Dave Hill's blog...

anyway, photography is the thing, graphic arts, etc, and I ended up finding this - your incredibly interesting blog on conservatism and Judeo-American issues... very cool.

The Islamic influence on the west is causing a lot of confusion - primarily because we have a hard time distinguishing between nominal members of a "faith" and those who apply it's actual teachings. It is the latter whom are really Muslims, but perhaps the former that constitute much of its population. In the end, though, when all of them share a cultural/religious heritage, the non-applicant believers can be swayed to the extremist sometimes with little to no warning.

The puzzle of the social struggle.


Brad A. Greenberg said...

Thanks for the comment, Matt. I appreciate the kudos. If only my blog with aesthetically pleasing ...

Joshua said...


The discussion you posted is good. Not sure I agree with your thoughts on Islam.

Yes, a caring person does not want to smear an entire religion. But the truth is liberal media do it daily. And liberal media is the majority media. Christians are the last safe areas of bigotry and prejudice. Between NYC and Hollywood, Berkeley and the Ivory League, it is the welcome stomping grounds for the intellectual and the clueless.

Yet, they will intentionally hold back information on the honor killings, hardly give it a mention.

I admire your struggle to see most people in a good light. I know that Yeshua sees Muslims as all of us gentiles to be redeemed.

But I disagree on the point of Islam and the prophet. While murdering the infidel is not a pillar of Islam, it is etched into every single pillar against Christ. Islam is a false religion created by a false prophet. If we're true to the Bible, we recognize this offense to the Lord.

Or am I being to fundamentalist?
But even more abundantly clear is if you take time to read the Quran, you instantly realize what a dark world it is, not just its laws, or obvious failings of logic, but in its hatred of Jews and Christians. When Mohammed realized he could not convert the Jews and Christians to his new god, he became angry and then declared a series of head-chopping rampages. What started out as peaceful, what began as respect for people of the book, turned into a madmans raid. It only progressed from bad to worse during his life as an ego maniac. He justified looting, rape, murder, raiding of caravans, creation of slaves, concubines, and women as property. He at once said people could pray to moon gods, then changed his mind stating Allah can change his mind. Obviously, becaue Allah was his own insane creation.

But the reason we are facing such evil today is that the fundamentalist are as Matt said, following the actual teachings. Most Muslims are uninformed, just as a majority of Christians in name only. We all suffer from ignorance of these issues.

If an honor killing takes place due to Islamic influence then it must be written. Same for the abortion bomber. The 19 hijackers were all fierce Islamic fundamentalist to the core. They believe in 72 virgins. They believe we are infidels, like dogs. They believe that Mecca is holy and that American infidels were desecrating their lands merely by stand on their sands.

If we do not take stronger stands now against a fasicst, racist interpretation by these fanatics, it will haunt us like Chamberlains decision to trust Hitler.

I cannot be pollitically correct anymore, nor worry about peoples emotions, or reactions.

Now, if an Arab man murders someone due to jealousy or a fight over money, is it automatically a Muslim problem? No, of course not, investigation is required. And I would not bring Islam or Muslim into the written article if it is not crucial to understanding the "Why" of motives.

All the best to you. Good blog. Don't struggle to much, report the facts. Honor killing? Report it as such. We the people depend upon you to do so. Arab, atheist? They exist. If the motive is not religion, then it is not reported.

Maybe I'm to easy-minded? 1400 years of hatred, war, barbaric raids into the West. Our Founding Fathers fought them on the seas. Jerusalem was conquered, subdued and the Mosque on the Temple Mount boldly proclaims Yeshua to be a fake, not the Messiah, but only a prophet, no trinity and there is only Allah in writing, to face Mecca, not Jerusalem.

This is what Muslims have done since 622 and Mohammeds first raid. Raid, conquer, subdue, force conversions or dhimmi taxes, build their Mosque on old Synagogues or Churches. They've done this all over the world, on purpose, day by day. The great masses that attend these Mosque don't seem to have a serious problem with honor killings or with murdering Jews and Gentiles that refuse to bend down to their false god.

A little to long. But I'm not struggling much anymore. Instead I am frustrated with media in not being more forthcoming with the truth of barbaric, antiquated beliefs based upon the rantings of a madman.

Moses, Abraham, Jacob, Joseph, Jesus, did not seek to conquer the world by force. The Lord gave the promised land, it only to the Jews as you know. Yeshua said take the word to the Jews first, then to the four corners of the world. If they do not listen to the Good News, then dust off your sandals and leave. Judgement is in the hands of the Lord. Nor out hands.

Mohammed taught judgement was in the hands of men to subdue all others by force until the entire world is under Islamic rule.

As Europe fades and America follows it appears maybe the times of the gentiles slowly fade. We live in interesting times as the struggle for Jerusalem takes center stage.

Forgive my long, rambling thoughts. I hope maybe, some of it made sense, or struck the right note. When Christ faced off against the Pharisees, did he hesitate to call them serpents? Therefore, should we hesitate to point out a troubled and fanatical doctrine in the murder of innocents?

Joshua said...

A quick follow-up. Do not misunderstand some of my serious accusations as inconsiderate or hateful.

I realize these issues must be handled in a loving way, not to smear the entire Muslim Umah. I'm rough around the edges and do not have to worry about such cultural issues by thousands of readers.

My frustration shows up with impatience to stop being politically correct, or overly sensitive. After 9/11 I read everything on the Middle East, then read the Quran. I wanted to understand their motivations, how serious the battle is. To my ignorance, some forgetfullness, I was astonished at how truly a long war this is and has never stopped, 1400 years old, with deep animosity and hatred.

I realize there are some good some good verses in the Quran that help lead people to a moral life sometimes. But the underlying foundations are very weakly argued, inept superstition and copying errors of the Torah and Gospels. Where there is a strict law, new laws are made based upon Hadiths to get around the law.

Because Mohammed was illiterate, he retold stories he learned from Jews and Christians. He mangled them badly. Unlike the Jewish Levitical priest or Gospel writers, many who were extremely well educated, multi-lingual writers, trained in law and logically argued deep issues.
Mohammed suffered from lack of education and pagan influences in the desert rotating around a fallen meteor. Allah is originally a moon god, a pagan entity. This is why the crescent exist on every flag. It originates in darkness and like a serpernt twist the origional unfolding revelation of truth from the true Creator - G_d.

It is literraly, Light against Dark, with a fallen "angel" (messenger) and blind worshippers going in circles in the desert. Beware false prophets. If they come to you, saying Christ is here, or there, or he is in the desert, beware, this is not Christ.

I remember reading somewhere Benny Hinn said Christ was appearing in the desert to Muslims in 2000 "this is why you must send more money, so the Gospel can spread" yada, yada...

yikes. If it is not an angry fanatical, it is a greedy liar. So many false prophets here and there.

Goodluck with your struggle. I hope you find a way to lovingly say, "the honor killing, by an extremist Muslim, practicing wahabbism is not the belief of all Muslims." But, it is a problem in many third world nations upon which the Saudi wahabbi sect spends billions to export the fanatical denomination that teachers daughters can be murdered if they date a boy outside Islam.

Factual, why of motivation, with the caveat that "most" do not practice the barbaric act, but with a reality that Saudi Arabia is exporting it, along with Pakistan.