Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Philly News columnists get it right on intolerance

One of my pet peeves about mass media lately is that its desire to provide "balance" has created a golden opportunity for conservatives on the far right fringes of the GOP to set an agenda of religious intolerance that is dividing the country.

Just in time to help the party in the mid-term elections to boot!

Reporters have tough jobs. And the tenets of the profession can usually be boiled down to two or three essentials: be accurate, be fair and be fast. Reporters are told to "keep your opinion out of the story" and to "always provide at least two sides of an issue and let the reader make up his own mind which one is right."

But what exactly are reporters supposed to do in today's climate when damnable lies and falsehoods pass as "opinion" and are used to spread hatred and intolerance? Should they print untruths when they know the lies will breed hatred? GOP spin doctors have been playing the media for dupes. Provoked by the FOX News propaganda machine, the national media -- particularly print media -- have been cowed into a corner like frightened puppies. In the name of "balance" reporters now allow GOP talking heads to spread shameful innuendos that spread the seeds of religious hatred toward Muslims and help bring voters to the polls.

The Inquirer and the Daily News each ran recent columns that point the finger exactly where it should be pointed: at GOP Congressional leaders and presidential wanna-be's and at the media itself.

Trudy Rubin made this salient point In the Currents section of the Sunday Inquirer:

"Prime among the Islamaphobes is Newt Gingrich: He said on Fox last month that 'the folks who want to build this mosque are really radical Islamists' whom he compared to Nazis seeking 'supremacy' in the United States. For good measure, Gingrich charged Obama with 'pandering to radical Islam.' This dovetails with the anti-factual conservative campaign that has convinced 18 percent of Americans the president is a Muslim.

"Another typical example of inflammatory GOP rhetoric came from State Rep. Rex Duncan of Oklahoma, who warned of a 'war for the survival of America,' because Muslim sharia law was threatening the Constitution. There are too many similar examples to quote here.

"This scary political climate, in which Sarah Palin fuels the flames, has so spooked mainstream Republicans that they appear loath to tamp down the anti-Muslim rhetoric. Meantime, in the background, Rush Limbaugh keeps up the phobic beat and fundamentalist preachers such as Pat Robertson warn that Muslims are on the verge of 'taking over.'

To read more, click here:

http://www.philly.com/inquirer/columnists/trudy_rubin/20100919_Worldview__Fomenting_hatred_of_Muslims_hurts_U_S_.html#ixzz10Ba6uWmo Watch sports videos you won't find anywhere else

And Daily News columnist Fatimah Ali, herself a Muslim, held the media accountable for allowing a tinhorn Florida preacher named Terry Jones to have his 15 minutes of national fame simply because he threatened to provoke Muslims by burning the Quran.

In her latest column she wrote:

"Attention-seekers like Jones pop up all the time, but they aren't always successful in duping the media. The last media-savvy Jones who put the title 'Reverend' in front of his name was Jim Jones, and we all know how that turned out: He managed back in 1978 to lead 900 followers to their deaths in a mass suicide in Guyana.

"It's not that I don't believe that Terry Jones fully intended to consummate his hatred of Islam by burning 200 Qurans, until a wiser head warned him that such a move such would only serve to cause harm to Americans overseas. It's just that news isn't really news until it actually happens.

"And for reporters to have spent endless days and nights covering an event that he said he was planning only served to drive further hatred of Islam and its 1 billion followers.

"As a Muslim, I know that Islam is not a religion of violence or terror, but it gets a bad rap because of the heinous acts committed by a handful of fanatics who've distorted its truth. But who besides Muslims, or religious scholars, will know about the beauty of Islam if they don't read the holy book that Jones threatened to burn?

Read more: http://www.philly.com/dailynews/columnists/fatimah_ali/20100914_Fatimah_Ali__Post-9_11_tolerance___media_hysteria.html#ixzz10BjKWnf5 Watch sports videos you won't find anywhere else

Kudos to both Rubin and Ali!

1 comment:

  1. Well, that's what columnists are for, isn't it? To put a spin on the news? As long as the columnists are out there putting out that view, I don't have a problem with the news story.

    I should note that having the press "decide" what view or statement is outside the bounds of normalcy presents numerous challenges, including: Dems/Repubs often think the other is outside those bounds.

    The press in general is bad at calling out politicians - of both sides - about their mistruths, half truths and total falsehoods. Today its the Repubs and the "not exactly close to ground zero not really just a mosque" issue, yesterday it was the 100 or so mistatements about health care reform.