Apr
16
2012

Arabs and Democracy: A Question for Fareed Zakaria

Fareed Zakaria wrote in Time magazine (4/16/12) that "the Arab Spring is looking less appealing by the week." The problem is a "messier reality," and he zeroes in on Egypt: And now, as Egypt's presidential election approaches, we see the rise of two candidates from Islamic parties, Khairat al-Shater and Hazem Salah Abu Ismail. The former is often described as a moderate, the latter as a radical. Much of what we're seeing might well be the tumult that accompanies the end of decades of tyranny and the rise of long-suppressed forces, but it raises the question, Why does it seem […]

Mar
16
2012

Do Afghans Love Their Holy Book More Than Their Kids?

I felt like there was something slightly off about this New York Times story yesterday (3/15/12), "In Reactions to Two Incidents, a U.S.-Afghan Disconnect." Reporter Rod Nordland wanted to explore why Afghans seemed so much more outraged over the recent burnings of the Quran than they were about a massacre of 16 civilians by a U.S. servicemember. His piece begins: KABUL, Afghanistan– The mullah was astounded and a little angered to be asked why the accidental burning of Korans last month could provoke violence nationwide, while an intentional mass murder that included nine children last Sunday did not. "How can […]

Mar
09
2012

Rush Limbaugh and Bill Maher Are Alike–and Also Very Different

As he loses advertisers by the handful over his comments about Sandra Fluke, Rush Limbaugh's supporters (there are a few!) and a few other commentators have found what I guess they believe is a good counter-argument: If you're so offended by Limbaugh's sexist, demeaning rants, they why are you silent about Bill Maher? Some see a clear double standard. Fox News liberal Kirsten Powers wrote a column denouncing the left's near-silence on the misogyny of Chris Matthews, Keith Olbermann, Bill Maher, Matt Taibbi and Ed Schultz. And as one adviser to a Gingrich Super PAC put it, "Did USA Today […]

Feb
29
2012

Tom Friedman Is Waiting For Afghans to Shape Up

I think most sensible people understand that the current uproar in Afghanistan over the desecration of the Quran isn't really just about the defiling of a holy book. But if there's sense in the world, there's also nonsense. Enter Tom Friedman's New York Times column today (2/29/12): U.S. troops accidentally burned some Qurans, and President Obama apologized. Afghans nevertheless went on a weeklong rampage, killing innocent Americans in response–and no Afghan leader, even our allies, dared to stand up and say: "Wait, this is wrong. Every week in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iraq, Muslim suicide bombers kill other Muslims–holy people created […]

Feb
15
2012

Newsweek and the 'War on Christians'

A cover that declares a "War on Christians" is bound to get some attention. Writing in the February 12 issue of Newsweek, author Ayaan Hirsi Ali's argument is just as blunt. Enough with all this talk "about Muslims as victims of abuse," because really it's the other way around: A wholly different kind of war is underway–an unrecognized battle costing thousands of lives. Christians are being killed in the Islamic world because of their religion. It is a rising genocide that ought to provoke global alarm. To suggest that a genocide is underway is, of course, a serious charge. And […]

Dec
14
2011

A New Lowe in Advertiser Cowardice

The national hardware chain Lowe's pulled its advertising from the TLC reality show All-American Muslim–explaining that the question of whether Muslims can be presented as regular human beings is a "hotly contested debate." All-American Muslim is a reality show described by TLC, the cable channel that airs it, as "a look at life in Dearborn, Michigan–home to the largest mosque in the United States–through the lens of five Muslim American families…an intimate look at the customs and celebrations, misconceptions and conflicts these families face outside and within their own community." But the Florida Family Association, a right-wing group leading the […]

Mar
16
2011

On Islamist Terrorism, WSJ Entitled to Its Own Opinions–But Not Its Own Facts

Rep. Peter King

A recent Wall Street Journal editorial (3/11/11) defended the Peter King hearings on Islamist terrorism against "our friends on the left [who] are busy portraying them as the McCarthy hearings and Palmer Raids rolled into one." The editors argued that in fact, the focus on Muslims is justified based on the facts: Since 9/11, there have been more than 50 known cases, involving about 130 individuals, in which terrorist plots were hatched on American soil. These include plots to blow up the Brooklyn Bridge in New York, an office tower in Dallas, a federal court house in Illinois, the Washington, […]

Oct
22
2010

With Juan Williams, the Question Is Not Objectivity, but Bigotry

It seems to me that debating Juan Williams' firing from NPR in terms of the role of "opinion" and "objectivity" in journalism is missing the point. Williams has expressed his opinions on Fox News countless times. Other NPR employees frequently express opinions, too, as when Scott Simon wrote an op-ed for the Wall Street Journal (10/11/01) comparing opponents of the invasion of Afghanistan to Hitler appeasers; it didn't seem to set back Simon's career any. The reason that Williams' discussion with Bill O'Reilly (O'Reilly Factor, 10/18/10) got him fired, it seems clear to me, is that he sounded like he […]

Feb
21
2009

Tom Friedman's Terrorism Hypocrisy

New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman referred disparagingly this week to the praise that terrorism allegedly receives in "mainstream Arab media, like Al Jazeera." In his February 18 column, Friedman wrote: To be sure, Mumbai's Muslims are a vulnerable minority in a predominantly Hindu country. Nevertheless, their in-your-face defiance of the Islamist terrorists stands out. It stands out against a dismal landscape of predominantly Sunni Muslim suicide murderers who have attacked civilians in mosques and markets–from Iraq to Pakistan to Afghanistan–but who have been treated by mainstream Arab media, like Al Jazeera, or by extremist Islamist spiritual leaders and websites, […]