Jan 1 2009

Letters to the Editor

Frightened and Sickened by Islamophobia

Just had to contact you after reading both “Smearcasting” (Extra!, 11-12/08) as well as your article in Friday’s Huffington Post (10/10/08)—great job! I only wish you had included Ayan Hirsi Ali, author of Infidel, in your list of Islamophobes—I think she’s single-handedly smeared Islam among so many average American women book club members.

My two teenagers and I have been busy giving presentations about Islam all over Arizona. We find ourselves repeating the most basic facts, usually in response to the audience questions about spurious information about Islam obtained from Fox News, Glenn Beck or anonymous e-mails smearing Islamic beliefs/Quran misquotes.

I hope the media will read your report carefully and assess the damage which has been caused by this campaign of misinformation. The media loves to lament, “Where are the moderate Muslims and why aren’t they speaking up?”—well, we’re moderate Muslims who are sickened by the barrage of lies which continue to be spread—whether knowingly or unknowingly—about American Muslims.

Dilara Hafiz,

Co-Author, The American Muslim Teenager’s Handbook

Paradise Valley, Ariz.

Most thinking Americans have noticed the demonization of this religious group since 9/11. If we are going to win the struggle against extremism and terrorism, we need to remain calm, collected and focused. It is frightening to think that we are not above dehumanizing an entire group of people. The recent “lynch mob” mentality witnessed at the McCain and Palin rallies is a chilling reminder that, despite our nation’s laudable leadership in advancing civil rights, we are not immune from backsliding.

Dawn Franks

Chicago, Ill.

Plenty of Bubble Talk

Regarding the story, “Busted Bubble: The Press Fell Down on the Job on Housing Prices” by Veronica Cassidy (Extra!, 11-12/08): The press has been discussing, for many years, the concern of lots of people that we were in a housing bubble. The problem was that no one really knew whether it was a bubble or not, how big, when and where would it “burst,” etc. Your article claiming media have not been covering this is just flat out wrong on this account.

The problem always has been: As a buyer, what do you do? Do you rent forever, and just wait for the so-called bubble to burst? And then watch for year after year as your dream home becomes unattainable? Or do you dive in and hope to ride out any “bursting” of the “bubble” if it happens?

I do think there was a dearth of warning about Fannie Mae being stretched so thin, and also a dearth of warning that Congress was mandating (or in some cases major cajoling) banks to loan to people who are poor risks in poor areas. These were not well-covered in the media, as far as I can tell.

Art Altman

San Carlos, Calif.

Be Fair to HuffPo

Re: “Huffington Post Mutes Women’s Voices” (11-12/08): I have been faithfully reading the Huffington Post since its inception. On at least two occasions I have heard a poster, one of whom was the author Jane Smiley, mention that she earns nothing from her posts on HuffPo. Considering that the site was founded and still headed by a powerfully articulate woman, I find it unlikely that there is an intentional gender bias. Rather, women in the content-producing game may very well have less discretionary time to contribute to the cause, which would result in fewer women’s bylines.

Also, two months is an awfully narrow timeline to sample bylines by gender with the result of gender bias charges against HuffPo. One could explain the difference during those two months with factors such as women bloggers having family vacations to coordinate or children to prep for the coming school year. I can’t imagine anything shorter than a six-month study period for valid results.

Yes, there will still be a gender gap on HuffPo, just as there is throughout society. But I strongly urge FAIR to make every effort to be fair to progressive media outlets, because advancing social justice depends a great deal on such works.

Liam Rooney

Fort Collins, Colo.

NYT Fails on Surge, Too

It is quite evident that the New York Times has ignored the Iraqi opinion (“As Usual, NYT Ignores Iraqi Opinion,” Extra!, 11-12/08), the in-depth public opinion, which can only be compiled with a broad sampling. The Times has not as yet clearly opined on the important subject of the result of the “surge.” They should have raised the question of whether it was a “military surge” or a “financial surge” that tempered down the insurgency—and what happens if the Iraqi government fails to keep up with the payments. It seems that they do not want to go beyond the “surge has worked” stage, just as they do not want to go beyond the confines of the Green Zone.

G.M. Chandu

Flushing, N.Y.

The Devil and Bill O’Reilly

Excuse me, but doesn’t Bill O’Reilly’s self-proclaimed success (“SoundBites,” Extra!, 11-12/08) prove there’s a devil rather than a god? It sure seems that way to me. He has probably done as much as anyone to demolish any lingering belief in a god like his that I might have still been holding onto. Thanks, Bill.

Bob Barkley

Worthington, Ohio