When broadcaster Edward R. Murrow wrapped up a 1954 documentary on Joseph McCarthy, the demagogic anticommunist senator from Wisconsin, he said that McCarthy “didn’t create this situation of fear—he merely exploited it, and rather successfully.” Murrow added that this was not the time for people who opposed McCarthy’s methods to remain silent. Today no one in the news media today has the stature or the audience that Murrow had in the 1950s. Most reporters and commentators have been reluctant to push back against Donald Trump’s rhetoric and falsehoods, lest they be charged with partisanship. However, when leading Republican figures speak out against Trump, reporters are given some cover for challenging Trump’s claims (Columbia Journalism Review, July 15).
Aug 11, 2016
In a show of solidarity, Muslims across France attended mass with Catholics following the murder of a priest in a church near Rouen last month. Two men who had pledged allegiance to ISIS slit the throat of the priest and held some other people hostage. They were later killed by police outside the church. “We are all Catholics of France,” said the head of the French Muslim council (BBC, July 31).
Jul 28, 2016
Most Bosnian Muslims living in America—Bosniaks, as they are called— immigrated during the Balkan wars, from 1992 to 1995. They don’t fit the stereotype of what a Muslim looks like. The women rarely wear the hijab, except for prayers. Bosnians blend into American society fairly well. Bosnian Muslims will often overhear other Americans speaking pejoratively about Muslims. When Bosniaks announce they are Muslims, coworkers and neighbors are shocked (Los Angeles Times, July 4).
The pastor and the imam
Jul 28, 2016
On the night of the shootings in Dallas that killed five police officers, Michael Waters and Omar Suleiman had known each other barely a year. Waters is pastor of the Joy Tabernacle AME Church; Suleiman is a nationally known Muslim scholar and one of two imams at the Valley Ranch Islamic Center. Both were at the rally in Dallas protesting the police shootings of black men when a gunman started shooting. Together with some parishioners, the two found refuge at Waters’s church, where they spent the night praying and wondering what they could do to stop violence rather than just react to it. They agreed on one thing: though of different religions and ethnicities, they are brothers (Washington Post, July 10).
Learning to fear
Jul 28, 2016
Since the early 2000s, Americans have said in polls that crime has increased since the previous year, despite the fact that the national crime rate is about half of what it was in 1991, the peak year. There were, on average, 20,377 murders per year during the Reagan administration. In 2014 there were 14,249 murders. In the meantime, the population has increased 35 percent, driving the per capita rate of murder way down. The perception that crime is on the increase is likely fed by the media coverage, the entertainment industry, and by political rhetoric that plays on people’s fears (New York Magazine, July 19).