Monday, February 06, 2006
  Unreliable Narrators
Ok, one last word on this whole Danish thing (or at least one more word).

One of the things I find problematical in dealing with this situation, as with many situations where we are dependent upon the mass media for our information about what is going on, is that the violence is presented as though vast numbers of people in these countries agree with it. We rarely get to hear the other side -- or, even, to know if the reaction is typical or if it's just an isolated mob whipped up by a fringe cleric. I know for a fact that there are plenty of Muslims around the world who are outraged at the violence just as badly as they are outraged at the cartoons. What I can't accurrately gague is how much of the population agrees with that perspective, and how many agree with the fellows chanting "death to the cartoonists." We just simply don't get that information from the news, and it's easy to assume that large segments of the population agree with irrational militant responses.

I think about the race riots that happened in the Boston area when I was growing up and wonder if the coverage of those riots in distant lands made it look like everyone in Boston were violent racists. I wonder if people in Malyasia reading those accounts wondered, why don't the moderates and the liberals speak up, when in fact they were, but moderation just doesn't make news.

The most problematical part of it is that at a time when we are at war with Iraqis and the "war on terror" has our government infringing on civil rights that we consider fundamental (things like due process and freedom from unwarranted search), it is convenient and typical to demonize the "enemy." Reading the reports coming out of Iraq, you'd think the vast majority of Iraqis are sympathetic to the insurgency. Reading reports about Muslims in general, you'd think my God, we'd better the government whatever powers it needs to deal with 1.6 billion fanatics. Historically we have demonized our "enemies" -- communists, the Japanese, the Vietnamese, etc. Now Muslims are being demonized by some (and giving them plenty of ammo to do it with, I have to say), and it calls into question a lot of the reporting -- what's the whole story?

In fiction, it's called having an unreliable narrator. These days, I feel like the mass media are an unreliable narrator.

And in being unreliable, they are contributing to the problem. Newspapers in Muslim countries whip up hatred and fear, and newspapers in the West do the same, perhaps not intentionally, but by printing only the most sensation items, rather than trying to present the whole picture, the effect is the same.
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Location: Cincinnati, Ohio, United States

Progressive Muslim, feminist, mom, writer, mystic, lover of the universe and Doug Schmidt, cellist, theologian and imam.

What I'm reading now

Cane River
An interesting exploration of the gradual whiting of a family through slavery to modern days.

To see an archive of all the books I've read (well the ones I've read and review since I started the blog) with comments, please click here

Causes Worth Supporting

This is just a short list -- a few of my favorites.

English Language Islamic Fiction. We need more of it. Lots more.
Pay a Teacher's Salary in Afghanistan. The Hunger site actually has a lot of worthwhile programs. You can find them all here .
Muslims for Progressive Values. My organization. We can always use donations, of time or money!
Human Rights Campaign for the glbt community
National Religious Campaign Against Torture
The ACLU I'm a card carrying member. Hope you'll become one too. The organization that has done the most, as far as I can tell, to pull the countries progressive side together.
Network of Spiritual Progressives. Working to reclaim religion and morality for the religious left.

Blogs Worth Reading

Wanda Campbell also known as Nochipa A very gifted poet and a gentle, compassionate soul. Nochipa and I are on the same page on sooooo many things
Writeous Sister Aminah Hernandez, she's got some excellent latino pieces and always has good writing info on her blog.
Sister Scorpion aka Leila Montour - Leila is a fount of energy, quirky humor, and bad attitude. She's also a talented poet.
Muhajabah Very interesting commentary here. I don't always agree with her, but her pieces are always thought-provoking.
Georgie Dowdell Georgie is a great writer and a good friend.
Louise Marley Another great writer. I think Louise is one of the best sf writers exploring faith themes.
Ink in My Coffee Devon Ellington (who has numerous aliases) who is also the editor of Circadian Poems. A truly inspiring woman with a seemingly endless supply of energy.
Ethnically Incorrect With a name like that, isn't a given I'm going to enjoy this writer?
Freedom from the Mundane Colin Galbraith, another excellent writer, from Scotland.
The Scruffy Dog Review This is a new e-zine with an ecclectic mix of fiction, poetry, and non-fic, some really enjoyable pieces here.
Ramblings of a Suburban Soccer Mom Lara, another gentle soul, very thoughtful.
Circadian Poems A journal of poetry, new stuff up all the time.
Ye Olde Inkwell Michelle writes romance and is one of my writing buddies.
Muhammad Michael Knight The original punk Muslim writer. Like him or love him, Mike is always coming up with the unexpected.

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