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


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English Language Islamic Fiction. We need more of it. Lots more.
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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
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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.
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