Muslim integration falling victim to media drive for conflict
COMMENTARY | September 15, 2010
Seven years ago, it was neonconservatism that led to a major clash between the U.S. and Islam. Will the 24-hour news cycle cause the next one?
By Haviland Smith
What has most set the United States apart from its fellow liberal democracies in Western Europe over the nine years since 9/11 has been our acceptance and integration of Muslims into American life.
That essentially benign and welcoming attitude, fortified by our history of encouraging immigration and our principled Constitution, has been the main reason we have not suffered the kinds of terrorist attacks that have plagued countries like Britain and Spain, where attitudes have been less than welcoming.
All that now seems to be changing. Virulently anti-Muslim groups are trading on the fears of the largely uninformed American population by aiding and abetting anyone who wants to join or ramp up the hue and cry against Islam. Recent national focus on the Islamic Center in lower Manhattan and new mosques in Tennessee and the Midwest, as well as attacks on mosques around the country, all seem to be stirring up the pot.
The situation has gotten so out of hand that we are now being warned by the president, the secretary of state and even our favorite General Petraeus that a continuation of this anti-Islamic rhetoric and activity will gravely damage the United States throughout the Islamic world, particularly in those regions where we have committed our military power – Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, etc.
Of course, these warnings of calamity to come are precisely the same warnings given to the Bush administration by the State Department, by our favorite general of that moment (Eric Shinsheki), by the CIA and by countless Middle East experts and observers during their ramp-up to the 2003 invasion of Iraq. Despite those warnings, President Bush, inspired by an extremist neocon vision of democratization through unilateral preemptive war, invaded Iraq. The Muslim world was inflamed.
Just as those warnings seven years ago proved to be prophetic, today’s warnings are likely to come true as well. But the media doesn’t have to make things worse.
Last week’s threatened burning of Korans by an obscure group of 50-odd, fundamentalist Christian radicals in Florida would never have gotten any attention anywhere were it not for the eager complicity of today’s American media which, in its endless, ongoing quest to fill the news for 24 hours of every day, took an otherwise insignificant story and ballooned it into a crisis.
In this case the media’s drive to manufacture stories could have resulted in additional American deaths abroad or, if Muslim integration in this country suffers, even at home.
No one questions the media’s First Amendment right to freedom of speech, but that right brings with it some responsibilities, which were in no way met by the coverage of this woeful Florida preacher’s antics.
Could it be that the media’s need to manufacture conflict will be the source of America’s next great clash with the Muslim world – this time, perhaps, within our own borders?
09/16/2010, 12:50 AM
Dear Mr. Smith,
I read your scholarly report and, although I agree with you views on the media handling of the Qur'an Burning affair by the "Dove Outreach Center" in Florida along with a host of other mishandled and irresponsible journalistic trash, I do believe America has a real concern.
Have you read the recently released “Team B-II Report” appropriately titled "Shariah: The Threat to America", from the Center for Security Policy, submitted to the Obama administration for review and action?
I urge you to read this report.
Here is the link to the .PDF:
I extend my heartfelt thanks to you for your commentary.
Kim S. Bruce
09/16/2010, 06:44 PM
Speaking of neo-conservatives:
dark actors whispering campaign
09/18/2010, 03:19 PM
Some of the Islamic hatred is pushed by groups with agendas contrary to our Constitution and democracy. The fear of Sharia law being forced upon America is one example of misinformation being used to ferment anti-Islamic sentiments. A close look at these 'dark actors' and their financial backers is overdue. America deserves the clear light of truth, and a the fresh air of open discussion.
09/19/2010, 01:39 PM
Information on the people behind "Shariah: The Threat to America" may be found here: