Muslim

'Outrage' is in the eye of the reporter: Why journalists keep ignoring anti-Catholic comedy

'Outrage' is in the eye of the reporter: Why journalists keep ignoring anti-Catholic comedy

At a time when humor is struggling with political correctness and fallout from the #MeToo movement, there’s little material for late-night hosts and stand-up comedians to work with. Of course, there’s President Donald Trump. He’s fair game given his title, ability to dominate news cycles and for his tweets.  

The other people you’re also allowed to pick on (at least from the material you see on TV) are Christians across all denominations.

Vice President Mike Pence’s perceived wholesomeness, for example, is fair game on Saturday Night Live. If he’s an evangelical (he was born and raised a Roman Catholic), then he must be a prude or a square. For example, of the 80 jokes targeting Pence on the late-night talk shows in 2017 alone, USA Today reported that “most were about his alleged dull personality, prudishness and homophobia.” The article cited a database compiled by the Center for Media and Public Affairs at George Mason University.

Yes, there are real academics who are actually studying this stuff.

The other group that’s fair game are Roman Catholics — period. Jokes aimed at the clergy are so common that there’s barely a ripple of outrage in the mainstream press about this subject. Jokes about others (should a stand-up comedian venture to mock gays or other religions such as Islam) would illicit waves of news coverage about how “Twitter exploded” over the issue.

Comedy can be tough. It’s supposed to be, at times, provocative. What is problematic is how pros in the mainstream press react, or fails to react, to these statements. Censoring comedians isn’t the solution, but it is important to note when the press is “outraged” and when it isn’t.

“Twitter exploded” is the key phrase here.

Please respect our Commenting Policy

Here's story of a saintly Muslim immigrant -- with very few details about his faith

Here's story of a saintly Muslim immigrant -- with very few details about his faith

You could not not read this story when it appeared a few days ago in the Los Angeles Times. Everything started with that headline: “ ‘I knew they were going to die.’ This foster father only takes in terminally ill children.”

Here was a well-told story about an unassuming Muslim man doing a heroic task. And -- he's an immigrant!

The Times wasn't going subtle with this message aimed at Donald Trump. Want to kick out immigrants, this article almost says. Want to start with this guy? 

OK, we get the point. It is beautifully written, but there are some big blank spots. The story starts with:

The children were going to die.
Mohamed Bzeek knew that. But in his more than two decades as a foster father, he took them in anyway -- the sickest of the sick in Los Angeles County’s sprawling foster care system.
Now, Bzeek spends long days and sleepless nights caring for a bedridden 6-year-old foster girl with a rare brain defect. She’s blind and deaf. She has daily seizures. Her arms and legs are paralyzed.
Bzeek, a quiet, devout Libyan-born Muslim who lives in Azusa, just wants her to know she’s not alone in this life. 
“I know she can’t hear, can’t see, but I always talk to her,” he said. “I’m always holding her, playing with her, touching her. … She has feelings. She has a soul. She’s a human being.”

The article then informs us that out of 35,000 children in the city’s foster care system, 600 of them are in dire medical straits. As for those who are dying,  only one person is available to take care of any of them. The story doesn’t say it outright, but these are all children who were dumped by their parents.

Please respect our Commenting Policy

France's high court clears up burkini's legality; mainstream media still muddy the waters

France's high court clears up burkini's legality; mainstream media still muddy the waters

In France's so-called burkini wars, hypocrisy seems to be one of the few things that mainstream media have teased out well. The latest salvo came from the nation's high court today, striking down a town's law against the modest swimwear for Muslims.

Coverage has been fuzzier or silent on other things, though -- like what the laws say, what the underlying concepts mean, religious views on the matter, even the definition of a burkini.

The Washington Post aptly compares the burkini flap with that against the burqa, banned in France since 2010:

The argument behind both was—and remains—that Muslim modesty somehow impedes the rights of women in the historic French Republic of liberty, equality, and fraternity.
This is why, for instance, French Prime Minister Manuel Valls expressed his opposition to the bathing suit in nothing less than the language of human rights: the burkini, he said, was a means of “enslavement.” By the logic of Valls and others, it is the duty of the French state to emancipate Muslim women from the clutches of their religion but also from themselves.

Last week, the New York Times quoted Marwan Muhammad, executive director of France's Center Against Islamophobia, that there is no legal definition of a burkini. But then the newspaper skirted the obvious follow-up question: "Well, is there a religious definition of a burkini? Have any Islamic scholars ruled on this?"  

Tmatt last week quoted former human rights lawyer Amanda Taub for noting the "obviousness of the contradiction – imposing rules on what women can wear on the grounds that it’s wrong for women to have to obey rules about what women can wear." But she then inches out too far on a limb:

Please respect our Commenting Policy

Franklin Graham: Another Trump? Yes and no, RNS profile says

Franklin Graham: Another Trump? Yes and no, RNS profile says

The Religion News Service takes a skeptical but fair-minded look at Franklin Graham -- his beliefs, his politics, his differences from his famed father, Billy Graham -- in a satisfyingly long profile rolled out for Super Tuesday week.

And no, that’s not a chance coincidence, as Godbeat veteran Cathy Lynn Grossman crafts the story:

While Donald Trump campaigns to "Make America great again," Franklin Graham, facing a nation where conservative believers are losing cultural clout, wants to make it Christian again. Week after week, he stands on winter-wind-swept statehouse steps and exhorts crowds like a biblical Nehemiah, warning people to repent to rebuild Jerusalem — with a gospel twist. He urges them to pray first and then vote for Bible-believing evangelical candidates.
But you can’t vote for him.
"No, no!" he is "absolutely not" running for office, said Graham, who tends to rat-a-tat-tat his points.
Instead, he exhorts his listeners to run themselves, starting with local city and county offices. Imagine, he says at every tour stop, the impact on society if "the majority of the school boards were controlled by evangelical Christians."

This sweeping, 2,200-word article is impressive, though not without a couple of issues. It tells of Franklin's rise in building the Samaritan's Purse charity, from a small medical mission into one of the largest disaster relief and development agencies in the U.S. And it adroitly parallels the presidential primary campaigns with Franklin's $10 million "Decision America" barnstorming tour, which often "takes him into town just ahead of a primary or caucus."

Please respect our Commenting Policy

UN Human Rights Council silly season continues; journalists look away, again

UN Human Rights Council silly season continues; journalists look away, again

Little more than a month ago I posted a piece here about Saudi Arabia winning a key role at the United Nations Human Rights Council, the world body's very own exemplar of hypocrisy -- where governments run by despots get to shield each other from global scrutiny while drawing attention to those nations they find it convenient to skewer.

That post was written on the occasion of the absolute monarchy's ascendence to the chair of the UNHRC panel that selects investigators to report on allegations of human rights violations made against specific nations. Choose the investigator and you've largely assured that the outcome will be to your liking.

This post is occasioned by last week's UN General Assembly vote that appointed  or reappointed 18 UNHRC members, seven of whom were reelected to serve a second consecutive three-year-term. (The United States, it's second term three-year-term now up, leaves the UNHRC at year's end in accordance with UN term-limit rules.)

The results were largely predictable. Nations with terrible human rights records were added or reelected to the UNHRC. They include Togo, Burundi, Venezuela and United Arab Emirates.

All four nations have been accused by human rights watchdog groups of curbing freedoms of speech, press, religion, and assembly. Additionally, they've been accused of having government-corrupted legal systems and have voted against UN resolutions meant to aid victims of human rights abuses in various global conflict zones.

But while the Saudi Arabia story received some elite media coverage, the UNHRC election appears to have been largely ignored by American news outlets.

Please respect our Commenting Policy

Porn no more: Secular students inviting religious discussion

Gone is the “low-hanging fruit” of years past when the media converged on the University of Texas-San Antonio campus each year to produce titillating stories on students exchanging Bibles and Qurans for porn.

Please respect our Commenting Policy

Forgetting the kippah or crucifix (and the second why)

All-nighters and Domino’s Pizza at the student newspaper. X-acto knives and 2-point tape. The smell of chemicals processing the film. The five Ws and the H.

Please respect our Commenting Policy