Women's March on Washington

Malaysia bars Israeli para-athletes, loses major swim competition and major media ignored it

Malaysia bars Israeli para-athletes, loses major swim competition and major media ignored it

We hear a great deal these days, and appropriately so, about rising anti-Semitism across Europe, much of it masquerading as anti-Israel political rhetoric. For years we’ve known about the virulent anti-Semitic attitudes that permeate the Arab world and neighboring Turkey and Iran.

Nor is there any lack of probing news coverage about the spike in anti-Semitism here in the United States. Look no further than the recent Women's March on Washington for evidence.

Still, I urge you to read this recent analysis by Holocaust and anti-Semitism scholar par excellence Deborah Lipstadt to better understand this ominous state of affairs.

Lipstadt notes how even Israel’s government and some Jews unwittingly make the situation worse.

What we hear very little about, however, is the Jew hatred — and its geopolitical twin, the hatred of all things Israeli — that emanates from Malaysia.

This past Sunday — which coincided with international Holocaust Remembrance Day — the International Paralympic Committee cancelled a top-level swimming competition set for Malaysia later this year because of that nation’s refusal to allow Israeli athletes to compete in, or even enter, the Southeast Asian country.

Did you see anything about this in the mainstream media?

Speaking at the Oxford Union [in England] a week ago, prime minister Dr Mahatir Mohamed confirmed that the visa-denial was punitive but restated his country’s right to bar visitors from countries whose policies he disagreed with, adding that if the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) wanted to withdraw Malaysia’s right to host the tournament, “they can do so”. He has also previously described Jews as “hook-nosed” and suggested four million, rather than six million Jews, were killed in the Shoah [Holocaust].

The above paragraph is from London’s Jewish News, as carried by the Times of Israel news website.

As you might imagine, the Malaysia story has been followed closely by Israeli and Jewish diaspora media, along with Asian and Muslim-world news outlets.

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RNS: Religious Left rallies to stop Kavanaugh. Religious Right sitting this one out?

RNS: Religious Left rallies to stop Kavanaugh. Religious Right sitting this one out?

Let’s have a short religion-beat test.

When a story is built on media contacts with the United Church of Christ and the Unitarian Universalists, you are really with what part of the cultural and doctrinal part of the marketplace of American religion?

(Cue the think music)

I see that hand on a religion-news desk! These are outspoken churches on the Religious Left. The United Church of Christ is the elite flock that was home to President Barack Obama.

Now, would you be surprised to find out, on cultural issues, group’s such as the National Council of Churches, the National Council of Jewish Women and Muslim networks linked to the pink-hat Women’s March hail from the same basic zip code, in terms of moral, social and religious issues?

Now, what else do these groups have in common? Well, they are all, to be blunt, they are all tiny, in terms of the size of their flocks. However, they have lots of connections in the media-rich Acela Zone between Washington, D.C., and New York City. Odds are, when you see headlines that say “Religious groups” gather to protest this, that or the other, you are talking about these groups, often accompanied by progressive Catholic nuns dressed in pant suits.

What’s my point? Well, it is not that reporters should avoid covering them. GetReligion has been calling for increased coverage of the Religious Left — especially on religious issues, not just political issues — since we went online in 2004.

No, liberal believers matter. However, experienced reporters know that these groups are small and that portraying them as diverse, influential groups that represent mainline Christianity is, well, just about as fair as saying First Baptist Church, Dallas, and Liberty University are perfect voices for all of American evangelicalism.

That brings us to a very normal Religion News Service story with this headline: “After Senate clash, Kavanaugh nomination an occasion for prayer.” The overture:

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Christian women's rally on National Mall was small, but still had some big news angles

Christian women's rally on National Mall was small, but still had some big news angles

It took 10 months, but the heavily covered Women’s March that happened in January got a response of sorts from devout Christian women. The more recent event was an “Awaken the Dawn” program, followed by a “Rise Up” prayer rally on Oct. 9.

When I wrote up the Women’s March for this blog, I noted the odd mix of women donning hijabs at the Washington DC event with others criticizing the veil as symbolic of patriarchy and oppression.

There was no such disconnect at this Christian women’s event. And this smaller rally did not have wall-to-wall media coverage ranging from Buzzfeed and the Jewish Telegraphic Agency to New York magazine and the New York Times, to name a few.

What we got last week was Religion News Service, the Washington Post and CBN. As RNS’s Adelle Banks worded it:

WASHINGTON -- Twenty years ago, men gathered as “Promise Keepers” and filled the National Mall for a prayer rally seeking repentance and spiritual revival.
On Monday (Oct. 9), it was the women’s turn.
A largely female audience of thousands gathered on the lawn in the shadow of the U.S. Capitol for the “Rise Up” prayer rally. Braving wind and rain, these Christian women -- many charismatic or Pentecostal -- declared their unity and sought God’s guidance to lead the nation.
At turns on their knees, huddled in small groups and facing a stage with hands raised, those gathered prayed for reconciliation between men and women, between racial and ethnic groups, and for ending abortion. In marked contrast to the Women’s March right after President Trump’s inauguration, these women had a different agenda.

Banks helpfully put together a graphic design showing dates of religion-centric rallies on the Mall starting the Martin Luther King’s “I have a dream” speech in 1963; the Million Man March, the Promise Keepers 1997 rally and even the anti-religious Reason Rally in 2012.

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Just listen for a while: What Spayd said @NYTimes. OK, even what Bannon said ...

Just listen for a while: What Spayd said @NYTimes. OK, even what Bannon said ...

For the past several days, I have been in transit from New York to Baltimore to Washington, D.C., and finally home -- all while getting sick as a dog, as we would say in East Tennessee. So I confess that I'm a bit out of touch, when it comes to what's been happening in news and social media.

But let me try to pull things together from my fevered point of view. It seems the hot media items have something to do with President Donald Trump's bluster-maestro Stephen K. Bannon saying something about America's elite media needing to "shut up" and/or do some listening. In fact, if you search for "Bannon," "mouth" and "shut" right now on Google News you get a mere 238,000 hits.

Oh my. What did this man actually say to The New York Times

“The media should be embarrassed and humiliated and keep its mouth shut and just listen for a while,” Mr. Bannon said in an interview on Wednesday.
“I want you to quote this,” Mr. Bannon added. “The media here is the opposition party. They don’t understand this country. They still do not understand why Donald Trump is the president of the United States.”

Oh my, again. Never use a flyswatter when a baseball bat will do. But let's assume that this quote should not be read with the kind of hyper-literalism the Times team would be tempted to call "fundamentalism" in another context. (As usual, turn to M.Z. "GetReligionista emerita" Hemingway at The Federalist for a stunning summary of the online storm.)

Instead of jumping straight to the nuclear option -- Trump aide tells press to shut *$^@#*+ up (some of that was implied, to be sure) -- I think it's possible that the actual content of that quote could better be stated as: "The media should be embarrassed and humiliated and keep its mouth shut for a while and just listen."

Right, right. All I did was move the words "for a while." I think that's what Bannon meant, since everyone knows that the press -- when it comes to listening to Americans on tense topics such as politics, culture and, YES, religion -- is supposed to be listening all the time. I think that's an essential part of their job. 

Is the actual content of this acidic Bannon comment radically different than what ordinary readers said in letters to Times Public Editor Liz Spayd in the hours after Trump won the White House race? Let's flash back to that, while remembering (hello editor Dean Baquet) that discussions of this kind, at the Times and in other elite newsrooms, often include references to the need to "get religion."

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'They say the press doesn't cover them': Trump weighs in on March for Life

'They say the press doesn't cover them': Trump weighs in on March for Life

Friday's March for Life is gonna be yuuuuuge.

President Donald Trump said so.

In an interview with ABC News' David Muir, Trump was asked about last weekend's Women's March on Washington: 

"I couldn’t hear them, but the crowds were large," Trump responded. "You’re gonna have a large crowd on Friday, too, which is mostly pro-life people. You’re gonna have a lot of people coming on Friday, and I will say this, and I didn’t realize this, but I was told, you will have a very large crowd of people. I don’t know – as large or larger – some people say it’s gonna be larger. Pro-life people. And they say the press doesn’t cover them."

The newly inaugurated president obviously hasn't spent enough time reading GetReligion — or he would be better informed on the longstanding and indisputable problem of news coverage heavily favoring the pro-choice side. Specifically regarding the March for Life, our archive is filled with posts on the (lack of) coverage.

But guess what? The Trump effect already seems to be making a difference. First, the Dow Jones industrial average closes above 20,000 for the first time. Then — the morning after Trump mentions the March for Life on ABC — the annual pro-life march makes the front page of today's Washington Post:

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Surprise! Pro-life women planning to join March for Life get front-page news coverage

Surprise! Pro-life women planning to join March for Life get front-page news coverage

Hey, this is a surprise.

Pro-life women planning to join this week's March for Life in Washington, D.C., got front-page news coverage in the Detroit Free Press.

Why's it a surprise?

If you're a regular GetReligion reader, you don't need to ask: We've pointed out a time or two — or a thousand — that news stories heavily favoring the pro-choice side are a longstanding and indisputable problem. If you somehow missed it previously, check out the classic 1990 Los Angeles Times series — written by the late David Shaw — that exposed rampant news media bias against abortion opponents. 

So yes, it's unusual to see a Page 1 story in a major metropolitan daily that focuses on the perspective of the pro-life side. But that's exactly what the Free Press provides — quoting five pro-life advocates, including four women. (Amazingly, this is my second post in the last week-plus praising a mainstream news story on the abortion issue.)

Back to the Detroit story: Let's start with the lede:

While millions of women marched last weekend for equal rights around the world, many others sat on the sidelines.
They felt excluded from the Women's March on Washington because of one tenet: Its pro-abortion rights platform.
But this week, it's their turn.

The wording of the next paragraph gives me a little pause. But maybe it's just me:

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As it turns out, hijabs were the most obvious religion issue in Women's March

As it turns out, hijabs were the most obvious religion issue in Women's March

By now we’ve all heard about the Women’s March on Saturday that caused millions of pink-clad people to take to the streets around the world, even in Antarctica. (Even more impressive were the 2,000 people marching in -50º weather in Fairbanks. Now that’s dedication).

But where did faith fit in? Before the event, Religion News Service had a columnist assemble “a Christian packing list” for the march. Jewish Telegraphic Agency did a walk-up describing where two Jewish groups will organize and meet. 

On the day of the March, RNS had two people survey the religious women to be found on the mall, all of them with the religious left. Buzzfeed followed pro-life women and documented the less-than-enthusiastic reception they got. (I wrote about the controversy surrounding them last week.)

The lone mention about religion from the actual speakers at the Washington March was documented by New York Magazine, which broadcast a quote from Janelle Monae (in the above video) who plays mathematician Mary Jackson in the movie “Hidden Figures.”

Janelle Monáe started her speech at the Women’s March on Washington today with a history lesson. “I wanna remind you that it was woman that gave you Dr. Martin Luther King Jr,” she said. “It was woman that gave you Malcolm X. And according to the Bible, it was a woman that gave you Jesus.”

But the big religion topic that most media missed had to do with how one of the major symbols for the event was a woman swathed in an American flag wrapped to look like a hijab.

This intriguing column in the New York Times dealt with the March disintegrating into “a grab-bag of competing victimhood narratives and individualist identities jostling for most-oppressed status.” The writer wondered why Muslim women were one of the oppressed classes named in the “Guiding Vision and Definition Principles of the March” when Jewish and Latino women weren’t mentioned at all. Her explanation:

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No pro-lifers? Journalists find that Women's March on Washington doesn't want them

No pro-lifers? Journalists find that Women's March on Washington doesn't want them

When I first moved to Washington, D.C. in 1995, one of my first assignments was to cover the annual March For Life that commemorates the anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court's 1973 Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion.

It was around that time that the Pro-Life Alliance of Gays and Lesbians asked to be a part of the march, only to have its chief organizer tell them they weren’t welcome.

Everyone I knew disagreed with this organizer –- who has since died -– because most people felt abortion was so evil, there needed to be a much larger coalition opposed to it other than the usual suspects. The PLAGL folks marched anyway and they were welcomed, as far as I know. They have been marching for years, now.

Now the shoe is on the other foot, culturally speaking.

The Women’s March on Washington, slated for this Saturday, was supposed to be about women, right? It turns out access to abortion is one of the basic principles in this march, which, The Atlantic reported Monday, puts one group of women in a bind.

Pro-life women are headed to D.C. Yes, they’ll turn out for the annual March for Life, which is coming up on January 27. But one week earlier, as many as a few hundred pro-lifers are planning to attend the Women’s March on Washington, which has been billed as feminist counterprogramming to the inauguration.
With organizations like Planned Parenthood and NARAL Pro-Choice America co-sponsoring the event, pro-life marchers have found themselves in a somewhat awkward position. What’s their place at an event that claims to speak for all women, but has aligned itself with pro-choice groups? With roughly a week to go before the march, organizers also released a set of “unity principles,” and one of them is “open access to safe, legal, affordable abortion and birth control for all people.”

Nevertheless, the magazine reported, organizers had originally granted a pro-life group partner status in the rally. But once that news got leaked out, the organizers did an about face.

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