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Rabinowitz on Muslim victimization

April 9, 2010

I love the way Dorothy Rabinowitz writes and am embarrassed to admit that I wasn’t really aware of her until quite recently. In any case, this column she wrote for yesterday’s Wall Street Journal was particularly interesting because it addresses media coverage of Islam, something my students and I have been discussing in class the past couple of weeks. In fact, the last batch of news/feature story assignments was on the topic of Islam. And several students addressed the media’s coverage of the faith in their stories and argued that the coverage had been largely negative.

As a veteran religion reporter, I know it’s not so cut and dried. Sure, Islam has been associated with some of the worst atrocities happening in the world, and that gives a very negative impression of the religion to news consumers. But there have also been what we might call positive stories about Muslims, stories that portray Muslims as sympathetic victims of extremists within their religion and of anti-Muslim forces here in the U.S.

Reporters ran with the theme in part because the media’s appetite for victim stories of any kind is inexhaustible. But this was, in addition, the kind journalists pride themselves on as socially responsible. It was also one that didn’t lack for willing subjects. For American Muslims in considerable numbers apparently subscribed to the view that theirs was the abiding suffering that had been inflicted by the 9/11 attacks. There was no missing the steady supply of Muslims available to tell inquiring reporters of their feelings of alienation and persecution.

One Comment leave one →
  1. Dale and Melissa Fowler permalink
    April 9, 2010 9:32 pm

    After reading her article, I can’t help but agree with almost all that she says. America, despite its many problems and failures to live up to its ideals, is still representative of much of the good in humanity, precisely because we struggle with our problems and failures in a society that is freer than most of the world’s.

    Thanks for sharing this. I wouldn’t have read it otherwise.


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