Friday, May 18, 2007

Calling a spade a spade

Darlene Thyen of Paynesville, Minnesota wrote a letter to her local StarTribune.

Why do we keep hearing about "Muslim" extremists and not just extremists ("U.N. beefs up security after attack on U.N.-run school by Muslim extremists," May 8)?

We never say the "Catholic drunken driver," or "Baptist pedophile," or "Presbyterian rapist," or "Lutheran murderer" or "Jewish bank robber." Let's stop this practice of identifying only one segment of society -- unless we're willing to name everyone in this way.

We do a disservice to law-abiding Muslims when we lump them all together with the law-breakers.

One small note - I say Baptist Pedophile all the time.

I've been thinking about this subject ever since listening to PRI's The World Somali cab drivers report on May 7th. The report was about taxicab drivers who refuse to give rides to customers if they are carrying alcohol. 4,800 people have been deigned rides so far based on Muslim beliefs that alcohol is sinful. Muslims refuse to  even carry it.

75% of the taxicab drivers are from Somali, 90% of these Somali's are Muslim. PRI choose to label its segment "Somali cab drivers". The editorial content of the story focused on Islam. It would have been editorially honest to say "Muslim cab drivers". Yet PRI choose to dumb it down so as not to offend the same Muslims they are critiquing in their report. PRI's actions were political correct and dishonest.

Darlene Thyen - as long as Muslims refuse to give cab rides based on their religious beliefs, then the description "Muslim" applies. As long as extremists act in the name of their religion, then the description "Muslim" applies. Your logic breaks down when you look at your examples, Catholics do not drive drunk as part of their theology, Baptists do not molest children, Presbyterian do not rape... you get the idea. Try this one instead - Fundamentalist Christians bomb abortion clinic. Now the playing fields are level.

Note to Darlene Thyen: Write to the Muslim Extremists instead. Tell them to quit killing people in the name of their religion. I'm already working on the Baptist Pedophiles.

Hat tip Zen Curmudgeon.


vjack said...

She's right. Christian extremists may not resort to violence as frequently as their Muslim brethren, but I suspect this has more to do with other cultural differences and the nature of the communities in which they live and less to do with theological differences.

Oh, and keep focusing on Baptist pedophiles. Somebody has to get the word out.

aidan said...

Agreed, if the subject of a story - i.e. Somali taxi drivers - makes the news for denial-of-service based on their Islamic beliefs, then its appropriate to use the term "Muslim".

There is a tendency though on the part of some sites and publications these days to tack the "Muslim" word onto criminal behavior that wouldnt normally be identified with a religious tag. It seems gratuitous at times and at times more like profiling.