ANOTHER CONTROVERSY ABOUT ISLAM
PBS is under pressure to air a documentary about radical Islam. No matter what your view of Islam, terrorism and related subjects, I say the more voices heard on this the better. Broadcasters must avoid being irresponsible and airing propagandistic garbage, but there are lots of legitimate views about the state of Islam today, and better to hear them than to ignore them.
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A MORAL QUESTION FROM VIRGINIA TECH
When someone who belongs to a group to which we're connected does something awful, what responsibility do we have? And what guilt should we feel?
This is a little different from the question of whether we are "our brother's keeper," in the biblical words. Rather, it goes to the issue of whether we somehow are morally or ethically connected to people who embarrass us by their behavior.
This matter was the subject of an interesting story recently in the Jewish newspaper, The Forward. It noted that the sister of the Virginia Tech gunman, Seung-Hui Cho (pictured here), almost immediately issued a statement describing the family's sorrow at what Cho had done.
And after that the South Korean ambassador to the U.S. urged people of Korean ethnicity to examine their hearts.
I know from Muslim friends that they hold their breath when there's word of a terrorist attack anywhere because they fear someone identified as Islamic will be involved and that this will put them in a defensive position as people think of them as guilty by association.
When people in groups to which I am connected (journalists, Christians, German-Swedish-Americans, tall, incredibly handsome guys, etc.) make the news for bad things they've done, I rarely feel any personal responsibility, though I do worry that people will think all journalists, all Christians, etc., are somehow the same and equally guilty.
But where do you draw the line on taking responsibility or feeling guilt. What does your faith tradition, if any, tell you about that? If Cho had been part of some group connected to you, how would you have reacted? (And, yes, in some sense Cho was part of a group connected to all of us -- a human being. And maybe that's as much categorizing as we should do.)
To read my latest Kansas City Star work, click here.
Today's religious holiday: St. James the Great Day (Orthodox Christianity)