But which Bethlehem? 3-3-15
Media coverage of religion inadequate: 3-5-15

Was it really Islamophobia? 3-4-15

One of the things our 24-hour news cycles do is move us toward premature judgment about a host of matters.

ISLAMOPHOBIAIf it sounds like terrorism, it's terrorism. If it looks like suicide, it's suicide. Let's move on to the next drug overdose by a rock star.

Careful journalism, however, should help us all avoid such rushes to judgment. Ah, if only there were more careful journalism.

An example: Let's return to the terrible Feb. 10 shooting of three young Muslims in Chapel Hill, N.C. The man arrested, Craig Stephen Hicks, was known to be an aggressive atheist who often carried weapons. He was a fan of such other aggressive atheists as Bill Maher and Richard Dawkins. So almost immediately social media exploded with the conclusion that Hicks killed the Muslims because they were Muslim and that this constituted a hate crime.

But now Salon.com has published this intriguing piece questioning that conclusion. It's well worth a read, if for no other reason than to give us time to slow down, to consider all the evidence. The deaths of these three promising young Muslims was a catastrophe. And their murderer deserves to have the full force of the law brought against him.

But until we know for sure, let's not assume a conclusion that looks reasonable (Islamophobia) but may not be, given the circumstances of the case.

There's plenty of evidence of Islamophobia in the world. Indeed, it's a scourge that must be contained and eliminated. But it doesn't help to find it where it may not exist. That's just crying wolf.

(I found the graphic used today here.)

* * *


Archaeologists think they have found a home in Nazareth once believed to have been the house in which Jesus grew up. Bet you could identify the rooms of teen-age boys from that period by finding hidden copies of the "Song of Solomon" under their beds.

* * *

P.S.: My latest National Catholic Reporter column now is online here.


The comments to this entry are closed.