Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Issues with Catholic Magazines

I just got the e-copy of my alumni magazine from Marquette University, and it includes a story about the post-9/11 nature of heroism. The author of  "The Hero Within", Pamela Hill Nettleton, refers to  "the events of 9/11" three times, yet never uses the word "attack", and never mentions the perpetrators.  In fact, she actually says "the enemy can't be identified."  Her story, to be sure, is not about the attacks themselves but about our perceptions of the "heroes" that emerged that day and in the weeks that followed. But her refusal to call 9/11 what it was--a jihadi attack on America--is symptomatic of the way Americans, Catholics in particular, are being trained to talk about our ongoing conflict with belligerent Islam.

One of my pet peeves is seeing or hearing the phrase, "the events of 9/11." Really? My parents where in high school in 1941, but I bet they didn't talk about "the events of December
 7th." I would bet a hundred bucks they actually discussed "the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor."

An "event" is more along the lines of a family reunion or the parade in Downtown Chicago for the Blackhawks when we won the Stanley Cup two years ago. A planned attack in a war that had already been declared, an attack which cost millions of dollars to organize and implement, and which resulted in thousands of actual casualities, is not an "event."

Reducing 9/11 to an "event" makes it sound like it was just something that happened, on a level with a natural disaster or something wholly accidental, like pilot error. The dead are murder victims. They had families and friends. They were deliberately targeted. And their fate was cheered by devout Muslims all over the world, including right here in the American Midwest...because 9/11 was a Muslim victory.

I know that's really awkward to say, but there it is.

Marquette Magazine is not alone in this effort to cleanse our collective memory of any negative information about the Religion of Peace. The tenth anniversary of 9/11 provoked a number of "reflections" on the Events, and the Catholic press was all about changing the narrative and reminding us that the only human being nearly as Christlike as Christ was Mohammad...even though Jesus didn't order hits on his enemies or have sex with children.

U.S. Catholic magazine spent part of the September 2011 issue "reflecting" on the attacks--and at least they do use the word "attacks"--and critically looking at whether our response was appropriate. One suggestion: we should acknowledge our "complicity." (!!!!????!!!) You get the gist.

Another case in point: St. Anthony Messenger devoted the entire Septemter 2011 issue to Catholic-Muslim relations. The hard copy has a bit more impact than the e-version. There's a story about St. Francis's experiences with Muslims during the Crusades, and how he learned so much from them and made such a favorable impression that his impact is still being felt today, etc etc etc etc. I don't know if this was intentionally ironic or not, but sandwiched within that story is a full-page ad  requesting donations for the Church's mission to Catholics in the Middle East who are "Outnumbered. Afraid. Alone." Outnumbered by whom? Afraid of what? This surely can't refer to the compassionate Muslims who are devoted to the well-being of the religious minorities in their midst.

Worse is SAM's "Ten Things to Know About Islam." Info spoiler: the person who consulted with the author is a CAIR member. Oh, so this story isn't biased! There are some relatively accurate generalizations among the "Ten Things," but there are also off-the-wall fundamentalist statements that are presented as facts pertaining to all Muslims (ie, hijab is required). The problem with promoting a narrow version of Islam to non-Muslims who may be curious and well-intentioned is that a huge segment of the Muslim population is ignored. Muslims who don't wear their religion on their sleeve--or their heads--and who have chosen to keep their religion private and non-political are marginalized. CAIR gets to call the tune and everyone marches along, and that undermines "secularized" Muslims who simply want to practice the Religion of Peace in peace. 

Mohammad's wife Kadijah is mentioned in "Ten Things", but not Aisha. This is so typical of CAIR it's sickening. Kadijah, for those of you who don't have the Mohammad's Wives score card, was his first wife. She was 15 years his senior and definitely wore the pants in THAT relationship--he didn't DARE take another wife until Kadijah had gone to her Reward. But after she was gone, he received a number of revelations from the Angel Gabriel that gave him permission to take a number of wives--some of whom were already married to other men, but no matter because the Angel Gabriel also allowed divorce in those cases--and the Angel was also okay with the idea of concubines. (Regular Muslims who do not have Gabriel on speed dial are only allowed four wives....but a lot of concubines.)

His favorite of these was a little six-year -old kid named Aisha. Mohammad was in his forties when he married her, but,  ever the gentleman, waited until she was nine before calling her in (from playing with her friends) to "consensually" consummate the marriage.

Aisha was not mentioned in the SAM article because Muslims HATE it when non-Muslims bring up Aisha. One Muslima told a friend of mine, "You people are not supposed to know about this!" (Well, boohoo, because we've all been studying Islam since The Events of 9/11, so that cat's out of the bag.) The most common Muslim response is, "So what? A lot of child marriages took place in the 7th Century!!"

EXCEPT that today, laws in Islamic countries, like Pakistan and Afghanistan and Iran, are based on the "exemplary" life of Mohammad, and so sanction child marriages to much older men. (This would be "shariah," which we are told repeatedly is no big deal because it only affects bank transactions.) Not only are official ages of consent mandated by the Qur'an, but unofficially, such marriages take place in "modern" Muslim countries with the blessing of so-called Islamic scholars.

St. Anthony Messenger probably didn't want to stir up bad feelings by mentioning Aisha, but in effect they gave a sly little wink to pedophiles everywhere by omitting her story. That seems counterintuitive for a Catholic magazine, given all the bad press with sexually predatory priests. I mean, you would think that SAM would go out of its way to point out that this sort of behavior is wrong, unless it's only wrong if you're caught. (And I bet a lot of bishops would love to say to outraged and disappointed Catholics, regarding the sex abuse scandal, "You people are not supposed to know about this!")

There are some brave exceptions to this trend in Catholic media, which I will address in my next blog entry, but it is important to recognize that this bias exists.

Leaving out inconvenient or negative information about Islam is politically correct. But deliberately not telling the truth is still a lie--even if "only" by omission.



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