Tuesday, May 17, 2005

The Unfortunate Newsweek Error & The Extremist Urge To Violence

The error in Newsweek reporting that caused life taking violence in the Islamic world was a very sad event. A simple one line error, from a source that should have been reliable out of a magazine with thousands of other words of journalism, had a very unfortunate world impact on violence. Some of the extremists in the Islamic world used the Internet to report the story to populations of persons who are often illiterate, uneducated, impoverished and near starvation conditions, who would never read Newsweek, or understand the limitations on reporting or human errors in free press journalism. Some irresponsible religious leaders have promoted violence over this regrettable reporting error. Reporting errors are common in all news sources. Print and electronic journalism often get wrong sources, facts, or journalists make wrong assumptions errors based on note taking limitations.

The loss of life and any renewed sense of antiAmericanism because of this Newsweek error is a very depresssing legacy of this small reporting error. And because antiAmericanism heavily due to American support for Israel is often near the top of many sensibilities by some in the Islamic world, then often many want to believe the very worst about America. But in reality the availablity of the Bible, Torah, Koran as well as some Wicca books are very available in nearly all military bases, prisons, and state prisons as well. Religious clubs and worship representing all these faiths are encouraged in all these settings. There is no sense against any of these world religions. And the American military has Christian, Jewish , Moslem and Wicca members as well.

Hopefully this Newsweek error will not fuel more violence against the U.S. , but just like some Christian extremists in this country, then sometimes small things are blown out of proportion by a few to promote discrimination or sometimes violence. Some violence against homosexuals for example grows from some who take one part of the 510 Old Testament laws of the Jewish faith, and overpromote this to create discrimination against homosexuals. Other laws mandate Saturday Sabbath worship, not eating shellfish or pork, men being required to wear facial hair, or rules regarding menstruation. These laws are ignored by most practicing Christians, but the very small portion dealing with homosexuality is used to justify job and housing discrimination or gay marriage bans, or sometimes even violence by some. So sometimes some in the Christian community act in an extremist manner to go beyond promoting a spiritual walk with God, to instead using portions of the Bible in hurtful ways. In the same way some in the Islamic world caused death and violence by abusing the Newsweek story, before getting the facts straight.

The American government respects Islam very much. In the war with Yugoslavia, America spent billions and American pilots risked their lives to prevent further violence against Moslems in this nation. And with the Tsunami, some Muslim governments in the Asian community received billions in American government and private contibutions, aid and medical help. And although it's not the government hoped for by the Bush Administration in Iraq, the coalition of parties associated with Iranian born Shiite Cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, now rule Iraq, and America respects that government.

There is a great commonality of the Islamic, Jewish and Christian faiths. All three can call Abraham the father of the roots of their faith, and the two sons, Issac and Ismael, are the chief fathers of the JudeoChristian and Islamic peoples, respectively. There are now more who practice Islam in the U.S. than the Jewish faith for example. And most Christian and Jewish leaders have a great deal of respect for Islam. Many in the Islamic world attended the funeral of Pope John Paul II, because of the high level of respect he had for members of their faith.

I personally have both Jewish and Moslem friends. And I like both and respect all faiths as most in America do. The Newsweek error should not construct any wall of prejudice between any of the great faiths or societies of the world. And neither should the political right in this country abuse this error to promote more of their antifree press extremism either. Just like some antiAmerican extremists, the political right sometimes promote very irresponsible positions to further their own political power. Poliipundit for example equated Newsweek with "manslaughter" for their error. This is not responsible. There was no intent by Newswwek to promote violence or to worsen relations between Islam and the U.S. It was merely a print source reporting error. It is indeed very regrettable some lost their lives over this.