Monday, November 30, 2009

Religious bigotry in the New York Times

What happened in Switzerland is quite significant. Of course, only an ignorant would associate Switzerland with equality and tolerance: just remember--as I always remind my students--that women were only granted the right to vote in 1971. Enough said. But what is quite outrageous is the extent to which US (and Western) media are not treating this as the international outrage that it is. Just ask yourselves: how would the Western media have reacted if the ban affected synagogues and not mosques. Would you not have seen stories against it on the front pages of ALL US newspapers? If this ban affected synagogues, for example, the US government would have convened a special session of the US Security Council and the special UN commission on Human Rights. Worse, look at the way in which media will now begin justification of the ban, and notice how the Western media link religious intolerance with references to fanatical groups and to Bin Laden. What is the link, I don't get it I guess? And here is the New York Times' first sentence in covering the story: "In a vote that displayed a widespread anxiety about Islam..." Can you imagine the New York Times ever justifying, or even explaining away, a ban affecting Judaism with a sentence like: "In a vote that displayed widespread anxiety about Judaism..." And is anxiety about a religion not an exact case of religious intolerance? I mean, Nazis displayed widespread anxiety about Judaism and that is why we condemn them as the anti-Semitic bigots that they were.