EMAIL PAGE TWELVE
COLUMN SIXTY-FOUR, OCTOBER 1, 2001
(Copyright © 2001 Al Aronowitz)
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CHRISTIAN STATIONS SPEW POISON
Rattling Sabers of Bigotry
Date: Sat, 22 Sep 2001 17:47:34 -0400
Angeles Times - September 16, 2001
Sabers of Bigotry
Brooks is a former Middle East correspondent for The Wall
FRANCISCO -- I spent last week on a road trip I never expected to take. Like
thousands of others with busted flight itineraries, I passed my hours in a
rented car with the radio on and the voices of America filling my ears.
through the mountains of Oregon and the flat, golden fields of California, when
the steady familiarity of Noah Adams and Terry Gross dissolved into static, I
would hit the "seek" button and find myself in the foreign territory
of small-town talk-back.
of what I heard only added to last week's burden of despair. To a deafening
rattling of sabers was added a cacophony of ignorant statements. On a so-called
Christian station, I heard a preacher tell his listeners that Islam was a cult
that worshipped the moon and preached total destruction of Jews and Christians.
Callers seemed baffled about which religion the terrorists might have adhered
George W. Bush mentioned that he had been seeking cooperation from Pakistan's
president, Pervez Musharraf, I remembered how, when running for president, he
had not been able to come up with that gentleman's name. Then, he seemed
unruffled by his ignorance, and Americans mostly seemed inclined not to mind it.
We have all been fat and happy and self-absorbed, watching "Survivor,"
driving gas-guzzling SUVs and eating our super-sized takeout meals, as networks
cut their foreign news bureaus and all the miserable little wars in poor and
dusty places got pushed to the back shelves of our conscience like unread books.
we have misery aplenty of our own, and some 75% percent of Americans say they
support going to war. But against whom? This week we have heard mention of Saudi
Wahabis (Bin Laden) and Saudi Shiites (possibly some of the hijackers) at odds
in their own land but somehow seemingly united against ours; of Egyptians and
Algerians and Afghanis and people with passports from the United Arab Emirates;
Palestinians, the government of Iran, Saddam Hussein in Iraq. We are
week, in a journey through two major cities and dozens of towns, I did not see
one woman in a Muslim headscarf. It pains me that American women are hiding in
their homes. One young Muslim acquaintance told me that she gave up wearing her
scarf during the Persian Gulf War, because students on her school bus taunted
her and tried to pull it from her head. She is one of more than 6 million
Muslims in the United States, and like half of them, she was born
is so much support for military action right now that it is hard to remember how
little stomach this country actually has for it. I was in Somalia the last time
U.S. forces tried a surgical strike against a much weaker enemy--the botched
attempt to kidnap General Mohammed Farah Aidid that ended in military
humiliation and hideous deaths of American soldiers and civilian Somalis. It is
easy to forget the horror of the crashed helicopters in the Iranian desert or
the abrupt end to the Gulf War once we got a look at the "road of
death" of Iraqi soldiers trying to flee Kuwait.
eye for an eye" has become our shorthand for the hot satisfactions of
revenge. Few of us reflect that when the Hebrew Bible preached that message, it
was the first call in recorded human history for restraint, for a proportionate
response to violence. None of the Christian radio stations I heard this week
dwelt on the other, famous scripture that takes the message to that harder,
If Jesus himself had called in this week to ask us to "turn the other cheek," I don't think they would have let him on the air. ##
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