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A few well-written words can convey a wealth of information, particularly when there is no lag time between when they are written and when they are read. The IPS blog gives you an opportunity to hear directly from IPS scholars and staff on ideas large and small and for us to hear back from you.

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Entries tagged "Media Criticism"

Creating an Equal Opportunity Page

October 3, 2012 ·

Letter to the Editor

I spotted letters from 14 men and three women on the Sept. 22 Free for All page. It caused me to wonder if women’s letters aren’t being published or whether we’re just not writing many letters to the editor. But then I remembered that I’m a woman. And, hey, I wrote a letter to the editor about the extraordinary inaugural reading by our new poet laureate, Natasha Trethewey, that wasn’t published. Trethewey is not only a woman but also the first person of color to hold the laureateship in 17 years.

What gives? Is another grammatical error in The Post (the subject of several of the Free for All letters) really more important than one of the most significant cultural events of the season? Or is this some guy thing I just don’t understand?

Sarah Browning
Washingston, D.C.

This letter was originally published in the September 21st edition of The Washington Post.

From Oslo to Oklahoma

July 23, 2011 ·

So far more than 90 people are known to be dead in Friday's horrific Oslo attacks. For Norway's population of less than 5 million, that is equivalent to more than twice the number of people killed here in the U.S. on 9/11 - linking the human solidarity of loss we so palpably remember.

For a truly powerful, anguished, voice-breaking response, take a look at the speech of norway's prime minister.

But as if those horrific attacks were not enough, we are already seeing a repeat of the aftermath of the 1993 Oklahoma City attacks in which 168 people were killed by right-wing white American Christians.

In that case, as now, "experts on Islam & terror" immediately announced that "jihadi elements" and "extremist Muslims" were to blame. The repellent Steven Emerson, for instance, was ubiquitous in the U.S. media ranting about "Islamic terror."  He lied.  And he NEVER apologized for lying, for being wrong -- to the contrary he went on to a lucrative career as a Muslim-bashing and Arab-bashing pundit.

Now it's the Wall Street Journal, with their scurrilous editorializing about the inevitability of Islamist responsibility because "in jihadist eyes Norway will forever remain guilty." Their editorial remains on their website through Saturday, almost a full day since police arrested the right-wing "ethnic Norwegian" suspect.

The Washington Post has eagerly joined the fray, giving their favorite right-wing editorial pundit Jennifer Rubin, known for her anti-Palestinian (as well as anti-Obama) rants, free rein for speculation. Here's the summary of what she wrote, via James Fallows in The Atlantic:  

Read it and weep. On the Post's site Jennifer Rubin first quotes the Weekly Standard, in a rushed item about the Norway horror:

"We don't know if al Qaeda was directly responsible for today's events, but in all likelihood the attack was launched by part of the jihadist hydra. Prominent jihadists have already claimed online that the attack is payback for Norway's involvement in the war in Afghanistan."

Then she goes on to argue on her own:  "Moreover, there is a specific jihadist connection here: "Just nine days ago, Norwegian authorities filed charges against Mullah Krekar, an infamous al Qaeda-affiliated terrorist who, with help from Osama bin Laden, founded Ansar al Islam - a branch of al Qaeda in northern Iraq - in late 2001."

In Norway, as one Oslo teenager described it, “Everyone thought that he was a Muslim, a Pakistani, or someone with dark skin.”

It will be interesting to watch how the case against the accused murderer develops. Norway, one of the more civilized countries in the world, does not allow the death penalty; in fact it doesn’t even allow sentences of life imprisonment.

If Anders Behring Breivik was instead named “Ali Mohammad” would we be hearing calls for the death penalty?  Would the possibility that he was a “lone wolf,” an “outcast” even be considered? 

That Oslo teenager could have been talking about the United States as well.  I asked the same question at the time of the mass murder in Tucson, “What if Jared Loughner Were a Muslim Arab Immigrant?”

We still don’t know the answer.

We have a lot of work to do - not only to mourn, but to organize against the wars that depend on this kind of hatred.