Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Muzzammil Hassan on CNN: Islamic Network and Beheaded Wife in (some of) the News

Yesterday evening, CNN posted an article on Bridge TV's Founder's decapitated wife. CNN's brief (just under 240 words) article about Muzzammil Hassan and his wife, Aasiya, fills in a detail that I missed yesterday: The Orchard Park authorities arrested Bridge TV's founder because "Hassan went directly to the police station after his wife's death and confessed to killing her...." (On the other hand, Orchard Park Police Chief Andrew Benz says he hasn't confessed - wouldn't be the first time the news got something wrong.)

From yesterday's news, it was possible to assume that the police saw a beheaded body, and immediately assumed that a Muslim did it. With Muzzammil Hassan's confession, it's going to be harder for charges of profiling and islamphobia to get traction. It's even possible that the 'victim' tactic won't be used at all.

Aasiya Hassan, Muzzammil Hassan, Bridge TV: Pathos Aplenty

News from Orchard Park and Bridges TV is dripping with emotion:
  • Aasiya's restraining order separates her from Muzzammil Hassan
  • Muzzammil Hassan separates Assiya's body and head
  • Bridges TV must now clean up its
    • Floor
    • Image
Muzzammil Hassan displayed high ideals when he founded Bridges TV. Bridges was billed as the first English-language cable channel for Muslims in America. That was in 2004, about three years after airliners made an impact on Hew York City's World Trade Center, the Pentagon, a field in Pennsylvania - and how many Americans see Muslims.

As CNN put it, Muzzammil Hassan "...hoped the network would balance negative portrayals of Muslims following the attacks of September 11, 2001...."

Bridges and Balance: Good Idea; Execution Not so Hot

I can sympathize with Mr. Hassan's wish to counter negative portrayals. I've watched American culture's attitude toward my religious beliefs grow from the stereotypes of Nast and Monk and dire end times warnings, to technically-accurate accusations of intolerance. I'm Catholic, and not all Americans accept Crosby's "The Bells of St. Mary's" version of the church.

But, if I were trying to provide "balance" in a television network, I'm pretty sure I wouldn't have something like Bridges TV's 'news' lineup. It includes Democracy Now!'s own Amy Goodman, "the NY Times best selling author of Exception to the Rulers and Static, hosts a daily current affairs show. Tune in for a unique global view & guests." (Bridges TV's Daily News & Current Affairs page)

Amy Goodman is "radio's voice of the disenfranchised left" - according to the Los Angeles Times, and Democracy Now!

Goodman has every right to be on radio, television, as well as get published in books, magazines, and online.

But I'm not entirely convinced that she's a particularly good choice for presenting a balanced view of Muslims in America. I could be wrong, of course.

CNN, The New York Times, and "All the News That's Fit to Print"

CNN's delay in getting their story out isn't all that unusual. Although the network has been known to post articles within hours of an even, their online news is often 24 hours or more behind other news. This isn't necessarily a bad thing: CNN may have a policy of researching and verifying facts, before publishing.

If The New York Times has an article about the little matter of a beheaded woman cluttering up an Islamic Network's premises, a fairly thorough search this morning didn't reveal it.

I wrote, yesterday, about the difficulties that a prominent Muslim's beheading of his wife presents to a paper with The New York Times' sensibilities.

I don't know why The New York Times isn't paying attention to a prominent member of a Muslim community beheading his wife, and leaving at least part of the remains in his Islamic network's facilities.

I suspect that it's because the Gray Lady's editors haven't yet decided how to handle the unpleasantness, without mentioning Islam, Muslims, beheading, or any other embarrassing detail that might seem intolerant. But, that's just a suspicion.

Besides, it's a free country. If The New York Times decides to ignore Muzzammil Hassan's distinctive method of dealing with his wife, they've got every right to do so. If the Gray Lady's editors feel that a decapitated body on an American Islamic network's property isn't "news that's fit to print" - that's their call.

The New York Times doesn't ignore all news from the little places. Just last year, a story datelined Orchard Park discussed the troubling matter of a sports team playing eight games in Toronto.

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Note! Although I believe that these websites and blogs are useful resources for understanding the War on Terror, I do not necessarily agree with their opinions. 1 1 Given a recent misunderstanding of the phrase "useful resources," a clarification: I do not limit my reading to resources which support my views, or even to those which appear to be accurate. Reading opinions contrary to what I believed has been very useful at times: sometimes verifying my previous assumptions, sometimes encouraging me to change them.

Even resources which, in my opinion, are simply inaccurate are sometimes useful: these can give valuable insights into why some people or groups believe what they do.

In short, It is my opinion that some of the resources in this blogroll are neither accurate, nor unbiased. I do, however, believe that they are useful in understanding the War on Terror, the many versions of Islam, terrorism, and related topics.