Sometimes outside-the-box thinking proves invaluable in solving the controversies that plague us, but sometimes it turns out to be a minefield of useless self-embarrassment. CBS anchor Katie Couric’s novel approach to combating alleged Islamophobia falls firmly in the latter camp. During a panel review of 2010’s biggest stories, Couric lamented the American people’s clueless intolerance:
“The bigotry expressed against Muslims in this country has been one of the most disturbing stories to surface,” Couris said. “Of course, a lot of noise was made about the Islamic Center, mosque, down near the World Trade Center, but I think there wasn’t enough sort of careful analysis and evaluation of where this bigotry toward 1.5 billion Muslims worldwide, and how this seething hatred many people feel for all Muslims, which I think is so misdirected, and so wrong — and so disappointing.”
One wonders how Couric is measuring this “seething hatred.” By what Americans say? Doubtful—Newsweek’s latest poll on the subject found that 67% of Americans believe that “only some” or “very few” American Muslims “support the goals of Al Qaeda and the Islamic fundamentalists,” and 62% believe “most” or “many” are “peaceable and do not condone violence.”
Is she judging by what Americans do? Equally dubious—according to the FBI’s most recent statistics, Muslims were the victims of 7.7% of all religiously-motivated “hate crimes in 2008,” as opposed to Jews, who were the victims of 65.7%.
Her only concrete evidence is the nation’s strong opposition to building a mosque near Ground Zero. But even this fails. The project’s leader, Feisal Abdul Rauf, desires a “sharia-compliant” America, wrote a book whose original title explicitly called for Islamic proselytization “from the World Trade Center Rubble,” and refuses to condemn Hamas as a terrorist organization. Legitimate questions were raised about the mosque’s funding. Indeed, many mosques have gone up in New York without a peep from the “bigots”; suggesting their motives are simply sensitivity toward the placement of a cultural artifact near the site of a terrible crime committed by members of that culture, and an entirely-warranted suspicion that the mosque’s true purpose is to mark the site of a victory in the global jihad.
Admittedly, it’s kind of silly to expect Katie Couric to be aware of all this; I mean, it’s not as if she’s one of the nation’s top news anchors or anything…
Fellow panelist and NPR regular Mo Rocca noted that societal changes need to be made when “really smart,” well educated people like him don’t know much about Islam.
“I’m pretty smart, and I can’t tell you … I mean I went to really fancy schools and I cannot tell you five things about Islam. I know almost nothing about a major world religion that sits at the intersection of so many issues that all are undeniably relevant to all of us.”
And these guys consider themselves fit to judge everyone else’s views of Islam?