Wednesday, December 17, 2008

First American Congressman Goes to Mecca- Curious Non Story

Get Religion has a good piece on , Congressman Keith Ellison’s trip to Mecca for this year’s Hajj. See The undercovered Hajj. The story is no one in the media seems interested. The article is very good and we also learn the Congressman's wife still remains a Catholic which is pretty interesting.

Powerline makes a interesting observation that is linked in the above article.

It's hard to know what to make of the reticence displayed by local, as well as national, media. One would think this would be a great human interest story: America's first Muslim Congressman journeys to Saudi Arabia to perform a set of rituals that is central to his faith. Yet not a word of it has leaked out.

Two factors may be at work here. First, while reporters and editors would take a sympathetic line, they may lack confidence that their readers and viewers would see Ellison's Hajj the same way they do. Everyone who pays attention knows that Ellison is a Muslim, but perhaps a detailed focus on the activities surrounding the Hajj could make some uncomfortable. So perhaps our news media thought that Ellison's cause would best be served by discretion.

Too, while the tone of any news coverage would of course have been positive, editors may have wrestled with the question of how to reconcile a puff-piece on Ellison's Hajj with their customary attitude toward observant members of other religious faiths. Thus, news coverage of Ellison presumably would have noted his participation in the ceremony in which pilgrims symbolically throw stones at the Devil:

Speaking for myself, I'm perfectly fine with that. Legend has it that Martin Luther once threw an inkpot at Satan, too. Still, a scrupulous editor could hardly help thinking about how his newspaper or television network would cover a ritual in which a conservative Christian--take, for example, another Minnesota Representative, Michele Bachmann--threw stones at the Devil. The ridicule that such a gesture by a Christian would provoke can hardly be imagined.

Then, too, would news coverage include photos or video of Congressman Ellison wearing a "two-piece unstitched garment" as he circled the Kaaba? No wonder our news media decided that in covering what could be seen both as a great human interest story and a historic event, discretion was the better part of valor. It's striking, though, what a great part such discretion by the news media (and not only about religious matters) has played in Congressman Ellison's career.

I think Powerline could be on to something. Just look at the horrible media coverage Palin got- Does that wacky woman speak in tongues!!! etc etc etc. Or Bobby Jindal and the EXORCISM!! Crazy folks you know

Something to think about

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