People with microphones and computers who think they are experts as they cherry-pick scriptural verse from the Hebrew Bible, New Testament or Quran, observe evil behavior of those who claim their respective religious text as authority, and then make outrageous claims about the nature of the other’s religion ought to pause before saying or writing anything. We who listen should change the channel immediately or delete such drivel from our computer screens.
The rise of ISIS, Al Qaida, the threats of a nuclear Iran, Hamas’ brutality, and the brutality and extremism in many African and Middle Eastern countries have given rise to pontifications and pronouncements by people who don’t know what they are talking about when it comes to the interplay of history, religion, politics, power, and human avarice. Their generalizations and cherry-picking of facts feed fear of the “other”, do harm to the good name of vast numbers of Muslims, Jews and Christians, destroy civil discourse, polarize people who otherwise would have much in common, and represent an assault on the truth.
“Fox News” is perhaps the most serious offender, but so are other media outlets whose “commentators” obsessively focus on religion as a principle culprit in world violence instead of more complex historical forces and simple greed and avarice.
I am attaching two articles by my friend and colleague, Rabbi Reuven Firestone, Professor of Medieval Judaism and Islam at HUC-JIR in Los Angeles (from the “Forward” and “Jewish Journal”), who I trust as a bona fide scholar of Islam and Judaism. I know enough about Judaism and Christianity (I am not a scholar of the latter) to know that the general points he makes in these two articles are true and important for all of us when thinking about the rise of radical Islamic groups around the world.