Sunday, March 29, 2009


If you thought the little cousins at the Fair 'n' Balanced Network were putting all their energy into chron- icling the Failed Obama Admin- istration, think again. Things are also active on the Michiganistan front! Here's the lede from Saturday afternoon's centerpiece (it's been cleaned up a little since it was first published, but the sturmabteilung were kind enough to post the original top of the story):

The "call to prayer" is a sound heard five times a day in this city, but this is not the Middle East. It’s Dearborn, Michigan — which has one of the largest Arab-speaking populations in the U.S. (Those may be the funniest scare quotes I've ever seen. The "call to prayer" is called a call to prayer because -- oh, hell, is this giving it away? It "calls" people to "prayer." Sort of like "ringing" a church "bell." It's only scary if you're stupid. The language, by the way, is called Arabic, not Arab, and it's a language, not a religion. Most Muslims aren't Arabs. But that's the sort of thing journalists who write for national news organizations are supposed to know, isn't it?)

Like other immigrant groups, many came here decades ago in search of a better life. In the past few decades, the auto industry needed workers, so Michigan became a top destination (True-ish and not very true, respectively. The first big wave of Arab immigration to these parts was around the turn of the previous century, and it was predominantly Levantine Christian. In the "past few decades," it's been more made up of Muslims and refugees, and it's had nothing to do with the auto industry, which wasn't short of workers.)

Over the years, thousands of the Muslim faithful from around the world settled here, opening shops and restaurants, and turning [this is a bust at the FreeRepublic version, alas, but we could point out that (again) "Arab" and "Muslim" aren't the same thing and that being a member of the "faithful" isn't a known correlate of immigration.]

Dearborn is a Muslim dominated community, replete with mosques in every section of town and traditional foods from places like Pakistan and Syria. [ZOMG head for the hills they're coming for our cheerleaders!!!!! Our reporter needs to breathe deeply and visit -- oh, Dearborn's homepage! Wherein one can find a mayor named O'Reilly (a common Muslim terrorist name, as anybody at Fox ought to know), a city council populated by the likes of Tafelski, Hubbard, Thomas, Sareini, Shooshanian, Abraham and Darany, and a bunch of judges named Hultgren, Somers and Wygonik. True, the police chief is a Haddad, which is pretty scary, but we're going to get a lot of Schmidts and Herreras* in the dragnet if we bring him in for questioning. I think you'd have to be genuinely, massively delusional** to think of Dearborn as "Muslim-dominated," but it's a great place to eat. As long as you don't find the Arabic alphabet inherently terrifying.]

But while there are plenty of cultural comforts from the old country, Muslim women say that they’re constantly caught balancing their lives between the freedoms they have in the western culture, and the restrictions they face from religious and societal pressure. They worry whether they’re following the habits of "a good Muslim woman".

Amid the blizzard of Orientalist non sequiturs (are we talking about Arabs or Muslims? Immigrants or fifth-generation families? Culture or religion?), you've probably figured out what Fox is up to here: These People will never adjust, and we'd better throw them out wholesale before they start blowing us up.

We have here, by any standards, a stunningly incompetent piece of reporting. It generalizes from two people to a billion people. It's about immigrants, but the first Real Person it quotes is someone who grew up here. It's about people who immigrate from restrictive cultures, but it doesn't stop to parcel out the number of people who have Saudi or Afghan or Pakistani roots. It hints that Those People can have four wives whenever they want, but it can't be bothered to acknowledge that most monotheistic traditions are usually able to work around or ignore the stranger or more antediluvian prescriptions of their holy writ. There's no evidence to support the nut graf: that Muslim women in Dearborn are prone to cross-cultural pressure in ways that others aren't. (Read this in the context of the local fishwrap's proclamation that Christians are up in arms about opening day, in that real Christians*** are in church from noon to 3 on Good Friday and those heathen Tigers are playing the Rangers at 1 p.m.)

All that sort of suggests the point: This isn't journalism that's meant to inform, or to round up the current state of knowledge, or to set out a few sets of opposing viewpoints. It's journalism that's meant to scare. If you're a Fox regular, you read it in the context of this story from Tuesday:

BRUSSELS, Belgium -- A clash of civilizations**** may be taking place on the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan, but it's also happening a lot more quietly in European cities.

Old Europe's population is dwindling even as immigration and high birth rates among Muslim groups are swelling in cities all over the continent.

The message is that we're next, meaning ...

And sometimes clashes of cultures can have deadly consequences.

Last month, Buffalo resident Aasiya Hassan, 37, was found decapitated after she had been complaining to police about domestic violence. Her husband, Muzzammil Hassan, was charged with the crime.

Well, decapitation is a big story at Fox, wherever it happens. But doesn't it seem kind of shortsighted -- as long as they're in beautiful southeastern Michigan and all -- not to mention the case of notorious Muslim extremist Stephen Grant, who dismembered his wife Tara right up the road from here? And there hasn't been a beheading in the Dearborn area since -- oh, since that Orlewicz kid killed somebody named Sorensen a couple years back, is it?

Whenever Fox turns up the heat on something, you should keep an eye on the burners. Usually, if people want you to be scared, they have a reason for it.

* Go look it up. Of course, he could be one of those closet Arabs, like -- oh, Danny Thomas or something.
** This would involve your being completely unable to read or think, for example. Which seems to work pretty well for Fox and FreeRepublic.
*** Being of thoroughly Protestant descent, I'd never heard of this notion until now, though I freely acknowledge that day baseball is pleasing in the eyes of the Lord amen.
**** Even if you buy into the CoC thesis (Homer nods, and so does Samuel Huntington), this is a genuinely idiotic misuse of it.



Blogger The Ridger, FCD said...

I want you to know: I used to laugh at Fox.

I can't any more.

Thanks. I actually mean that.

9:40 AM, March 30, 2009  

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