As a graduate student of the department of Orientalistics at the Higher Institute of Islamic Da’wa, Muhammad Ben Saud Islamic University-Riyadh, it is part of my academic interest to read how Islam is represented in the American and English Media.
Two months ago Professor T. B. Irving (Haj Ta’lim Ali” sent me a short newsletter containing an article written by Rev. R. Marston Speight titled “What will be the next bug-bear?” Though Rev. Speight is the director of the Office on Christian- Muslim Relations at Hartford Seminary, he has taken the initiative to speak on behalf of Islam.
In his article Rev. Speight expressed his apprehension and fear about the new campaign against Islam in the American media. He said:” As a result of the tumultuous and astonishing events in Eastern Europe, the forces of the world communism no longer seem as threatening as they did before. So those Americans who constantly dwelt on the supposed danger of communism to our nation are suddenly left deprived of one of their favorite themes.”
Based on Rev. Speight’ s knowledge of how Islam is represented in the American media, he drew the conclusion that “Islam will be set forth as the new bogey man.”
The example cited in the above newsletter is the syndicated column by Charles Krauthammer (Feb.19, 1990) in which he wrote under the banner “Islam lunches a new global crusade”. This crusade is also termed as “a global intifada” struggling for” political independence and political domination.”
The distortion is even more apparent when Krauthammer tries to show why the Islamic struggle is “threatening” by saying that “the force of Islam is autocratic and intolerant” and in the Islamic world self-determination is permitted only to Moslems (sic)”
To cite another example in this lengthy subject, Professor Bernard Lewis (Emeritus of Princeton University) and presently the director of Annenberg Institute for Judaic and Near Eastern Studies) was chosen to give the annual Thomas Jefferson lecture at the Library of Congress. The title of his lecture was purely academic, but the contents were quite polemical. The title “Western society s viewed from Islamic Perspective” could be justly put” Why Muslims hate America?” or “a new cold war with
Lewis said in his lecture:” But Islam like other religions, has also known periods when it inspired in some of its followers, a mood of hatred and violence.”
Lewis moves from speaking about Islam as a religion to his favorite topic of fundamentalists, radicals, etc. and their views of the west. He said:” the struggle of the fundamentalists is against two enemies; secularism and modernism.”
A third example of what type of representation Islam receives in America is the commencement address of the graduation and commissioning ceremony of the class of 1990 of the US Naval Academy at Annapolis, Maryland, by the United States Vice President on May 30th.1990.
In his speech the Vice President said:” We have been surprised this past century by the rise of Communism, the rise of Nazism, and the rising of radical Islamic Fundamentalism. I am sure we’ll be surprised in the future as well. Though we may be surprised, let us always be prepared.”
If the Vice President is surprised by the rise of “radical Islamic Fundamentalism “it is also surprising that he terms the Islamic revival or resurgence as radical fundamentalism and even more surprising is to link Islam with Nazism and Communism