Today, a noticeable feature of the Western press (aside from the “anti-Israel” coverage of so many of the reporters in Western Europe who have found a socially acceptable outlet for antisemitism) is the indifference to, or even hostility to, Christianity. This includes the failure to recognize its significance in the history of Europe and of the West, and a hostile treatment of the activity of contemporary Christian figures. Look at how the Western press covered Pope Benedict’s 2006 Regensburg speech, and misreported consistently on it.
One is not impressed, either, with the endless television joking about groping priests and altar boys, which continues even as Muslims threaten the church frescoes in Bologna with destruction. And when it comes to Evangelicals, they are presented in vicious caricatures in European magazines as a key feature of the supercilious, and often nasty and quite comically inaccurate, coverage of the United States whenever the subject is other than economics (in such a magazine as “The Economist”). In such coverage, European audiences are treated to a spectacle of America, “too-religious” America, which invites comparison with splendidly advanced post-Christian Europe and suffers by the comparison. For here, in our benighted land, the Bible belt widens with the waistlines of those waddling Americans, those gun-toting (oh, there’s a machine gun in every pot, in America, don’t you know?), saliva-dripping, Bible-quoting, table-thumping, troglodytic because still Christian, Americans, with their honor saved only, here and there, by the odd (very odd) Chomsky or two.
No, neither Judaism and its adherents (or those assigned to it by antisemites), for a very long time in the history of the West, nor Christianity, especially in the “post-Christian” and “post-modern” Western Europe and in much of the American press, can be described as having been covered fairly. One waits for the international media to take note of the killings of Christians in the southern Sudan, in the southern Philippines, in the Moluccas, in northern Nigeria, in Egypt (those pesky Copts who keep managing to get in the news each time one is killed or tortured), and so on and so predictably forth. Will any of that receive any attention? Any anguished comments on ABC, CBS, NBC? Will a single Senator speak about any of the attacks in Nigeria, the Philippines, the Moluccas?
One waits — but not with bated breath. The victims of Christianity matter less, to the international media, than the imagined activities of “Christianists” who will destroy the Constitution at the first available opportunity.
But it’s a different story with the coverage of Islam. The craziest assertions, the ones that are given the lie by the day’s news, every single day, that Islam is a “religion of peace” and of “tolerance,” or that Islam “contributed greatly to the development of Europe,” are stated without hesitation in the New Duranty Times, the Bandar Beacon, and all the lesser organs. Islam did not actually contribute, greatly or in any other way, to the development of Europe, save only by driving out scholars who, fleeing the Byzantine Empire to escape the advancing Seljuk and then the Ottoman Turks, arrived in Italy with their manuscripts and helped lead to a renewed interest in classical antiquity, and to what used to be called, when the Renaissance had not yet been replaced by the chronological desiccation of the course-catalogue time-line “Early Modern Period,” the Revival of Learning.
And merely by continuing to refer to Islam only as a “religion” (which confuses people, as it inaccurately describes what Islam is), many in the world’s media have, by ignoring or downplaying the politics and geopolitics of Islam, further contributed to the general confusion. They continue to pretend that Islam is a “religion” like any other instead of telling us, enlightening us, as to all the ways it is different, and to all the ways in which it is indeed, rather, a Total Belief-System that, had the tools available to the modern police-states of Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia been available, would in the distant past have quite naturally assumed the aspect of, and been later recognized as, a form of modern totalitarianism. It is a form of totalitarianism because it meddles in, controls, and decides what is prohibited and what is commanded, in every single area of life. Yes, a totalitarianism avant la lettre.