PR Problem? - Mainstream Muslims

Discussion in 'Off Topic' started by MedB, Jan 11, 2015.

  1. MedB

    MedB Parent

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    Hi SAFers,

    So I debated posting this thought due to the potential to go sideways. But I'm trusting in our community to not let the discussion devolve into something inappropriate. (Mods, if I have overstepped than I apologize and please delete, but I think this community can discuss the topic rationally)

    S0... I'm listening to all the pundits this morning talking about how we are "deaf" if we (the public) can't hear all the condemnations of terror acts from mainstream Muslims. The claim is that they coming out everywhere and in everyway against these sorts of horrors. Perhaps that's true, but here is the issue as I see it...

    If you think of nearly any group, there are public "faces" that you can think of that represent doctrine, or at least what are perceived as common positions for that group. Example #1... If it's a Catholic topic, you picture the Pope of course speaking out, or some of the more outspoken bishops. You can imagine "hearing" their position(s) in your head even without seeing them. Example #2... Race issues with the police in America. You can picture the usual spokespeople and imagine their positions in your head.

    But what about Muslims in America? Can you picture the known spokespeople that speak out on these terror issues? Where's the talking points that we want to know? Can we define their positions by heart as we can with other groups? I'm sorry but I have to say -No- to all of those questions.

    TO BE 100% CLEAR... I do not think that mainstream Muslims condone these sort of sick and horrific acts. At all. In any way. Period. In fact quite the opposite of course.
    But I do wonder if Muslims have a PR issue with the public at large as not being seen as unified against this small minority of sick individuals that happen to claim the same religion.
    We the public love to bundle things up into neat packages/slogans and assign faces to issues... To my thinking, the Muslim community at large has not quite grasped that PR reality yet.

    Your Thoughts?
     
    Last edited: Jan 11, 2015
  2. scoutpilot

    scoutpilot Member

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    It's a tough issue, but the problem in France is more complex than other places. They've created their own extremist problem in many ways.

    As far as the PR issue, it's matter of perception. News is conflict-driven. "Muslim helps old lady cross the street" isn't a real newsmaker, nor is "Muslim says wackos don't represent him." Nonetheless, Islam has a devilish strain of extremist fundamentalism that does not bedevil any other major world religion. Much of Islam runs on the persecution model, and thus when their actions beget harsh rebukes and stiffer laws, it only feeds the narrative.

    There is something to be said for Bill Maher's position. While most Muslims will say the attacks we endure are only the acts of a few bad apples, when there are this many bad apples there's probably something wrong with the orchard.
     
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  3. cb7893

    cb7893 Member

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    The first thing I would do is turn off the TV and go to the library/bookstore. The Muslim world is bigger and more diverse than most people realize. Most Muslims do not even live in the Middle East and are far removed from these events. Asking a beer drinking Malaysian to speak out about Paris would be like asking a Southern Baptist to speak out against the mass murder of Bosnian Muslims in Srebrenica by Serbian Orthodox Christians.
    Nevertheless, the Middle East is the womb, its religious establishment is the faculty, and many of our good friends in the Gulf are the main financiers of Islamic fundamentalist terror. For a good understanding of how the Middle East got to where it is today, these books would be a good place to start:

    The Crisis of Islam-Bernard Lewis
    The Arabs-Eugene Rogan
    The Bin Ladens-Steven Coll
    Power, Faith and Fantasy: America in the Middle East from 1776 to the Present-Michael Oren

    The common theme of all these books and most everything else I have read is that the Muslim Arab world has never come to grips with modernity. Both the religious establishment and the political leaders are fighting it off tooth and nail. Islam never had a Reformation nor did Ottoman or Arab society at large have an Enlightenment. Think of the number of decades, wars fought, books and people burnt in Europe to get to Voltaire and Adam Smith. It took 350 years for the Catholic Church to admit that burning Galileo was a mistake. I don't mention this to suggest moral equivalence, but rather emphasize the difficulty of the challenge ahead.

    An analogy I like to use is that of my Grandmother. She was born in Virginia, in 1886 to a highly educated family of Presbyterian theologians/ministers. Her brothers attended Washington and Lee U and Princeton. There was no question among her grandfathers that slavery was ordained by the bible. Her father, a seminary professor, felt the same way about Jim Crow laws. She never displayed any sign of bigotry or disrespect towards any black person. The use of the N-word was absolutely verboten. However, as late as the 1960's she would still not share the kitchen table with our maid. In 1984, at age 98, she voted for Jessie Jackson in the Dem presidential primary.

    Okay. I know. What does this have to do with moderate Muslims speaking loudly against Islamic terrorism? Under the absolute best of circumstances, it took almost 100 years to change one well-read, well-fed, well-meaning person from a defender of slavery to a voter for a slave's descendent. Think of the challenges of changing tens of millions of illiterate, poor people who have been fed a diet of resentment towards the outside modern world for generations by both the religious and political establishments of their countries.

    The modern West (including developed Asia)has had for decades, if not centuries, the mentality and mechanisms in place which make a transformation, like my grandmother's, a possibility. The modern Middle East simply does not. In fact, the greatest resistance to modernity in terms of material support and theological justification is coming from the wealthiest and best educated Middle Eastern societies--after Israel--our closest allies in the region.
     
    Last edited: Jan 11, 2015
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  4. EDelahanty

    EDelahanty Member

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    Good post. A minor point: the Church didn't burn Galileo, though he was condemned for strong suspicion of heresy and spent the last decade of his life under house arrest. It was his contemporary Giordano Bruno who was burned at the stake.
     
  5. MemberLG

    MemberLG Member

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    You should not list to morning talk show pundits as they make living by making issue out of anything.

    My thought is why does Muslim community has to take a position and make it public. I see terrorists as terrorist, not whatever religous, ethnic, political connection they have. It's not like terrorists take a poll or conduct surveys to determine what they shoould. My doctor who is a Muslim had nothing to do with what happened in Paris (unless he has been secretly supporting terrorist organizations). Did Boston Marathon bomber's community make public condemenations?
     
  6. MombaBomba

    MombaBomba Member

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    I agree. I also don't see anyone stepping up to the plate and filling this role. There is a PR problem. I don't think it is because western media won't cover it. I just think there really aren't many able or willing to take on this role. To expect the general population to drop what they are doing in order to go out to a library and educate themselves in order to support a cause or see things from a different point of view is unrealistic. If anyone wants to win hearts, minds and messages, they need to bring their cause before the public and present it. People need to be convinced, and they won't be convinced by a message of "go research it yourself." The key is to present the message in such a way that it inspires people to learn more.
     
  7. cb7893

    cb7893 Member

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    Thanks for the correction!
     
  8. LineInTheSand

    LineInTheSand USCGA 2006

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    I'm torn.

    First, as an asside, I'm a conservative, heterosexual, middle class, white, Anglo-Saxon, Protestant (United Methodist) American male, who is a military veteran with a master's degree (and I play the five-string banjo).

    Do the actions of a single, crazy Christian define me? No. If a Christian, even a Methodist, goes out and does something criminal, I don't think it's my place to go in front of cameras and say "As a Methodist, I do not condone this action." Why? Because I had no part in it. Hang the criminal. Sure. But I don't feel any reason to state it... on TV, or on the news. Should Muslims be any different? Or, more accurately, should I want Muslims to be any different.

    Now, I know, I know, United Methodists.... have "open hearts, open minds, open doors".... I'm sure there are plenty of Methodist murderers out there.... but they aren't, to my knowledge, killing in the name of the United Methodist Church. If they were, I might reconsider my denomination, but I wouldn't reconsider my Christianity. Their actions would be contrary to me beliefs, yes. And I would say they've hijacked my church. And then I might leave that church.

    Likely, for a majority of Muslims in the United States, an around the world, the actions in France, or by ISIS or any other terrorist organization is contrary to their beliefs. They hopefully thing "that group is bad... they're not us" just as I think about the Westboro Baptist Church. But every time the Westboro Baptist Church does something, I'm not expected to step out and speak about. Methodist leaders aren't asked to speak up.

    So that's the one side of my view....

    The other side....

    There is a strong, minority, movement within the Muslim faith that is dangerous. Some of the strength of that is based in regional and national movements. Terrorist groups are able to build and grow in countries that don't destroy them. Sometimes I'm sure the groups are already too powerful, of the national leaders are afraid. Sometimes the two, state and non-state actors are probably closely related.

    We're surprised Hamas praised the attacks in France. Or we're SHOCKED North Korea uses a racist term to describe President Obama. WHY? Why should we be? These are enemies. Assume, if they're willing to attack or hack or kill us, they're also willing to use words that aren't "politically correct" terms or celebrate events we believe to be tragedies. They don't like us. They hate us. And we hope the dislike or hate will be reasonable? I don't understand that.

    So on the other side of my two-sided opinion, Islamic groups (not the bad ones) who want Western support, who want to be taken seriously, who want good relations; well for them, they should be vocal. They should be in the spotlight, decrying terrorist attacks, rallying Muslim support for the dead or injured.

    The PR discussion they need to have.... how do they support the good and renounce the bad? How koudly are they willing to shout down the evil? I have no doubt that there is a point where these groups worry about shouting too loudly, and scaring off their supporters, but where is that point? And if condemning these actions scare away supporters.... are they really the kinds of supporters that organization wants? If the anwer is yes.... then that organization needs to be reassessed.

    And for the bad groups, the ones bent of destroying us and our way of life? They're the enemy. Any at some point we have to be honest with ourselves about what that really means.
     
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  9. Jcleppe

    Jcleppe Member

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    I agree that as individuals we really have no need to broadcast our condemnation of such acts, we personally had nothing to do with it.

    I do however understand some of the comments made above. It's not silence from any individuals that is the issue, I believe the greater issue is the lack of a more public condemnation, as it were, from prominent Muslim leaders.
     
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  10. MedB

    MedB Parent

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    Exactly.

    Again to flesh out the examples above... When the Catholic priest scandals were in the news all the time and top of mind for the public, there was an expectation that church leaders address it publicly. Similarly, when there are race issues with the police, we the public expect leaders from the various groups on both sides to articulate their positions; from the "top-cops" to those that represent the voice of impacted groups.

    Of course no group is monolithic.... especially one as large and spread out as 1.5 billion people across the globe. So no, we shouldn't expect that all Muslims everywhere on earth will suddenly speak with one voice on this issue (or any issue). That's silly. But like most groups here in the media-centric US that are impacted by headline events repeatedly, I believe it's a PR miss for them that the most of the public cannot even name any organizations that represents Muslim interests, let alone have a "face" or articulated position the public at large can identify.

    CHALLENGE: Without Googling, what percentage of the public can name any Muslim organization equivalent to the Anti-Defamation League, NAACP, US Conference on Catholic Bishops, etc? How about two "national" spokespeople for the Muslim community, either by name or title (eg President of NAACP)?

    That is what I mean by a PR miss.
     
  11. cb7893

    cb7893 Member

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