A Reuters Writer Writes Me

I always appreciate it when a writer or reporter gets back to me in response to something I wrote. Granted, I am a minnow in the blogosphere ocean, it is surprisingly rewarding nonetheless. Even though I was chastised by her, last week a reporter for an unnamed periodical (The Paper of Record©) asked me to remove an email she had sent me. I pointed out that she had not told me to keep her request private. Still, I took down the post, I am not looking to antagonize others.

Today, I received a comment from a Reuters writer who saw this post:

This AP Reuters article (Boston and the future of Islam in America), written by Bangladeshi reporter Bangladeshi-American writer Reihan Salam, has me split evenly down the middle. One side of me sighs in relief at its moderation and my other side thinks:who would buy this nonsense?

He responded with this rejoinder:

Small point of information: I was born in the United States, I’ve lived in only four cities (New York city, Ithaca, NY, Cambridge, MA, and Washington, D.C.), and I have spent at most 4-5 months in Bangladesh over the course of 5 or 6 visits, most recently for a few weeks in the summer of 2000. So I think it’s not quite right to describe me as a Bangladeshi reporter (not least because I’m not actually a reporter, but that’s a separate matter). It is true, however, that my parents, both of whom have been U.S. citizens for decades, are from what is now Bangladesh, and they arrived here in the mid-1970s. At this point, they’ve both spent more time in the U.S. than they have in Bangladesh, though I appreciate that opinions will vary as to whether they are best described as Bangladeshis or Americans.

Hope this message finds you well.

Of which, prompted this response out of me:

Thanks for dropping by Reihan. I appreciate your response and I’ve corrected your credentials in my post. I grew up around many Muslim folks and have worked with probably a hundred. To a man and woman, the ones who were overtly religious, put Islam in front of their loyalty to United States. I’ve even had “the authorities” take me aside to chat about a couple (at the officials’ instigation.) My Islamic friends who gave their heart and soul to the mission were usually (almost always) not strict Muslims. That is, they were not particularly religious.

Can adherence to a disciplined version of Islam and patriotism to the United States co-exist? I don’t know and I frankly have not seen it in large numbers. I, too, am religious and look at loyalty to the United States as a natural extension of my spiritual life.

Yes, there are moderate Muslims, but they seem cowed by the louder voices in the movement. I also understand many tips to the authorities come from this moderate circle. And I am thankful. But why are these voices not the predominant ones? Rather than decrying “Islamaphobia,” I would wish demonstrations and marches (with significant numbers of Islamic folks) against acts of terror would dominate the American-Muslim landscape. I can think of only two, very sparsely attended. I am sorry to say this, but Islam has a bullying edge to it. And the moderates, however numerous or not they may be, are awfully quiet.

I decry all forms of violence against any group and am aware of anti-Muslim aggression. That said, anti-Muslim hate crime is very low, certainly in relation to other hate-crime incidents.

As far as reporting, I am fluent in Arabic and I am tired of reading one thing in English and another in dialect. The Arab/Muslim Street is not particularly friendly to America, even though we liberated two Islamic countries in the recent era, Iraq and Afghanistan. Yes, I know it may/may not have been wanted or invited, but I am tired of the anti-American sentiment overseas. (I also accept that not all Muslims are in agreement. That is, Islam is not monolithic, but, as a whole, Islam certainly does not encourage freedom of speech and individuality.)

I respect your families’ migration to the United States. I am a third-generation American and I imagine that you’ll find the peace to freely practice your religion, all the while loving your country. Despite our differences, I would hope you and I would have more agreements than not.

Hope this message finds you well (as well.)

Part of the reason I love blogging (rather than facebooking or journaling or any other sort of ing) is the give and take. Reihan probably googled his name and ended up here. I do appreciate the fact that he shared some auto-biographical details so that I may correct the post. I don’t like inaccuracies. And I also like dialogue. We are, after all, Americans.

U.S. Army Intelligence Officer, Private Bradley Manning

Is it too much to ask that ol’ Reuters get the facts correct about Private First Class Bradley Manning? Read this sentence and tell me what is wrong: The U.S. Army intelligence officer accused of slipping military and diplomatic secrets to WikiLeaks is expected to take the witness stand on Thursday, when he will read aloud from a 35-page statement defending himself in the espionage case.