One of the oddly comforting things about growing up middle class in the middle of America at the end of last century is that one is never able to fully let go the local sports team. Though I’ve lived in New York for the past 13 years, I still read the Kansas City Star every day, and since the Star‘s best writing comes on its sports pages (and, let’s be honest, the sports page is pretty much the only thing I really read of that paper even when I lived there), I regularly follow the baseball team. Even though the Royals are, um, challenged, I’m strangely compelled to read about the team every day in season.
Fortunately, the skill of the team is in inverse proportion to the skill of the many good writers who follow them, and one of the best of those is Rany Jazayerli, whose Rany on the Royals blog is pretty much required reading.
That said, some of the best writing he’s done recently is in defense of his friend Mazen Asbahi, who last week resigned just ten days after signing on as Barack Obama’s national director of Muslim outreach, basically over questionable assertions that to my mind make a huge leap in attempting to tie him to the Muslim Brotherhood because of a brief stint on the board of a fund that also included as another board member an imam at an Illinois mosque. I’ll reccommend the whole bit to you, posted on the essential politics Website FiveThirtyEight.com; Rany does a fine job of deconstructing a Wall Street Journal story that was the spark of the resignation.
It’s disturbing enough that this is just another in a depressing chain of ‘gotcha’ stories in the press. It’s not enough to do a story that simply ‘raises questions’ about someone; good reporting requires context. I personally have no idea about whether this guy has any associations with terrorist organizations or not–and neither does the Journal; using their reasoning, because Rupert Murdoch has joined its board, the Associated Press now has ties to Sean Hannity.
More troubling, though, seven years after 9/11, is this continued assumption that Muslim=terrorist. Though I make light of people who send me things like the press release I refer to in the previous post, it’s actually quite disheartening that there are any Americans who believe this.