CNN’s religion editor dubbed last week “religion’s week from hell.” Religion in this case is just a weasel word being used in place of another word which would be accurate: Islam.
Daniel Burke writes, “Whether you believe that religious violence is fueled by faith or is a symptom of larger factors — political instability, poverty, cultural chaos — one thing seems clear: Last week was hellish for religion. ” To make his case, Burke offers a rundown of last week’s violence associated with religion.
- On Monday, “Boko Haram, the Muslim militant group based in Nigeria, attacked several towns in neighboring Cameroon, kidnapping 20 people.” Also, “The Islamic extremists also detonated a car bomb in Niger, according to The Associated Press.”
- On Tuesday, “Craig Stephen Hicks, an ardent atheist who railed online against religion, was accused of killing three young Muslims in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.”
- On Wednesday, ISIS “launched several attacks across Iraq, striking Kurdish forces in the North and Iraqi civilians in Baghdad. ” The attacks killed at least 31 people.
- On Thursday, “Al Qaeda killed four Yemeni soldiers” and took over a military base. Western nations closed their embassies in Yemen.
- On Friday, “Boko Haram continued its cross-border attacks, killing four civilians and a soldier in neighboring Chad.” Also on Friday the Pakistani Taliban attacked “a Shia mosque in Peshawar” killing nineteen.
- On Saturday, “a gunman opened fire at a free-speech forum in Copenhagen, Denmark.” This was followed by an attack on a synagogue in which one man died.
- And finally on Sunday, ISIS “beheaded over a dozen members of Egypt’s Christian minority on a Libyan beach.”
That certainly is a lot of mayhem for one week. You may have noticed that, with the exception of Tuesday, every attack was carried out by radical Muslims. And in each individual case CNN labels the attackers correctly, e.g. Boko Haram is a “Muslim militant group.” What CNN doesn’t do is draw the obvious conclusion about what made last week so hellish.
As for the one exception, the attack Tuesday by Craig Stephen Hicks, police have said it appears to have been a dispute over parking. An in-depth story by the Washington Post says Hicks had been considered a “troublemaker” who was “particularly fixated on parking and noise” prior to the murders. In any case, Hicks’ violence, especially if it was motivated by his atheism, isn’t bad for “religion.” Yes, the victims were religious (as were the victims in all of the other attacks, presumably) but being a victim of violence doesn’t reflect badly on religion. It’s being a perpetrator of violence that reflects badly on religion.
Burke seems to be playing a little game here. His first paragraph is about factors that fuel religious violence. His third graph is similarly about the “causes of violence.” In between those two he writes “religious believers suffered and died in brutal attacks over the past seven days.” So he wants to discuss religious violence, but also wants to say it was a bad week to be a religious believer on the wrong end of violence. It seems this line was tossed in to make the inclusion of Hicks’ crime (barely) relevant.
Last week was certainly a bloody and horrifying one but it wasn’t “religion” in the sense of CNN’s generic headline that was at fault. Like the current administration, CNN appears to be bending over backwards to avoid drawing the obvious conclusion from the evidence at hand: Radical Islam made the world hell last week.