Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Ridicule is indeed the proper response to Newsweek's cover

by Salman Hameed

I think Newsweek is making a good effort to be a supermarket junk tabloid. Here is the cover of the latest issue:
Yup. This photograph is pretty much the representative sample of the close to 2 billion Muslim population. Here is the take of Daniel Verasco on Tabsir.net:

Edward Said wrote a poignant critique of media coverage of the Iranian hostage crisis just over three decades ago. He called it “Covering Islam.” The subtitle was “How the Media and the Experts Determine How We See the Rest of the World.” Once again Islam is being covered, the latest being the “cover” on Newsweek Magazine. Said’s [Covering Islam (1997 edition), p. lv.] assessment is as relevant as ever today:
For the right, Islam represents barbarism; for the left, medieval theocracy; for the center, a kind of distasteful exoticism. In all camps there is agreement that even though little enough is known about the Islamic world there is not much to be approved of there.
The latest Newsweek cover demonstrates just how weak its sense of responsible news reporting is. The trope of “Muslim Rage” conflates the cultural dimensions of politics with a religious faith. When Israeli planes bomb Hamas in Gaza, no major newspaper calls this “Jewish Rage.” When Terry Jones burns a Quran or when Anders Behring Breivik shoots fellow Norwegians, I have yet to see a headline of this act as one of “Christian Rage.” Rage is almost always political at base and the events subsumed under a blanket umbrella of “Muslim Rage” are local politics to the core. The fact that we see these images on CNN and the Internet tells us more about the audience than it does about those engaged in the activities.
The photograph captures “rage” to be sure, but the choice of turbaned and bearded protesters (when the majority in Cairo at least are young clean-shaven men in Western clothing lobbing rocks at the police) identifies rage with a style of dress and a style of dress with a violent religion. Ironically, the voices of those who are enraged are not to be heard anywhere inside the story. Instead, the cover boasts an article inside by Aayan Hirsi Ali, a controversial Somali whose claim to fame was posing naked with Quranic verses on her body and then becoming a darling of the Islamophobic mob. Her knowledge of Islam is so immature and biased that the very idea she might have something to contribute to the issue staggers my imagination.
Read his rest of the post here.

However, what I really enjoyed was the response on Twitter to Newsweek's call for discussion using the hashtag #Muslimrage. The responses are not only funny but they do an excellent job of exposing the ridiculousness of Newsweek's cover. From Wired.com:

Twitter users — Muslim and non-Muslim alike — took over the #muslimrage hashtag by the thousands on Monday to mock Newsweek’s immediately infamous cover story and its accompanying cynical social media strategy, registering their dismay with the most hilarious tweets possible. (The hashtag#muslimrave is also rising in popularity.)
Here are some of the best recent tweets with the #muslimrage hashtag.
Also, check this story from NPR, which also has quotes a few excellent tweets: 
One of the most popular posts came from "Hend," a user whose profile photo features a woman in a Muslim head covering: "I'm having such a good hair day. No one even knows. (hash)MuslimRage".
Yet another tweet laments: "Head & Shoulders still hasn't made a beard conditioner. (hash)MuslimRage".
"On a plane and people mishearing me when I say I'm a 'tourist'. (hash)MuslimRage," reads another post.
And also check out these replacement images on gawker - 13 Powerful Images of Muslim Rage., 

These are some of the most appropriate responses to Newsweek's idiocy. 

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