The Dire Need of the Hour: Media Empowerment
By Dr. A.S. Nakadar
In my last article, Reflexive Responses, I said statements and protest demonstrations have a limited role, but it would help our cause more if we could flip such opportunities to our advantage. Rather than making condemning statements and demonstrations our “forte,” we should use scholarly responses instead–they would be more meaningful and productive in countering the aggressive onslaught against Islam.
But the big question is, how to do it? One aspect of this process is strengthening our own media to develop a widespread network, media outlets that would carry our reasoned responses to the mainstream media and to other communities.
Some irresponsible and ignorant mainstream media sources play a crucial role in disseminating and fanning attacks against Islam. When such statements are published we fail to counter them because our present media is still in development and does not yet have the same wide reach enjoyed by the mainstream media. Until our media stands on solid ground, we will remain at the receiving end of mistreatment.
There is a dire need to develop a ubiquitous media that will carry our reasoned responses. This media component is missing. It is not that we donâ€™t have the intellectuals and think tanks; on the contrary we have a large base of talented people. Unfortunately what we lack is a solidly community-backed media that could channel their thoughts to U.S. policy makers, think tanks and the American public, and to our own community. The existing mainstream media cannot be depended on to publish articles sympathetic or even fair to us.
In fact it is the failure of our community to respond that creates the climate of incommunication and resentment that vents out as anger and frustration–protests that do more harm than good. The American public, policy makers and think tanks read signals of anger, frustration and dejection from a community they cannot understand.
Without a credible mass media the situation will not change. On the contrary, a community when backed by a solid media remains informed and educated; it will handle most difficult or tricky issues with ease. Once that happens it no longer frustrates the community because they are now given intelligent answers.
It also helps build a developed community and bridges of understanding with other communities–so necessary in a pluralistic society.
We need to reach other arenas where we can build public opinion, especially on the national issues that are our issues as well.
White House invitations to iftar or politicians attending the masjids as a part of their efforts to garner votes or to make superfluous statements in favor of Islam–these acts are all symbolic.
What affects us is USA PATRIOT Act II, the recently passed anti-terror bill, profiling, and other measures which when unfairly applied make our lives in this once-great country very difficult, like living in a police state. This is where we have to build public opinion, joining hands with similar-minded people in challenging the constitutional validity of such laws.
We need your support to establish a community-backed credible mass media in TMO, which will get the attention and respect of American mainstream media, think tanks, academicians and law-makers. In other words such a mass media will help us build public opinion on many issues.
Apart from building public opinion, the communities that are economically and socially dominant today are those who have understood the role of the media. They exploit its advantage to the hilt, shaping political and consumer opinion, castigating those who offend them, and guarding the gates of credibility for an entire society.
Establishing our own such media will open doors for community employment, for our youngsters to be trained as journalists, and will provide them with a platform for discussion and understanding of issues, and will inform the community about its achievements, its constructive activities, and the problems that face it, thus laying a strong foundation for future growth.
Such a media will provide social benefits that are indispensable. Most of the rhetoric and stereotyping of Muslims in the mainstream press is due to sheer ignorance about Islam and its followers.
Therefore opening avenues of communication with the mainstream media is important in removing misgivings and misunderstandings about Islam and Muslims.
We have ignored this powerful tool for a long time and have suffered a lot. The dignified survival of our coming generations, and our communityâ€™s religious, social, economical and political well-being are at stake.
In this Information Age it is imperative we develop a strong media with a Muslim perspective that will receive attention and respect from the American mainstream media, from lawmakers, think tanks, academicians and other forums.
Is it that difficult to establish such a media? No, provided each one of us does our part.
It only needs your support in the form of your yearly subscription ($50), life membership ($500) or your joining as a benefactor ($1000). Is it too much to ask in lieu of the community benefit we will receive? I humbly request that you subscribe online at this secure site or by calling 248-426-7777.
Please do it now.