Perspectives: What talk radio doesn’t tell us about Islam

OPINION –Talk radio is to nuance what an atomic bomb is to a fly swatter.

Many talk radio listeners have been conditioned to adore those personalities that supply them with demons to wrestle. Talk radio has proven remarkably successful in persuading listeners that Muslims are murderous, deceptive religious fanatics with worldwide conquest in mind.

Fear is the prime mover in promoting this concept; fear of what may happen, fear of the unknown, fear of those who are different. Let’s face it, fear works when it comes to shaping public perceptions. With few exceptions, it is the coin of the realm in talk radio.

A quote from George Gerbner of the Annenberg School of Communication at the University of Pennsylvania explains why fear works so well:

“Fearful people are more dependent, more easily manipulated and controlled, more susceptible to deceptively simple, strong, tough measures and hardline postures. They may accept and even welcome repression if it promises to relieve their insecurities.”

The global war on terror has served as proof for many talk radio listeners that our government’s attempts to project imperial power globally are all that is preventing Islam from reducing the world to either converts or slaves. Hollywood typecasting tends to reinforce this stereotype.

But there is a side to Islam that remains unknown to too many Americans; including those who don’t listen to talk radio.

Two years ago, I attended a presentation at Southern Utah University where Dr. Brad Cook taught about the history of Islam that we seldom hear. Brad has spent roughly 12 years living and teaching among Muslims in Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates.

In his presentation, Cook introduced us to some of the contributions of Islamic culture that have had positive influence upon our Western culture. When we are taught history, too often, the version we are taught fails to acknowledge how as European culture was descending into the Dark Ages; Islamic culture was entering a thriving golden age.

From approximately 750 AD until the Renaissance of the early 16th Century, Islamic societies were contributing greatly to the betterment of mankind. Among the contributions were advancements in art, philosophy, medicine, mathematics, engineering, architecture, commerce, and travel.

But perhaps the greatest debt that Western Civilization owes to Islam is the preservation of the classical knowledge of the Greeks and Romans upon which the canon of Western thought is based. This would include the highly influential works of Aristotle, which were translated from Greek into Arabic and then back into Latin during this time.

We would not have these texts if not for Islamic culture preserving them.

This reverence for knowledge was due, in part, to Islamic customs that taught that even in times of war, libraries and other depositories of knowledge were to be preserved. Likewise, Muslim warriors were also expected to spare trees, wells, and the young and the elderly.

In Islamic societies, great emphasis was placed upon caring for the poor and downtrodden. Even an enemy who asked his host for protection was to be safeguarded under Muslim tradition. But the only people who are likely to appreciate these truths are those who get their information from sources other than our mass media and Hollywood.

Bumper sticker slogans like “Everything I need to know about Muslims I learned on 9/11” do nothing to contribute to real understanding.

One of the key points of Cook’s presentation was his reminder that Islam is not a monolithic faith. Unlike Catholics, for whom the Pope is their world leader, or Mormons, for whom Thomas S. Monson is their prophet, Muslims rely primarily upon local Imams to set the tone for the faithful.

Islam has no central authority other than the Koran and even with that there are still Sunnis, Shia and Sufi sects among whom there is disagreement. Even if all 1.4 billion Muslims were on the same page doctrinally, should all Islamic people be equated with the handful of marginalized radicals who hide behind their religion to commit atrocities?

Would a reasonable person hold all Catholics responsible for child sex abuse or blame all Mormons for the Mountain Meadow Massacre?

Those individuals who thrive on fear would likely answer “Yes.” But the best antidote for fear has always been found in knowledge.

Bryan Hyde is a news commentator and co-host of the Perspectives morning show on Fox News 1450 AM 93.1 FM. The opinions stated in this article are his and not representative of St. George News.

Email: bryanh@stgnews.com

Twitter: @youcancallmebry

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2012, all rights reserved.

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17 Comments

  • deborah crowe October 18, 2012 at 6:35 pm

    God said to “love one another” when we fear we forget that.

  • ken October 18, 2012 at 6:58 pm

    Good piece. Fox news seems to spread that fear far and wide! The hate I hear from the far right media is very telling. I guess that fear is the best way to get people to vote a certain way.

  • Adam October 18, 2012 at 7:05 pm

    Good stuff Bryan, thanks for the enlightenment.

  • Ron October 18, 2012 at 8:59 pm

    Thanks bringing an intelligent perspective to bear on the whole anti-Islam thing. Fanatics are present in all religions, and we really shouldn’t let them claim the spotlight.

  • Dick October 19, 2012 at 5:51 am

    Having had a son spend two years recovering from IED in Afghanistan, at Brooke Army Medical center. I must say I have a somewhat different perspective on this issue. And I am not here to rant, but I must tell you to be vigilante and ones eye’s open..

  • Daniel October 19, 2012 at 7:16 am

    Bryan I wish you could have provided real instances of talk radio doing this, instead of broadly painting that everyone in talk radio does it. I happen to listen to a lot a talk radio, and I freely admit it is usually more of a conservative leaning, your Rush Limbaugh’s and Glenn Beck’s (I stopped listening to Sean Hannity about 4 years ago but up to that point he fit what I’m saying) and I regularly only hear exactly what was said in this article. That it is only a few fanatics, that it is the extremist (of which we have in our society and seem to be the ones in power [on both sides]) and that Islam teaches more peace than not. Interestingly enough, this article seemed to perpetuate a negative falsehood about talk radio, which is what it claims it is trying to stop. Then again, people hear what they want to hear.

  • Doug October 19, 2012 at 8:56 am

    Qur’an:8:39~”Fight them until all opposition ends and all submit to Allah.”

  • Fred October 19, 2012 at 8:58 am

    To learn more about Muslims and their agenda take a look at:

    http://atlasshrugs2000.typepad.com/

    Ask Daniel Pearl what he thinks about Muslims. Remember they beheaded him.

  • Andrew October 19, 2012 at 9:12 am

    …perhaps the author will gain even more enlightenment of Muslim contributions by donning a yamulka and wandering the streets of Dearborn, Michigan..

  • terence steele October 19, 2012 at 9:29 am

    another moslem appeaser you are misguided sir! the koran is a book of hate and poison,if you believe in the bible then you must realize you can not just take the verses that suit you,its all or nothing,same with the koran . they all believe in ALL its teachings….you may take the time to read it again!

    • Ron October 19, 2012 at 12:00 pm

      So, Terence, you believe in stoning adulterers to death, do you? And you kind of we should celebrate atrocities committed against unbelievers (i.e., Psalm 137) “Happy the one who takes and dashes your little ones against the rock!” ?

  • Doug October 19, 2012 at 11:53 am

    So, tell that touchy feely to Ambassador Stephens.

  • Daniel October 19, 2012 at 12:48 pm

    Sadly, a lot of you just proved the writer correct in a lot of ways by your own comments. As Americans, we do not judge people by race, gender, OR religion. Fill your life with forgiveness and find real happiness people. No one is saying that there aren’t some extremist out there, but to say every Muslim is a terrorist is a very ignorant and erroneous view, which is part of what this article was trying to point out. However, I still don’t believe that conservative talk radio perpetuates hate and fear towards Muslims as much as the article alludes to.

  • Roy J October 19, 2012 at 2:42 pm

    Such an interesting piece. I wonder if the author means to include the steady conquest of the decaying Roman Empire by the Muslims from 6 AD or so until the 19th century, as part of Islam’s contribution to culture? It may or may not be true that Avicenna, Averroes and the Arab philosophers preserved Aristotle as an intellectual ornament to Islam. It is undoubtedly true that Aquinas revived and restored Aristotle as a philosophical fortress for Christendom. Also, it is not at all the case that as European culture entered a Dark Ages, Islam flourished. The Byzantine Empire from the 3rd to the 15th centuries was indelibly Catholic. It remained so until it was destroyed by the Ottomans, who were undoubtedly Muslim. The author has proposed a lack of central authority as a divisive characteristic in Islam. Perhaps he would also consider the central authority of the Papacy as unifying characteristic. It was, after all, the shared culture of that great ideal of Europe that is Christendom, and that great idea of Rome that was Constantinople.

    • Daniel October 19, 2012 at 3:34 pm

      Roy I really like you and what you are pointing out, thank you for the enlightenment.

  • Gary Rumain October 19, 2012 at 11:31 pm

    Bryan Hyde is also a dhimmi moron who hasn’t got the first clue about the Satanic death cult of pislam. That much is evident from this pig ignorant article that spins nothing but takiya about pislam. The arselifters contributed nothing to Western civilisation. All they did was steal from others. The fool should learn to do some fact checking before mouthing off and making himself look a complete fool to those who do know the truth.

  • Red5ive October 22, 2012 at 11:04 am

    For those judging the the Muslim faith based on extremists, is that really fair?

    I guess we can say that all Christians (Mormon, Adventist, Catholic) are just like the Wesboro Baptist Church. Therefore, all Christians hate Jews, Gays, Soldiers, America, ect.

    For more information on Christianity please visit: http://www.godhatesfags.com

    Also here is a little excerpt from The Bibile: Deuteronomy 2-5

    “2 If there be found among you, within any of thy gates which the Lord thy God giveth thee, man or woman, that hath wrought wickedness in the sight of the Lord thy God, in transgressing his covenant,

    3 And hath gone and served other gods, and worshipped them, either the sun, or moon, or any of the host of heaven, which I have not commanded;

    4 And it be told thee, and thou hast heard of it, and enquired diligently, and, behold, it be true, and the thing certain, that such abomination is wrought in Israel:

    5 Then shalt thou bring forth that man or that woman, which have committed that wicked thing, unto thy gates, even that man or that woman, and shalt stone them with stones, till they die.”

    So is the Qur’an really THAT different?

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