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AN AGGIE LINE: USU cheerleaders perform during the Aggies' final exhibition game. It's time to cheer for basketball. / Photo by Brianna Mortensen

Today's word on journalism

Friday, November 10, 2006

Q&A with Ed Bradley:

Q: What single issue should be covered more at CBS News?
A: Foreign news.

Q: Have you ever been assigned a story you objected to? How did you deal with it?
A: When I first started in New York at WCBS radio, the assignment editor automatically assigned any story that had a minority in it to me. I objected to being typecast and told him if I didn't get a variety of stories -- as other reporters did -- then I would take it up with the news director.

Q: If you were not in news, what would you be doing?
A: If I had the talent, I'd play bass guitar and sing in a kicking band.

--Ed Bradley, reporter, "60 Minutes," died yesterday of leukemia at age 65 (2006)

Where the pope got it right, and where he blundered

•A guest editorial from a recent JCOM grad now in uniform

By Leon D'Souza

October 3, 2006 | If there was ever a doubt about whether the rhetorical war on terror has, in effect, succeeded in polarizing the Muslim and Christian worlds, the pope's ill-timed and unfortunate remarks at Germany's Regensburg University ought to have dispelled any confusion.

We are, clearly, in the thick of what has inevitably become a religious war: one that pits Western Christianity, and its ideologies of doctrinal liberalism, consent and free will, against Arab Islam, and its attendant ideologies of orthodoxy, anti-modernism and fidelity to every letter of Koranic law.

For years now, intellectuals have skirted the issue of Islamic terror, preferring to characterize it in less offensive terms. Some have described it as a political expression of domestic frustrations; others have condoned it as righteous outrage against the Western policy of cozying up to tyrannies for easy access to oil.

But whichever way one chooses to reason, there is an undeniable link between Islamic radicalism and the outbreak of terror that threatens the modern world. That is to say, the appeal of even the most terrifying ideologues in this war is, essentially, a religious one.

As Hizbullah leader Hassan Nasrallah has put it, the struggle, for many Arabs and Muslims, is about honor: a value that has its pride of place in the Islamic tradition. The fight, in Nasrallah's view, is about regaining lost pride by displaying a readiness to sacrifice and a readiness to suffer. It is a quest to restore Islam to its influential Golden Age. And it is a Machiavellian quest: one that glorifies the end while pardoning the means.

This is the unjust and perverse methodology that Benedict XVI sought to assail in his Regensburg speech. The pontiff, in my opinion, wasn't taking aim at Islam in general, but rather at the particular brand of violent Islam advocated and practiced by men like Nasrallah and American nemesis, Osama bin Laden.

Where the pope erred was in his choice of historical reference and the inflammatory language contained therein.

To be sure, Christian-Muslim relations have come a long way since Manuel II issued his scathing criticism of 14th-century Islam. The inter-religious outreach of John Paul II especially helped cement ties between two of the world's oldest faith traditions. Thus, to turn the clock back so dramatically was both unnecessary and ignorant of the ecumenical progress both religions have made since the divisiveness of the Crusades.

What's more, the pope's indictment was too sweeping -- the sort of hard-line rhetoric that alienates even moderates, forcing them to adopt a more aggressive stance in defense of their beliefs.

Taken together, the language of the Regensburg address was exactly the sort of self-righteous Bible thumping that hinders the process of interfaith dialogue, so vitally important to addressing the theological and social differences at the heart of this war.

That said, it did serve one important purpose: it was provocative. And it has resulted in the opening of a serious dialogue between Muslim and Christian leaders at the highest levels.

This is where the ideological -- and specifically, the theological -- questions underlying the problem of Islamic terror can be resolved. For this, we can all have hope.

All told, there is a silver lining to this cloud.

For additional reading on this and related topics, visit


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