Sunday, July 24, 2005

Dark Clouds are Gathering

Yesterday while driving back from the dentist’s office, I was feeling rather glum, since my wisdom tooth extraction is imminent and the doctor will be doing the extractions of the three molars on 4th Aug, under full anesthesia. This is the first time I will be under general anesthesia, and the thought of getting knocked out has always petrified me. Hey, things can really go wrong and what if I never ever wake up. It’s all chemical reactions after all. So to cheer myself up I switched on the radio and flipped to one of the popular local radio talk shows. This station had mostly frivolous, light hearted bantering, with the general public calling in about warts, domestic squabbles, puberty and other stuff mundane stuff. This show is marginally funny at times. Yesterday the host of this radio show was quite riled up about the bombings in London.

The talk show host ranted on about the Moslem community not doing enough about the bombings and that no Moslem leader of any merit had come out and denounced these dastardly acts. This rant went on for a while, and all this time the crescendo kept building after every commercial break. From the Moslem leaders not denouncing the terrorists he began to pontificate about how he opposes all religious fundamentalists, be it Moslems or Catholics. After this he went out on an all-out attack against all Moslems and Islam to the point of calling Islam the most hateful and barbaric religion that was ever preached. He attacked way of life of Moslems, their mannerisms, the Koran, terrorists in Iraq, their food and whatever else he could possibly think of. This rhetoric was aided by the callers, who undoubtedly in large majority were local blue collared rednecks who aired any grievances that they might have had against any Moslem they might have known. And it got uglier and uglier. After a while some Moslem listeners called in and some of them made on-air threats about killing the loud mouthed host. These callers quickly got cut out and greater play time was given to all the loonies agreeing with the rhetoric. There were some callers who called in asking the host to stop inflaming the already state of tension that prevails in the country. Detroit has the largest concentration of Arab Moslems in the country and most of them reside in Dearborn, a suburb of Chicago. The host and his cronies just plain insulted all the callers who pleaded for restraint and reasoning. He was venting and kept repeating over and over that he badly wanted to do something, punch someone, and bomb a mosque or something dramatic of that nature. The vitriol that was being spewed was sickening and normal folks calling in were getting caught up in the rhetoric. The entire segment left me shaken and deeply contemplative about a foreboding of things to come.

What is medias role in society besides information dissemination? Introspection yes, contemplation yes, force us to look at the ills of society to make it a better place to live definitely yes. Media’s role is not to provoke, to make beasts and murderers out of men, to turn man against man in the name of something petty like religion. Listening to some of the callers who called into the show, it seemed like they were ready to riot and pillage. With rioting and pillaging, there are no guarantees who the veil of intolerance and insecurity is going to claim in its wake.

I’m sure that 99.9% of the Moslem populace in this world wants to come back home after a hard days work, play with their kids, be with their families, enjoy the sun, beaches, go on picnics and vacations and just cruise through life just like the rest of us. On account of a small minority who’d like to impose their lifestyle on the rest of the world, the rest of them cannot be branded as fundamentalists and terrorists. There needs to be a middle ground where there could be a confluence of reasoning and fairness. Albeit, not with the extremists but with our perceptions in judging the rest. As for the rhetoric from the radio station host, it’s a troubling sign. The Crusades were fought not too in the distant past in the name of religious indignities. All this rattling of the chains seems like harking back to those medieval ages. There are dark clouds gathering in the distant horizon. I just hope it doesn’t rain anytime soon or in the near future.


Blogger Rufus said...

Well, the good news is that most of the people who call those shows are fat, middle-aged alcoholics, so not too hard to fight off.

11:25 AM  

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