There are quotes from (non-Muslim) bystanders coming down on one side or the other and then the conflict is summed up this way: “Opponents of CAIR say the organization has terrorist ties. Local CAIR leaders say their mission is to promote tolerance and respect.”

The trouble is, one of those statements—CAIR’s—is an organization’s mission statement. The other is a groundless accusation. Nowhere does the article note that CAIR is the equivalent, say, of the Jewish Anti-Defamation League or the NAACP or that the organization has conducted diversity training for the FBI and the US Armed Forces. The article reports that one woman drove to join the anti-Muslim protest because she “had read about honor killings.” But CAIR is not promoting Shariah law— it’s promoting equal treatment for American Muslims.

In addition, the reporter doesn’t mention that Terry Kemple has compared CAIR to the KKK and to a pedophile organization. How do we know? Because earlier this year, Tampa Bay Times columnist Sue Carlton reported that he had.

This same context should have appeared in the September article on the protest and counter-protest. Otherwise, readers might be mislead into thinking that CAIR might very well be promoting Taliban-like policies.

This is not okay. Because Americans have so little personal context for Muslim Americans, journalists need to provide it. This is important, because American ignorance puts Muslim-Americans in danger—the rising hate crime rate is proof of that. There are too many myths out there, too much fear. It’s up to us to provide the antidote to fear, which is facts.

 

Jennifer Vanasco is a is a news editor at WNYC and the former editor in chief of MTV Network's LGBT news site 365gay.com. She writes about social minorities, national politics, and culture. Her award-winning newspaper column on gay and women's issues ran for 15 years.