THE BLOG

Ramadan Reflection Day 21: Maureen Dowd, Huma Abedin and the Media's Simplistic Stance on Islam

07/29/2013 04:16 pm ET | Updated Sep 28, 2013

Imam Khalid Latif is blogging his reflections during the month of Ramadan for the third year in a row, featured daily on HuffPost Religion. For a complete record of his previous posts, click over to the Islamic Center at New York University or visit his author page, and to follow along with the rest of his reflections, sign up for an author email alert above, visit his Facebook page or follow him on Twitter.

For those who missed Maureen Dowd's or Rush Limbaugh's commentary on Huma Abedin and Anthony Weiner, there are a multitude of responses now circulating on major media outlets. Most are discussing how both Dowd and Limbaugh attribute Huma's standing with her husband during his most recent scandal more to his being able to walk all over her, attributing her willingness to be mistreated to her being a Muslim woman raised in Saudi Arabia. Says Dowd in her op-ed for the NY Times, "WHEN you puzzle over why the elegant Huma Abedin is propping up the eel-like Anthony Weiner, you must remember one thing: Huma was raised in Saudi Arabia, where women are treated worse by men than anywhere else on the planet."

Amongst the many responses that have gone up to Dowd and Limbaugh, my favorite has to be a post that went up recently on New York Magazine's website by Adam Smith, simply titled "Maureen Dowd and Rush Limbaugh Explain Why Abedin Supports Weiner." It's not that the content of his piece is particularly unique in comparison to others that have gone up. All pretty much cite Dowd and Limbaugh as being overtly simplistic, bigoted, and extremely ignorant in their viewpoints. What made this article stand out to me were the "Keyword" tags at the bottom.

"Get more: assholes, rush limbaugh, maureen dowd, huma abedin, anthony weiner"

Pardon the language, but really is there any better way to describe Dowd, Limbaugh and the rhetoric that they spew?

When you puzzle over why Dowd would write something like this, would you attribute it to her being a woman? Or if you puzzled over why Limbaugh said what he said, would you attribute it to his being white? Would you also say that Dowd's opinion is suddenly representative of what all women think or Limbaugh's opinion is what all white people think? Probably not, especially not the latter two points. Yet somehow every Muslim represents all Muslims, and every time a Muslim does anything, it's because they are Muslim. The extremely reductionist approach that many journalists and media outlets have comfortably taken when dealing with Islam and Muslims is getting pretty ridiculous at this point.

Recently the world witnessed Fox News at its best in an interview with Professor Reza Aslan on a book he's written on Jesus Christ. If you haven't seen the interview, I've included it below. It's probably the worst piece of journalism ever and highlights quite heavily again this reductionist approach. Despite Reza's consistently stating that he wrote this book as a historian with multiple degrees in the field of religion and 20 years of experience in the field and that his arguments differ quite extensively from what mainstream Islamic theology dictates around Jesus, the host can't stop bringing up that he's a Muslim and keeps going back to it.

Huma Abedin is more than just her Islam. Reza Aslan is more than just his Islam. Every Muslim has a name, a story, and a set of complex variables to their identity that makes them who they are. The process of otherizing and racializing the Muslim community has reached such a low point. The rhetoric that simplifies any Muslim's actions and identity solely to their Islam needs to go. Every sense of nuance is removed from the discourse and what you are left with is a racist, hateful perspective of a community that is more diverse than arguably any other community in the world. But not everyone likes diversity and will do what they can to maintain and preserve a sense of privilege, regardless of who they must walk over and push down to hold on to it.

What kind of woman pushes down another woman who is being mistreated by a man? And how does the NY Times let something like that get published? Dowd has made suspect any claims that she has to being a feminist by making life more difficult for a woman in need of support. Her arguments should not be taken as authoritative in any way, and neither Huma Abedin nor Muslims anywhere should change anything about themselves as reaction to Dowd's simplicity.

I have a name and a narrative, and I won't let some jerk take that away from me. My sense of validation will not stem from being accepted by individuals who live in a bubble that makes it hard for them to be anything other than ignorant. I have many facets to my identity and am more complex than the simplistic analysis that you have undertaken of me and so many other minority groups, both in the present time and in years past. I am proud of everything that makes me who I am and will not live a life in reaction to you or your simplistic worldview.

Khalid Latif Reflections Ramadan 2013