This is the official blog of Maya Kaathryn Bohnhoff—Bahá’í, writer, editor, musician, general misfit, child of Ray Bradbury and Star Trek, lover of baseball, magical realism, Dr. Who, the month of October and Jack’o’Lanterns. This is where I post things that mean something (cue mashed potatoes.)
“Islamophobia is the accepted form of racism in America. Leaders … show us that you can take a potshot at Muslims and get away with it.” — Arsalan Iftikhar, human rights lawyer.
February 4 on Fox News’ The Five, in the aftermath of President Obama’s speech at a Baltimore mosque, three of the show’s five hosts that evening jumped in to interrupt a fourth (Juan Williams) as he was remarking on “the spike in attacks, hate crimes against Muslims in the United States” and on a proposed ban promoted by a high-profile celebrity/politician.
Before he could finish his remarks about hate crimes (during which the other panelists were laughing), a male cohost broke in to ask: “Are there a lot of a hate crimes against Muslims in the United States, because I haven’t heard of any.” (emphasis his)
”Where are the numbers for that?” one of the women asked, rolling her eyes and shaking her head.
First, let’s establish those numbers. Anti-Muslim hate crimes have, as Mr. Williams noted, spiked to a level we haven’t seen since just after 9/11. There is data on this in a variety of places that is literally at the fingertips of any citizen with a computer or a smart device. But let me cite just one public source. The Washington Post has run several pieces on this subject. One they did a year ago about the rise in anti-Muslim hate crimes in which they noted that the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reports program had documented the trend.
The WaPo article summed up the FBI’s findings, commenting that ”Prior to the 9/11 attacks, the [FBI] program typically recorded between 20 and 30 anti-Muslim hate crimes per year. But in 2001 that number rose more than tenfold to nearly 500. In the years since, annual hate crimes against Muslims have consistently hovered in the 100-150 range, roughly five times higher than the pre-9/11 rate.” (emphasis mine)
At its peak, that was roughly 12 such crimes per week, and they have spiked again since the Paris attacks and the San Bernardino shootings. To be clear, these are not retaliations against the people who committed those crimes, most of whom are either dead, in jail, or hiding out abroad. These are crimes against men, women and children who have nothing to do with the perpetrators of those crimes except that the terrorists claim allegiance to the same faith. (I refer the reader to Matthew 7:15-29 for the essential Christian take on this.)
Now, back to the Fox journalists’ questions. As I mentioned above, the information that I just cited is reported in numerous places (except, apparently for Fox) and it is easily available by scanning headlines from major news sources (AP, Reuters, CNN, NPR, WaPo, take your pick), or by checking Facebook, or Twitter, or making a five second Internet search.
Why is this significant?
I’m a writer by trade. Mostly fiction, though I blog with some frequency, as well. I am also an intensely curious person; I suspect the two things are connected and may have a causal relationship. Information, to me, is like hazel-nut-centered, chocolate-mousse-filled truffles. To a journalist—to a person whose job it is to ferret out information—it should be even more critical. Not dessert, but the daily bread of life. In fact, information is the very substance on which journalism (and therefore journalists) thrive. Without information, a journalist has nothing to say (as is amply demonstrated by the video of the ‘discussion’).
Here, we have members of a highly paid, highly visible—and if the hype is to be believed—’most trusted’ journalistic team who have somehow managed not only not to research anti-Muslim hate crimes with even a brief Internet search, but have somehow avoided coming across any headlines, news feeds, or crime reports about them. They have heard nothing from any source—not even the one sitting in their midst.
Do I sound angry? I am. I am not a professional journalist. Yet I know more about the subject matter this ”news program” is presenting than a team of people who claim journalism as their profession.
Millions of people have seen and heard this display of ignorance on national TV. But do they recognize it as ignorance? Or do they assume that because these folks are sitting at the journalists’ table, they know what they’re talking about? Will it matter to Fox News fans that one of the hosts has stated fact, while the others offer only anemic, information-starved opinions?
There was much more than this to their remarks, alas, and when the lone panelist who seemed to know something about the subject tried to present a fact-based point of view, they simply talked over him, turning the ”news show” into a ”does not!”, ”does so!” kindergarten debate.
For the love of God snd/or mankind, when you hear this sort of interaction, strike a blow against ignorance—look up the facts, sample a variety of opinions if facts are not forthcoming. Find the answer to the question. Look for confirmation of the claims and assertions. In this case, google ”anti-Muslim hate crime”, then send Fox News an email with the links—they’ll know who to direct it to.
My voice is small and has no broad reach. I cannot hope to counter this public display of negligence with a blog post, or Facebook timeline, or Tweets. I can only hope that perhaps the few folks who do read this will pass it along through their networks. What I want more than anything in this moment, is for my fellow Americans to realize that they have the power to combat ignorance and prejudice, and that it takes less effort than they might think.
“In this day the mysteries of this earth are unfolded and visible before the eyes, and the pages of swiftly appearing newspapers are indeed the mirror of the world; they display the doings and actions of the different nations; they both illustrate them and cause them to be heard. Newspapers are as a mirror endowed with hearing, sight and speech; they are a wonderful phenomenon and a great matter. But it behooves the writers and editors thereof to be sanctified from the prejudice of egotism and desire, and to be adorned with the ornament of equity and justice. They must inquire into matters as fully as possible in order that they may be informed of the real facts, and commit the same to writing.” —Bahá’u’lláh, Tablet of Tarazát (Ornaments)
I was just listening to a dialogue on our local NPR station involving experts from “both sides” of the “gun debate”. This was, of course, in response to the President’s speech outlining his latest push to decrease gun violence in America.
The participants were Adam Winkler, a constitutional law professor from the UCLA School of Law and author of Gunfight: The Battle Over the Right to Bear Arms in America, and Roger Pilon, vice president for Legal Affairs & Director of the Center for Constitutional Law at the Cato Institute. I’ll leave the reader to assess their respective street cred and level of partisanship.
Late in the discussion, Mr. Pilon took exception to the idea that persons with restraining orders or domestic abuse charges levied against them should be denied gun ownership. His point was that restraining orders are too easy to get and therefore people are sucked into the criminal justice system who do not, perhaps, deserve to be. This is the same argument that has been used against the movement to deny persons on terrorist “no-fly” lists access to guns. (Oddly, the answer does not seem to be to fix these two apparently broken systems, but that’s a different issue.) Continue reading
See the homey looking book with steaming red coffee cup? Doesn’t it just make you want to sit down, have cuppa and read up on the wonderful craft of writing? That book is Brewing Fine Fiction, from Book View Cafe, edited by Pati Nagle and moi and filled with advice from pro writers on the nuts, bolts and nuances of the writing craft and business.
In fact, every volume in the collection is a treasure trove of literary experience. And now, you can name your own price for the collection.
And what is the significance of Brewing Fine Fiction being included in Kevin J. Anderson’s NaNoWriMo book bundle? Well, only that it is a diverse collection of insightful articles on writing and related issues (business elements, conventions, etc.) published by Book View Cafe and edited by Pati Nagle and me.
It also contains several of my very own articles on writing, including one first published in Writer’s Digest magazine. Here, for your inspection is the ad copy for this legendary bundle.
She’s 5’2″, gamine, and weighs eighty-nine pounds in a soggy trench coat. The nickname “Tinkerbell” has followed her from high school. It’s hard to imagine her riding a Harley or packing a baby blue .357 Magnum. She does both. After a disastrous engagement and washing out of Police Academy, Gina Miyoko is on walkabout in Gold Rush country, looking for clues to her own future. What are the odds she’ll end up in the middle of a mystery deep in the heart of an obsessively neat junkyard?
Gina Suza Miyoko is the protagonist of a detective series I would LOVE to launch and for which I have already got thumbnail sketches and outlines for six or seven novels. This novelette, which releases on September 15 at Book View Cafe, is Gina’s genesis story.
Come to the Book View Cafe online bookstore and meet Gina.
I was not happy to move to California when I was 15. Having just buried my father and shut the door on an idyllic life in a small Nebraska town, I wrote a poem in which I likened California to a massive paper plate—an angsty teen’s commentary on throwaway culture. (And I find palm trees . . . annoying.)
Over the years, though, I’ve found increasingly significant reasons to love being a citizen of the Gam Saan (Golden Mountain). They are too numerous to go into here, but I caught this on Vox this morning and just had to share. Continue reading
It’s the “grand opening” of Lucinda’s Pawnshop. The antiquary is in!
Drop by and check out the magical items in the store . . . or simply purchase Devil’s Daughter—Lucinda’s Pawnshop, Book One. At your favorite local bookstore, or online from a variety of sources including Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Powell’s.
The book features some very interesting artifacts that play important roles in the story: a pen, a pocket watch, a Book of Shadows alleged to have belonged to Morgan le Fay, a Qur’an annotated by one of the most brilliant men in pre-Renaissance medicine, astronomy, physics, and psychology.
Wondering how these things could possibly play a role in Lucifer’s plan to destroy humanity? Buy the book and you’ll find out.
Reviews are starting to come in for Devil’s Daughter. Here are a couple for your amusement. The Kirkus one could have been written by someone who’d only read the cover copy, but the Romantic Times one is pretty cool.
“A worthwhile jaunt for readers interested in a mix of magic, mankind, and the sinister ploys of the Devil.” – Kirkus Reviews
“Combining elements of Milton’s Paradise Lost with a clever modern setting, and full of unique imaginative details, the first book in the Lucinda’s Pawnshop series is sure to please fans looking for a darker, more complex kind of urban fantasy. …The plot is a sharp one. The authors have have created a fascinating, sympathetic character in Lucinda and her conflicted journey is sure to sustain readers’ interest.” – Bridget Keown, Romantic Times
The quoted material is from a talk Abdu’l-Bahá gave during his visit to the United States in 1912.
I shall ask you a question: Did God create us for love or for enmity? Did He create us for peace or discord? Surely He has created us for love; therefore, we should live in accordance with His will. Do not listen to anything that is prejudiced, for self-interest prompts men to be prejudiced. They are thoughtful only of their own will and purposes. They live and move in darkness. Consider how many different nations and divergent religious beliefs existed when Christ appeared. Enmity and strife prevailed among them—Romans, Greeks, Assyrians, Egyptians—all warring and hostile toward each other. Christ, through the breaths of the Holy Spirit, united them, established fellowship among them so that no trace of strife remained. Under His standard they became united and lived in peace through His teachings. Which is preferable and more commendable? To follow the example of Jesus Christ or to manifest the satanic instinct? Let us strive with all our powers to unite the East and West so that the nations of the world may be advanced and that all may live according to the one foundation of the religions of God. The essentials of the divine religion are one reality, indivisible and not multiple. It is one. And when through investigation we find it to be single, we have a basis for the oneness of the world of humanity. I will pray for you, asking confirmation and assistance in your behalf.
— `Abdu’l-Bahá, Promulgation of Universal Peace, p437
Lucinda’s Pawnshop is officially open.
You can visit the shop, find out about Lucinda and her wares, read about the authors, and watch a trailer.
Click the link to Enter Lucinda’s Pawnshop . . . if you dare.
Which item might you choose? The pen? The book? The pocket watch?
If you buy something from Lucinda’s Pawnshop, you may come home with more than you bargained for.