Barack Obama, CAIR, Council on American-Islamic Relations, George W. Bush, Hamas, Holy Land Foundation, Im-Politic, Immigration, Mainstream Media, Muslims, Politico, Sally H. Jacobs, terrorism, travel ban, Trump
American’s mistrust of the Mainstream Media is so great that even the Mainstream Media is getting worried. If these reporters and editors keep turning out slanted stories like Politico‘s article yesterday reporting a growing national shortage of Muslim clerics, their trust deficit can only deepen.
The main message that author Sally H. Jacobs and the Politico staff wanted to send is stated clearly in the headline and subhead: “America is Running Out of Muslim Clerics. That’s Dangerous: How Trump’s travel ban worsened a shortage of qualified preachers – and why that’s dangerous.”
And the piece does contain several anecdotes about imams from Muslim countries invited to serve mosques in the United States being turned away during the last year by U.S. immigration authorities. Moreover, it leads off with a story about one of those congregations being unable to generate enough volunteer imams from its own ranks, ostensibly because of studies showing that violence against American Muslims has been rising since the 2016 election that put Mr. Trump in the White House.
But there are two enormous, related problems with these points – one which Jacobs and her editors don’t appear to be aware of but should have investigated further, and one they clearly are aware of (which of course is a clear indication of bias).
The problem that’s known to the Politico team is that the only big decrease in the numbers of imams permitted to enter the United States that emerges from the best data available took place under former President Obama. How do I know that this is known to Jacobs and the Politico staff? Because it’s mentioned in the article:
“In an effort to stem fraudulent applications for such visas, the number of R1s [a U.S. visa issued for temporary religious workers] issued during the Obama era declined significantly from 10,061 in 2008 to 2,771 in 2009. In the following years, though, the number rose steadily and in 2016 the government issued a total of 4,764 R1s.
“It is unclear whether or by how much those numbers have dropped during the Trump administration, as statistics for fiscal year 2017 will not be available until next year, says a U.S. State Department spokesman.”
And something else crucial should be apparent from these sentences: The reason that the Obama administration cracked down – even as the Muslim population of the United States kept rising, thereby boosting the demand for clerics – is because it perceived a phony imam problem that needed to be nipped in the bud. This problem, moreover, surely grew under the presidency of George W. Bush – who so many Never Trump-ers across the political spectrum are now portraying as a paragon of tolerance.
If only these vital points hadn’t been buried in Jacobs’ piece!
The problem that Jacobs and the Politico staff may not be aware of (but arguably should have been) is that the main hate crimes figures cited in the piece come from a source that, to put it mildly, has reputational and objectivity problems: The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR).
Just one such problem: In 2009, a federal judge ruled that the U.S. government (under George W. Bush) “has produced ample evidence” to establish CAIR’s association with groups like the Holy Land Foundation (an Muslim charity convicted in the United States of funding Islamic militants) and Hamas (listed by the U.S. government as a terrorist organization since 1997).
There’s no denying that an actual or impending shortage of American Muslim clerics is an important and interesting development in its own right. And it raises the at least as important and interesting question of why Jacobs and Politico were so determined to turn a real news story into a fake news attack on President Trump?