Last night I saw the documentary called “Yusuf Islam: A Few Good Songs” on ABC television. Yusuf Islam is the Muslim name of the famous singer formerly known as Cat Stevens who found god in Allah. Cat/Yusuf comes across as a genuinely nice person and a great ambassador for moderate Islam. My only objection was his insistence that word Islam means “peace” while in reality it means “submission”.
What I found somehow irritating watching this very favourable and enjoyable portrait of Muslim Cat Stevens is the double standard applied by the so-called “liberal” media to the different religions. Only one night before the ABC doco, SBS Television run a documentary about Tony Blair who is… shock horror… a Christian, and who… oh no… goes to church! This was presented in a rather unappealing way, as if a Western Christian politician who goes to church must be a religious nut case. They even showed a snippet of Blair’s interview with Jeremy Paxman who stupidly mocked Blair by asking if him and Bush prayed together. By the way, who can ever forget the liberal media treatment of another religious crazy – George W Bush?
Yet when Muslim Cat Stevens said he gave up music because in Islam music is haram – prohibited, and a bunch of other crazy religious talk the media coverage is palpably positive. This is by the way not a criticism of Stevens or Islam. This is a criticism of pathetic intellectual inconsistency and feebleness of our media. One cannot be unapologetically secular and back it up by mocking Christians, only to go doe eyed and weak in the knees over Islam or Buddhism. One have to be consistent. I can never understand how some journalists and TV presenters can ridicule US religious fundamentalists and then call to “build understanding” with bigoted Islamic clerics, or have a “boy in love look” in the eyes when interviewing Dalai Lama. How can they mock archaic Christian rituals or tradition and then have in-depth contemplations of Aboriginal spirituality, Rainbow Serpent and Indigenous spiritual connection with the land and animals?
One either believes in existence God or not; be it Allah, Jesus or Buddha. One either respects all religion traditions and beliefs or respects none. This is not happening in our media especially amongst the most loudly progressive and secular. This is not evidence of their multicultural awareness and sophistication but of intellectual fad, whereby if you dig exotic “foreign” religions like Islam or Buddhism you are cool and progressive but if you subscribe to the oh-so-tired white bread Christianity you must boring and conservative. Obviously this doesn’t pass the intellectual muster. But as with so many fashionable preoccupations of our liberal elites their skin-deep poseur intellectualism rarely does.