And now for something completely different.
What we have here is the kind of commentary on the news that GetReligion tries to avoid, since the purpose of this blog is to offer criticism — positive and negative — of actual religion-news coverage in the mainstream press.
However, every now and then figures in the mainstream press simply say things that offer insights into what they actually think about religious issues and that, one could argue, offers insights into the coverage offered by their news organizations.
The topic of the broadcast was described this way:
Voices of jubilation were heard all across the American media this week following the news of Osama bin Laden’s death. But one voice not likely to be heard in the mainstream media was that of Al Qaeda supporters, who reacted to the news in online forums.
You can listen to the exchange, if you wish:
Or here is a slice of the transcript, in order to show context:
BOB GARFIELD: Was there anything on any of the sites that you frequent to suggest Al-Qaeda and its 20 years of the most violent sort of mischief has maybe come to naught?
AARON ZELIN: I’ve not seen any evidence of that. Those who already believe that bin Laden is dead cite how when the leader of the Arabs in Afghanistan in the ’80s against the Soviets died, the Jihad continued. And then they gave the example of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. He died, and the Jihad continued. So they still believe wholeheartedly that Al-Qaeda will keep on going and that the Jihad will continue, and that in the end they will be victorious.
BOB GARFIELD: Can you give me some specifics of the rhetoric that you’ve seen?
AARON ZELIN: Yeah, sure, I could give you some quotes.
“Please let them celebrate. They are celebrating their own end. Osama is in the heart of every Muslim, even those who don’t admit it publicly.”
There are some disturbing ones, such as, “I’ll cut the head of everyone who says Sheikh Osama is dead.” And then there’s this one — this is interesting: “Coming, oh, America, coming, oh, Jews, coming, oh, rejectionists” — which they’re referring to Shi’ites — “coming, oh, Kufar, secularists and apostates. Arrivals are coming and they are bringing the coffins with merciless devices.”
BOB GARFIELD: Wow. Come all ye faithful.
AARON ZELIN: Definitely. They believe in this stuff. Even if it sounds a little crazy to us, it’s not crazy to them. It’s completely rational because they have a completely different worldview.
(CUE: Audible sigh)
As the co-founder of this website — the honorable Douglas LeBlanc — put it in his note alerting us to this spew-your-coffee classic: “Why Garfield would cite a line from a joyous Christmas hymn in response to an apocalyptic list of targets — well, it boggles the mind.”
Consider my mind boggled. How do you feel about this, worthy readers?
Consider the comments pages open for interpretations of what, precisely, the NPR star was trying to say with this snarky zinger.