Noonan cheers for ships headed right

ttall5Peggy Noonan of the Wall Street Journal has, in an indirect way, jumped into our discussion of media bias. Her latest column has much to say about the impact — journalistic and financial — of that yawning culture gap that exists between most mainstream journalists and a rather large chunk of readers, especially out there in flyover America and the deadly red zip codes. Click here to get to “Not a Bad Time to Take Stock: Thoughts on the decline of the liberal media monopoly and the future of the GOP.”

Before you read it, please let me make a personal comment or two.

First of all, I really don’t care much about the future of GOP, seeing as how I am a conservative Democrat. However, I guess it pays to pay attention to the GOP issues, since those of us on the pro-life side of things end up facing the terrible voting-booth choice of selecting between pro-business Republicans who say they are pro-life and almost as fiercely pro-business Democrats who, unless you live in a dozen or so congressional districts, are pro-abortion rights. Please, in the comments, don’t get pulled off into arguments about Noonan’s politics. Let’s talk about journalism.

Also, I know that technology — like this blog — is leading us into an era of niche media. I accept that and I know that much of what Noonan says is accurate about how this will open up news-media options on the right. But I still cannot celebrate this trend. I cannot find a way to slap a smile on my face and dance on the grave of the American Model of the Press. As I just said in a comment on the “Ships sail on” post:

When an industry is sliding the way the MSM is right now, it is a good thing to listen to customers and respond as best you can, without compromising your ethics. In this case, seeking a diversity of voices on the hottest issues in our culture sounds like good business, to me. I care about the future of the newspaper industry. A lot. I want it to be harder for conservatives to attack it. …

You see, I really believe that it is possible to have a newsroom that cares about intellectual and cultural diversity and, thus, contains reporters who have a gut instinct about when a newspaper’s coverage is simply shallow, inaccurate, unbalanced, twisted or all of the above when it comes time to deal with the morally conservative side of American life. I believe that newsrooms don’t have to lean 90 percent in one direction on the hottest controversies of our day and that it would be good for journalism the craft, and journalism the business, if that were not the case.

I am pro-diversity. Period. Real diversity. But, you see, I think that is possible in mainstream newsrooms — not just in the cable TV, talk radio and WWW world that is dominated by the European Model of the Press. I like newspapers and wire services, thank you very much. I am an American journalist.

Thus, it is painful to read something like this from Noonan:

We are in a time when the very diminution of the importance of network news leaves some old news hands to drop their guard and announce what they are: liberal Democrats. Nothing wrong with that, but they might have told us when they were in power. The very existence of conservative media — of Rush Limbaugh, of Fox, of the Internet sites — has become an excuse by previously “I call ’em as I see ’em/I try to be impartial” journalists to advance their biases. Actually, it’s more Fox than anything. The existence of a respected cable network that is nonliberal and non-Democratic (or that is conservative, or Republican, or neoconservative — people on the right have polite disagreements about this) is more and more freeing news outlets, encouraging them actually, as a potential business model, to be more and more what they are. Is this good? Well, it’s clearer. Then again Time magazine this week illustrated a story about Republicans in Congress with a drawing of a merry circus elephant surrounded by the Republican leadership. They were covered, I’m not kidding, in the elephant’s fecal matter. (It’s on page 23. Time will no doubt call it chocolate.)

No, I can’t find the illustration on the Time site. If you can, send us the link.

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Abortion coverage, part II

scalesSo the Supreme Court issued an abortion-related ruling Jan. 18 that was fairly limited in scope and, as a result, unanimously decided. It really is hard to characterize court opinions quickly, but a few choices in coverage are worth noting. Even though retiring Justice Sandra Day O’Connor began the opinion by writing quite explicitly to the contrary, reporters seemed to think the ruling had covered abortion precedent. Here’s The New York TimesLinda Greenhouse explaining how the ruling didn’t touch the abortion issue:

“We do not revisit our abortion precedents today,” Justice O’Connor declared in the opening words of what is likely to be her last opinion for the court. The studiously bland 10-page opinion carefully sidestepped the abortion debate that has been a prominent feature of public discourse about the court’s future.

So what’s the headline of the Times piece? That would be, of course:

Justices Reaffirm Emergency Access to Abortion

While reporters are rarely responsible for the headlines that accompany the piece, Greenhouse also somewhat contradicted her own writing in the piece. Here’s her first sentence, in fact:

In its first ruling on an abortion case in six years, the Supreme Court issued a unanimous decision on Wednesday that reaffirmed the need to include an exception for medical emergencies in a law that restricts teenagers’ access to abortion.

The Los Angeles Times‘ David Savage gave a generally more accurate analysis of the ruling, but he also had a more overt error (emphasis added):

“The Planned Parenthood Federation and the American Civil Liberties Union welcomed the court’s ruling that doctors must be permitted to act immediately in cases of a medical emergency.”

But ruling that doctors must be permitted to act immediately in cases of medical emergency would be, contra what O’Connor wrote, revisiting previous rulings. In fact, the court didn’t even debate that fairly broad issue. Let’s put it another way: If the justices decide unanimously about a given case, they probably weren’t discussing loopholes or exceptions to abortion laws. At least so long as Antonin Scalia is on the court, if you catch my drift.

Besides, if Planned Parenthood and the ACLU were happy, it’s curious that NARAL Pro-Choice America issued a press release that quoted president Nancy Keenan striking a somewhat different note:

While it is certainly heartening that the Court did not use this case to overturn specific precedents that protect women’s health, this decision does mark a departure from prior cases. In the past, abortion restrictions that did not include protection for women’s health would have been struck down in their entirety. After today’s decision, that is no longer the case.

One would hope that Greenhouse would try a bit harder on the story. At the very least it might have been good for her to spend a bit more time or effort covering the views from pro-lifers that the ruling was positive.

I also wonder if this has something to do with what Terry has been discussing. While I fully support the right of reporters to engage in political activity outside of work, they should always be aware that it leaves them more vulnerable to charges of bias. Since Greenhouse has, at least in the past, chosen to participate in pro-choice rallies, it should mean that she redoubles her efforts at fairness while covering abortion cases at the Supreme Court.

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Abortion coverage, part I

On Monday I offered some thoughts about a New York Times piece that looked at a crisis pregnancy center that offers ultrasounds, counseling, diapers, baby clothes and adoption referrals. I had mixed feelings about the piece. It began quite well but fell prey to some of the classic problems reporters have when covering the abortion issue.

ignoringIn my view, the pregnancy center was described as trying to trick women into thinking it’s an abortion clinic. Its contention that abortion can cause problems, such as breast cancer or depression, was brazenly dismissed.

John Leland, the author of the Times piece, responded to the criticism and I thought it worth bringing out from the comment section. Here’s a portion of his response:

A lot of thoughtful commentary on the article and subject matter here.

I’m not sure why it’s controversial to describe the crisis pregnancy center as “designed to look and feel like a medical center, not a religion-based organization with an agenda.” No one would deny the Christian calling of the staff, nor their mission to reduce abortion. And no one, looking at the bland medical-style signage and waiting room, or reading the name A Woman’s Choice, would connect the center to either of these things. It would be remiss not to report this. But I did not think it was the whole story of the center, nor the most important facet, so I discussed it in the middle of the article and let readers make up their own mind how significant it was — whether it was bait-and-switch, as critics of pregnancy centers assert, or simply strategic marketing, as folks at the NRLC described it.

It’s always nice to get a reporters thoughts, and I and others responded to them in the comments thread, but by far the most illuminating comment was posted early on by some man named Terry Mattingly, who shared a memo from Los Angeles Times editor John Carroll. The memo followed a story about a proposed bill that would require abortion doctors to counsel patients that they may be risking breast cancer. Here it is, in part:

The apparent bias of the writer and/or the desk reveals itself in the third paragraph, which characterizes such bills in Texas and elsewhere as requiring “so-called counseling of patients.” I don’t think people on the anti-abortion side would consider it “so-called,” a phrase that is loaded with derision.

The story makes a strong case that the link between abortion and breast cancer is widely discounted among researchers, but I wondered as I read it whether somewhere there might exist some credible scientist who believes in it.

Such a person makes no appearance in the story’s lengthy passage about the scientific issue. We do quote one of the sponsors of the bill, noting that he “has a professional background in property management.” Seldom will you read a cheaper shot than this. Why, if this is germane, wouldn’t we point to legislators on the other side who are similarly bereft of scientific credentials?

It is not until the last three paragraphs of the story that we finally surface a professor of biology and endocrinology who believes the abortion/cancer connection is valid. But do we quote him as to why he believes this? No. We quote his political views.

Apparently the scientific argument for the anti-abortion side is so absurd that we don’t need to waste our readers’ time with it.

The memo should be read by all reporters who cover abortion. Of the many dozens of mainstream reporters I know, only about five are pro-life, to my knowledge. But many of those reporters who are not pro-life still know how to cover the issue fairly — even if they’re grumbling while writing the stories.

But it does seem difficult for some reporters to consider all sides of the debate worth discussing or giving proper coverage to. And I’m curious to see if or how this will affect the way media outlets treat Monday’s annual rally against abortion.

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Those media-bias ships sail on

Porthole panel21In reaction to my latest post about media bias, Dallas Morning News editorial writer Rod “friend of this blog” Dreher posted a short item on that newspaper’s editorial page blog in which he asked his colleagues for their reaction to it. The key question: Am I on to something when I insist that the key media-bias issue today is that the vast majority of mainstream journalists are sailing left on moral and cultural issues, as opposed to issues of economics, foreign policy, health care and other similar “political” issues?

Dreher thinks I’m correct about this. Thus, he wrote:

This is a big reason why so much of the public is alienated from the mass media. When people ask me what the orientation of the DMN editorial board is, I usually tell them “business Republican,” which is not the same thing as conservative. That is, we tend to be conservative on economics and foreign affairs, but liberal on social issues. Some call this “progressive conservatism,” which to me sounds like an oxymoron, but it basically means that as an editorial board (as distinct from individuals) we’re pretty libertarian. Do any of you disagree? …

I was just thinking about this, and I think I’m the only member of the editorial board who is a social conservative. Mike probably comes closest to me, but he’s more of a libertarian conservative than a social conservative. Most everybody else is a social moderate or liberal, right? Help me out here.

So far, the only editorial board member to respond is Michael Landauer, who confessed:

I’d say that’s a fair assessment. I personally, away from politics, am pretty socially conservative, I think. But when it comes to government on social issues, I probably am more libertarian or, some would say, even liberal.

The important point that Dreher makes is that the most explosive issues in media-bias research are not linked to fights between Democrats and Republicans. It may appear that way, but if you dig deeper you find lots of mainstream journalists are Republicans, but they are “business Republicans” who are pro-abortion rights, pro-gay rights and take similar stances on other issues that, in this day and age, dominate the headlines about religion, politics and religion in politics. You can find evidence of this gap in a wide variety of studies, not all of them by researchers on the right.

A 2004 study over at the Pew Research Center and the Project for Excellence in Journalism led to an infamous column by Howard Kurtz at the Washington Post in which he directly addressed this “religious” side of the media-bias wars. Here is a piece of what I wrote about that at the time:

“The survey confirmed that national journalists are to the left of the public on social issues,” wrote Howard Kurtz of the Washington Post. “Nine in 10 say it is not necessary to believe in God to be moral (40 percent of the public thinks this way). As might have been inferred from the upbeat coverage of gay marriage in Massachusetts, 88 percent of national journalists say society should accept homosexuality; only about half the public agrees.”

There’s more. Only 31 percent of national journalists still have confidence in the public’s election choices, as compared with 52 percent under Clinton. For Kurtz, the implication was clear that “many media people feel superior to their customers.”

Bingo. This is why GetReligion keeps returning to this topic over and over.

The main purpose of this blog is to lobby for improved coverage of serious religion news in serious American newspapers. Yes, that is not a left vs. right matter. However, it is clear that this social issues gap is an important one, especially in an era dominated by religion headlines about abortion, homosexuality, religion in public schools, euthanasia and a whole host of other hot-button topics. This gap is important in an era in which newspaper sales are on the decline. You see, your friends here at GetReligion (confession is good for the soul) are in favor of the survival of mainstream, balanced, “American model of the press,” mass-appeal newspapers.

So is Peter Brown of the Orlando Sentinel. He once provided another crucial piece of this puzzle, noting that it appears that many or most mainstream journalists simply lead radically different lives than the people that they cover. They live in different places, read different magazines, live in different kinds of homes, enjoy different movies and, yes, spend their Sunday mornings in radically different places. In fact, Brown said that the biggest gaps between journalists and readers were linked to patterns in family life, religion and the split between cities and suburbs.

In the end, the biggest clashes were linked to religious and cultural issues.

So, how many true cultural conservatives are out there in the marketplace? How many no longer read a mainstream paper? How many are poised to cancel that subscription? How many continue to hang on, avoiding certain sections of the paper because they feel like their most cherished beliefs and values are under attack in stories that they believe are biased or unbalanced or both? Is the number 10 percent? Closer to 50 percent? As Brown once told me:

Any business that doesn’t understand or respect the lives of somewhere between 25 and 40 percent of its potential customers isn’t a business that is very serious about growing or even surviving.

How many editors and publishers are thinking about this? I mean, other than those who have bravely spoken up.

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Some sins are okay

poster1 fullI always find it interesting which movies political groups and churches choose to protest against. There have been many stories about the reaction to Ang Lee’s Brokeback Mountain but relatively few about the #1 movie in the country this week: Hostel.

James Pinkerton’s column, which I found in Newsday, suggests that there is a larger cultural significance in its popularity. (On a side note, I never really read Pinkerton but I have been enjoying him recently. I really enjoyed his essay on Maureen Dowd’s book, in which he compared her thoughts with Hugh Hefner’s worldview.) Okay, so here’s Pinkerton on Hostel:

Variety described “Hostel” as “unhinged gruesomeness.” Director Eli Roth explained to that he got the idea for the movie from a Thai Web site that purported to offer an online pay-for-kill experience. He said there were “guys out there who are bored with doing drugs” and bedding prostitutes. “Nothing touches them anymore, so they start looking for the ultimate high. Paying to kill someone, to torture them.”

OK, but what’s the social impact of such a movie? Will such a cinematic depiction convince some viewers that it’s “normal” to have such thoughts? Will some be encouraged to copy what they see on celluloid?

And what of the larger social impact? The Web site observes, “It is merciless with the torture, the violence, & the sex. I guarantee you will walk out of this film trusting no one.” That is, “Hostel” will make you hostile.

I just find it surprising that more religious groups haven’t protested this film which will be seen, by my rough mathematical calculations, by about a gazillion more people than will see Brokeback Mountain.

Of course, maybe the larger story is that reporters don’t think to ask religious groups what their feelings are about the movie. Perhaps they don’t even realize there might be a story there because they don’t realize how broadly religious morality extends. This review, from Catholic News Service, rates Hostel as “O” for morally offensive:

Lured off the beaten path by promises of carnal pleasures, they find their way to a hedonistic hostel in Slovakia, where they fall easy prey to a pair of temptresses and wind up in a chamber of horrors where wealthy sadists pay top dollar for the most depraved thrills.

Director Eli Roth (“Cabin Fever”) serves up a steady stream of soft-core sex and hard-core gore, as gratuitously pornographic as it is mindless.

The film’s stomach-churning factor is extreme by even the barrel-bottom standards of Quentin Tarantino, who is credited as one of the movie’s executive producers.

crashSpeaking of stomach-churning, can someone keep Paul Haggis away from a typewriter? The man doesn’t write characters so much as one-dimensional cliche vehicles with which to pound you over the head. If I were to protest movies, I’m pretty sure Crash would be my first victim.

The fact that so many critics heap praise on that silly, silly movie makes me question everything they write. Okay, sorry for veering into GetMovies territory there, but I had to get it out.

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Speaking in God’s name

nagin comments I’m having trouble keeping up with the Rev. Pat Robertson’s obnoxious comments. Was his last one about New Orleans and God’s wrath? Assassinating South American leaders? Or was it regarding some Pennsylvania town? Or on the health of a Middle East head of state?

I’m waiting for Robertson to say that the reason the Indianapolis Colts lost Sunday was the State Supreme Court’s ruling that prayers invoking Jesus Christ are unconstitutional.

The sad part of it all is that Robertson does represents a certain slice of American thought and, thus, I think his comments will always be news. So do his pronouncements represent the thought of that section of Americans that follow this guy, or are they merely goof-ups that few in their right minds agree with? Most likely, as with most things, it’s somewhere in between.

All apologies from Robertson aside, now it’s time to talk about another person’s coffee-spewing comments. New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin managed to insult just about everyone yesterday by overgeneralizing and claiming (in jest) to converse with the late Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the Almighty, stating that last summer’s hurricanes were signals that “God is mad at America” and black communities for shooting at each other too much.

Of course comments like these this will happen when a person speaks from the heart. This is something Nagin has been praised for and one of the reasons for his (former?) popularity. Again, all apologies and excuses aside, Nagin’s comments certainly deserve press coverage. He was rightfully elected to his position and could be out soon. Meanwhile, Robertson’s position as Spokesman for Saying Idiotic Things is self-appointed. His removal could prove difficult, despite tmatt’s call for his excommunication.

mayor naginIn a solid piece of journalistic craftsmanship, Los Angeles Times writer Miguel Bustillo places the comments in context and provides some much-needed explainers on what exactly got into Nagin’s head and why he made things worse later with comments on how you make chocolate milk. Here’s Bustillo:

The remarks by the mayor, who is black, appeared to be an attempt to foster racial unity and appeal to disgruntled African American voters. Black activists and community leaders have criticized a rebuilding plan, proposed by a mayoral commission last week, that would give residents of badly flooded New Orleans neighborhoods just four months to prove the viability of their areas before possibly being forced to sell to the government.

Asked by a television reporter afterward whether his vision of a “chocolate” city might be racially divisive, Nagin explained that he hoped for a racially diverse New Orleans.

“Do you know anything about chocolate?” the mayor said. “How do you make chocolate? You take dark chocolate, you mix it with white milk, and it becomes a delicious drink. That’s the chocolate I’m talking about.”

Nagin’s statements came a day after a traditional parade in the city was disrupted by gunfire that wounded three people. The parade was attended by many black evacuees who had made their way back for the occasion. Police say they do not have any suspects or motive in the shootings.

As part of his imaginary conversation with King on the state of New Orleans, Nagin called the suspected shooters “knuckleheads” and demanded an end to black-on-black violence.

CNN leads with the race comments, while the LA Times and the Associated Press stories open with the God is punishing us angle. Go figure. A casual, completely unscientific study of my own tells me that CNN likes to lead with issues regarding race.

The question for reporters is how to now treat someone such as Nagin. What about his comments criticizing the handling of the recovery efforts? Can they be taken as seriously?

Over at Christianity Today‘s blog, Ted Olsen wonders if Nagin’s recent comments will get the same level of media play as Robertson’s earlier comments on Ariel Sharon:

One might think that a government official’s declarations on the mind of God would be more newsworthy than those of a broadcaster. …

Equating the hurricanes with God’s wrath is theologically problematic. But it’s even more theologically problematic to invoke God directly in your plans to rebuild the city: “This city will be a majority African American city. It’s the way God wants it to be. You can’t have New Orleans no other way. It wouldn’t be New Orleans.”

Of course, saying God wants a place to be majority one race isn’t just un-Christian. It also runs directly against Martin Luther King’s dream.

The daily grind of the news will pick up stories likes these and my own personal observation tells me that the media handles them all about the same. It would take a more scientific effort to say for sure. I’m sure Jon Stewart will comment on these matters in his set tonight, but here’s hoping that journalists focus on serious stories, not on these comments by Nagin and Robertson.

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Truth? What is truth?

cost3Before I launch into the morning cyber-papers, let me share a glimpse of what I will be looking for on this holiday.

The writing team that works with Chuck Colson has some interesting quotes from the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. in the BreakPoint radio script that came out today. The quotes come from the famous “Letter from a Birmingham Jail” text, the part in which a circle of ministers challenged the civil rights leader to explain his belief that Christians have a right to disobey some civil laws.

King went further and said that Christians had a moral duty to disobey unjust laws. This leads to the logical question: How does one know when a law is unjust?

A just law, King wrote, “squares with the moral law of the law of God. An unjust law … is out of harmony with the moral law.” Then King quoted Saint Augustine: “An unjust law is no law at all.” He quoted Thomas Aquinas: “An unjust law is a human law not rooted in eternal or natural law.”

This is the great issue today in the public square: Is the law rooted in truth? Is it transcendent, immutable, and morally binding? Or is it, as liberal interpreters argue, simply whatever courts say it is? Do we discover the law, or do we create it?

Many think of King as a liberal firebrand, waging war on traditional values. Nothing could be further from the truth. King was a great conservative on this central issue, and he stood on the shoulders of Augustine and Aquinas, striving to restore our heritage of justice rooted in the law of God.

This is, of course, a variation on the “Culture Wars” thesis of sociologist James Davison Hunter at the University of Virginia, who stated that our culture is divided into two groups: The “progressives” who believe that truth is personal, experiential and evolving and the “orthodox” who believe there is such a thing as eternal, absolute truth. Click here for more info on that.

All of this, on a personal note, reminds me of that famous issue of Sojourners in November of 1980 that made a progressive case for opposition to abortion. It was the Jesse Jackson essay that really hit home for me at the time, arguing that abortion could be used as a form of institutionalized racism. Jackson even wrote an article that was published by National Right to Life that ended with this statement:

What happens to the mind of a person, and the moral fabric of a nation, that accepts the aborting of the life of a baby without a pang of conscience? What kind of person, and what kind of society, will we have 20 years hence if life can be taken so casually?

Colson and his team are convinced that King, if he had lived, would have asked similar questions about abortion and would have kept asking them — right up through last week’s U.S. Senate hearings for Judge Samuel Alito.

Perhaps. However, I am sure of one thing. I have trouble seeing MLK having much to do with the pseudo-libertarians — moral on one side, economic on the other — who dominate our political life today.

Now it is time to go see if any of this makes it into the newspapers today, of all days. Help me look for those quotes from Birmingham. It’s the kind of language that, today, will make people sweat on the left and the right. If you find anything interesting, let us know.

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The return of the caliphate?

muslim worldThis morning’s Washington Post contained an example of something I believe we need to see more in America’s newspapers. Karl Vick of the Washington Post Foreign Service details in an A1 story a current hot issue in Muslim communities regarding the ground swelling of support for the return of a caliphate to unite believers of Islam.

How often do Americans hear terms like caliphate or khalifa and names like Ataturk or Hizb ut-Tahrir? We’re used to simpler terms like radical and extremist that do not come close to explaining the historical and religious background surrounding the United States’ recent military actions in the Middle East. Part of this is due to the nation’s leaders, but that does not absolve journalists and the organizations for which they work.

Here’s what I’m talking about:

Yet the caliphate is also esteemed by many ordinary Muslims. For most, its revival is not an urgent concern. Public opinion polls show immediate issues such as the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and discrimination rank as more pressing. But Muslims regard themselves as members of the umma, or community of believers, that forms the heart of Islam. And as earthly head of that community, the caliph is cherished both as memory and ideal, interviews indicate.

That reservoir of respect represents a risk for the Bush administration as it addresses an issue closely watched by a global Islamic population estimated at 1.2 billion. Already, many surveys show that since the U.S.-led invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, Muslims almost universally have seen the war against terrorism as a war on Islam.

“Why do you keep invading Muslim countries?” asked Kerem Acar, a tailor in central Istanbul. “I won’t live to see it, and my children won’t, but one day maybe my children’s children will see someone declare himself the caliph, like the pope, and have an impact.”

For news purposes, the article focuses on the “what if factor.” The headline — Reunified Islam: Unlikely but Not Entirely Radical — is lame and doesn’t represent the true nature of the story very well, but I should not complain as I am a less than average headline writer and the more appropriate “history of why Muslims are not united” would not draw many eyeballs.

Tmatt has for months called for newspapers to do this type of background story — magazines tend to be a bit better — and while this article is a good step in the right direction, it is limited by its narrow focus. Perhaps a series of articles is justified at this point? With key political events occurring in Iraq, Iran and Afghanistan this month, Americans would be well served to know the historical backgrounds and the significance of the events.

The final paragraphs of the Post story point to the future and deserve a significant follow-up, somewhere:

“Bush is saying they would establish a caliphate from Spain to Indonesia,” said Abdullatif, the group’s spokesman in Copenhagen. “The establishment of the caliphate will come by those who work hard.” He said Hizb ut-Tahrir members in Iraq were working to coax a united front with insurgent groups.

As the Hizb ut-Tahrir meeting in Copenhagen broke for evening prayers, Muziz Abdullah, an affable native of Lebanon, surveyed a hall still with standing-room only. “Ten years ago, when I started, it was totally unrealistic to think there could be a caliphate,” he said. “But now, people believe it could happen in a few years.”

Could there be a caliphate representing Muslims from Spain to Indonesia in the next few years? If it were somehow to happen, it would be the most significant event of the century so far. It’s certainly something worth following.

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