Paul Moses, a professor of journalism at Brooklyn College/CUNY, is the author of The Saint and the Sultan: The Crusades, Islam and Francis of Assisi's Mission of Peace (Doubleday, 2009) and An Unlikely Union: The Love-Hate Story of New York's Irish and Italians (NYU Press, 2015).
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As a result of 23 years spent in daily journalism, it's not my way to discuss publicly who I vote for. The ethics codes at major news organizations discourage such advocacy, as they should. Fifteen years out from the newsroom, that practice sticks with me. But what I would say is that on the eve of the Democratic primary in my state, I'm undecided between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders.
So just how crafty was Bernie Sanders in traveling to the Vatican rather than campaigning in New York for the April 19 presidential primary? Very, I would say.
Do you reject the glamour of evil? The question arises from the Catholic baptismal rite and lingers like a smoky cloud of incense, summoning a stark contrast between the spiritual wisdom of the ages and a culture that exalts celebrity glamour, power, fame, luxury, and lust.
What is it about Donald Trump that has even Pope Francis suggesting that he "is not Christian"? As the Washington Post notes, Francis is the latest on a list of world leaders who have denounced Trump.
My favorite quote in the coverage of Pope Francis' dramatic final day in Mexico was in a Los Angeles Times story. It came from Claudia Diaz, a forty-four-year-old New Mexico woman who lacks legal status in the U.S. With the pope celebrating Mass across the Rio Grande in Mexico, she was among the five hundred people permitted onto a levee that was the closest point in the U.S. To get there, she walked "past Border Patrol agents and a highly fortified U.S.-Mexico border fence." She observed:
A survey by Pew Research Center has found a disturbingly sharp partisan divide in how Americans view Islam. Some 70 percent of Democrats agreed that the next president should "be careful not to criticize Islam as a whole" when discussing Islamic extremists while only 29 percent of Republicans did. Some two-thirds of the Republicans agreed instead that the next president should "speak bluntly" about Islam even if critical of it as a whole, while just 22 percent of Democrats fell into this group.
That may not surprise you, given the anti-Muslim rhetoric in the Republican presidential primary, which contrasts with a stirring speech President Obama gave today at a Baltimore mosque about Muslims in America. But Pew notes that the last time it looked into this topic, back in 2002, there was little difference in the views of Republicans and Democrats.
Anti-Muslim rhetoric became part of the extreme right's brief against Obama, and the toxin spread through much of the Republican body politic. It's partisan, not ideological: conservative and moderate Democrats largely say (64 percent) that the next president shouldn't criticize Islam as a whole, according to the poll.
Nationally, 50 percent of those surveyed favor the "not to criticize Islam as a whole" approach -- while 46 percent of Catholics do. Forty percent nationally favor the president who'd "speak bluntly," while 43 percent of Catholics do.
In Baltimore, Obama thanked Muslim Americans for their contributions to America, called for more favorable portrayal of Muslims in entertainment media, and urged that other religious groups extend their concern for religious freedom to protection of Islam.
"And of course, recently, we’ve heard inexcusable political rhetoric against Muslim Americans that has no place in our country," he said. "No surprise, then, that threats and harassment of Muslim Americans have surged."
On this, the fifth anniversary of the Tahrir Square demonstrations that led to the ouster of President Hosni Mubarak, it is worth noting that Egypt is now imprisoning more journalists than any other country except China. According to the Committee to Protect Journalists:
If we can't hope for peace at Christmas time, then when? In that vein, Yoko Ono has taken out an ad in today's New York Times "from John and Yoko" with the tabloidy upper-case headline: WAR IS OVER! and the fine print, "If You Want It." Many will dismiss it as double fantasy, but not those who have read David Carroll Cochran's thoughtful cover story in the current Commonweal: "A World Without War: Why It's No Fantasy."
The Washington Post's Michelle Boorstein notes that while U.S. Catholic bishops have been active in helping Syrian immigrants overcome barriers to their entry into the United States, they have been quiet about Donald Trump's controversial call for all Muslim immigrants to be barred from entering the country.
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