I watched a little nine-minute clip today of a conversation between a Canadian newscaster and an ex-Muslim woman, Ayaan Hirsi Ali (the woman in the photo). She is outspoken against Islam and naturally he tries to defend it, although he is not a Muslim. She was raised as a Muslim and suffered the genital mutilation women have to endure in many Muslim countries.
He is a great example of the negative bias of the news (and newscasters). He exaggerates and overgeneralizes. He gives the impression we are helpless and living in a scary, dangerous world. He implies and accuses. But she remains calm and articulate. If only we could all remain so poised when talking to someone who makes so many thought-mistakes per statement we don't know where to begin to straighten it out.
This article used to have a video of their conversation, but the video was removed from their site and replaced by this apology/criticism of the interview by the station.
Their conversation was a good example of what happens when someone who knows something about Islamic terrorism tries to talk to someone who believes in freedom of religion but knows nothing about Islam. The interviewer came out with the same retort you always hear: "But some other holy books have violent things in them." It was obvious what he was doing. He was trying to defend the right to religious freedom. It's a fundamental right in free countries, and most of us are quite adamant that people should be allowed to worship as they please.
But what if the way someone wants to worship is to mutilate a woman's genitals? What if part of the worship is to fight and kill non-believers? This is a difficult and very important issue, and blind commitment to an ideal (such as everyone has a right to believe as she chooses, and all religions are created equal) is not going to help. We need some real answers here rather than knee-jerk reactions (however well-intentioned) and we need some engaged, intelligent conversations. Ali sets a good example.
Read about how you can respond to conversations like this.