James McPherson's Media & Politics Blog

Observations of a patriotic progressive historian, media critic & former journalist


  • By the author of The Conservative Resurgence and the Press: The Media’s Role in the Rise of the Right and of Journalism at the End of the American Century, 1965-Present. A former journalist with a Ph.D. in journalism, history and political science, McPherson is a past president of the American Journalism Historians Association and a board member for the Northwest Alliance for Responsible Media.

  • Archives

  • Categories

  • Subscribe

Archive for March 20th, 2009

Is the worshipper beside you a heathen–or a spy?

Posted by James McPherson on March 20, 2009

Imagine the outcry if it were discovered that the Obama administration were sending spies into conservative Christian churches.

No, as far as I know, that hasn’t happened. But 10 Muslim organizations say the FBI has been infiltrating mosques–that the agency “has sent undercover agents posing as worshippers into mosques, pressured Muslims to become informants, labeled civil rights advocates as criminals and spread misinformation.”

Perhaps coincidentally, the report comes on the same day that Barack Obama used a video message to try to reach out to the Islamic nation of Iran: “The message is a dramatic shift in tone from that of the Bush administration, which included Iran, along with North Korea and Iraq, in an ‘axis of evil,'” CNN noted. “It also echoes Obama’s inaugural speech, in which he said to the Muslim world, ‘we seek a new way forward, based on mutual interest and mutual respect.'”

That respect is more likely to come if the government isn’t seen as an enemy of Islam–already a difficult message to carry forward with our consistent support of Israel. I’m not criticizing all of that support, but it does make relations with some Islamic countries more complicated.

Of course maybe we should be spying on Muslims–why should those suspicious peace-loving Quakers be the only religious group considered a threat?

Posted in History, Politics, Religion | Tagged: , , , , | 19 Comments »