Broadcasting Islam as violence appears to be settled and is flourishing in mainstream Western and global media. That manifestation is deceptive. Selections in the media age, even when supported by awesome power and imposed by long-established domination, cannot be relied on. The word “screen” itself suggests why. Screen, as Mark C. Taylor explains through the prism of information and intricacy theory, is
“A strange word in which multiple meanings pass through each other without losing definition. More pointedly, screening implies not an only projection but it’s very opposite, concealing. Even apparently successful screening is haunted by the question: What does the screening screen? “ (195)
A commanding apparition haunts the prevailing screening of Islam and Muslims. Concealed from view is centrist Islam, a multifaceted adaptive cultural practice, known in Arabic as the Wassattiyya, that has in the past mounted a potent yet pacific challenge to the West. It promises to do so again.
The restraint performed by screening Islam as aggression directly serves understandable political ends. It concentrates attention on aggressive minorities that can be concealed by superior Western power. It hides the immense Islamic conventions that symbolize the real intellectual and political challenge, far more difficult to control and far more disturbing. The projection of Islam as violence conceals from view Islam as the enriching faith and esteemed cultural tradition of millions of regular people. More glaringly, it conceals centrist Islam’s inspiring claim to the power of distinctiveness, both flexible and broad, that has materialized as a critical political resource in the global age.
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