Thursday, June 29, 2006

Cathy Young cannot be serious

Cathy Young is a Contributing Editor at Reason Magazine and a columnist for the Boston Globe. She specializes in what might be called "enlightened center" articles. She takes a particular, controversial, issue - say, atheism - and says that both sides are wrong. On the one hand, blah, blah, blah. But on the other hand, blah, blah, blah. If everyone respects everyone else and is as reasonable as is she, everything will be ok. You can check out some of her recent work here.

Now, since Young is (seemingly) intelligent and writes fairly well, her strategy is pretty effective, if overly formulaic. And occasionally, she advocates on behalf of very interesting, very unpopular causes - such as fathers' rights (see here and here) - which, in my mind, reflects well upon her.

But, as might be expected of someone who so obviously strives to present a balanced view of every issue, Young sometimes presents or interprets evidence in questionable ways in order to make her point. A perfect case in point is the absolute laugher that appears in Young's recent article on criticism of Islam. Young, of course, believes that reasonable criticism of Islam is justified, but going overboard is uncalled for. And, as usual, liberals and conservatives are both wrong. Liberals are too hesitant to criticize Islam, and conservatives too eager.

Young's problem is that in order to paint conservatives as too extreme in their denunciations of Islam or Muslims, she must demonstrate that they are overreacting to the danger that Muslims represent. In attempting to do so, she says this :

In the United States, where the social and economic structures are far more flexible and more conducive to the integration of immigrants than in most of Europe, Muslim radicalism has not been a serious problem.
Sure, Muslim radicalism hasn't been a serious problem in America. Wait, wasn't there that one problem a few years back? I can't seem to remember exactly what it was. Something about some buildings somewhere in the Wall Street area. Whatever it was, I guess it must not have been too serious; either that, or it had nothing to do with Muslim radicalism.


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