Words and meanings

Bill Ritter's daily take on the news.

April 23, 2014 1:41:11 PM PDT
Words matter. It's a mantra around the newsroom - and it can take on many meanings.

Was Avonte Oquendo an Autistic teenager or a teenager with Autism? It's not just a subtle difference. The former defines the teenager, while the latter does not.

Were the terrorists who attacked on Sept. 11 fundamentalist Islamics bent on jihad? That's how the country's been describing them - and other terrorists who share their politics and motives - since the terror attacks on Manhattan and the Pentagon. But now, some Muslims in New York, taking the "words matter" approach, and taking issue with how a new film at the National September 11 Memorial Museum refers to the terrorists.

Some Muslims don't like that Americans refer to the terrorists as Islamics, or fundamentalists, or jihadists. You'll excuse a lot of people if they don't quite understand that. Weren't the 9/11 terrorists fundamentalist Islamics who wanted jihad?

But we would also be remise if we didn't listen to the concerns of Muslims who are not terrorists - the overwhelming majority, of course - because the point of our post-Sept. 11 life isn't to war with Muslims, it's to eliminate terrorists and terrorism, and strike peace among all peoples. Without sounding too naïve or sappy, isn't that what this is all about? Destroy evil, not just by getting rid of terrorists but also by getting rid of hate and discrimination?

So now the controversy with a 7-minute film that will open in May, when the museum opens. It's been shown to some Muslims in our area, and, according to The New York Times, many of them worry about how Muslims are portrayed. The one Iman on an advisory committee resigned after he saw the film.

Tonight at 11, we take a closer look at the controversy that is sparking discussion about how we talk about and refer to Muslims and Islam.

Jim Dolan - who has seen jihadists in action and who has traveled in so many Muslim countries - has our story.

We'll also have any breaking news of the night, plus Meteorologist Lee Goldberg's AccuWeather forecast, and Rob Powers with the night's sports.

I hope you can join Sade Baderinwa and me, tonight at 11.


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