You know that sinking feeling that grabs you just when you're all snugly in bed and about to fall asleep, thankful another challenging day is over, when -- suddenly -- an unsettling drip, drip, drip sound undermines your peace?
Now what? A bathroom faucet in need of tightening? Hopefully it's just that. But it's still disturbing. Haven't you dealt with enough for one day?
Forgive me for the imperfect analogy, but this image crossed my mind while pondering the exploding situation in Bangladesh. The steady drip of ongoing Islamic violence in the South Asian nation, one of the world's most densely populated, has officially become a gusher -- not least of all thanks to government inaction and incompetence.
To my mind, that equals failing to get out of bed to check, and deal with, the drip before the problem gets worse. That's what happened in Bangladesh, the latest Muslim nation to gain increased American media attention for all the wrong but not surprising reasons.
Read this Wall Street Journal article to catch up with the news from Bangladesh. Note the skepticism it displays toward the government's decision to handle its terrorism problem by rounding up what may be termed the usual suspects (an incredible 5,000 individuals have been taken into custody, as of this writing).
Time magazine reported Monday that just 85 of the 5,000 are suspected Islamists -- which begs the question of who the other 4,900-plus happen to be and what good arresting them will achieve. (Later in the day, Religion News Service moved a story that said 8,000 had been arrested, 119 of them "suspected Islamist radicals.")
The slow drip of one-victim-at-a-time Islamic violence in Bangladesh has been on the international media radar screen, though mostly in a piecemeal fashion, for some time. GetReligion scribes, Jim Davis in particular, have also taken note. Click here, and here for some examples from the GetReligion archives.
Bangladesh is not a nation to which most Americans or our media pay close attention. More often than not, it only gets widespread coverage here when something like a major textile sweat shop disaster occurs, or devastating monsoon floods provide griping images.
(This last reason, unfortunately, is likely to draw more future media attention, as climate change is predicted to make flooding in the low-lying nation, much of it a river delta, much worse.)
Impoverished Bangladesh in about 90 percent Muslim, making it the world's fourth-largest Muslim nation (about 134 million people). The government's domestic high-wire act that tries to keep the peace between competing religious and secular sectors has resulted in the same sort of miserable, head-in-the-sand political leadership we see in so many other Muslim states.
By that, I mean government inaction stemming from a fear of stirring up even greater jihadist violence compounded by support for radical political Islam on the part of some government officials.
So far, it's just a few dozen who have died in Bangladesh. That level of Islamist violence is no where near that of Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Nigeria and other Middle Eastern, Asian and African nations -- and, I might add, even the United States in view of last weekend's Orlando terrorist massacre.
But it has steadily ticked upward over the past three-plus years. The victims have been members of Bangladesh's Christian and Hindu minority communities, gays, atheist writers and public intellectuals, and government authority figures, such as police and their family members.
Let's be clear. Not for a second do I believe that journalism, no matter how well done, has a chance of ending terrorism by itself. Journalists can illuminate problems and even motivate others to take action. But they're only part of the prelude.
And that, given the constant repetition of international Islamic terrorism, is frankly frustrating. We keep writing about violence perpetrated by Muslim individuals who claim to be acting in the name of Islam, and Muslim governments still allow the problem to fester until it's untenable. Count Bangladesh among them.
Each Muslim nation is a different case. Bangladeshi Muslims are, culturally, considerably different from Nigerian, Yemenite, Turkish, or Indonesian Muslims. Local custom matters and journalists need to keep hammering away at how they differ to help politicians and the public better differentiate between the myriad of solutions that are tossed about daily -- by politicians on the left and right, Muslim and non-Muslim who really are just guessing like the rest of us.
Sure, religion is part of the problem.
Yes, poverty contributes.
Of course, politically oppressive governments more concerned with power than preparing their people for the modern world stifle needed change that creates explosive anger.
But, I think, so do jealousy of Western economic advantages and know how and, among the Muslim world's many young men, Western sexual freedoms.
For sure, Christian, Confucian, Hindu, Buddhist, Jewish and atheist leaders have failed over the centuries just as miserably as Muslim governments are today. Bangladesh is no outlier, it's merely just this week's prime example.
If you follow my GetReligion posts, you know that I wrestle repeatedly with the question of international Islamic terrorism. And still, I confess I've not yet heard of anything that, for me, resembles a real solution, certainly not one that might work across the board. The complexity is simply too great.
About all I can offer is that our elite international media need to keep churning out news stories, analysis and opinion pieces on hotspots such as Bangladesh so that at a minimum Americans are aware of the latest dysfunctional Muslim government contributing to the surge of global terrorism.
This is how journalism contributes to the commonweal.