In reporting on the Muslim experience in the Dallas area, a front-page story in today's New York Times seems a bit bipolar.
On the one hand, the report generalizes in a negative way about Texans who are not Muslims, characterizing the state as "accommodating of bigotry" but failing to provide any real evidence.
On the other hand, if you keep reading, the Times actually does a nice job of reflecting real Muslim voices — and their nuanced perspectives on a state and nation they love and neighbors they describe as tolerant and respectful.
Of course, the news peg for this timely story is Sunday night's shooting outside a Muhammad cartoon contest in Garland.
After setting the scene, the Times moves to portray Texas — "and Dallas in particular," as the newspaper puts it — as bigoted:
Muslims in the Dallas area have worked hard to find their footing in the conservative Christian culture of the Texas suburbs, and the shooting on Sunday in Garland set off another vigorous effort to defend their faith and their American ideals, while also condemning extremism of any kind.
Texas, and Dallas in particular, has been both welcoming to Muslims and accommodating of bigotry. Even as the numbers and economic clout of Muslims continue to grow — an estimated 200,000 now live in the Dallas area — they have faced a series of political and cultural challenges just in the past few months.
The shooting in Texas, showcasing that there are Islamic extremists in the United States encouraged by radicals overseas, comes just as Muslims here have been confronting suspicions about their faith and loyalty.
An imam who gave a nondenominational prayer at the Fort Worth Stock Show and Rodeo in February, at the invitation of organizers seeking to be more inclusive, received so many hateful comments on social media afterward that he canceled a second scheduled appearance there.
In January, at an annual lobbying day in the State Capitol for Muslims, Molly White, a state representative, told her staff members that any Muslim who entered her office must be asked to pledge allegiance to America and its laws and to renounce Islamic terrorist groups.
The Texas Legislature is also considering a bill, similar to ones passed in other states, that would prohibit basing decisions in state courts on foreign legal codes. It was proposed by conservative activists who contend that the goal of Muslims in the United States is to gradually impose Islamic law, or Shariah — an assertion that Muslims say is false.
How has "Dallas in particular" been accommodating of bigotry? The Times provides no evidence and asks no non-Muslim leaders — political, religious or otherwise — to respond to that claim.