I am a regular listener to NPR, as should be obvious from prior posts. It should also be obvious that I’m a bit critical of NPR’s approach to religion coverage. I won’t go into a detailed analysis now, but this morning’s show provided an example of a phenomenon that pervades NPR and sources beyond it.

Steve Inskeep, who seems to want to channel a late-teens id in his approach to interviewing (…”wait a minute!” he often says before launching into a clarification that turns out to be a sophomoric review of the bloody obvious…) was in pretty bad form in his interview of Ayad Akhtar, author of a new book titled “Midwestern Dervish.” I haven’t read the book, but it appears to be an account of the experience of a young Muslim American making his way in the Midwest, and experiencing all the complex and layered implications of living at a cultural and religious crossroads in the era of globalization.

Nuance was too much for Inskeep, though, as he made a range of gaffs. Instead of calling Atkhar’s protagonist a “Muslim American,” he became “…a young Muslim living in America….” Then, in Inskeep’s view, Islam does not come off looking very good. His evidence: a character is divorced in Pakistan by the traditional means, and some characters in the book are anti-semitic.

The interview lacked the sophistication we have a right to expect from our flagship news source. Too bad.

I’d like to read the book

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