Nick Meleby Nick Mele
Pax Christi USA National Council member

About ten days after the attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, there were a few interesting follow-up articles and occasional broadcast stories about the aftermath of the attack. These were not stories about calls for revenge or what the Libyan and U.S. governments are doing to track down the people responsible for the deaths, the news reported was much more hopeful. A New York Times story reported that crowds of unarmed Libyans marched on militia compounds and the Ansar al-Sharia headquarters in Benghazi and disarmed the militias. For most part unarmed, they persisted, in some cases burning guns and ammunition, in others removing them.

Needless to say, this news did not get the intensive coverage the original incident did, and did not receive the impassioned commentaries from pundits which characterized much of the reaction to the deaths of the American officials. There was also almost no mention anywhere of a Gallup poll released a few days after the attack which found that 95 percent of Libyans believed, before the attack on the consulate, that the militias should be required to surrender their weapons to the authorities.

Part of the reason must certainly be our continuing struggle to assimilate the flood of information with which we all struggle to cope. Another is the way coverage of nonviolent events vanishes from the news, but a bigger part of the problem is our focus on violence and violent solutions to problems, indoctrinated through the news media, films, television shows and video and computer games. Yet a third is a general expectation, fostered by the same sources, that all the news from the Muslim world is bad news. The reality is very different and perhaps the best way to learn that is to read and listen to Muslim voices of tolerance, the very voices that seldom pass through the filters our media organizations impose.

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