Bias Busters guides break the 1,000-copy milestone

We have just passed the millennial mark for selling books in this series on Amazon.

We have distributed about three times that number through universities, companies and sponsorships, but it is gratifying to see people buying the guides through online booksellers.

Thanks to our readers.

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Huckabee’s Holocaust comparison sheds heat, not light

By Joe Grimm

Mike Huckabee’s remark that, with his Iranian nuclear agreement, President Barack Obama “will take the Israelis and march them to the door of the oven” is being widely criticized by Israelis and Americans, Jews and Gentiles, Republicans and Democrats.

A number of small memorial candles burning.

burning memorial candles

Any U.S. citizen has the right to criticize policy and, as a GOP presidential hopeful, Huckabee is expected to. But bringing the Holocaust into the campaign and comparing U.S. policy to the horror of mass genocide is over-the-line offensive.

The Nazis’ campaign of genocide against Jews was real and horrifying. It is not material for political sound bites. Using the holocaust to liven up political rhetoric is an affront to people murdered in the Holocaust, their survivors and descendants.
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Just released: 100 Questions and Answers About Veterans

“100 Questions and Answers About Veterans: A Guide for Civilians” is now available.

Cover of the Bias Busters guide, "100 Questions and Answers About Veterans: A Guide for Civilians"

Cover of the Bias Busters guide, “100 Questions and Answers About Veterans: A Guide for Civilians”

The guide was produced in the Michigan State University School of Journalism with significant help from journalists and veterans around the country.

The guide, the eighth in our series, features six videos from partner Detroit Public Television, as well as graphics and short essays by U.S. Army veterans J.R. Martinez and Ron Capps. The DPTV video on this page is with Jeff Barnes, director of the Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency, who helped on the project.

Like all guides in the series, this one answers 100 of the basic, everyday questions people have about a cultural group. Veterans have their own perspectives, experiences, training and jargon. Most of the 100 questions come from interviews with veterans, who said these were places where they encountered questions or stereotypes. They include:

  • Why do some veterans prefer not to have people thank them for their service?
  • How are commissioned and noncommissioned officers different?
  • How common is it for veterans to be homeless?
  • What is the GI Bill?
  • What are the meanings of Memorial Day and Veterans Day?

These and other questions often go unasked because people do not want to either seem ignorant nor offend someone else. We hope that, with answers to their basic questions, people can move on to deep conversations with the veterans around them who represent the more than 20 million men and women who served in the military.

“100 Questions and Answers About Veterans: A Guide for Civilians” is available on Amazon and other online book retailers in print or eBook formats.

—Joe Grimm, series editor

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FBI adds hate crimes against Sikhs, Hindus, Arab Americans

The FBI has announced that its mechanism for gathering reports on hate crimes against Sikhs, Hindus and Arab Americans is operational.

Quantifying is an important step on the road to understanding a problem and then solving it. The FBI announced in 2013 it would add these groups, responding to a request from Congress.

There is an irony in the change. Sikhs, Hindus and Arab Americans have been attacked by misinformed people who, acting on stereotypes, meant to attack Muslims, a group already on the FBI list. According to MSNBC, “The manual now also includes guidelines on distinguishing between anti-Arab, anti-Hindu, anti-Muslim, and anti-Sikh hate crimes.”

Jasjit Singh, executive director of the Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund, has proposed such a change since 2010. On the group’s website, he writes, “Sikh, Muslim, Hindu, South Asian, and Arab Americans have disproportionately faced senseless violence motivated by hate in recent years.”

Distinctions are addressed in Bias Busters guides “100 Questions and Answers About Muslim Americans,” “100 Questions and Answers About Indian Americans” and “100 Questions and Answers About Arab Americans.”

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Islam catching Christianity as world’s largest religion

Muslims will nearly match Christians by 2050

The Pew Research Center’s Future of World Religions study projects this month that Islam is growing much faster than Christianity and that he two will have nearly equal numbers of followers by mid-century.

Why it is happening

Pew Research Center graphic

Pew Research Center graphic

Pew describes three trends that contribute to the change:
* Muslims have a higher fertility rate than other religions. The rate, 3.1 children per women, is ahead of second-place Christianity, at 2.7. The global average is 2.5 births.
* The Muslim population is, in average, younger than people in other religions, meaning more women will be in their child-bearing years between now and 2050.
* Christians lose more people who convert to other religions than any other faith. Muslims attract more.

In “100 Questions and Answers About Muslim Americans,” we looked at similar circumstances in the United States that make Islam a swiftly growing religion.

Reaching way into the future, Pew projects that Muslims could be more numerous than Christians in 2070. Pew points out that lots can change in long-term population projections, but the general trend is clear.

What it means

This is harder to pin down, though changes will come if Pew’s projections hold up.
* India will surpass Indonesia as the country with the most Muslims
* Hindus will fall to the third largest religion.
* The largest growth among Christians will happen in Africa
* Asia’s share of the global population will decline

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Can U.S. sustain international student bubble?

International student enrollment at U.S. colleges and universities has risen about 14 percent, according to a March 25 report by the Department of Homeland Security.

The Wall Street Journal reported that international enrollments have risen 50 percent since 2010 and 85 percent since 2005.

Values, traditions, pop culture, regional differences, expressions and slang that contribute to the diversity of people in the U.S.

100 Questions and Answers About Americans

But will it continue?

Other reports this week show foreign enrollments of international students declining. Student International has an article about a British Council report that shows the United Kingdom is declining as the choice for international studies. The U.S.’ biggest competitor has seen its market share fall every year since 2010-2011, and the actual number of students declined in 2012-2013.

A website about international students in Australia reports that enrollment has fallen 6.5 percent since 2009.

And, this week on University World News, Rahul Choudaha suggests that Asia become an international student hub. Choudaha is chief knowledge officer and senior director of strategic development at World Education Services in New York City.

That’s not easy, but it would be worthwhile and the experiences of the United Kingdom and Australia show that international students are fluid, mobile and not to be taken for granted. Top sources for international students include China, India and Saudi Arabia, where political variables beyond the reach of American universities come into play.

One thing universities can do is help international students get over American culture shock so they can get the educations they seek.

That is the goal of our guide, “100 Questions and Answers About Americans.”

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New take on Asian-American studies

By Joe Grimm

In March, a new book will provide a new take on Asian-American history.

Book cover, "Asians in Michigan: Voices from the Midwest," edited by Sook Wilkinson and Victor Jew

Book cover, “Asians in Michigan: Voices from the Midwest,” edited by Sook Wilkinson and Victor Jew

Curious about how that history might be different in the heart of the country from circumstances on the East and West Coasts, I asked Sook Wilkinson if she could get together a collection of essays about people’s experiences. I met Wilkinson when, as president of the Detroit area’s Council of Pacific Asian Americans, she asked me to join the group’s advisory board. Her work and dozens of essays have become Asian Americans in Michigan: Voices from the Midwest And, yes, the story is different in the middle of the country.

Victor Jew, lecturer in Asian-American Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, helped edit the essays and bring in the context that gave the collection structure.

The essays are at turns warm, funny, sad and angry. There are slices from everyday lives and academic backdrops that show how they fit together. The Detroit area’s reputation as the birthplace of a pan-Asian consciousness in the United States is well documented; “Asians in Michigan” shows how it developed.

Wilkinson wrote the introduction for “100 Questions and Answers About East Asian Cultures,” part of this Bias Busters series.

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Anti-Islam sentiment blamed on organized campaign

John L. Esposito speaks at Michigan State University on the network behind anti-Islam sentiments.

John L. Esposito speaks at Michigan State University on the network behind anti-Islam sentiments.


Anti-Islamic sentiments might seem to bubble out of events like 9/11 and extremism, but John L. Esposito blames a deliberate and well-orchestrated campaign. He said it is driven by people seeking ideological, religious, political and financial gain.

Esposito is a professor of religion, international affairs and Islamic studies at Georgetown University. He is the author of more than 25 books including “What Everyone Needs to Know About Islam.” Esposito also wrote the foreword to “100 Questions and Answers About Muslim Americans” in the Michigan State University School of Journalism’s Bias Busters series.

He delivered the Feb. 19 keynote for MSU’s “Global Halal” conference, organized by the university’s Muslim Studies Program. Halal means foods, objects and actions that are permissible under Islamic law. Lead organizer Mohammad Hassan Khalil, director of the MSU Muslim Studies Program, said Esposito is “the most widely recognized scholar of Islamic studies in the Western Hemisphere.”

Esposito said Muslims are under attack from a coalition that uses the Internet to overlap and repeat its messages.

“Popular culture is framed for the past decade and increasingly today by the Internet. It’s not TV,” he said.
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Cultural competence wins jobs

While you’re planning your career strategies for 2015, you might take a look at this article in U.S. News & World Reports.

It suggests four ways to raise your game. The first one is learning a new language as a sign of your initiative and cultural competence. There are other ways to do that, of course, but a new language on your resume, once you gain enough skill with it, will show up in searches.

So will travel, overseas work experience and collaborating or volunteering inside diverse communities where you live. Any of the guides we publish offers answers to 100 questions as well as some context and resources for further growth.

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Is your New Year’s resolution a jihad?

The Arabic word “jihad” is one of the most misunderstood and politicized words in the world these days.

jihadjpgToday, New Year’s Day when so many people make resolutions, is a good time to revisit the meaning of “jihad.”

In the Saudi Gazette, Amal Al-Sibai breaks down the meaning of the word and lists what some Muslims see as their personal jihads.

Al-Sibai’s article explains the meaning of inner and outer jihads and writes, “The battlefield for a Muslim’s jihad is not a skyscraper in an American city, or a European street, or the desert, or an airplane; it is in his heart.”

Then, the article lists what some Muslims say are their jihads:

* To stay fit despite a busy schedule.
* To be patient, speak less and listen more.
* To be a better teacher.
* To balance work and family life.

So, what do you think? Is a New Year’s resolution just a jihad by another name?

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