On a daily basis, I sit in awe at the amount of nonsense that pervades the world's media. The latest is the preoccupation with the ethnicity of Steve Jobs' birth father.
Steve Jobs was adopted at birth. And until his untimely death last week, as far as almost anyone in the world knew, Steve Jobs was the son of Mr. and Mrs. Jobs -- father Paul and mother Clara.
In fact, as far as Steve Jobs himself was concerned, his only parents were Paul and Clara Jobs. As The New York Times reported nearly 15 years ago ("Creating Jobs," January 12, 1997), "Jobs holds a firm belief that Paul and Clara Jobs were his true parents. A mention of his 'adoptive parents' is quickly cut off. 'They were my parents,' he says emphatically."
But in reading much of the world's press in the past week, one would be excused if he or she came to think of another man as Steve Jobs' father.
The amount of attention paid to his birth father, a Syrian-born American named Abdulfattah Jandali, dwarfed the amount of attention paid to Paul (or, for that matter, Clara) Jobs.
By all accounts, Jandali is a fine man, and nothing written here is meant in any way to counter that assessment.
But I have to ask: Given that Jandali and Steve Jobs never once met, and that Steve Jobs thought only of Paul Jobs as his father, why all the attention to Jandali? And why no attention to Jobs' birth mother?
For example, take this headline in the International Business Times: "Steve Jobs Dies: He Was The Most Famous Arab in the World." Or the headline of this article in The New York Times: "Steve Jobs, Son of a Syrian, Is Embraced in the Arab World."
I suspect that there are two unimpressive things going on here: political correctness and a widespread belief that blood is important and therefore adoptive parents aren't a person's "real" parents.
First, the political correctness.
The press feels bad for the Arab world in general and for Arab-Americans in particular. The former is almost never in the news for anything positive, and the latter are deemed victims of xenophobia and Islamophobia. So if one of the giants of our age can be declared an Arab and an Arab-American, many in the media are only too delighted to do so.