When in April EBay offered a consecrated host for sale, imagine if Catholics had rioted and seventeen people were killed.
The media would have been full of stories about the dark side of the “Christian Right.”
Imagine if, when Muslims desecrated the Tomb of Joseph in Nablus in 2000, destroying it with hammers, rampaging Jewish mobs had killed dozens of Palestinians.
The establishment media response would again have inundated us with stories about the heroic Palestinians and their Israeli oppressors.
Neither of those things really happened. But seventeen people have been killed and hundreds wounded in riots by Muslims since Newsweek published its story about an American interrogator flushing a Qur’an down the toilet at the detention center at Guantanamo Bay.
And yet the media establishment seems preoccupied only with the fact that Newsweek, in publishing a false story that it has since retracted, has done a very bad thing. And that the Bush Administration must do something to calm tempers and soothe feelings in the Islamic world.
There is no excusing Newsweek’s irresponsibility in this. But this is not really a story about media bias or carelessness at all. There is a much larger story that is getting hardly any attention at all. The gorilla in the living room that no one wants to notice, is that flushing a Qur’an down the toilet should not be grounds to commit murder.
The question here is one of proportionate response. If a Qur’an had indeed been flushed, Muslims would have justifiably been offended. They may justifiably have considered the perpetrators boors, or barbarians, or hell-bound unbelievers. They may justifiably have issued denunciations accordingly. But that is all. To kill people thousands of miles away who had nothing to do with the act, and to fulminate with threats and murder against the entire Western world, all because of this alleged act, is not just disproportionate. It is not just excessive. It is mad. And every decent person in the world ought to have the courage to stand up and say that it is mad.
I suspect that even Juan Cole and Paul Marshall, somewhere in the back of their minds, know that it is mad too. But why don’t they say so? Because Rule #1 in the establishment (Left and Right) view of this present conflict is that it has nothing to do with Islam. To bring a moral judgment to bear upon Muslim people, or to explore the ways in which Islam fuels the conflict, is therefore absolutely forbidden.
Of course, a huge part of the reason is that no one who calls Islam on its real nature wants to be killed by a bunch of thugs. Just sayin'.