The Real Desecration of Islam



The flap over the Newsweek story alleging desecration of the Koran by interrogators of Muslim prisoners at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, can be dissected along various fault lines. The report, based on a single anonymous source, was not properly vetted (“the flush to judgment”), and led to deadly violence in Afghanistan. Newsweek has since retracted its story, but the damage had been done. From different corners came criticisms of Newsweek and its methods. Scott McClellan, White House Press Secretary, said, “…People have lost their lives. Our image abroad has been damaged. [Newsweek should] explain how they got it wrong, particularly to the Muslim World…” Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice, stated that “disrespect for the holy Koran is not now, nor has it ever been …tolerated by the United States.” Conservative commentators reacted. “Newsweek lied, people died,” stated the headline from Michelle Malkin's website. The Wall Street Journal asked, “Why Newsweek was so ready to believe the story?” Amidst the outcry against Newsweek, however, precious little was said about the perpetrators of the violence.

If one begins with the premise that several interrogators in Guantanamo had mishandled a Koran, and that, perhaps, in one sordid case, an individual had, as was falsely reported by Newsweek, flushed pages of the Koran down the toilet, well, then, one has examples of interrogators who were deviant and in need of remediation. Notwithstanding the Military's recent findings of isolated cases of abuse, no one could argue that US policy sanctions desecration of the Koran. George Bush and Donald Rumsfeld did not order this. Furthermore, Muslims live normal lives in America and enjoy the same rights of religious freedom as any other faith in the country, far more, say, than Christians enjoy in many Muslim nations. Muslims can buy Korans in bookstores throughout the land and study it in our universities. American museums display and recognize Muslim arts, culture, and traditions. Our nation has spent blood and treasure liberating two Muslim nations and fifty million Muslims from bloodthirsty, tyrannical regimes. The US stopped the ethnic cleansing of Muslims in Kosovo. The US sends billions of dollars each year in foreign aid to Muslim nations. It was the US that led relief efforts, helping mostly Muslim individuals, after the Tsunami. The US has done more to help Muslims than any other nation or international body in the world. Violence and protests for any reason, especially those that are entirely trumped up, seems misplaced to say the least.

When Andres Serrano photographed a crucifix in his own urine and called it “Piss Christ,” or the Brooklyn Museum exhibited artwork demonstrating the Virgin Mary covered in dung, there were no Christian riots. When Arabs ravaged Joseph's tomb, or used Jewish tombstones as latrines in Old Jerusalem, there were no Jewish riots. When the Taliban destroyed two 1500-year-old Buddhist statues, there were no Buddhist riots. Yet no one questions when Muslims engage in murder and mayhem for unproven allegations that even if true represent nothing more than the aberrant behavior of individuals and not the policy of a nation. Civilized people simply do not kill because someone may have trammeled their religious sensitivities. The real desecration of Islam is not an interrogator flushing a Koran down the toilet, but Islamic Jihadists beheading innocent civilians. It is 9/11 and Madrid. It is genocide in the Sudan and mass graves in Iraq. It is blowing up buses and schools in Israel. It is slaughtering innocents as they shop, pray, or look for a job. It is Arafat and Hamas inciting hatred. It is Muslim clerics calling for bloodshed over unconfirmed charges. It is the inexplicable silence of the Muslim World as fanatics torture, butcher, and mass murder in the name of Islam.

The willingness of elites to excuse and justify Muslim atrocities, as if Muslims were too primitive to know better, is part of the problem. It is a form of bigotry that infantilizes Muslims and encourages further such flagrant misbehavior. Mindless pandering is not what Muslims need. Muslims, like everyone, must be held accountable for their actions and roundly condemned when they cross moral lines.

That the Old Media, of which Newsweek is definitely a part, operates from a template based on the Vietnam era is an unfortunate given. The rush to release such an uncorroborated story is part of a pattern. The same impetus drives the continued media coverage of Abu Ghraib. It drove the Dan Rather/CBS fabrication of Bush's National Guard service. It is based on the following: The press has a sacred mission to challenge and subvert its government, which they view as corrupt and ignoble, especially when run by Republicans. The US Military, in particular, is odious, and the press will do everything it can to expose and embarrass it. As Old Media trips over its own agenda, the myth of objective reporting along with media credibility - gets flushed down the toilet. But this is no desecration.


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