In commenting on a National Review article by Paul Marshall, Robert Spencer reminds us what the Newsweek Koran desecration story is really about (hat tip Tom Pechinski):
There is no excusing Newsweek's irresponsibility in publishing an explosive story that was false. But establishment conservatives like Marshall are fighting the last war if they think this is a story that is solely about media bias. Of course the media is biased, and it's getting worse, but people are waking up to that.
The bigger story here, and 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. Note the total absence of moral judgment in Marshall's piece, except that which he directs toward Newsweek. His argument is this: Newsweek should have known that this story would lead to deaths. Therefore, they shouldn't have printed it. But he says nothing whatsoever about a culture that condones -- celebrates -- wanton murder of innocent people, mayhem, and destruction in response to the alleged and unproven destruction of a book.
And as Robert Tracinski at TIA Daily noted earlier this week:
The real story is the West's attempt to appease the Islamic fanatics by accepting their demand that the Koran be treated as an untouchable "holy book" -- leading the absurd climax of Newsweek reporting damage to a *book* in an article about the alleged abuse of *humans*.
UPDATE I -- May 19: More thoughts on the topic from Gus Van Horn.
UPDATE II -- May 20: Two noteworthy editorials: Why Islam is disrespected by Jeff Jacoby.
... [W]hat "Muslims in America and throughout the world" most need to hear is not pandering sweet-talk. What they need is a blunt reminder that the real desecration of Islam is not what some interrogator in Guantanamo might have done to the Koran. It is what totalitarian Muslim zealots have been doing to innocent human beings in the name of Islam. It is 9/11 and Beslan and Bali and Daniel Pearl and the USS Cole. It is trains in Madrid and schoolbuses in Israel and an "insurgency" in Iraq that slaughters Muslims as they pray and vote and line up for work. It is Hamas and Al Qaeda and sermons filled with infidel-hatred and exhortations to "martyrdom."
And History and Mystery: Why does the New York Times insist on calling jihadists "insurgents"? by Christopher Hitchens.
In my ears, "insurgent" is a bit like "rebel" or even "revolutionary." There's nothing axiomatically pejorative about it, and some passages of history have made it a term of honor. At a minimum, though, it must mean "rising up." These fascists and hirelings are not rising up, they are stamping back down. It's time for respectable outlets to drop the word, to call things by their right names (Baathist or Bin Ladenist or jihadist would all do in this case), and to stop inventing mysteries where none exist.
Posted by Forkum at May 18, 2005 09:03 PM