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Saturday, May 14, 2005

The Koran, Newsweek, Rumor and Death

Moslems throughout the Arab world are rioting and killing because of an article in a recent issue of Newsweek magazine claiming Americans flushed a Koran down a toilet. To understand what is happening, let’s start at the beginning.

It began centuries ago. Mohammed led his followers to conquer the Christians, Jews, animists and “others” that inhabited the Middle East. And, being illiterate dictated the Koran to his followers.

That was in reaction to the Crusades. Oh, you say that was before the Crusades? Never mind ….

Moslems hold the Koran in reverence that is not understood by non-Moslems. Lee Harris has an article in Tech Central Station that is extremely revealing:

The Koran has always been the great stumbling block to any Western understanding of Islam. The Koran means so little to us, and so vastly much to them. We cannot, to be frank about it, comprehend their admiration, not to mention, their abject adoration of the Koran understood as a book. Compare it to Homer or the book of Genesis, or the Gospels, or the great Hindu epochs, and you will be bowled over by the difference. Thomas Carlyle once made the comment that only a high sense of duty could carry a Western reader from the first Surah to the last.

But it is not as a book that Muslims regard the Koran -- that is our first misconception. It is in itself a holy and sacred object, like the cross to the Christians or the American flag to the patriotic and red-blooded among us: you don't mess with it. …. Other peoples, notably the Jews, the Christians, and the Zoroastrians had their books; it was now the turn of the Arabs to receive theirs -- though theirs would supercede the previous editions of God's Word, much in the same way that a new and up-to-date physics text renders those from an earlier era obsolete.

The Koran, however, differed radically from other sacred books. They were inspired by God, but the Koran was the very word of God, and in the language that God clearly spoke when he was by himself, namely, Arabic. Islam would never have been such a challenge to the earlier faiths if it had claimed to have discovered a new god; but it didn't. It claimed to be centered on the same god of the Jews and Christians -- only the Koran represented this god correctly.

Mohammed insisted that any conflict between the new revelation and the previous ones could only have arisen through the accidental or deliberate misinterpretation of God's word by Jews and by Christians. Thus Islam was born flinging a challenge into the face of both Jews and Christians. It claimed to understand the Jewish and the Christian God better than the Jews and the Christians understood Him; and it was this extraordinary claim that explained the common medieval interpretation of Islam as a Christian heresy -- which is why the often politically incorrect Dante put Mohammed in the pit of hell reserved for schismatics and heretics.

Nor was this the only stumbling block posed by the Koran. For the Koran does not claim simply to have been inspired by God, the way that Jews and Christians have traditionally interpreted their scripture; rather it is understood as having been quite literally dictated by God, word by word. Or, more precisely, Arabic word by Arabic word.

By this I don't mean that Allah reveals his Word and that this Word is then encoded into Arabic, as it might have been encoded into any other language; I mean that, according to Islam, Allah's Word is itself Arabic. The Koran is co-eternal with Allah; it always existed, and always will exist; and it has always been in Arabic.

Not aware, or not caring, Newsweek’s May 9th issue carries and article by Michael Isikoff and John Barry that begins:

May 9 issue - Investigators probing interrogation abuses at the U.S. detention center at Guantanamo Bay have confirmed some infractions alleged in internal FBI e-mails that surfaced late last year. Among the previously unreported cases, sources tell NEWSWEEK: interrogators, in an attempt to rattle suspects, flushed a Qur'an down a toilet…

While Newsweek probably has limited circulation in Afghanistan, this piece of unsourced gossip quickly spread via Arab media and word of mouth. The result was widespread rioting and death. From Times On Line we learn:

AT LEAST nine people were killed yesterday as a wave of anti-American demonstrations swept the Islamic world from the Gaza Strip to the Java Sea, sparked by a single paragraph in a magazine alleging that US military interrogators had desecrated the Koran.
As Washington scrambled to calm the outrage, Condoleezza Rice, the US Secretary of State, promised an inquiry and punishment for any proven offenders. But at Friday prayers in the Muslim world many preachers demanded vengeance and afterwards thousands took to the streets, burning American flags.

Although the original report in Newsweek was small, it was re-broadcast by television networks such as al-Jazeera and al-Arabiya and in Pakistan it was quoted by Imran Khan, the cricketer-turned-politician, at a press conference. He said it would strengthen the impression that America’s War on Terror was against Muslims.

In an investigation, the top US military commander, General Richard Myers, said that they had found no evidence that the Newsweek story was true. He mentioned that …in an unconfirmed incident, a Guantanamo prisoner flushed pages from a Quran down a toilet in an effort to clog it. He said Army General Bantz J Craddock, head of US Southern Command, "has been in Guantanamo for the last couple of days digging into this issue to see if there was a time when the Koran was not respected.

"They have looked through the logs, the interrogation logs, and they cannot confirm yet that there was ever the case of the toilet incident," the General said. "He did note a log entry, which they still have to confirm, where a detainee was reported by a guard to be ripping pages out of a Quran and putting them in a toilet to stop it up as a protest. But not where the US did it."

So what are we to make of this?

First we learn that there is an incredibly violent component in Islam that is difficult for the Western world to comprehend. When someone insults our religion – as happens virtually non-stop in a stridently secular society – Christians have had a tendency to turn their heads or cluck their tongues.

Desecration of the Bible, an insult to the Pope, banning a Christmas crèche has been followed by … peace. The idea of a band of Baptists, arguably among the most fundamentalist of Christian denominations, rioting and killing to proclaim the inerrancy of the Bible, or to protest another slap at them as Neanderthal knuckle draggers, is farcical. This puts the lie to the Liberal yahoos who recently met to equate Christians to the Taliban. To those on the Left who still do not understand the difference between faithful Christians and Moslems, these riots should provide a clue to those that have so far proven clueless.

The second thing we learn is that there do not seem to be any prominent voices of moderation in Islam. The reports coming back from the riots mention police and military reaction, but no political or social condemnation of the hysteria that produced these riots. Where are the voices of moderation in Islam that condemn those who are stoking the fires of violence?

Of course, this could very well be the failure of the media. For all we know, Imams are preaching sermons this very moment condemning these rioters and calling for peace. But as we have seen in the MSM reports form Iraq, the only information we are allowed to obtain are reports of violence and mayhem. What news from Iraq? “Car bomb explodes in (fill in the blank), (fill in the number) killed.” And that’s what happened in Iraq today, courtesy of the MSM.

So I'm waiting for a blogger in the Moslem world to report the story of the "Religion of Peace" and its leaders who advocate peace. I'll try not to hold my breath, but I could be pleasantly surprised.

Putting the focus on Newsweek for a moment: what compelled this story? What is the story, how well sourced is it and what motivated it?

The story is the ongoing media saga that can be summed up as “Wicked US Military Tortures Innocent Bystanders.”

We cannot know who the source of the information is because the reporters do not name their sources. And how likely is it that an American actually flushed a Koran down a toilet? Have you ever tried to flush a book down a toilet?

About the issue of torture. When I was a mere pup, I had simpleminded idea of what constituted torture. The rack, beatings, red-hot-pincers and iron maidens came to mind. The meaning of torture has today been “tortured” out of any semblance of meaning. Torture is defined today as anything of which the Left disapproves. Put women’s panties on a man’s head: torture. Stack naked men in a pile: torture. Put a leash around a man’s neck: torture. Take off your blouse, run your fingers through a man’s hair and sit on his lap: torture. Of course all of these assume that you have not paid some hooker to do this to you. That would be called innocent fun and don’t you dare intrude on what I do in the privacy of my bedroom, you prude!

So this story moves the torture meme along. The fact that it provoked widespread rioting and death is icing on the cake for Isikoff and Barry, the Newsweek “reporters” on the case. Will there be a prize, I wonder for the news puke who manages the get the largest number of people killed? Don't bet against it.

There is at this time no documented proof that the story was actually designed to lead to riots and killings. But if Americans, Pakistanis and Afghans die, but Newsweek circulation increases, isn’t it all worth while? Isn't this what Americans marines and soldiers are fighting and dying for?


Lao said...

Dr. Rice needs to take blame now as well.

Moneyrunner said...

Dr. Rice's job is to calm the situation down. We need to pick our targets and the timing of our actions. Only a fool would take on the entire job of cleaning up the Moslem world all at once.

Anonymous said...

You are wrong when you say the MSM reports that a bomb "explodes" in Iraq. Even FOX, invariablly, reports that a bomb "rocks" whatever city - just as any self respecting terrorist would prefer.

New thought - What thousands died that Isikoff might be great?

Anonymous said...

In the world I grew up in, Isakoff would be in jail, awaiting trial on sedition and slander charges, among others. What happened to that world?

Anonymous said...

When, during your lifetime or mine(some 65 years) was sedition a crime? So far as I know, the Alien and Sedition laws were allowed to expire at the inauguration of Thomas Jefferson as President in 1801.

Moneyrunner said...

What should be the result of a MSM member publishing a rumor that proves to be (1) incorrect and (2) leads to multiple riots and dozens of deaths?

This is topic for another post.