Sunday, June 05, 2005

Bynum: Desecrating History

Jihad Watch News Editor Rebecca Bynum weighs in on Newsweek-Afghan riot controversy.

So, what should we learn from the Great Qur’an Flushing Riots of 2005? Is this a story about the liberal media’s rush to print anything to discredit the military and by extension, the administration? Or is it about the insane overreaction of Muslims to the idea of “desecration” (a word along with apostasy, infidel, and beheading that a mere five years ago, all assumed had fallen from existence). Or is this story about the absurd double standard Muslim countries use in treating non-Muslim faiths and their holy books, especially the Bible, while demanding supreme “sensitivity” from the western world regarding their own beliefs and holy book? Certainly it was about all of those things, but it was also about something else as well. Something missed by the national media. A little something about the distortion and thus the “desecration” of history.
The rioting in Afghanistan seems to have started with demonstrations by students in the in Afghan capital on Tues. May 10. “Hundreds of students marched from a university campus into the eastern city of Jalalabad and blocked the main road toward the capital, Kabul, intelligence chief Sardar Shah said. There were no reports of violence. Television footage showed students chanting and calling for an apology for the alleged abuse of Islam's holy book. An object which witnesses said was an effigy of Bush could be seen burning.” These initial demonstrations were later reported to have been pre-planned long before the Qur’an flushing story broke.

The next day, Wednesday, May 11, the violence seems to have escalated with four people reported to have been killed and 70 injured in Afghanistan and it was also reported that the violence was spreading to Pakistan. The following day, Thursday the 12, the Turkish Press reported seven people had been killed in the rioting. By Friday, ABC News was reporting that the riots had spread to parts of Indonesia, Gaza and Hebron, and that nine more people had been killed in Afghanistan bringing to total number of people killed to 16. On Sunday, the day Newsweek retracted the Gitmo Qur’an flush part of the story, Reuters reported 16 dead as well.

Come Monday morning, conservative journals and talk show hosts nationwide gleefully jumped on the chance to further discredit still another major news media organization, whose already tarnished reputation slipped yet another notch in the public’s estimation (which was hard to do, because the public already trusted the media about as much as they trust used car salesmen). A slew of other news reports chocked up the death toll variously as 17, 18 or even 19 Afghanis dead, and yet on Wednesday, May 25, Joseph Farah’s G2 Bulletin reported that not a single name of even one victim had been released. “No details of the circumstances of the riots were released from any official sources – either U.S. or Afghan."

Well, surely it seems to me, if there had been funerals, those funerals would have turned into major media events. The entire world was watching as events unfolded, but those reporters who may have rushed to the scene in anticipation of the usual great funeral footage, filled with thousands of excited young men waving big guns and shouting along with the obligatory three or four fully draped females usually wailing, weeping and pointing to pictures (these people can really act out their grievances, both real and imagined) anyway, those reporters were left twiddling their thumbs.

“G2B has examined every English-language news story about these deaths through Lexis Nexis. G2B has scoured the Internet, including foreign and non-English-language news sources for any details of these deaths. And G2B has queried both U.S. and Afghan official sources for any details about these alleged deaths.

"No U.S. officials contacted can provide any corroboration for any deaths. And Afghan officials uniformly clam up with apprehension at the mere asking of questions.” And apparently, G2B is the only news organization that pressed it.

But must we scrape off our "Newsweek lied, people died" bumper stickers so soon? Mine hasn't even arrived yet. Or should we file this story along with the file on “what Yasser Arafat died from” along with the file on the “Jenin massacre,” along with the file on the "tragic killing of little Mohammed Al-Dura?" All this makes me wonder how much of the reporting that comes to us from the Arab press is reliable at all, and more importantly, how much of it that is, in fact, quite unreliable sails right through regardless. How do our fact checkers check facts, anyway? Do we need another, more rigorous standard of fact checking for reports coming from Muslim countries before we rush those screaming bumper stickers into print? Perhaps so.

Said a certain Jewish carpenter, “The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath,” (Mark 2:27) which pretty well sums up the western world’s entire attitude towards authority, religious and governmental alike. In the universe of the western world, both government and religion are thought to exist only in order to serve mankind. Governments are instituted among men for their benefit, not the other way around. Muslims, on the other hand, believe they are actually born in order to serve Islam, God’s perfect system for man. Muslim morality is judged according to one and only one criterion: does it, or does it not promote Islam? All means to that end are justified by the Qur'an and are deemed moral, or more precisely, these actions are "permitted."
Westerners continually make broad assumptions based on “universal ideals.” Ideals, we think are so self-evident that everyone agrees. Secretary of State Rice has said, "Islam is a peaceful religion and so the notion that somehow flying airplanes into buildings or strapping a belt on yourself and blowing up other people is in the service of Islam is something, I think, that clearly perverts the religion and is resented by most respected Islamic scholars for very good reason -- by the way, I think probably rejected too by most people because who wants that to be the future for your children? Nobody." Which left me scratching my head wondering why she hadn't read the copious media reports from all over the Muslim world where any and all human sacrifice in the name of Islam is not only justified, but encouraged and routinely celebrated. In the Muslim world, human beings exist to serve and promote Islam, not the other way around. Why can’t we get that straight?

Maybe what we have here is a fear-inspiring fetish doctrine (Islam) born from a fear-inspiring fetish book (the Qur’an), in which not only is every word thought to be true, but also it is thought that ALL TRUTH is contained within this book. Predictably, this fetish “piety” leads directly to bigotry, fanaticism, superstition, intolerance, and the most atrocious of barbarous cruelties. Other than that, it’s a “beautiful” religion (cue scenes of Shangi-La and the Taj-Mahal from memory bank) and heaven help you if you say otherwise.

The Qur’an, like the Bible, is thought to contain history. The only problem with the history contained in the Qur’an is that isn’t actually history at all. Muslims will say it is “revealed” history, but nonetheless, by the traditional standard of recording events as they actually happen, or shortly thereafter, and then preserving that record over time, the Qur’an cannot be thought to contain any history except that of Muhammad and his immediate associates. Yet, the western world routinely accepts the notion of the “three Abrahamic faiths” just as though this Qur’anic history was actually, well, history. By doing so, we betray the historical Hebrew prophets, the very personages we are all supposed to “revere.”

The fact that Muslims are playing fast and loose with modern history then, should not surprise us. If a few extra bodies are thrown into a news report, if the cause of death of a major Muslim political figure is obscured, if atrocities are manufactured, well, we shouldn’t be surprised. We should be wary instead.
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