May 24, 2005

Soft Bigotry

Christopher Hitchens isn’t very impressed with an op-ed piece in the Wall Street Journal’s Opinion Journal over the weekend.

That great religion expert Kenneth Woodward, who used to write with extreme lenience on such subjects as miracles (for Newsweek, as it happens), has now written a solemn article for the Wall Street Journal saying that Muslims revere the Quran, or "recitation," much, much more than Christians revere the Bible. The Bible is only a first draft of God's will, set down by mere mortals, whereas the Quran is the unmediated word of God himself. No wonder, then, that pious Muslims will hear of a Newsweek capsule story, assume it to be infallible, and immediately begin to kill and burn. What could be more understandable?

Well, first, most Muslims did not do any such thing, and those who did should not be indulged in the Wall Street Journal.

No kidding. That’s exactly what Mr. Woodward does in his piece. He indulges the thugs.
Three-and-a-half years after 9/11, you would think that we Americans would get it: Muslims take their religion very, very seriously. Now 17 people are dead, Afghanistan is on edge, and there are protests in Pakistan, our most vulnerable and valuable ally among Muslim states--in part, it seems, because of six words in a brief item in Newsweek magazine.

See where he places the blame? The blame is on us. Those who actually killed 17 people are given a pass. Why? Because they’re Muslims. Apparently, in Mr. Woodward’s universe, that’s how Muslims behave - and that behavior is not going to change. This is what we Americans are going to have to “get.”

Well, I call bullshit on Woodward. Those people didn’t riot because they’re Muslims. (How many riots were there in Tunis, Istanbul, Beirut, and Casablanca? Zero, as far as I know.) They rioted because they’re intolerant xenophobic ignorant bumpkins.

Hitchens is right when he later implies that if a mob of their Christian equivalents were to go on a murderous rampage over “Piss Christ” (or whatever else) the Wall Street Journal would never excuse them by saying “The Christians do love their Jesus.” If the Journal were to write such a thing, Christians would have every right to be just offended all over again. Hundreds of millions of people can’t be fairly defined by the behavior of a violent fanatical fringe.

Woodward and his ilk are trying to be nice to Muslims when they make these kinds of excuses. But their view of the people of Islam is no more “enlightened” than what I hear on the radio from vituperative hate-mongers like Michael Savage. Moderate Muslims don’t count or sometimes even exist in their view. Only the nutters do.

Posted by Michael J. Totten at May 24, 2005 6:41 PM
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Winner, The 2008 Weblog Awards, Best Middle East or Africa Blog

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