Korans and Killing
An effort by the US military in Afghanistan to curtail terrorism has provoked a furious backlash by Muslims, and simply once again highlights the almost unbridgeable chasm that exists between civilised Western values and blood-soaked Islamic values.
In the four days since the activity took place, two Americans have been killed along with 20 others, and riots and uprisings have taken place throughout the nation. The actual deed which triggered all this was innocuous enough. Perhaps the Americans should have been a bit more aware of the implications of their actions, but this does not justify the bloody backlash.
One news item describes what set this all off: “The unrest started Tuesday, when Afghan workers at the sprawling Bagram air base noticed that Qurans and other Islamic texts were in the trash that coalition troops dumped into a pit where garbage is burned. Some Afghan workers burned their fingers as they tried to salvage some of the books. Afghan government officials said initial reports indicated four Qurans were burned.
“U.S. officials said the materials had been taken from a library at Parwan Detention Facility, which adjoins the base, because they contained extremist messages or inscriptions. Writing inside a Quran is forbidden in the Islamic faith, although it was unclear whether the handwritten messages were found in the holy book or other reading materials.
“A military official said it appeared that detainees at the prison were exchanging messages by making notations in the texts. Obama apologized in a letter to Karzai Thursday, expressing ‘regret and apologies over the incident in which religious materials were unintentionally mishandled’.”
Yes we know that the Koran is a sacred text for Muslims and yes one could always have done things better here. But some perspective is clearly needed. Every day in Muslim majority nations Christians are being severely persecuted, with many of them put to death.
Muslims in Western countries are of course not so treated. And when an episode like this does occur, we have the president of the United States offering formal apologies. Yet when far worse crimes take place in Muslim nations, we not only do not get apologies from them, but we get rationalisations and justifications instead.
Muslims expect tolerance and respect from Westerners, but certainly are not showing it to Christians and non-Muslims living in their midst. Just look at the Copts in Egypt right now as but one example. This is all one-way traffic here, with Muslims demanding that we never do anything to offend them, while they are still on a holy war, targeting and killing the infidels.
Three non-Christian commentators have recently written about all this and it is worth sharing some of their thoughts. Andrew Bolt puts it this way: “Strange that accidentally burning a Koran is more offensive than killing people. It’s a sign of how close Afghanistan is to collapse once Obama pulls out the troops in two years.”
He continues, “GOP presidential candidate Newt Gingrich said Thursday a U.S. apology to Afghan authorities for burned Qurans on a military base was ‘astonishing’ and undeserved. . . . ‘There seems to be nothing that radical Islamists can do to get Barack Obama’s attention in a negative way and he is consistently apologizing to people who do not deserve the apology of the president of the United States period,’ Gingrich said. ‘And, candidly, if Hamid Karzai, the president of Afghanistan, doesn’t feel like apologizing then we should say good bye and good luck, we don’t need to be here risking our lives and wasting our money on somebody who doesn’t care’.”
Diana West sees this as yet another case of dhimmitude: “I see no upset in the land over the latest and greatest display of American dhimmitude – the subservient state of Jews and Christians in thrall to Islamic law – that we have witnessed in Afghanistan all week.”
She notes what has been largely absent in media reports: “Qurans and other religious materials were disposed of on a U.S. military base after authorities discovered the books were being used at Parwan prison in what the BBC said may have been ‘a secret Taliban message system’….
“Judging by the gingerly way this news is being handled, it almost seems as if the perfectly logical rationale for the disposal of these materials is regarded as an embarrassment. Not so the outrageous, primitive response of rioting Muslims. In our state of abject apology, we have, in effect, condoned this murderous behavior according to the Islamic rules governing treatment of the Quran. This isn’t just political correctness run amok; it’s open submission to Islamic law.
“After all, the Quran is an inanimate object, a thing, cheaply printed and distributed by the gazillion, often by Saudi Arabia. We – if by ‘we’ I may still refer to the Judeo-Christian-humanist world – do not rampage and shoot people when an inanimate object, a thing, even a Bible, is torn, written on or thrown away. In fact, we have constitutional rights to do all of those things as a matter of free speech.”
Lastly, Brendan O’Neil argues that perhaps things are not so different after all between Muslim outrage and Western political correctness. Both share in a culture of complaint: “It is tempting to look upon hot-headed Muslim protesters in faraway lands as a breed apart from us civilised, latte-sipping Westerners. With their long beards and shouty voices, and their penchant for burning anything that upsets them, these impassioned individuals seem alien and peculiar to us, too willing to get worked up.
“Yet the present bizarre Koran-burning controversy in Afghanistan has shot down in flames this comforting but misleading idea that ‘they’ are dramatically different from ‘us’. Because what the furore over some holy books accidentally burned by NATO confirms is that, in truth, these alleged ‘weird beards’ are in thrall to the same PC culture of complaint that has Western society in its grip.
“Radical Muslims in dusty backwaters may express their angst about being offended by storming a building or burning the American flag, whereas we prefer to pursue court cases or write angry letters to officialdom whenever someone dents our delicate sensibilities. But the great uniter of the East and West today, the thing that binds Muslim extremist and Western liberal, is a profound belief that to be offended is the worst thing, and that whoever dares to cause offence must be made to pay.”
Quite so. He continues, “Ironically, these pretty craven apologies from NATO and the Obama administration for an innocent mistake made by two NATO personnel are likely only to have inflamed the protests. Because, as is the case over here, in our ever more touchy and sensitive societies, when you tiptoe around a certain group of people, when you buy into the idea that offending cultural sensibilities is the greatest sin of our age, you actually give people a licence to feel offended.
“When you apologise for causing offence and promise never, ever to do it again, you give succour to the idea that offensiveness is a unique and terrible evil, and you flatter the ostentatious offence-taking of groups who wish to be protected by a moral force-field from public debate or ridicule.”
His entire article is well worth reading, but let me offer his concluding words as my conclusion: “That is the world we in the West increasingly inhabit too – the world of moral sentiments, where how people feel, their sense of self-esteem, takes precedence over everything else, including the right of other people to speak freely and be offensive.
“How grimly ironic that this culture now inflames the passions of those who consider themselves enemies of the West – those who have complemented the modern culture of complaint with what we may call the ‘terrorism of complaint’.”
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- 25.2.12 / 2pm
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