Thursday, May 19, 2005

Earn Our Respect

The main debate over the Koran-toilet story has not really begun. But it may be starting.

As the Newsweek side debate continues, I do hope that the history of other religions is recalled as we consider that Moslems rioted and killed over rumors that the Koran was flushed. Whether or not this rumor is true or false, or whether there were other isolated cases of disrespect or not, the reaction is important. So consider:
No on recalled, for example, that American Catholics lashed out in violent rampages in 1989, after photographer Andres Serrano's ''Piss Christ" -- a photograph of a crucifix submerged in urine -- was included in an exhibition subsidized by the National Endowment for the Arts. Or that they rioted in 1992 when singer Sinead O'Connor, appearing on ''Saturday Night Live," ripped up a photograph of Pope John Paul II.

There was no reminder that Jewish communities erupted in lethal violence in 2000, after Arabs demolished Joseph's Tomb, torching the ancient shrine and murdering a young rabbi who tried to save a Torah. And nobody noted that Buddhists went on a killing spree in 2001 in response to the destruction of two priceless, 1,500-year-old statues of Buddha by the Taliban government in Afghanistan.

Of course, there was a good reason all these bloody protests went unremembered in the coverage of the Newsweek affair: They never occurred.

And if you think that the Koran is so important that this should be excusable as opposed to the lame so-called outrages listed above, explain the whole Miss Universe riots a year or so ago. So it's flushing Korans and babes in one-piece swim suits that are too provocative to resist rioting?

And what outrages can the Moslem community ignore in their moderation? Well perhaps a different debate should take place. And it is one Moslems should debate amongst themselves:

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." But what disgraces Islam above all is the vast majority of the planet's Muslims saying nothing and doing nothing about the jihadist cancer eating away at their religion. It is Free Muslims Against Terrorism, a pro-democracy organization, calling on Muslims and Middle Easterners to ''converge on our nation's capital for a rally against terrorism" -- and having only 50 people show up.

Yes, Islam is disrespected. That will only change when throngs of passionate Muslims show up for rallies against terrorism, and when rabble-rousers trying to gin up a riot over a defiled Koran can't get the time of day.

Now sure, given that we are at war and that our enemies can call on a bunch of whackjobs who will kill at the drop of a hat, Newsweek should have exercised a little restraint. But in a normal world, this error would have been met with some indignation and a call to investigage by Moslem leaders instead of calls for blood.

Now that I'd respect.