IT WAS front-page news this week when Newsweek retracted a report claiming that a US interrogator in Guantanamo had flushed a copy of the Koran down a toilet. Everywhere it was noted that Newsweek’s story had sparked widespread Muslim rioting, in which at least 17 people were killed. But there was no mention of deadly protests triggered in recent years by comparable acts of desecration against other religions.
No one 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.
Christians, Jews, and Buddhists don’t lash out in homicidal rage when their religion is insulted. They don’t call for holy war and riot in the streets. It would be unthinkable for a mainstream priest, rabbi, or lama to demand that a blasphemer be slain. But when Reuters reported what Mohammad Hanif, the imam of a Muslim seminary in Pakistan, said about the alleged Koran-flushers — ”They should be hung. They should be killed in public so that no one can dare to insult Islam and its sacred symbols” — was any reader surprised?
The Muslim riots should have been met by outrage and condemnation. From every part of the civilized world should have come denunciations of those who would react to the supposed destruction of a book with brutal threats and the slaughter of 17 innocent people. But the chorus of condemnation was directed not at the killers and the fanatics who incited them, but at Newsweek.
Isikoff may have been careless, but he is not the problem. (via OTB and Instapundit)
The full story is not out yet, and won’t be for a little while.
First, Isikoff was probably right, but got caught in a corner where he could not corroborate the story in a short time. The culprit, if you think there was one, which I do not, was the editor who let the story go to publication before getting more information.
Second, the “people died” riots are not the fault of Newsweek. Any more than they are the fault of Paul Wolfowitz, or the Abu Graib prison guards, or … any of a thousand real or imagined outrages by Americans against Islam.
Third, the Red Cross is reporting today that it is pointing to acts of disrespect of the Koran at Guantanamo which it has reported going back to 2002. The idea that the particular “toilet” incident doesn’t have a surveillance video to prove it notwithstanding, I find it hard to believe that that act, or many similar to it, did not occur.
Quite honestly, as much as I am outraged over Abu Graib and the general treatement of detainees in this situation — especially with regard to the lack of due process and the fact that innocents are ground up in the thing along with terrorists — I can’t really say that I’m dismayed over the Koran thing, toilet or no toilet.
If people can be moved to acts of violence by such symbolic nonsense, then I think those people get what they deserve. That applies whether they are Muslim, Christian, or Moose Lodge. A world driven mad by hysterical superstitions and symbolism is not a world I can respect.
However, back to the point …. the Newsweek thing will, I think and hope, backfire on the lying crapheads in our government. The idea that THEY can fault anyone for information errors is almost beyond comprehension. Their credibility in these areas is far below zero with me, or with anyone who is paying attention.
This story is still paying out; in the fullness of time, I predict that it will be viewed quite differently from the talk-radio perspective of today.
i guess i have to post this again as it seems that, as with most visitations from the alternate universe called ‘reality’, it has been completely missed by those who live in the psychotic dream world that is today’s united states:
“Afghan Riots (NOT) Tied to Report on Quran Handling, General Says Army investigating allegations of mishandling at Guantanamo Bay facility
By Jacquelyn S. Porth
Washington File Staff Writer
You can tell the anti-war crowd is grasping at straws when they try and change the subject so quickly. It is pathetic in it’s desperation.
Couldn’t you just be proving that Muslims believe more strongly and deeply in their religion than do Christians, Jews, and Buddhists? Of course, everyone claims that their own belief is at maximum possible strength, but how can anyone actually know how someone else feels? Except by observing their deeds, that is.
and what would the subject be in your contention? weren’t the screeching harpies of the radio right and the blogosphere sharpening their spears at newsweek and isikoff because initial reports BLAMED the substance of their story on koran-flushing for inciting riots in afghanistan and causing the deaths of 17 people?
now that myers comes out and states, rather emphatically mind you, that this uhhh, was not exactly the case, you don’t want to talk about it?
exactly who is changing the subject here? what am i missing?
Newsweek reports and the left takes it as gospel.
Newsweek retracts and the left does not believe Newseek.
Grasp those straws. It amuses me
“Newsweek reports and the left takes it as gospel.
Newsweek retracts and the left does not believe Newseek.
Grasp those straws. It amuses me”
…i don’t take anything as gospel. that’s actually one of the main differences right now between sensible progressives and the ‘support the president at all cost’ crowd presently on the right who can’t even spell conservatism let alone practice it.
the fact that we have CORROBORATED reports of a female interrogator spreading (fake) menstrual fluid on a muslim prisoner, another interrogator telling a captive muslim “fuck allah…i believe in torture and i’m going to torture you”, plus myriad other independent reports of soldiers ‘softening’ up prisoners by stepping on the koran, spitting on the koran etc, dating back over 2 years is far more compelling to me than any single newsweek piece.
i hope that clears things up for you.
In the faith-based upside down world of the right, pointing out facts which contradict the right’s position is called “changing the subject.”
In the faith based world, the “subject” is the message. The details really don’t matter.
Well, I’m as disgusted with the Republican party as John is, so i don’t know if i’m “the right” or not.
That being said, it most certainly is “changing the subject” when we have all these people on the left trying to defend Newsweek by saying “yeah, from a journalism standpoint they really screwed the pooch, but it’s okay because i believe that the overall point of what they’re saying is true”.
“The Left” did the same thing with Dan Rather. “Yeah, the documents are fake, but i don’t think Bush fulfilled his guard duties. that’s what’s important. That’s the real story, not that CBS used bogus docs”.
I’m sure a prosecutor would love to be able to use that line of arguement.
“Ladies and Gentlemen of the jury, yes, the cops planted evidence and yes, our informant, who is usually reliable, was completely wrong in this case…but hey, the defendant is obviously guilty so ignore all the crap and just convict.”
As i’ve said, i agree with just about everything John has said regarding his becoming disenfranchised with the Republican party, but one of the problems with him being linked by nuts like Kos and Atrios as a “Good Republican” back during the Schiavo mess is that the liberals that used to comment here were open-minded and intelligent, and while most of them are still here, some of the dumb, mindless Atriettes and Kossacks have drifted over.
Now imagine if a foreign army, mainly made up of Muslims, had invaded, say Israel, the US, or Vietnam, and in the process set up camps to torture(killing some) all the bad Jews, christians and buddhists, killed thousands of innocent civilians and generally made a mess of things (all in the name of WMD’s that aren’t there, freedom and liberation. What if the Muslim occupiers pissed all over the Torah, or burnt crosses or blew up statues of the buddha? Would these occupied Jews, Christians and buddhists, along with their fellow travelers from other countries possible riot in the streets and get upset?
Comparing some art or an interview with Sinead O’connor to what we do in Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib is about as silly as nutters comparing Sadam Hussein to Hitler.
“…the liberals that used to comment here were open-minded and intelligent, and while most of them are still here, some of the dumb, mindless Atriettes and Kossacks have drifted over.”
i see, as opposed to the calm rationality of don, josh and pdq as illustrated above? thanks for that.
I’m trying to figure out what really rankles about this Newsweek fiasco: that the editorial staff at Newsweek and Mr. Isikoff where stupid, careless, and lazy, or that these stupid, careless, lazy people insist on holding themselves out as the rest of the populations betters. I think the second, in both this case and the CBS case, is where the damage really comes from.
Quick thought experiment: It’s 1946, and Edward R. Murrow has broadcast a poorly substanytiated report about German Werwolf resistance in Hamburg. Riots erupt in Hamburg, presumably as Nazi bitter-enders take MUrrow’s reports as a sign that the occupation is weakening in resolve. What happens?
1) Murrow tenders his resignation immediately. His employer blankets their coverage with a retraction.
2) He names his source to the appropriate investigatory body, as an anonymous source which gives false info deserves to be immediately burned.
3) BY immediately and very publicly getting in fromt of the problem, the employing institution does not suffer the same black eye that Newsweek and CBS suffered holding on to a partisan and false (emphasis on the second part) story long after it had been exposed.
Of course, Murrow worked around common folk who expected that level of personal integrety, as opposed to a salon hot-house of social and ideological peers….
“Christians, Jews, and Buddhists don’t lash out in homicidal rage when their religion is insulted.”
Not recently, no. But it’s certainly been known to happen (though I’m not sure about the Buddhists.)
I’d also point out that Hindus have lashed out in this way, in the recent past. It’s not just the Muslims.
There might be some Christian violence in Africa once in a while, particularly anti-gay violence condoned or encouraged by conservative African churches and the governments. This kind of violence wouldn’t be a riot, but more of a continuous, low-level burn.
Catholics don’t resort to violence?
Two words for everyone…
Coming from a non-practicing Catholic the practice of religious stupidity is usually pretty universal.
And to be clear I am not saying religion itself is stupid…it is some of the people who practice it and who think they speak/act for their God.
I am of the opinion that the swiftness and surety of the Newsweek retraction makes the factual error in Isikoff’s article different from the CBS memo scandal. The fact that both substantive charges are likely essentially correct — that Bush probably did skip out on some of his obligation and that US soldiers humiliated detainees using religious tactics — is not terribly relevant to the discussion of whether or not Newsweek was neglectful. They weren’t. They made a rare error and owned up to it as soon as it was discovered.