Friday, October 29, 2010

Think Again: A double standard for Islam

The double standard conveys to the Islamists two dangerous messages. First, violence works; the West is terrorized. Second, Islam is the one true religion: Behold, even Westerners treat it with a deference not shown to Christianity or Judaism.

INTELLECTUALS AND cultural elites have played a major role in fostering the West’s acceptance of voluntary dhimmitude by manipulating the level at which the debate takes place whenever it touches issues of Islam. In part, intellectual attitudes are motivated by fear; in part by a refusal to acknowledge a civilizational struggle between the West and expansionist Islam. For some, the frisson of seeing their own bourgeois society under attack contributes to the fun.

The problem here is based on the assumption ~ that the current elite will always be in control, that the intellectuals can continue to think freely, and that in America that the Constitution will always be there to act as a guard ~ against Islam's extremes. But this is what many Muslim leaders are working to overturn. In the UK's East London, the radical Muslims who want to install Shari'a are now in control of one of London's Boroughs ~ all achieved under the cover of the UK Labour [Left-wing] protection ~ of Islam. The Council leaders sent around a memo saying or suggesting that civil servants should refrain from eating and follow Ramadan as Muslim do. Already non-Muslims can't swim at at least one pool in that area. A public pool. Gays are attacked and women are harrassed to dress in the more extreme Islamic clothing in the streets. They now have one of their guys in as mayor ~ in control of a £billion budget ~ and there are already complaints that money from the Council has dried up toward secular and non-Muslim projects ~ which can only get worst. In the US there are presently Muslim leaders talking about altering the Constitution, to include Shari'a, with the view to introduce the more extreme aspects later. Of course this would not be as simple as putting a mosque at Ground Zero, but the fact is they are talking about it. Robert Spencer went along to the Islam on Capitol Hill last year, where he talked with Muslims who openly said they wanted Shari'a law in America. And under the name of protecting Islam all these things are being overlooked [or allowed]. As there is a reluctance to accept that Islam ~ is in part a blueprint to seize power ~ by any means. If you love the Constitution and if you love freedom ~ you must understand pretty quickly ~ that there is no equality in Islam. Under Shari'a Muslims and Islam take priority and everyone and everything else takes second place ~ if it is allowed at all. Clearly spelt out ~ that means second class citizenship for non-Muslims and almost everything considered un-Islamic, including what we understand as art and culture would be banned, if it has not been given special permission to exist. Look at Iran!! That's the promise. If not Iran ~ then point to another Muslim country ~ where you can see that basic freedom and rights are being protected. That's the real Islamic world! And many Muslims want that model for the whole world.

Merely believing in God is not enough, Muslims have a sacred duty devolves upon you: wherever you are, in whichever country you live, you must strive to change the wrong basis of government, and seize all powers to rule and make laws from those who do not fear God. Source

Hate speech laws are applied in West against those critical of Islam, but never against Muslim imams who mock Jewish, Christian infidels.

Islamists everywhere demand respect for Islam, the prophet and the Koran, and threaten murderous mayhem should that demand not be honored. At the same time, they do not hesitate to express their contempt for other religions and their adherents, as well as the system of democratic rights protecting the freedom of religion.

Nor are those threats to be taken likely. More than 50 people died in violence triggered by the Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini’s 1989 edict against Salman Rushdie, author of The Satanic Verses, and all those connected with its publication or distribution. Dozens of Europeans are now in hiding or under police protection because of death threats from Muslims.

Sadly, the West has to a shocking degree acquiesced in this double standard. The Washington Post removed from its website a cartoon including the words “Where’s Muhammad,” even though it contained no depiction of him; South Park’s producers edit episodes mentioning Islam but not those ridiculing Christianity; Yale University Press deleted all the actual cartoons from a book on the Danish cartoon controversy. Australian preachers were fined for quoting the Koran, and leading Dutch politician Geert Wilders was put on trial for his strident criticism of Islam.

Hate speech laws are applied in Europe against those critical of Islam, but never against Muslim imams who mock Jewish or Christian infidels. Even here, Tatiana Susskind was sentenced to two years in jail for posting a cartoon of the face of Muhammad on the body of a pig, but preachers from the Islamic Movement can broadcast what they want about Jews and Judaism.

The double standard conveys to the Islamists two dangerous messages. First, violence works; the West is terrorized. Second, Islam is the one true religion: Behold, even Westerners treat it with a deference not shown to Christianity or Judaism.

INTELLECTUALS AND cultural elites have played a major role in fostering the West’s acceptance of voluntary dhimmitude by manipulating the level at which the debate takes place whenever it touches issues of Islam. In part, intellectual attitudes are motivated by fear; in part by a refusal to acknowledge a civilizational struggle between the West and expansionist Islam. For some, the frisson of seeing their own bourgeois society under attack contributes to the fun.

The recent uproar over the threat of an obscure Florida pastor to burn the Koran provides a classic example of the different ways the debate is framed depending on whether Islam is perceived as the “aggressor” or the “victim.”

The Koran burning would undoubtedly have been protected “symbolic speech” under settled First Amendment doctrine. Burning the American flag, another highly charged act, has been protected by the Supreme Court. At the same time, it must be conceded that the Koran burning is highly offensive to Muslims and has no purpose other than to offend.

Let’s compare the response to the threatened Koran burning to another recent hot-button issue: the Ground Zero mosque. In discussing the proposed mosque, President Barack Obama focused, or at least claimed to focus, on the impermissibility under the First Amendment of banning only mosques from a particular area. He expressed, or claimed to express, no opinion on the propriety of the project.

The issue of the propriety of the project or the implicit message it would convey to the broader Islamic world was beyond the pale of legitimate discussion, proclaimed New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg. He professed to be totally uninterested in the fact the project’s initiator, Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, is an advocate for the spread of Islamic law (Shari’a) or that he has assigned America part of the blame for 9/11 or that he initially described the site of the mosque as so close to Ground Zero that debris from one of the hijacked airplanes fell on it. That the building of the mosque will be viewed by Islamists worldwide as an example of Islamic religious structures replacing those of the conquered infidels is irrelevant.

Pastor Terry Jones, by contrast, was immediately condemned by Obama (“un-American”), Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (“disgraceful”) and Supreme NATO Commander in Afghanistan Gen. David Petraeus. The latter argued that the Koran burning would endanger allied troops and make the Taliban’s recruiting easier.

In short, critics of Jones – just about every single person in America – framed the discussion of his proposed action in terms of its propriety or impact, and ignored its protected status under the First Amendment, while defenders of the Ground Zero mosque talked only of the First Amendment, and ruled out of court issues of propriety or the boost the mosque would give to the Islamist narrative of Islam triumphant.

Even more striking is the contrast of the calumny heaped on Jones, with the public discussion of grossest offenses to Christianity. Christians who protested the taxpayer-supported Brooklyn Museum of Art’s display of a picture of Jesus’s mother on a background of buttocks and female genitalia or the use of a National Endowment of the Arts grant to produce a jar with a plastic crucifix in urine (Piss Christ) found themselves pilloried by their cultural betters as philistines and lectured on the privilege of living in a society in which even the most transgressive art can find a public forum.

Only transgressive art that might rile notoriously irritable Muslims gets a pass. US Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer seriously entertained the idea, in response to a question from George Stephanopoulos, that Koran-burning might be compared to shouting fire in a crowded theater if Muslims in Afghanistan would go on murderous rampages in response. He thereby treated Muslims as possessed of rage response instinct that completely bypasses all higher brain function.

THE DISPROPORTIONATE media attention focused on Jones served the Islamist cause by giving credence to the charge of Islamophobia, which is constantly used to exclude discussion of Islam from the free marketplace of ideas. New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof, for instance, felt compelled to “apologize to Muslims for the wave of bigotry and simple nuttiness directed at you.”

Yet Islamophobia is largely a fiction. Jones, one person in a nation of more than 300 million, did not constitute a wave of anything. Hate crimes against Muslims are exceedingly rare in America – even after 9/11, the Fort Hood massacre, the attempted Times Square bombing and a dozen other foiled terrorist attempts. Hate crimes against Jews and Jewish institutions are eight times as common as those against Muslims.

The Western media consistently downplays the scope of Islamic threat, perhaps in an effort to calm its fears. The overwhelming majority of Muslims worldwide are peace-loving fellows, we are assured, and only a handful of bad apples spoil the image of the rest. Ignored are the worldwide network of Saudi-sponsored Wahhabi mosques and the vast number of Muslim Brotherhood-inspired offshoots – not just al-Qaida and Hamas, but groups in Western countries promoting Shari’a as the only legitimate system of law.

Endemic problems in virtually the entire Arab and Muslim world are ignored. On a Freedom House scale of freedom (on which seven is the least free) the median for Arab nations is 5.5. For the rest of the world it is 2.5. Whether it is child brides in Gaza, institutionalized selection of dancing pre-pubescent boys as mistresses by older males in Afghanistan or widespread clitoridectomy in much of the Muslim world, the media take a pass. All these phenomena deserve more attention than Jones’s antics.

When Khomeini pronounced it the duty of every Muslim to kill Salman Rushdie and all those promoting his book, British intellectuals rallied to his defense. Recently, when Mollie Norris, a cartoonist for a Seattle alternative weekly, had the misbegotten idea of promoting “Draw Muhammad Day,” she was advised by the FBI to change her identity and go underground. Her own paper contented itself with a laconic announcement, “Mollie Norris no longer exists.”

The story of an American journalist fearing for her life in America received scant coverage.

No wonder Paul Berman titled his recent book on Western responses to Islam The Flight of the Intellectuals.

The writer is the director of Jewish Media Resources. He has written a regular column in The Jerusalem Post Magazine since 1997, and is the author of eight biographies of modern Jewish leaders.

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