What's All This Then?

commentary on the passing parade

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Wednesday, May 18, 2005

It’s hard trying to concentrate on the "passing parade" after posting yesterday’s comments. I’m in mourning and will be for a while. I’ve had to say goodbye to four dogs in my lifetime - and each time it’s been like losing a child. That’s how I’ve related to each of them. As a mentor and a friend. And a surrogate father.

It’s particularly hard when much of what passes for the passing parade is nonsense. This week, much of the world of punditry is concerned with the nonsense of what was written in Newsweek, the alleged reaction to it in the Muslim world and in the White House. It’s hard to know which reaction is the most disingenuous.

If ever an inquiring mind sought a perfect example of the meaning of the pot calling the kettle black, the White House has provided it this week with its condemnation of Newsweek’s lack of journalistic standards,

I’ll leave that aspect of the story alone. It’s being written about and spoken about by enough pundits with a sufficiently broad spectrum of opinion to satisfy just about anyone from the extreme left to the extreme right.

But I will talk about the so called Muslim "reaction." Riots, injuries, deaths, destruction. Because of a squib in Newsweek about possible disrespect of their holy book? All of the news media are covering the story as though what I’ve stated is the story. A possible religious insult was reported in a magazine. Followers of that possibly insulted religion expressed their displeasure by going nuts. Action and reaction. Newton’s Third Law of Motion. Quod Erat Demonstrandum.

However from where I sit, only part of the foregoing is true - the part that I think is the real story - if there’s a story at all. And that part rests on the single word that cries out from the page - the word nuts!!

Intertwined with the White House’s hypocritical condemnation of Newsweek, is the protestation that the United States has nothing but the deepest respect for the Muslim religion and would never sanction any act that would demonstrate disrespect for Islam - and most certainly not the Holy Koran. Apart from the fact that this storm in a teacup is a gift to the Bush administration , providing an instrument for diverting attention from that condemning Downing Street memo, that's the kind of sanctimonious and disingenuous crap that you would expect from this White House. There’s no one in the Bush administration who will stand up and say what really needs to be said to the insulted rioters, so I’ll say it.

Are you people nuts? So you believe in your religious faith and someone on the other side of the world from you may have done something disrespectful of your faith. And you think it’s appropriate to riot and kill fifteen people? Whatever happened to writing the angry letter to the editor? Or persuading an official of your government to complain to an official of our government.

People who are at least somewhat defensive of Newsweek are pointing to other things that could have contributed to the anger that erupted in Afghanistan. But none of them can be accepted as a reasonable excuse for the crazed reaction that killed and maimed people. Religions and people of religious faith have been insulted in many ways for centuries. Jews for instance. If the reaction of people of the Jewish faith to every insult directed at them over the centuries had been the same as the reaction of today’s Muslims, the streets of the world would have flowed with blood year round.

The real story here is the madness that is part of every religion. Madness that sends people to war against others who have different religious beliefs. Madness that says that your belief is the one that will get you an entry ticket to "paradise" while people who don’t believe as you do will be condemned to some eternal hell. And of course the other side believes exactly the opposite.

It’s madness that with the Muslim religion, has run amok. These people are just plain nuts. The crazed Muslim believers don’t need to read about insults to their religion to spur them to violence. They’re quite capable of slaughtering each other just because of differences in their Islamic beliefs. And do you really think that the people who blow themselves up in order to kill those they consider to be enemies are sane? How about the spectacle of thousands of Muslims chanting in the streets while they flagellate themselves with chains? Yes it’s part of their religious tradition - but isn’t it a part that reveals them as being nutty as fruit cakes?

Of course we have our homegrown religious nuts, but for the most part they don’t go on murderous rampages every time they feel they’ve been insulted - and to hear some of them complain, that’s almost a daily occurrence.

Go beyond Newsweek. Leaf through news magazines from around the world. Newspapers too. Watch television and listen to radio. Sooner or later, whatever your faith may be, you will read, see or hear something that insults it. . Or maybe says something about it that is just wrong or cockeyed. Unless you’re a crazy person, your reaction isn’t going to be to go on a rampage and kill and maim your fellow citizens.

So if our news media want to report on this "story," maybe they should do some investigative reporting on the deadly religious fanaticism that permeates the Muslim world, and not let the White House and its apologists maneuver you into giving them cover by putting the Downing Street memo on the back burner.