Why Jacoby is Wrong
Jeff Jacoby argues that there is something peculiar about the reaction of Muslims to the allegations that the Koran was disrespected at Guantanamo prison by US military interrogators.
Jacoby’s position is pure bigotry. We have to be clear about this. Anti-muslimism is a form of racial prejudice no different from any other. If Jacoby said, “What is wrong with those people of African descent, that they are so violent all the time when nobody else is?” he’d probably be fired. It is not all right for him to do the same thing to Muslims. While Muslims are a religious group, in the contemporary United States they most often are racialized. It comes to the same thing.
Jacoby mentions that 17 persons were killed in disturbances in Afghanistan over this issue. But here’s what is wrong with his argument to begin with. There are 1.2 billion Muslims in the world. Most Muslims were not upset by the news or took no action about it. Pakistani politician and ex-cricketer Imran Khan couldn’t get out more than a couple hundred people in Lahore, Pakistan, for a peaceful demonstration. Nobody much cared. Even in Afghanistan, go back and read the reports. A lot of the people killed were not killed by rioters. They were demonstrators shot by local Afghan police, police who may have been over-reacting in some cases, and who had been installed in power by the United States. For this, you blame the Muslim religion per se and the whole Muslim world?
Jacoby gives several incidents which he said might have provoked Catholic, Jewish or Buddhist crowds to violence but did not.
Jacoby is so wrong that I hardly know where to begin. All religions produce fanatics at the same rate. It is a constant.
The problem is only in the way that the American press writes about religious fanaticism, and in what the journalists notice.
For instance, those gentle Buddhist monks of Mandalay are perfectly capable of rioting, arson, and killing innocent people over a stone thrown into a monastery, as happened in Burma in October of 2002. Poor minority Muslims were beaten up and killed because of alleged disrespect to the sacred monastery:
“Earlier, in mid-October, religious unrest broke out in Kyauk-se, a town in central Burma, which is located not far away from Mandalay. The unrest spread to the city of Mandalay and then to the capital Rangoon. Burma’s junta confirmed that there had been sporadic clashes between people professing different faiths and slapped a dusk-to-dawn curfew in the areas where the religious unrest was rampant.
According to reports, the religious unrest broke out with a minor dispute, as someone threw a stone into a Buddhist monastery compound and it sparked the anger of the Buddhist monks, who mistakenly believed that the occupants of a nearby mosque were responsible for the alleged stone throw.
Subsequently, number of Muslims were attacked and injured in the religious riot that ensued, while others fearing for their lives sought shelter in the homes of the neighbouring Buddhist families.
According to local populace, many Buddhist monks in Mandalay rushed to Kyauk-se, caused tension thus sparking riots and arson, which left a dozen people dead, including a pregnant woman.”
As for Judaism, please. Thousands of Palestinians have lost their homes, been harassed, oppressed, and killed by fanatical Jewish extremists in the West Bank and Gaza. When Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin tried to make peace, the Jewish far right killed him. When Prime Minister Ariel Sharon announced he would withdraw from Gaza, 80,000 Jewish extremists demonstrated, and some threatened to kill Sharon because he was violating their sacred principles. The former chief rabbi of Israel even blamed the tsunami on world support for the withdrawal from Gaza. When Arab Israelis demonstrated against Israeli policies in the West Bank, there was “Jewish intifada” against them, with riots, demonstrations, and neighborhood invasions. The Jewish right gets a pass in the US press for these crimes. Google Gedud Ha’Ivry or Gush Emunim.
As for Christianity, we’ve seen the Christian identity movement blow up the Federal Building in Oklahoma City, we’ve seen abortion doctors shot down in cold blood, we’ve seen decades of religious violence in places like Northern Ireland. Has he ever read Ian Paisely?
What world does Jacoby live in? It is a world where it is all right to generalize about a large group of people. Again, there is a word for that. Bigotry.