Sunday, May 22, 2005
But all this [squabbling between the Bush administration and the press] is only a means to confuse the real and pressing issue facing the media, government and military. This issue is not who is most honest and who has what agenda, but what is to be done about Islam. No one from any institution of American life has as yet enunciated the dangers of failing to demand that Muslims the world over take control of their religion and either reform or eliminate those that would destroy a centuries-old spiritual path that boasts peaceful adherents in every country on earth, a tradition of scientific and cultural innovation and at least, a history of tolerance and peaceful respect of other religious practices.
When the president tosses yet another off-handed "Islam is Peace" remark he does no service to the thousands who have been slaughtered and oppressed so "peacefully." When the media refuses to use certain words (e.g. "terrorist") for fear of insulting Muslims and seeming to be on the side of the US government, thus inciting yet another Islamist riot, it hardly demonstrates an understanding of the stakes in this fight. Neither the government nor the media wish to call out the foe, no matter that that very same foe yells in our face each and every day what its intentions are.
Read the whole thing, and consider the possibility that we treat Muslims as if they are not responsible for their actions because we -- meaning the Western media and policy elites -- do not believe that they are capable of responsibility. This is contemptuous and racist, and does not make this war any easier to win.
The Bush Administration, for its part, has shown massively more respect for Muslims than the Western media, the Western left, or the rulers of most Muslim countries. It shows this respect by demanding that Muslims entrust their populations with the franchise, and by insisting that Muslims conduct themselves according to the standards of the world. This is shocking for Muslims, who are used to Westerners who treat them with kid gloves for fear that they will riot, blow themselves up, and shout "death to America," and they are enraged that an American president would demand this of them. This Muslim rage, though, is that of a teenager who is finally being called to account for his behavior. In a few years, or a generation, Muslims may look back and marvel that George W. Bush was the first Western leader who did not condescend to them, but respected their faith and expected that they behave themselves in accordance with its highest ideals, not the degraded perversion of it that moves them to lethal riots or to strap on bomb belts and slaughter innocents by the thousands.
Frankly, I think much the same argument applies to more than just Muslims and Muslim countries. We need to stop treating many other countries in the world as though they were poor relations or invalids, hold them to higher standards, and insist that they start carrying their own weights with respect to nations that are poorer than they.
China, India, and Mexico, for example, aren't poor countries anymore. They are all countries that have lots of poor people in them. But China and India are lower middle class countries and Mexico is definitely middle class—the per capita GDP is greater than that of Russia, for goodness sake.