Tell it like it is " please!
On the fifth anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks, Andy Rooney said on “60 Minutes,” “Americans are puzzled over why so many people in the world hate us. We seem nice to ourselves. They do hate us though. We know that and we’re trying to protect ourselves with more weapons. We have to I suppose, but it might be better if we figured out how to behave as a nation in a way that wouldn’t make so many people in the world want to kill us.”
Ah yes, the sometimes prickly, frequently humorous but always avuncular pundit proffers his words of wisdom that many feel make sense in a world seemingly gone mad. But on this topic, the senior resident liberal of “60 Minutes” is dead wrong.
Bernard Goldberg, the best-selling author and recipient of the Alfred I. du Pont-Columbia University award (the most prestigious award in broadcast journalism) asked the following rhetorical question in response to Mr. Rooney’s remarks: “Would Andy Rooney have told black people in Mississippi back in 1955 that yes, white people hate you, but if you would only behave differently, maybe they wouldn’t want to lynch you?”
A similar message comes from Sam Harris, a self-described liberal who wrote a piece for the Los Angeles Times entitled, “Head in the Sand Liberals.”
“The truth is that there is every reason to believe that a terrifying number of the world’s Muslims now view all political and moral question in terms of their affiliation with Islam. This leads them to rally to the cause of other Muslims no matter how sociopathic their behavior. This benighted religious solidarity is the greatest problem facing civilization today and yet is regularly misconstrued, ignored or obfuscated by liberals.”
Too many liberals it seems can tell us about America’s shortcomings, but cannot be candid when discussing Islamic fundamentalists. The “if only we behaved differently, then they wouldn’t want to kill us” mantra is incredulous because otherwise intelligent people actually subscribe to it.
Perhaps their social studies classes failed to educate them about how the confluence of European de-colonization and the collapse of the multinational Ottoman Empire after WWI left both the Arabic and non-Arabic Muslim world in disarray. About how the debris from that chaos has become today’s Islamic world-corrupt governments dominated by rulers who secured their positions by accommodating themselves to foreign powers.
Islamic fundamentalists believe the problems within the Islamic world are a result of dishonest Islamic leaders collaborating with Christians, Jews and Hindus, especially since the end of the first World War. In light of these political machinations, Islamic fundamentalists chose the only course of redress available to them ” Hitler-like atrocities and murder in the name of Allah.
However, to listen to the far left, only a new direction in foreign policy (code for exiting Iraq) will improve the composite status of the greater Middle East and therefore war against radical Islam.
Perhaps a withdrawal from Iraq is our best course of action, but lest we forget, the fiasco there didn’t create al-Qaida or Islamic fundamentalism. Radical Islamic fundamentalism has been present in the Middle East for decades.
Muslim rioting, assassinations and death threats over various forms of “artistic expression” have been fact of life in Europe for years; just as the bombing of the Marine barracks in Lebanon, the attacks on our embassies in Africa, the U.S.S. Cole, the Khobar Towers and Sept. 11 all occurred prior to the invasion of Iraq.
As Hoover Institution historian Victor Hansen astutely surmises, should the U.S. pull out of Iraq before that country is stabilized, we may save lives and money in the short term, but the larger threat from Islamic fundamentalists will continue long after we withdraw.
Hezbollah will still rocket Israel, Syria will still kill Lebanese reformers and Iran will continue its cheating while it pursues nuclear weaponry. Ayman al-Zawahiri will broadcast his al-Qaida threats from safe havens in nuclear Pakistan, the oil rich Gulf sheikdoms will still make secret concessions and bribe terrorists to leave them alone, and jihadists will plan attacks more devastating than those of Sept. 11.
The maxim, “seek to understand before seeking to be understood,” is good advice under most circumstances, but a more efficacious way of combating Islamic fundamentalists might be to first demand balanced reporting from the media.
When the New York Times runs 68 front-page stories about Abu Ghraib, including 32 over a 32-day period, and just one story about two kidnapped American soldiers being tortured to death by mutilation, we have a problem.
The Times refused to publish pictures of the Danish cartoons that touched off widespread violence throughout Europe because its editors felt that, “it’s a reasonable choice for a news organization to refrain from gratuitous assaults on religious symbols, especially since the cartoons are so easy to describe in words.”
Yet, that same New York Times has no trouble publishing a picture of Chris Ofili’s painting, “Holy Virgin Mary” depicting the mother of Christ surrounded by cutouts from porn magazines and shellacked with clumps of elephant dung. I guess the Times’ editors don’t consider offending Christians a gratuitous assault on a religious symbol; nor did they feel they could adequately describe Ofili’s “work of art” in words as I just did.
The First Amendment guarantees the New York Times along with the rest of the liberal media the right to say and publish what they see fit; after all, the First Amendment doesn’t prohibit bias, idiocy or irresponsible behavior.
But at the same time, until the media dispenses with its political correctness and its far-left ideology regarding militant Islam, gaining a true measure of our enemies will remain confused at best.
Butch Mazzuca is a business consultant and writes a biweekly column for the Vail
Daily. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.