The Shame Of Western Journalists

When Salman Rushdie got knighted by Queen Elizabeth for his literary work, it touched off another round of Islamist madness, similar to that seen during the Danish cartoon controversy. Over the past week, Muslims around the world have protested the honor, with Pakistani government officials endorsing assassination attempts against Rushdie, and an Iranian organization confirming that their gangster’s contract on Rushdie still has a $150,000 reward.
Oddly, though, Sir Salman’s Western comrades in letters issued hardly a peep at the threats aimed at Rushdie. Tim Rutten of the Los Angeles Times wants to know why free men offer no rebuttal, let alone outrage (via Instapundit):

When news of knighthood spread last weekend, the flames of fanaticism rekindled. An Iranian group offered $150,000 to anyone who would murder the novelist. Effigies of the queen and the writer were burned in riots across Pakistan. That country’s religious affairs minister initially said that conferring such an honor on Rushdie justified sending suicide bombers to Britain, then — under pressure — he modified his statement to say it would cause suicide bombers to travel there. Pakistan’s national assembly unanimously condemned Rushdie’s knighthood and said it reflected “contempt” for Islam and Muhammad. Various high-ranking Iranian clerics called for the writers’ death and renewed their insistence that Khomeini’s fatwa still is in force. Riots spread to India’s Muslim communities.
Friday, the Voice of America reported that Pakistani “lawmakers passed a second resolution calling on British Prime Minister Tony Blair to apologize ‘to the Muslim world’ ” and that, “on Thursday, a hard-line Pakistani cleric awarded terrorist leader Osama bin Laden the religious title and honorific ‘saifulla,’ or sword of Islam, to protest Britain’s decision.”
If you’re wondering why you haven’t been able to follow all the columns and editorials in the American press denouncing all this homicidal nonsense, it’s because there haven’t been any. And, in that great silence, is a great scandal.

Bloggers didn’t hesitate to defend Rushdie. Why have the professional class of pundits shrugged off the affront to free speech and the open exchange of ideas? Rutten has a theory:

Equally to the point, what is the societal cost of silence among those who have not simply the moral obligation but also the ability to speak — like American commentators and editorial writers?
What masquerades as tolerance and cultural sensitivity among many U.S. journalists is really a kind of soft bigotry, an unspoken assumption that Muslim societies will naturally repress great writers and murder honest journalists, and that to insist otherwise is somehow intolerant or insensitive.

Writers are not required to opine on every topic, a point I make to commenters here on occasion. Sometimes one gets so overwhelmed with the amount of news that each day generates that topics get left in the bit bucket, so to speak. It’s not possible for each writer to talk about every important story and subject that comes across the feedreader or wire service.
However, when hardly anyone in the commentariat bothered to call out these thugs, that silence spoke volumes. Unfortunately, that silence at least improved on the media’s reaction to the prophet cartoon controversy, when pundits and newspapers scolded the Danish journalists for unnecessarily provoking the murderous rage of Muslims through their insensitivity, and then refusing to publish the cartoons themselves so that their readers could see whether the newspapers involved had really been all that insensitive.
It’s not often that one looks to South Park for wisdom, but Trey Parker and Matt Stone gave voice to the best of the criticism at that time. They had one of their characters, Mr. Tweak, tell the town that if they buried their heads in the sand about the cartoons (literally, in a hilarious bit), then all they showed was that they believed in free speech — but wouldn’t lift a finger to defend it. Unfortunately, Comedy Channel proved themselves just as guilty when they blacked out Parker and Stone’s depiction of Muhammed, but allowed a fecal-shooting Jesus one minute later in the same broadcast.
The silence of the Western media to the hail of threats coming at Rushdie amounts to the same head-burying that Parker and Stone predicted. It shrugs off the widespread lunacy of radical Islam, and pretends that it doesn’t matter. Worse, the silence treats it as an expected and therefore acceptable response from governments such as Pakistan and Iran.
That’s not just soft bigotry — it’s a prescription for radicalization. These kinds of threats have to be challenged, and not just by a couple of writers here and there. They need to be challenged by those who don’t just believe in free speech, but work to defend it as well. Those who make their living through the blessing of free speech should have been in the vanguard, and Rutten rightly castigates them for remaining silent while Sir Salman Rushdie relives the nightmare — again. Kudos to Tim Rutten for not remaining silent.

20 thoughts on “The Shame Of Western Journalists”

  1. Forgive me for sounding like a broken record, but as I have mentioned here several times, I once e-mailed Grand Poobah Bill Keller of the NY Times with some assorted comments and questions. I noted to him that I started reading the NYT daily when I was 12 years old and living in NY City.
    To my surprise, Mr. Keller graciously e-mailed me with a well-reasoned and very thoughtful response.
    However, he refused to answer one of my questions.
    When I asked him why the NY Times abruptly in the mid 1990s stopped referring to bad people-most but not always from the Middle East-as “terrorists”, a term the NYT had repeatedly used on Page One for decades, he ran away.
    I noted in my e-mail to Mr. Keller that in every major headline the paper had used for an attack (Munich 1972 Olympics, the Rome airport 1975 massacre, the Achille Lauro, the TWA hijack in 1985, etc) his paper had used the T word on the front page.
    But when I asked him why they didn’t use that word anymore, he refused to answer me. And that was after he HAD answered every other question I asked him about the paper’s bias.
    Case closed.

  2. Didn’t you hear, Ed?
    Such “careful respect” for the “religion of peace” — a religion that publicly puts out contracts on people who have philosophical differences with it — is necessary in today’s enlightened age.
    Because as we all well know, from the presser’s point of view, Christianity is such a backward and repressive religion by comparison.

  3. Let me see if I understand you, correctly?
    You think the old media would change its stripes? Right now, they are fearful that the jobs they once knew, are disappearing. The respect they once knew, is gone.
    Up at Glenn Reynolds, today, he mentions that it’s “columnist’s day.” And he dedicated it to Pyle. The WW2 correspondent. And, hero.
    Except for Michael Yon and Bill Reggio (am I spelling this right?) … there’s no press to speak of in the front lines of our democracy. Gone.
    But then? They belong to an elitist school. And, as I said, their industry is not only dying; just by being here, we are usurping their powers to “phone in stories” and be heard.
    Cox & Forkum, by the way, got off a great cartoon! With Rushtie, on his knees, in front of the queen. And, her sword is raised and tapping him on one shoulder. Behind her is a crazed mullah. With Iran written on his too-tight-black-turban. His sword is also raised. And, he’s saying “I’m next.”
    And, ya know what? This stuff is not playing well back in Iran!
    I’m reminded how Stalin’s foot came down on Poland. Where WW2 started so she could be free. And, WW2 ended with Stalin grabbing “prizes” in Eastern Europe.
    How long did it last?
    The place where you really don’t have to work hard convincing people that communism stinks, is in the very parts where communism went in, and took everything.
    So, yes. The queen has given Sir Salman an honor. What do you want the press to do? You think these are well read people? I think they’re the failures in college, lacking math skills, and not bright enough to handle law school.
    It’s not as if there isn’t going to be a record about all these shinanigans.

  4. our society has lost its moral compass. True morality gives strength to face all kinds of adversity. As long as western civilization only concerns itself with Star and show biz nonsense the fanatics of the world will continue to have a field day.
    regards,
    edwardcropper.blogspot.com/

  5. Have we forgotten how, when the fatwa was originally issued in 1989, people across the political spectrum, left and right, came out in defense of Rushdie? What’s happened since then?

  6. But the deal is, every time the Muslims of the world have these deranged little temper tantrums, they scream, they holler, they set stuff on fire – usually a McDonalds, but frequently their own shops, homes, or villages – and they kill … each other.
    I keep waiting for them to wake up and notice that their riotous protests aren’t really harming anyone but themselves, but so far, nope — nada, zip, zilch.
    So personally, I like to encourage the various Arab/Muslim on-line media to write hysterical editorials and really get the word out that all good Muslims should surge into their sandy streets all over the world, and riot their little hearts out. And be sure to kill as many of each other as is possible just to prove their passion. It sure does teach me a lesson, yes, indeed it does.

  7. The silence of the Western media to the hail of threats coming at Rushdie amounts to the same head-burying that Parker and Stone predicted. It shrugs off the widespread lunacy of radical Islam, and pretends that it doesn’t matter. Worse, the silence treats it as an expected and therefore acceptable response from governments such as Pakistan and Iran.

    There are only TWO TREES which source all things: the Tree of Life; and the Tree of Death.
    Why shouldn’t the fruit of one branch celebrate the fruit of a fellow branch?
    That is perfectly natural.
    Why should the Fruit of the Tree of Death be concerned with the Living? What concern is Life to them who are of Death?
    Romans 1:28 And even as they did not like to retain God in [their] knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient; …

    Romans 1:32 Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.
    And what could be more natural?

  8. Have we forgotten how, when the fatwa was originally issued in 1989, people across the political spectrum, left and right, came out in defense of Rushdie? What’s happened since then?
    Posted by: MrBuddwing at June 24, 2007 1:11 AM

    “We were born for such a time as this.”
    The pot is getting hotter – the dross is not comfortable co-mingling with us anymore – the pot is too hot, the dross rises to the top and makes a frothing spectacle of itself, in anticipation of the delight it feels at being REMOVED from the pot, and separated from the hated clinging and cloying substance that will remain in the pot.

  9. What masquerades as tolerance and cultural sensitivity among many U.S. journalists is really a kind of soft bigotry, an unspoken assumption that Muslim societies will naturally repress great writers and murder honest journalists, and that to insist otherwise is somehow intolerant or insensitive.
    Add two other factors:
    1. Hatred for Bush, America and the west. “The enemy of my enemy is my friend.” Many libs have invested themselves in the idea that “Bush’s War” is a modern crusade against peaceful but oppressed Muslims. Well! If libs start talking about the madness that seems to possess some Muslims, they start looking a helluva lot less peaceful and oppressed… and Bush starts to look like he might have a point. Can’t have that!!!
    2. Fear that some Muslim might do a Daniel Pearle or Theo van Gogh on them!
    As Cap’n Dan would say, “Courage!” (but only when criticizing people who it’s safe to criticize).

  10. The silence is madding. MSM’s failures to report the “news” is one of the major failures of our time. The other failure is our elected representatives – Congress.
    Why hasn’t Congress passed a motion condemning Pakistan’s national assembly for passing their unanimous condemnation of Rushdie’s knighthood and saying it reflected “contempt” for Islam and Muhammad? And condemning statements made suggesting that suicide bombers be sent to England?
    Some times I have this feeling that we slipped into a parallel universe – one that is twisted and where evil is seen as good.

  11. Libs can’t claim that radical islamist culture is primitive, or “undeveloped.” No, the fact is, both liberalism and radical islam were once highly intellectual cultures, but both have now explicitly renounced the possibility of what the Greeks used to call Logos. Truth attainable by the intellect. We see this spirit of inquiry embodied in “western civilization,” its philosophy, religion, art, and traditions. This movement against Logos toward bloody relativism and Nietzschean self-assertion is destroying both liberalism and radical islam, and the rest of us with them.
    Those motley leftists who chant “western civilization has got to go” are exactly wrong. Western civ is our last hope.

  12. I believe docjim505 is onto the formula: BDS + cowardice = dhimmitude, for short.

  13. …the fact is, both liberalism and radical islam were once highly intellectual cultures…
    I keep hearing this about Islam, radical or just regular nutsoid. Can you give me three examples at any point through history where Muslims invented something or created something or did something courageous and good?
    Muslims frequently say they invented algrebra, but I’ve also read that they merely stole the concept from some of their slaves, probably before they hacked off their heads because they certainly haven’t done anything with it.
    The Egyptians built the Pyramids, but since they were into Ra and sungods, that means they weren’t Muslim.
    They’re supposed to be good poets, but isn’t that merely because they were too stupid to write things down and had to depend upon an oral story-telling tradition? Gertrude Bell who travelled extensively in the Middle East before WW1 notes that each sheikh would only know a few lines of a poem, whereas because she had access to books she would have memorized the whole thing.
    And I’m not even going to look at your claim that the left are “highly intellectual” because I think an argument could be made that what that boils down to is supporting communism and making existential arguments around multiculturalism … none of which ever put a chicken in a pot nor a car in the garage.

  14. The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil
    is for good men to do nothing. -Edmund Burke

  15. If you agree with a position, an idea, a group, race or religion, why would you offer a rebuttal?

  16. To see exactly what the “western journalists” are supporting all one needs to do is check out michellemalkin.com and see the photos there!

  17. Anyone know if the Satanic Verses is still in print…it must be. I think that quote by Steyn contrasting Hollywood patting emselves on the back for actors/writers/producers/directors standing up to the Bush/Rove fascism, but mentioning nothing about Rushdie, Van Gogh, etc.

  18. NahnCee, Rationality started dying in the Islamic world with the rise of the Ash’arite school.. It took a couple of centuries, and all of the intellectual work was done before that happened.
    Since then:
    “Historically, the views of the Ash’arite school were rooted in the theological dogma of “volunteerism”, which holds that rather than created objects having inherent existence, Allah constantly recreates each atom anew at every moment according to his arbitrary will. This, of course, undermines the basis for what Westerners understand as natural laws.
    “From volunteerism sprung another irrational idea amongst Muslim thinkers – occasionalism – that further prevented the development of rationalism within the Islamic tradition. Occasionalism is the belief that in the natural world, what is perceived as cause and effect between objects is mere appearance, not reality. Instead, only Allah truly acts with real effect; all seemingly natural observances of causation are merely manifestations of Allah’s habits, for Allah simultaneously creates both the cause and the effect according to his arbitrary will. …”
    With this theological position, there is not room for Science or Philosophy, and when you throw in that fundamentalist Muslims believe that the Koran was literally dictated to Mohammad, there is no room for arguing over interpretation either.
    This is why the Islamic world remains unchanged for centuries, and simply cannot adjust to the modern world. It really is us or them.

  19. What Part of the Meaning of Free Speech Do They Not Understand?

    Next week we will celebrate the birth of an idea that has sustained us for 231 years:We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights,

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