News that a crackpot minister at an incredibly tiny church in Florida wanted to
burn a Koran is a global story. The man’s plan was condemned by just about
everyone, though some pointed out that he had a constitutional right to do
There were several reasons – all obvious – for this universal
criticism, boiling down to two: It is disrespectful to another religion and
inappropriate for a supposedly tolerant society. Also, such a deed might
endanger Americans and US foreign policy goals by making Muslims turn to
A lot of “proper-thinking,” good-hearted Americans are feeling
mighty guilty – unnecessarily, I might add. One young man said: “Why do I feel
the need to walk up to Muslims on the street, wish them peace and show them that
Americans are not all bigoted racists?... What has happened to my beautiful
country?... The day Americans start burning Korans is the day when Osama bin
Laden has won...”
YES, THIS is what years of inducing and indoctrinating
guilt has done.The tiniest blemish on Western society or Israel proves they are
evil, while elephant-sized warts in other countries are to be
One doesn’t, however, define a country by its most extreme,
isolated individuals. Muslims will only believe that Americans are all bigoted
racists if they are told lies about America. Similarly, Americans are being very
foolish if they believe this kind of disproportionate nonsense.
the US can easily win any tolerance competition in the world. On the other hand,
a lot of Americans are very much in the race with the rest of the world about
who can be the most anti-American.
What is never pointed out is that the
threatened action’s equivalent happens daily in dozens of locations throughout
the Middle East and the Muslim-majority world, not at the hands of marginal nut
jobs with no following but by powerful political and religious figures or media
outlets with huge bases of support.
Every day, there are massive lies
told to incite people to hate the West. Every day, Buddhists, Christians, Hindus
and Jews are being persecuted and, in some cases, driven out of Muslim-majority
countries with no one in the Western power establishment even noticing, must
Unfortunately, it is true that the Muslim-majority areas
of the world are to bigoted racists what Saudi Arabia is to oil, Newcastle is to
coal, Florida is to oranges and Hollywood is to movies.
I thought of
appending specific examples, but since there are so many I suggest you refer to
the sites of MEMRI, Palestinian Media Watch, Foreign Broadcast Information
Service, Survey of World Broadcasts or the English-language edition of Arabic
OH, AND by the way, according to the FBI figures for 2008,
there are 10 times more anti-Semitic incidents (1,013) in the US than there are
anti-Muslim ones (105). How many anti-Christian hate crimes were there? Only
four less than anti- Muslim ones, 101.
Remember that bigoted actions in
the US or Europe or Israel are those of private individuals. Radio programs,
Christian ministers and citizens act on their own. In such matters, they face 99
percent social and political disapproval.
But when religious, national,
ethnic or other kinds of slander, incitement and hatred happen in the Middle
East, they are the result of government or government-approved action. The
people who do so are often drawing government salaries, given access to
state-controlled institutions and rewarded for what they do and say.
in comparison to 99% disapproval for “hateful” actions in the West, in the
Muslim majority Middle East virtually nobody, outside of a tiny group of (often
persecuted) moderates, dare raise their voices against these
Moreover, no matter how many condemnations, apologies or acts of
tolerance occur in the West, no matter how many mosques are built or repaired
with US taxpayer money (often in countries where it would be impossible to build
a church), no matter how many times Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says
“holy Koran” instead of just plain Koran, no matter whether the words “Islam”
and “Islamism” are barred from US government documents, these efforts will have
virtually no impact on Middle Eastern public opinion.
Why? For one thing,
because public attitudes have been thoroughly prepared to be hostile and
disbelieving; for another, few will ever hear about such things because the
media will not report them.
Does that justify bigotry in the West or the
burning of Korans? Of course not. But there’s something else it doesn’t justify:
refusing to report, analyze and condemn what goes on daily with far more public
support and official approval in the Muslim-majority Middle East.
are the motives for that behavior? • Fear that telling the truth will make
• Belief that one only has the right to criticize one’s
own country (or allies) and religion, but that exercising rational judgment in
discussing others is somehow “racist.”
• Panic that reporting on the
bigotry and extremism of millions of others will encourage a minister in Florida
with 50 followers to burn a Koran.
Such paralysis is not how democracies
are supposed to function. That is not how people keep their freedoms and way of
The writer is director of the Global Research in International
Affairs Center and editor of Middle East Review of International Affairs and
He blogs at www.rubinreports.blogspot.com.