Tag Archives: Islam

The Cinch Review

Questions Avoided and Answers Evaded

Boston marathon bombings - avoided questions and evaded answersI don’t personally watch very much television, and essentially zero television news. Like many others these days, I suppose, I largely read about the news that interests me on the internet. Yesterday was an exception, albeit that the television news broadcasts I was watching came via the internet, consisting of local Boston coverage of the pursuit of the marathon bomber(s). The tone of what I was watching fairly shocked me, the more so as the day went on. I know that political correctness is a very powerful force, but I would have thought that given the gravity and drama of what was going down, it would be superseded by a more fundamental journalistic drive to get at the truth. In this I was naïve.

The syndrome at work was epitomized by an interview I saw take place with some casual friends of 19-year-old Dzhokhar Tsarnaev at UMass Dartmouth. They regularly played soccer with him, and, as with seemingly the great majority of his acquaintances, they had only benign things to say about him. The reporter interviewing them (I think it was WBZ but I couldn’t swear) was naturally enough trying to dig up anything that might have indicated that the younger Tsarnaev was capable of setting bombs to kill random innocent people. She was coming up empty in terms of his general demeanor. People seemed to find him likeable, if quiet. So, she asked: “Did he ever talk about politics?” She got a negative response. The interview went on a little bit, and then she asked the same question: “Did he ever talk about politics to you?” The same answer came back: no, he did not seem very concerned about political issues. The interview continued, with more on his general behavior and school-related activities. Then (as I recall it) she asked yet another time: “Did he ever talk about politics?” It got the same answer from his soccer-playing acquaintances as before: no, he did not. Asking the same question three times seemed kind of silly, but the really crowningly-silly thing was the avoidance of asking a fairly similar question that surely was crying out to be asked, given the circumstances. That would have been: “Did he ever talk about religion, about Islam?” Despite the knowledge at this point that he was a Muslim from Chechnya, where an Islamist insurgency has been active for years, and despite the knowledge already being disseminated elsewhere regarding various internet postings by him and his older brother indicating their favor for extreme Islamic ideas, a simple question to his friends about whether he discussed religion with them was seemingly off-limits. I have no idea what their answer would have been—whether he kept that aspect of himself private or not—but surely the question begged to be asked. Asking about “politics” over and over again was, I think, the reporter’s attempt to ask it without actually using the relevant word, as if some kind of crime would be committed by the mere suggestion from her that religious ideas might possibly have played a role in the violent terroristic actions of two young Muslim men. Continue reading Questions Avoided and Answers Evaded

The Cinch Review

And in Australia too

The sad truth is that it is hard to be surprised—strike that: it is impossible to be surprised by displays of savagery on the part of Islamic “demonstrators” in places like Tripoli, Khartoum and Cairo. (Impossible, at least, if you don’t work for the U.S. State Department.)

But to get news like the following from Sydney, Australia is chilling on another level, and surely it should be.

Violent clashes erupted yesterday after demonstrators marched from Sydney’s Town Hall to Martin Place yesterday afternoon and confronted police outside the US consulate.

Some protesters allegedly threw glass bottles and other missiles at police, forcing officers to use capsicum spray during a melee that led to six police and 17 others being injured.

Seven men and one male juvenile were arrested, with six men so far charged with offences including assaulting police and animal cruelty, police said.

[…]

Waving banners with slogans such as “Behead all those who insult the Prophet”, protesters listened as one protester told the crowd: “We will never accept the assault on our prophet.”

The rally was the latest in a spate of demonstrations at US embassies and consulates in the Middle East, Africa, Britain and elsewhere against the film, Innocence of Muslims.

Protester Abdullah Sary, who said he wanted a peaceful protest, said although he had not seen the film, he was offended because it ridiculed the Prophet Mohammed.

“The prophet is more beloved then my family, my wife, my mother and myself. So if someone says this, you can see how upsetting it is.”

What is truly upsetting is this image of a man, in Australia, in the year 2012, speaking to a reporter and being glad to state publicly that “the prophet” is more beloved to him than his family, his wife and his mother. Continue reading And in Australia too

The Cinch Review

Islam, Mohammed and free speech: Could honesty be the best policy?

Yesterday, four American diplomats were murdered in Benghazi, Libya, and the consulate destroyed. The U.S. embassy in Cairo was attacked and breached by a mob, and its flag set on fire. Although the murders seem to have been pre-planned to a significant degree, both outbursts of violence are said to have been sparked by the circulation of a clip on the internet of some amateur film made by Americans which casts Mohammed and Islam in a negative light. The violent Islamic mobs were trying to correct any mistaken, negative ideas about Islam.

The messages from the U.S. government have to one degree or another “deplored” or “condemned” the denigration of anyone’s religion (i.e. the YouTube clip) while saying there’s no justification for violence over it. In the middle of a political campaign, the opposition has made hay by painting the current administration as weak. And maybe the Obama administration is weak. However, it should be recalled that similar responses took place during the previous administration to outbursts in the Muslim world like this, and there is reason to wonder whether President Romney’s words in the future would be as tough as Candidate Romney’s words now. An excuse always offered for tiptoeing around the sensibilities of rampaging mobs in the Muslim world is that it would “put our troops in danger” to offend the enraged fanatics any further.

I don’t know how well this has worked to date. In any case, U.S. troops are no longer in Iraq. In Afghanistan, even as things stand, the greatest threat to American personnel appears to be uniformed members of the official Afghan army, who have been outfitted and trained by us.

There seems to be a problem with the “messaging” from the American side. When the U.S. president and secretary-of-state take pains to say in a situation like this that Islam should not be denigrated, they are leaving the impression that they might actually do something to stop it, or that they would like to. The First Amendment, we should hope, would constrain them. However, they are reinforcing the idea, already highly-prevalent in the Muslim world, that one day no one will be permitted to speak ill of Mohammed or Islam. There are even persistent efforts at the U.N. to pass what amount to “anti-blasphemy” resolutions.

Maybe the message from the U.S. needs to be simplified in cases like this (of which there are bound to be more, as anyone with a cell-phone camera can shoot a “blasphemous” video and upload it to YouTube). Maybe the message needs to be something more like this:

“We have freedom of speech in America, which absolutely includes the right to criticize religious beliefs. That is not ever going to change. Those who criticize others’ beliefs may be criticized in return, but they may not be physically assaulted because of their opinions. Anyone attacking American citizens, anywhere in the world, will be dealt with extremely harshly.” Continue reading Islam, Mohammed and free speech: Could honesty be the best policy?

The Cinch Review

Fearful Pakistani Christians build a chapel in the woods … in Islamabad

It’s frankly demoralizing to continue contemplating the seemingly endless reign of brutality and hatred in what we know as the Islamic world. But to pretend it’s not happening is to surrender to a very dangerous delusion.

Via Robert Spencer (for whom the word indefatigable was invented):

In the middle of a forest in the Pakistani capital, a group of Christians has cut down trees to clear land and has begun to build a church out of branches after leaving their neighborhood in fear when one of their own was accused of violating Pakistan’s strict blasphemy laws.