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a MINDSET Problem?

Reader comment on item: The Travails of Brooklyn's Arabic Academy

Submitted by Ron Thompson (United States), May 22, 2007 at 14:28

Why is it so hard for people to express (justified) doubts about having a Moslem 'Academy' in their midst?

By way of comparison, last Sunday I asked Martha Raddatz, at a talk about her new book, The Long Road Home, the following question: after a self-deprecating apology that I knew it was a taboo subject, I asked, "Do we have to ask whether too many Moslems are addicted to violence, and if so, whether this is due to their religion?"

Although the audience tut-tutted a little, she said, without any suggestion that it was an improper question, and extending her arms sideways, "I can't really answer that".

And yet, just a couple of minutes later, she said, in an aside to another question, "do you know there have been about 1,000 suicide bombers in Iraq since the war started."

I had no appropriate chance to pipe up, "If this doesn't raise a question about their religion, what would?"

On reflection, I was rather surprised, although I've seen it on other major issues, at the truly stunning absence of interest by many reporters in the basic context of what they're reporting about.

Not only did this seem true of her, despite being repeatedly in life-threatening situations with her 10 trips to Iraq, but also of many of the soldiers and generals whom she interviewed.

A good reporter in the narrow sense of the term, she just seemed to think it beyond her purview to really THINK about what was going on around her.

She did give one hint of a deeper view, when she implied that any question of specifically Moslem violence would be racist (due apparently to certain mutterings by a few soldiers), and therefore impermissible to allow into consciousness.

Now I agree it would be racist if one said or thought the 'human material' of Moslems was somehow violent per se, but this has nothing to do with the question whether the culture that Moslems are born into and brought up in leads to an uncritical and even approving acceptance of violence as not only permissible, but "holy", when repeatedly so described by religious and other leaders.

A very different underlying view which seems to preempt the critical faculty of many people who think of themselves as 'liberal' is the vapid assumption that "all people are the same underneath". Again this silly but very widespread view utterly ignores the deep-rootedness of culture and upbringing, and hence excuses Moslems of responsibility for the consequences of their religious beliefs, both the substance thereof, and the methodology of behavior accompanying those beliefs.

One of the other of these underlying and mistaken assumptions about Moslems seems to tongue-tie the thoughts and feelings of so many in relation to Brooklyn's Arabic 'Academy'.

They should disenthrall themselves, as should many tens of millions around the world, especially in leadership positions, of the notion that if they ask critical questions about Islam, even of its basic beliefs, they are being inherently illiberal or racist.

Ranging more broadly, I'd like to see a TIME or other magazine cover with the headline, "Are Moslems Addicted to Violence Because of the Teachings of Their Religious Leaders?

Of course, if the answer is YES, then it is not Israel's fault that the Palestinians live trapped in squalor and hatred, nor is it the fault of the United States for failing to bully Israel into giving up indispensable slices of its security for something that wouldn't lead to peace anyways.

With that headline, I'd like to see an accompanying map of the world which shows all the areas where Moslems have erupted into violence worldwide, against non-Moslem societies in which they live, and, ever-increasingly, among themselves.

Perhaps such a map should be a weekly feature of all the Evening News shows, network and cable, until it starts to become clear that no one is remotely as responsible for Moslem violence, even feckless George Bush and his calamitous invasion, as are the Moslems themselves.

This issue must be re-framed into something much closer to reality than that "injustices" to Moslems are in any significant way responsible for the extent or horrific kinds of violence Moslems are engaging in.

If the Brooklyn Arabic Academy were open to this kind of introspection, or invited a dialogue with non-Moslems about Moslem violence, then the question of its acceptability as a neighbor would be entirely different.

Submitting....

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Note: Opinions expressed in comments are those of the authors alone and not necessarily those of Daniel Pipes. Original writing only, please. Comments are screened and in some cases edited before posting. Reasoned disagreement is welcome but not comments that are scurrilous, off-topic, commercial, disparaging religions, or otherwise inappropriate. For complete regulations, see the "Guidelines for Reader Comments".

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