Wednesday, February 08, 2006

USA Today Op-Ed Way Off Base

An op-ed piece USA Today's today makes the argument that newspapers should edit themselves so as not to offend Muslims.

The article was written by Souheila al-Jaddaa, a journalist and associate producer of a Peabody award-winning program, Mosaic: World News from the Middle East, according to the paper.

Al-Jaddaa has the nerve to state that Muslims are being picked on by the world at large.

But these provocative cartoon portrayals came as no surprise to many in the Islamic world. Protesters see this as a pattern of Western attacks against Islam and Muslims - especially after reports of desecration of the Islamic holy book, the Quran, at the U.S. facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba; the abuse of prisoners in
Iraq and Afghanistan; and the banning of the headscarf, hijab, in public schools in France.

The Koran flushing incident was proven false, the prisoner abuse scandal had nothing to do with the prisoners religion and just because Islam requires certain types of dress does not mean a secular nation has to allow it. Al Jaddaa seems to forget that freedom of speech means exactly that. I can call Mohammed a pork eating homosexual and it is perfectly legal. The Western press is full of incidents that denigrate various religions, people and nationalities. It prints photos of artwork portraying Jesus covered in urine and feces, of political figures engaged in lewd acts, if you can think of something demeaning it's been printed.

Why Muslims feel they should be excused from being the focus of an editorial cartoon is a question for the ages. Particularly when so to many terrorists actions are done in the name of Islam.

Guess what? If the attacks around the world would stop, so would the cartoons. Muslims have nobody to blame, but themselves for how they are perceived by the world.

Al-Jaddaa also does not understand the true force behind freedom of the press and free speech. While she correctly states that a newspaper would not print certain editorial cartoons or pictures, that is a personal choice made by management. It is not controlled by the government. The KKK or Nazi Party newsletter can print whatever they wish. These are reviled by the average person, but it is allowable.

While Danish editors are free to publish such cartoons, Muslims are also free to express outrage.

There is a difference between expressing your rage and destroying an embassy. New Yorkers did not burn down Saudi Arabian embassy on Sept. 12, 2001. Al-Jaddaa does say the violence should be condemned, but by making an argument that Muslims have the right to be angry is foolish. There are more important issues in the Muslim world to be angry about.


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