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Miscellaneous thoughts and ramblings
Sunday, May 15, 2005
So Would You Riot If We Just Said Your Religion Is Crap?
Newsweek Apologizes for Quran Story

This story is so maddening on so many levels because it has perfect displays of Muslims and of the media behaving exactly according to their stereotypes.

Newsweek, the bastion of accurate information dissemination, on May 9 published a story alleging that interrogators in Guantanamo Bay flushed a copy of the Quran down a toilet in efforts to extract information from inmates. Now, at first blush, this struck me as perfectly reasonable tactics. After all, in any Arab prison, these inmates would simply be tortured the old-fashioned way, by having their bones broken, by having acid dripped on their skin, by having their genitals electrocuted. Americans hold ourselves to a higher standard. We are not allowed to do such things so we have to resort to more finesse. We sleep-deprive inmates and use psychological tools against them. Flushing a holy book seems like a perfectly permissible tool to use the inmate’s passions against him. It is also worth noting that there is no Jewish holy site that in Arab hands has not been intentionally defiled. (I’d be delighted to be corrected.) So there’s no generally accepted code of “you’ll respect our holy items, and we’ll respect yours” that Arabs can cite when filing their grievances.

For an equivalent situation, imagine, hypothetically, the Jewish reaction if a Jewish cemetery in France was desecrated with swastikas. Oh, wait, that’s not hypothetical. OK, then, imagine the Christian reaction if an artist put on exhibit a crucifix defiled by being placed in a glass of urine. Hmmm… That also unfortunately isn’t fictional. In both cases the offended groups complained, quietly, peacefully, and then went about their business.

What was the Muslim reaction to the Newsweek story? Rioting and violence, some directed at American troops, broke out in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Gaza, and persisted for days. (I'm very tempted to follow a tangent pondering what, if anything, this tells us of the behavior of Gaza residents after this summer’s Israeli withdrawal, but I won’t.) This was a typical display of the Muslim honor/shame dynamic. Was there rioting when Saddam was chopping limbs off in Iraqi prisons? Not so much. Was there rioting when insurgents used mosques as armories? Don’t think so. These acts do not bring shame, because it is not shameful when the strong abuses the weak, it is simply expected. But if one who is at a lower station abuses one who should be at a higher station, that is shameful, and requires immediate rectification. For example, if the infidel mistreats the Quran that is intolerable, because that is humiliating. Then honor can only be restored through violence. Just as if a Muslim daughter has sex out of wedlock, they must kill her to restore the family honor.

So after all that, it turns out the story was wrong! Oops. Newsweek apologized. This is, of course, a perfect example of media sloppiness, and always in the anti-American direction. You’ll never find a sloppy editor allowing through a false story of American interrogators taking special care not to abuse their inmates. If there’s going to be a mistake, and there frequently is, it will always make America look bad.

Muslims are about six centuries behind on some serious introspection. Meanwhile, we should flush Newsweek.
Just for that, I think the US should have to double the amount of bribe mone..., um, I mean foreign aid it gives to these kleptocra..., er, I mean proud Muslim nations... y'know, as a 'confidence-building' measure!
Bean - I took away the opposite lesson: more rioting by Christians and Jews. What are we, chicken?
David: Don't get me started on foreign aid. I'm sure you know, but for the benefit of our 7 other readers, the beneficiary of the second most amount of US aid is Egypt. (Israel is first.) What we get for that is a one party gov't and seething anti-American rants on gov't-controlled media. Nice, no? If you want more details, just click on Little Green Footballs in the blog list in the right column and search the site for "Egypt".

Ralphie: It's a good idea in theory, but I just don't have the street cred for rioting. If I was walking in the middle of Wilshire Blvd ululating, firing a firearm in to the air, carrying a sign saying "No tax cuts, No peace" chanting something like "I'm a Republican Jew and how about you?" I think people would just laugh.
: D
Irina: Thanks.
Interrogators are taught cultural awareness and how it will and can apply to an interrogation. Religious disrespect should not be practiced in an interrogation because it will shut the source/detainee down. Hatred toward us from our enemy already exists, it is not in an interrogator's best interest to confirm a detainee's hatred by desecrating the Quran or any other religious item he might possess, especially if the detainee is devout or even fanatical.

Flushing the Quran down the toilet will confirm to our enemy that we are monsters and he will do all he can to resist the interrogation. A skilled interrogator does not have to flush a Quran down the toilet to gain intelligence. This is why I doubted the Newsweek story when it first came out.
Potomac brief: Welcome. Thank you for sharing your expertise.
I could not cancel Newsweek, I don't get Newsweek, so I did the next best thing - I cancelled the Los Angeles Times! Svenmom
Svenmom: Felt good didn't it? b&c and I canceled the LA Times years ago.
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