Rational criticism is what we, the vast faceless mass of news consumers not privy to the machinations of media cognoscenti and administration barkers deserve, yet rarely demand. Instead, we either buy the plaintive sniping of the New York Times editorial page (to which Mr. [Frank] Rich has returned from the curious environs of the Arts & Leisure section) as legitimate dogma, or blindly accept administration spin as what must be so, solely for the reason that it has said it is so.
Sadly, the confusion on the administration is mirrored by the malaise on the country's editorial pages, leaving those of us without the predisposition to accept or distrust either to wade through a growing sediment of manufactured news, recycled stories and outright obfuscation. It doesn't matter that both the media and the Bush Administration habitually hide facts that are harmful to their argument and seize upon missteps as evidence of the other side's utter depravity. What matters now is that both the media, here represented by Mr. Rich, and the government, in the presence of Scott McClellan, are singing a discordant harmony on the matter of what to do about Islam.
Rich records Mr. McClellan's recent protestations that the US Military, for what reason we are not told, "go[es] out of their way to make sure that the Holy Koran is treated with care," as if "Koran abuse" is limited only to those who add water, while the more heinous "abuse" is perpetrated by those who use the holy narrative as justification for a resumè of some of the world's most horrific crimes. Here Rich has it correct. The president would do well to instruct his acolytes to quit the mush-mouthed talk of respect for Islam and instead make the unequivocal statement that the United States will honor Islam the very second Muslims do. What was missing from Secretary of State Rice's recent comments was not that Koran desecration was against policy, but that even if it was, Muslims had better get with the 21st Century program and cease the pagan-like worship of an inanimate object.
In today's Dubai, home to cutting-edge resort design and prestigious golf and tennis tournaments (in which, we presume, women sometimes wear shorts or tennis skirts) it is still unlawful to be allowed entry into the country if one's passport is stamped by Israeli Customs. Will keeping the pages of an odd Koran or two dry really change the rancid philosophy that holds 1.5 billion people in a death grip of shame, perversion and hatred?
Yet Mr. Rich can't let himself go that far, because that would actually serve to put him to the right of this administration even as it would install him directly in the center of American public opinion. Those complaining about Koran abuse see the latest yawning episode as either a shameful display of America's arrogance and disrespect for the world's second largest religion or one more foul-up by a government and its military that only serves to make the fight harder.
Nonsense. The other two Abrahamic religions have come to terms with the fact that modern life has ample accommodation for religious practice but will not tolerate discrimination based on one's spiritual proclivities. Of course, both Christianity and Judaism have their radicals; it would be virtually impossible for that not to be so. But only Islam has institutionalized hate and slaughter to the point that massacres and bombings by radicalized Muslims hardly surprise anymore. What is so sensational and troubling about abuses in American-run military prisons is that Americans thought that we all were past the era when deviants were given the keys to jail cells.
Read the whole thing, it's excellent. From Ace.