The recent spike of violence in the Muslim world has largely been blamed on Newsweek, of all things. The magazine wrote, in a widely publicized article, that American interrogators in Guantanamo Bay “flushed a Koran down the toilet” to incite a reaction from the detainees. The magazine also said that these incidents would be reported in an upcoming report by the U.S. military.
According to “The New Yorker” magazine, nothing happened for days after the article was published, until Imran Khan, a Pakistani politician, held a press conference decrying the actions of the United States, and telling supporters that the U.S. was “desecrating the book on which our entire faith is based.” His announcement quickly spread throughout the Muslim world, inciting a violent reaction throughout the region. In Afghanistan, 17 people died, and dozens were injured.
Later, when the Pentagon attacked Newsweek for their article, the magazine’s editor, Mark Whitaker, said that they “got part of [their] story wrong”. In actuality, what they said was that the substance of their original story was correct. What they retracted was their supposed source for their article, which they said was part of a military investigation’s findings. Now they maintain that it was a senior Defense official who led them to publish their report.
Rather than investigate these claims, the White House and the Conservative media have instead decided to focus their energies on senselessly attacking Newsweek for bringing this truth to light. Their decision to ignore the substance of this entire incident; namely, the report itself, indicates their willingness to ignore allegations about the military’s policy of religious intolerance. This hypocrisy of the Bush White House demonstrates the evils perpetrated by the fundamentalist Christian Right that has overtaken our government.
A few months ago, Bush named Karen Hughes to be the one responsible to ease tensions between the United States and Muslim nations (Jon’s Stewart’s response was: Stop bombing them! That might help!). Then, when Condoleezza Rice was named Secretary of State, she went on a “goodwill” tour to Arab nations, in between deciding which ones of them to attack next.
The Bush Administration can no longer continue to give meaningless lip service to Arab nations. They must send a message of reconciliation to the Muslim world by ceasing its relentless attacks against them. Otherwise, they will be guilty of the same things they accuse their enemies of.