Muslims v. Christians and The Existential Threat

In light of previous posts and comments on these issues, I want to link approvingly to a couple of articles from Glenn Greenwald at Salon.com. He’s had 2 posts which talk about the double standard in dealing with christians versus muslims in this country the last couple of days, stemming from the Kathy Griffin incident. As many of you know, Kathy Griffin won an Emmy for some show (I think it’s her D-list show, but that doesn’t really matter). Her acceptance speech, at least in part was:

“A lot of people come up here and thank Jesus for this award. I want you to know that no one had less to do with this award than Jesus,” an exultant Griffin said, holding up her statuette. “Suck it, Jesus. This award is my god now.”

So Glenn has had 2 posts on the topic, yesterday’s “Selective defenders of free expression” and today’s “Jamie Kirchick’s fantasies of the grave Muslim threat.”

In the first post, Glenn points out the hypocrisy of the right’s fighting for not allowing Griffin’s statement to be broadcast and then exulting in the fact of their successful fight, as compared to the furor over publication of some cartoons which supposedly insulted Mohammed (when they were indignant that such cartoons absolutely, positively should be published – how could they not be?)

The second post points out Jamine Kirchick’s statement

The perpetually-outraged Donohue does have a salient point, though I’m not sure he was conscious of making it: There certainly “would have been a very different reaction” had Griffin said, “Suck it, Muhammad.” Not only would the liberal PC police be after her head (figuratively), but she would have a fatwa placed on her head (literally), would be placed under 24-hour armed guard and would have to limit any public appearances, if even make them at all. In other words, the Rushdie treatment.
That a comedian cannot make an innocent joke with the word “Muhammad” in it out of fear of getting killed — and not a supposed ban on “blasphemy” against Catholics, who don’t, as a matter of course, burn effigies, destroy buildings, or murder people when someone says or writes something they don’t like — seems to be the larger outrage.

and then goes on to show the irrationality of her “literal fear” by pointing out the many instances of well-known people taking on or otherwise offending islam, yet somehow not having a fatwa placed on their heads or needing 24-hour guard.

I thought he put a good stamp on the article with the following:

Their need to victimize themselves and demonize some Enemy is impossible to overstate. American Muslims live in isolated enclaves, with their communities far and away the most common targets of all the new surveillance powers Kirchick and his comrades have vested in the federal government. There is a grand total of 1 Muslim member of Congress out of 535.
By contrast, entire television networks and talk radio shows and huge political blogs and our country’s dominant political party are devoted to a platform of opposing Islam. Yet in Kirchick’s mind, it is Muslims who are the all-powerful, oppressing faction, while he and his friends live in tragic oppression under the tyrannical rule of the “liberal PC police” and violent Islamic armies who punish any anti-Islamic commentary, with stigma if not with beheadings. As his comments yesterday demonstrate, that really is the world he inhabits.
They freely traffic on a daily basis in the most strident anti-Muslim commentary with no consequences of any kind, yet simultaneously insist, with operatic melodrama, that anyone who does so is subject to fatwas and must live in seclusion, fearing for their lives. And, of course, whole new wars — as well as endless expansions of government power — are justified, actually compelled, by these imaginary threats.

I realize this post may actually touch on 2 ideas, but since the Kathy Griffin story was the genesis for both, I guess I’ll go with it. On the first, I agree with Greenwald, who thinks both the Mohammed cartoons and Griffin’s comments should have seen the light of day. It’s a matter of free expression for me and both sides ought to see that.

On the second, obviously this is a topic heard before on this blog and I agree with Greenwald’s take on the irrational fear that folx on right have for muslims. I’m not sure I’m going to get anywhere by making the point that the so-called “islamofascists” are actually a teeny, tiny subset of all of the practitioners of islam and that the fear ought to be focused more on folx that actually are terrorists, rather than, you know, just adherents of a religion.

Notice how Gen (ret) Colin Powell, in an interview with GQ magazine, refers to the threat in terms of terrorism, not muslims. Also notice how he doesn’t even see terrorism as the greatest threat facing us.

Isn’t the new global threat we face even more dangerous?

What is the greatest threat facing us now? People will say it’s terrorism. But are there any terrorists in the world who can change the American way of life or our political system? No. Can they knock down a building? Yes. Can they kill somebody? Yes. But can they change us? No. Only we can change ourselves. So what is the great threat we are facing?

I would approach this differently, in almost Marshall-like terms. What are the great opportunities out there—ones that we can take advantage of? It should not be just about creating alliances to deal with a guy in a cave in Pakistan. It should be about how do we create institutions that keep the world moving down a path of wealth creation, of increasing respect for human rights, creating democratic institutions, and increasing the efficiency and power of market economies? This is perhaps the most effective way to go after terrorists.

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