Green Room

Why didn’t the State Department say this?

posted at 10:40 am on September 22, 2012 by

A Facebook friend of mine, someone I suspect is not of the same political persuasion as I am, recently posted a link to an article, “A Time for Introspection” an op/ed in the Express Tribune (of Pakistan) by Raza Rumi, director, Policy & Programmes, Jinnah Institute, Islamabad.

Though Rumi is no American cheerleader in the piece, he urges Muslims to look at their own actions before pointing the finger of blame at others for their troubles. One section dealing with so-called anti-Islam works:

Salman Rushdie’s book — Satanic Verses — sparked global outrage in the late 1980s and since then, we have increasing polarisation between those who view freedom of expression as an absolute value, and extremists within Muslims who think violence is the only way to ‘save’ Islam from such attacks. Millions of Muslims are trapped between the two ends of this hate-spectrum. Despite the offence caused by such provocation, they will not resort to violence or support wanton destruction of life and property. But are these voices represented and articulated through credible leadership? The answer is no…

Rumi takes some (to me) gratuitous swipes against America’s drone and missile attacks as well as the Palestinian situation, but then he does go on to say:

The ‘victimhood’ of Muslims is also quasi-mythical. The anti-imperial rants against the US and the West often ignore that there is little resistance to the imperialists within Islam. The imperialists within (monarchs, clerics and plunderers who exploit, suppress dissent and kill without a conscience) are within the reach of Muslims. The battle ‘within’ Islam — for reformation, ijtehad and liberation from patriarchal, violence-preaching clerics — is a far more serious one.

And finally, he concludes with:

There is much that the Muslims need to introspect about before they take bombs and bullets to express their anger on cases of persecution and blasphemy.

It might just help if they were to focus on knowledge, organised political and economic resistance, reforming their societies and reining in the clerics who have no place in Islam to begin with. More importantly, before crying hoarse about the way the world is treating them, how about allowing Muslim women their due rights, enabling non-Muslim fellow citizens to receive the entitlements they deserve; and turning towards inquiry and reason?

It was refreshing to read Rumi’s piece, even if I disagreed with parts of it. But what was even more heartening were the 65 comments, or rather, one in particular. Comments ranged from the thoughtful to the argumentative to the extremist, with more than one commenter discussing Muslim violence against other Muslims.

Pasted below, however, is the comment that stood out to me. When I read it, I thought to myself: why isn’t our State Department articulating these thoughts instead of apologizing for obscure films? Why isn’t our president standing up for an American principle in this way? Why is it appearing in a comments section by an anonymous poster? I reproduce it with typos that appeared in the original:

1. Just as Muslims believe that Quran is revealed by God, Americans believe that freedom of expression is an inalienable riht that flows to them from God and hence cannot be legislatd by a human.
2. Freedom of worship (which also includes freedom to not worship) is seen as a subset of freedom of expression. It is thus unsurprising that in countries which includes most Muslim majority countries where freedom of expression is not absolute, the freedom of worship for people not of majority faith is also severely abridged.
3. Freedom of expression is tested only during times of conflict. IT is not much of a freedom to say ” I love my mother and gaajar ka halwa”. USA does not prevent people from creating videos that offend Christians either. Please google ‘stand up comedians atheist’ and see what you come up with.
4. Freedom of expression is an empowering tool that allowed ordinary Americans to fight powerful clergy whose oppression they escaped (refer Pilgrim Fathers). Today too it has allowed gay right activists to stand up to priests who totally are against homosexuality because it is against what is stated in Bible. The opposition to gays is high among right wing Christians and this also is a huge politicial issue – yet no one has been able to muzzle the rights of gays BECAUSE of freedom of expression.
5. You have a right to be offended. You do not however have a right to ‘never be offended’. Thus a video that offends you does not violate your right.
6. Finally while you have not mentioned it, someone is sure to bring up holocaust denial laws as one form of abridgment to freedom of expression. They should be aware that there are NO holocaust denial laws in USA.

Libby Sternberg is a novelist

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Excellent catch, Libby!

Very cool. Thanks for bringing that to our attention.

Ragspierre on September 22, 2012 at 11:09 AM

egyptian and arab women on arab media are making more ‘ american’ arguments about radical islam and the fall out from the ‘ arab spring’ than our state department and our president:

mittens on September 22, 2012 at 12:39 PM

We have seen what has happened to moderate Muslims who dare to approach the subject of reformation. In general, the only debate is who will pick up the body parts for burial.

Difficultas_Est_Imperium on September 22, 2012 at 12:40 PM

Why didn’t the State Department say this?

Because Hillary was going to say this, but she’s misplaced her speech file.

Rovin on September 22, 2012 at 2:22 PM

Shrillary would never say this because it will never occur to her.

Kissmygrits on September 22, 2012 at 2:32 PM

It did not say this because they don’t believe it true. Obama’s first reaction was to call his friend the Mayor of LA and order the cops to arrest the maker at 1:00 AM in front of cameras. Of course the cops eventually decided that they could not ascertain a crime that would not end up in an expensive legal settlement.

pat on September 22, 2012 at 3:13 PM

Islam has become the biggest bully on the block and everyone knows begging a bully to stop bullying you works…right? Just asking not only for more but worse bullying from the bully Islam.

aposematic on September 22, 2012 at 6:44 PM

imagine a day in january of 2013

u wake up

and there is no
obama and jarrett
eric holder
harry reid
pelosi schmalosi
et al

we have an administration thst tells us the truth wether bad or good
that is more inteested inn governing then golfing or hollywooding

a fresh new dawn
where we all work torwards a conatitutionaally run country.

romney.ryan i vote for thee.

losarkos on September 22, 2012 at 10:29 PM

sorry for my spelling i was in a happy place

losarkos on September 22, 2012 at 10:30 PM

In the (vain?) hope that someone from the Romney campaign might one day read this thread – Mitt: you need to start hiring people like Dr. Walid Phares and Wafa Sultan as the public face of your team for these types of situations (with lightning rods like Pam Gellar and Robert Spencer also advising but maybe behind closed doors). You need someone who understands the culture and the language who can respond instantly in order to pre-empt the media memes that follow these attacks and tragedies. I know it seems like I’m trolling from some Rent-A-Conservative temp agency, but I’m not: I just can’t believe that Mitt’s campaign keeps tripping over its own (organ) over and over in public.

BemusedMalkinite on September 22, 2012 at 11:16 PM

Why isn’t our president standing up for an American principle in this way?

He’s not an American? This is not a Birther jab. Obama considers himself to be a globalist, where no borders or national identity exists.

Globalism is another term for “Utopian Society”, where its citizens no longer have to concern themselves with making decisions.

BobMbx on September 23, 2012 at 9:13 AM

#5 was probably the most succinct expression of the First Amendment I’ve read.

Why didn’t the State Department say these things? The State Department is too busy brainstorming ways to apologize for the slavery, colonialism, and ugly Americanism they think just ended in January of 2009. It never occurs to them to hold up a mirror to the Muslim world and tell them their mess is of their own making. To force them to consider how the “descendants of pigs and monkeys” could turn a sliver of desert into a vibrant, high-tech society over the course of sixty some years, while the arabs have shuffled around in their sandals for centuries, succeeding only when the West came in with the drill rigs and technology to pull the black gold out from the sand? The tribal mentality will never allow them to progress.

tpitman on September 23, 2012 at 10:51 AM