Tuesday, May 17, 2005

To Die For

The writers for late night talk show monologues must be in Nirvana. It rarely gets much better for them than the material provided over the last week by what will surely soon be referred to as "Isikoff-gate". Michael Isikoff is of course the Newsweek reporter who filed the story regarding the alleged "desecration" of the Koran at Guantanamo Bay, apparently done to try and coerce information from the prisoners there. This latest media show has many amusing sidebars, as well as some stark, sober, tragic ones. Among the amusing:
  • The potential that Newsweek may have walked into the same trap that CBS walked into last fall; the planted false story trap courtesy of the Mad Professor Rove.
  • The White House's and State Department's laughable assertions that Newsweek had "irreparably damaged the image of the US' in the world ("Bomb and invade our country, kill innocent civilians, no big! But falsely report someone dissing the Koran at Gitmo, NOW you're on our blacklist!!"). Perhaps Wonkette put it best.
  • Pakistan's righteous indignation over the incident, and their demand that the US conduct an immediate investigation and "report the findings directly to Islamabad". (Get your own house in order first, don't deflect and distract)
  • Afghanistan says that Newsweek should be responsible for damages "caused by the story" beyond a retraction and an apology. And while we're at it, lets hold ATF, not Timothy McVeigh, accountable for the Oklahoma City bombing.
  • Newsweek apparently submitted the one paragraph story about the Gitmo Koran scandal to the Pentagon 11 days prior to publication per standard vetting and national security procedures, and one would presume approved it. The Pentagon was then one of the first government entities to criticize Newsweek after publication.
Much less than amusing are the reports that the allegations sparked riots in at least 7 countries resulting in at least 17 deaths and over 100 injuries. Incredible.....

Now, my regular reader knows that I am no fan of the Bush army of Radcons and their culturally insensitive foreign policies. Lets also be honest; we are engaged in a war against Islam, or rather a war between two extremist, fundamentalist ideologies based on intolerant institutional religious beliefs. We've done more than our fair share to unnecessarily piss off Islamic theocratic nations. But I draw a line in the PC sand at some point. Killing and injuring each other over a book folks???!!! Its ink on paper, just like the Bible, the Torah, the Book of Mormon, the Bhagavad-Gita, the Tao Te Ching, the dictionary, the....well, you get the idea.

Now don't get me wrong, if the Gitmo allegations are true, those folks were wrong and should be disciplined (though that discipline ought to include the top dogs who set up this environment of illegal, immoral prisons that foster the torture and abuse which seem to be rampant). But a little balance and perspective please? I would hope one's personal relationship with one's respective deity would be solid enough that the damaging of a physical object (even a representation of one's personal beliefs) half world away would not cause one to riot, kill and injure one's fellow citizens. Do I need more cultural sensitivity? Balderdash!! We share a world with 6.5 billion people, of varying cultures, beliefs and backgrounds. Lets focus on the wrongs, the injustices that really matter; not crouch in a corner, spending our lives waiting to pounce at the next perceived insult.

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