On Saturday, Marty Peretz, owner and editor of the by-no-means uninfluential The New Republic published a column to which the Internet (and the husband) drew my attention just today.
Here’s the money slice-o-awful:
I want to believe that Muslims are traumatized by the unrelieved murders in Islamic lands. Frankly, the only demonstration against a mass killing (after all, they happen nearly every day) I’ve read about was last week in Pakistan when some 30-odd people, not designated and not guilty of doing anything except going to a Shia shrine were blown right then and there. A day or two after two bombs went off taking the lives of what turned out–you can read it about in the recent Tehran Times–to be just under one hundred Shi’ites in two town different towns.
This intense epidemic of slaughter has been going on for nearly a decade and a half…without protest, without anything. And it has been going for decades and centuries before that.
Why do not Muslims raise their voices against these at once planned and random killings all over the Islamic world? This world went into hysteria some months ago when the Mossad took out the Hamas head of its own Murder Inc.
But, frankly, Muslim life is cheap, most notably to Muslims. And among those Muslims led by the Imam Rauf there is hardly one who has raised a fuss about the routine and random bloodshed that defines their brotherhood. So, yes, I wonder whether I need honor these people and pretend that they are worthy of the privileges of the First Amendment which I have in my gut the sense that they will abuse.
The rest of the piece is also loathsome, but honestly, that’s enough right there to stop any thinking American in their tracks. Indeed, this is one of those passages that is so wrong, in so many, many ways, that one almost doesn’t know where to begin to unpack it.
But I’ll give it a shot.
A) Apparently the First Amendment is not so much an unalienable right as a privilege. You know, like when a sovereign ruler grants his or her subjects a privilege? As opposed to when a democratic republic serves to protect its citizens’ rights? Good to know! Especially coming from a magazine editor.
B) Muslim life is cheap, “most notably to Muslims” — you see, Muslims frequently kill other Muslims, so that means Muslim life is cheap.
So what, then, are we to think of Christian life? How many Christians have been killed by the majority-Christian American forces since 1776? For instance, as we’ve swanned about the Middle East in recent years, have we been carefully differentiating between the Arab Muslims and the Arab Christians? Because while every American soldier should surely know by now that Muslim life is cheap (having been involved in wars that have taken so many of them in the past decade), they may not know about Christian life. I would submit that sheer casualty numbers indicate that American Christians find Christian life to be very cheap indeed.
Oh and hey, what about that other bastion of Christianity, Ireland? Peretz points in particular to the situation between Shi’ite and Sunni Muslims in Pakistan (and, one presumes, by implication, elsewhere) where the former slays the latter, and the latter the former, often and in gorily impressive numbers — you know: Just like the Christians of Ireland! Who for many years killed each other quite gleefully! And Irish Americans often raised funds for the cause of more killing! Yup, I would have to conclude that to the Irish, and Irish Americans, Christian life is cheap.
Aaand C) “Why do not Muslims raise their voices against these at once planned and random killings all over the Islamic world?” - Ah yes, the question forever asked.
Here’s the answer: THEY HAVE AND THEY DO. Want to know what just a handful of Muslims have to say about “planned and random killings all over the Islamic world?” My very own post about the topic might be of service: Muslim responses to extremism.
Money quote from that post, in a fatwa issued by one of the world’s leading Sunni theologians, Sheikh Dr. Muhammad Tahir ul-Qadri, a Muslim whose life is apparently cheap and who hails from (Mr. Peretz might like to note) Pakistan: “Terrorism is terrorism, violence is violence and it has no place in Islamic teaching and no justification can be provided for it, or any kind of excuses of ifs and buts.”
But rather than continue to listen to the loathsome (and, for my part, sadly Jewish) Marty Peretz, let’s listen to American Muslim, author, NPR contributor and interfaith activist Eboo Patel:
Can you believe that, at one point, women couldn’t vote in America? That Japanese American citizens were put in detention camps because of the actions of the Imperial Japanese Navy? That Jackie Robinson was spat upon on the baseball diamond because of the color of his skin? That there were quotas on Jews at Ivy League Universities? That mosques were opposed across the country and a shocking number of people suggested a Muslim should be disqualified from the Supreme Court or the Presidency because of his religion?
Oh yeah, that last one is still happening. But one day, I promise you, we will be as ashamed of the way American Muslims are viewed and treated in 2010 as we are of Japanese internment and Jim Crow. America’s promise is meant for everyone or we are not America.
…American history is an arc toward freedom, dignity and inclusiveness for all. That will include Muslims, sooner or later. Everyone knows you can’t stop that arc. And everyone knows that those who try to throw the arc off-course are recorded and held up in history books years later as an example to kids of who not to be like. They are the demons of American history.
Eboo’s right — people like Peretz are the demons of American history, and we should be ashamed of them. It’s up to us to cast them aside, so that we can get on with the business of perfecting our union.
And finally, as a Jew, I would suggest to Mr. Peretz that after publishing this screed, he might want to say a special prayer for forgiveness next week on Yom Kippur — if only because announcing that someone’s “life is cheap” tends to be the kind thing that leads to lives being taken.
It’s no wonder that American Muslims say that they are afraid as never before.