Tuesday, April 5, 2011

The Media and Koran Burning

Pastor Terry Jones is at it again, with at least seven deaths in a UN station in distant Afganistan to show for it. On April 5 CNN reported,

• At least nine people were killed and 73 injured in Kandahar on Saturday, and 12 people died Friday -- including seven U.N. employees -- when angry demonstrators stormed a U.N. compound in Mazar-i-Sharif.

Ironically, while Jones’ congregation has deserted him, the media hasn’t. Although YouTube had recently removed a video showing Brown University students’ violence against a peaceful pro-family demonstration, it failed demonstrate any moral hesitation about hosting Jones’ provocative Koran burning ceremony.

Now it seems that the media elites can’t get enough of Jones. Meanwhile, the murderers themselves aren’t receiving similar media scrutiny. Nor are those, a-half-a-world away, who continue to demonstrate against the destruction of a single Koran and in favor of taking even more lives. How is it that the murder of those who had nothing to do with Jones represents justice in the Islamic mind, and how is it that they can continue to demonstrate against the destruction of one copy of a Koran and yet feel no guilt about the murder to seven UN personnel?

What does this say about Islam as it increasingly gains a foothold in Western soil? Can Islamic values mesh with Western values? Is the Islamic reaction to this merely one isolated incident? Are the murders and death threats against people in the West who have spoken against Islam indicative of a problem endemic to Islam? These are questions that need to be addressed!

Meanwhile, in Muslim nations, both Bibles and churches are routinely burned, and no one seems to notice it. No Islamic nation tolerates free speech, especially when it entails criticism of Islam – the Prophet, the Koran, and Allah. Criticism is punishable by death:

• [Surah 33:59-61] Prophet, tell your wives, your daughters, and women believers to make their outer garment hang low over them, so as to be recognized and not insulted [aa-dh-aa]: God is most forgiving, most merciful. 60 If the hypocrites, the sick of heart, and those who spread lies in the city [Medina] do not desist, We shall arouse you [Prophet] against them, and then they will only be your neighbors in this city for a short while. 61 They will be rejected wherever they are found, and then seized and killed. (Haleem)

James M. Arlandson writes about what we can expect from sharia law:

• In 1989, Iran’s Supreme Leader issued a fatwa (legal decree) to assassinate Salman Rushdie, a novelist, who wrote Satanic Verses, which includes questions about the angel Gabriel’s role in inspiring the Quran. Now the extremists in the highest levels in Iran have recently renewed the fatwa.

• In 2005, The Muslim Council of Victoria, Australia, brought a lawsuit against two pastors for holding a conference and posting articles critiquing Islam. Three Muslims attended the conference and felt offended. The two pastors have been convicted based on Australia’s vilification law. While on trial, one of them wanted to read from the Quran on domestic violence (see 9, above), but the lawyer representing the Council would not allow it. The pastors are appealing their conviction.

• In 2005, British Muslims have been campaigning to pass a religious hate speech law in England’s parliament. They have succeeded. Their ability to propagandize has not been curtailed. Opponents of the law say that it stifles free speech that may criticize Muhammad, the Quran, and Islam.

According to Arlandson, “the Muslim deserves death for doing any of the following (Reliance of the Traveler pp. 597-98, o8.7)”:

• Reviling Allah or his Messenger; (2) being sarcastic about "Allah’s name, His command, His interdiction, His promise, or His threat"; (3) denying any verse of the Quran or "anything which by scholarly consensus belongs to it, or to add a verse that does not belong to it"; (4) holding that "any of Allah’s messengers or prophets are liars, or to deny their being sent"; (5) reviling the religion of Islam; (6) being sarcastic about any ruling of the Sacred Law; (7) denying that Allah intended "the Prophet’s message . . . to be the religion followed by the entire world." http://www.muslimhope.com/JamesArlandson/TopTenReasonsWhyShariaIslamicLawIsBadForAllSocieties.htm

Elsewhere, Arlandson references one of the authoritative sayings attributed to Mohammad”

• “Angered by the poems and now able to strike back after the Battle of Badr, Muhammad had had enough. He asked, "Who would rid me of [Kab]?" Five Muslims volunteered, one of whom was Kab’s foster-brother named Abu Naila. They informed him, "O apostle of God [Muhammad], we shall have to tell lies." He answered, "Say what you like, for you are free in the matter."

Mohammad would not tolerate any criticism. It seems that out of faithfulness to his sayings, Muslims also should not tolerate criticism. However, justice in the West is about accountability -- that no one and no belief system should be above criticism, especially if it justifies criminality.

Meanwhile, the Western media elites have set their sails in the direction of enablement and appeasement of sharia. If Jones deserves some censure for his indiscretion, then Islam deserves even more for its justification of murder. Although the media elites don’t justify the murders, they are unwilling to follow the crimes to their obvious root. Instead, they are bent upon appeasement at any cost. Sadly, this course of appeasement rewards the violent, while it produces cynics among those who trust in justice.

Issues have to be aired. Instead of probing whether or not sharia (Islamic law) can possibly be compatible with Western values, the media elites demonstrate a cowardly indulgence by refusing to delve into these crucial areas.

However, it’s far worse than this. While Jones is castigated for his insensitivity towards Islam, this same media gleefully rushes upon any story that will shame Christianity. Recently, Bart Ehrman published his latest diatribe against the Bible: “Forged: Writing in the Name of God—Why the Bible’s Authors Are Not Who We Think They Are.” He claims that many of the New Testament books are forged, and as such, they represent “lies.” While Ehrman has every right in the world to publish whatever garbage he wants to publish, the media should be held to a higher standard.

Propaganda doesn’t require outright lies. Unbalanced reporting will do the job just as well! And the media does exquisitely in this area. It has joyfully and broadly trumpeted Ehrman’s new and provocative volume better than any advertising campaign might have done. Meanwhile, they hypocritically malign Jones for insulting Islam.

This type of double-standard abounds in mainstream media. The media elites made celebrities out of a fringe group of scholars called the “Jesus Seminar,” which, without justification, declared that only 18% of words that the Gospels attribute to Jesus are authentic. They did the same thing with Dan Brown and his “DaVinci Code,” which claimed that Jesus escaped crucifixion, married Mary Magdalene and joyously eloped. And then there was the release of the Gospel of Judas about five years ago. The elites were then able to dredge up a cadre of the most radical scholars, including Elaine Pagels, who confidently proclaimed that the church would never be the same after this Judas disclosure.

Anything at all to disparage Christianity! In fact, what Jones did is relatively insignificant in comparison to undermining the entire basis of another religion, as Ehrman is seeking to do by callings books of the Bible “forgeries.” While Jones burnt a single book, the media is happily complicit in burning an entire religion.

The media elites certainly have a right to be critical of Christianity. However, they have a responsibility to do it in a balanced manner. Without this, they are merely ministers of propaganda.

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