Newsweek and the rioters

Dennis Prager

5/17/2005 12:00:00 AM - Dennis Prager

Newsweek magazine published a scoop last week.

 Based on an unnamed source, Newsweek informed the world that American interrogators of suspected Islamic terrorists at Guantanamo Bay had flushed pages of the Koran down a toilet.

 If this were true, the interrogators would be both morally wrong and stupid. The words of the Koran and the pages on which they are written are considered intrinsically holy to Muslims.

 As it happens, it was not true. Like Dan Rather and CBS News, Newsweek put politics and craving a scoop ahead of truth, not to mention ahead of America's security.

 As I said on my radio show days before Newsweek revealed that its report was baseless, even if the report were true, the magazine was highly irresponsible when it published the report. It could have only one effect: inflaming the wrath of hundreds of millions of Muslims against America.

 If an American interrogator of Japanese prisoners desecrated the most sacred Japanese symbols during World War II, it is inconceivable that any American media would have published this information. While American news media were just as interested in scoops in 1944 as they are now, they also had a belief that when America was at war, publishing information injurious to America and especially to its troops was unthinkable.

 Such a value is not only not honored by today's news media, the opposite is more likely the case. The mainstream media oppose the war in Iraq and loathe the Bush administration. Whatever weakens the war effort and embarrasses the president raises a news source's prestige among its domestic, and especially foreign, peers.

 Newsweek is directly responsible for the deaths of innocents and for damaging America. As a typical member of the American news media, Newsweek's primary loyalties are to profits and to its political/social agenda. We are very fortunate that in America, at least, we now have talk radio and the Internet; the mainstream news media are no longer Americans' only sources of news. Europe and the rest of the world still rely almost exclusively on news media for their understanding of the world, which is a major reason for their anti-Americanism.

 And now a word about the rioters. They have desecrated their religion and their holy text far more than the alleged flushers of Koranic pages.

 Did any Buddhists riot and murder when the Taliban Muslims blew up the irreplaceable giant Buddhist statues in Afghanistan?

 Did any Christians riot and murder when an "artist" produced "Piss Christ" -- a crucifix immersed in a jar of the "artist's" urine? When all Christian services and even the wearing of a cross were banned in Saudi Arabia? When Christians are murdered while at prayer in churches by Muslims in Pakistan?

 Have any Jews rioted in all the years since it was revealed that Jordanian Muslims used Jewish tombstones in Old Jerusalem as latrines? Or after Palestinians destroyed Joseph's Tomb in 2000 and set fire to the rebuilt tomb in 2003?

 It is quite remarkable that many Muslims believe that an American interrogator flushing pages of the Koran is worthy of rioting, but all the torture, slaughter, terror and mass murder done by Muslims in the name of the Koran are unworthy of even a peaceful protest.

 Nevertheless, one will have to search extensively for any editorials condemning these primitives in the Western press, let alone in the Muslim press. This is because moral expectations of Muslims are lower than those of other religious groups. Behavior that would be held in contempt if engaged in by Christians or Jews is not only not condemned, it is frequently "understood" when done by Muslims.

 That, not phony reports about an American desecrating Koranic pages, should really upset Muslims. It won't. Just as the CBS and Newsweek debacles won't upset the American news media.

 The lowest of the Muslim world and the elite of the Western world: Anti-Americanism makes strange bedfellows.