The most recent example is the blaming of Denmark, or at least the Danish newspaper, for publishing cartoons of Muhammad. From Kofi Annan to The New York Times -- and the other American newspapers that declared respect for religious symbols a new journalistic virtue -- liberal and leftist opinion always condemns violent Muslim demonstrations, but always with a "but." The "but" is that in the final analysis, it was the Danish and other European papers' faults for insulting the Muslim prophet.
This is only the latest example of finding the victims of Islamic violence responsible for that violence.
For a decade or more, it has been a given on the Left that Israel is to blame for terror committed against Israelis by Palestinian Muslims (Palestinian Christians don't engage in suicide terror). What else are the Palestinians supposed to do? If they had Apache helicopters, the argument goes, they would use them. But they don't, so they use the poor man's nuclear weapon -- suicide terror.
The same argument is given to explain 9-11. Three thousand innocent Americans were incinerated by Islamic terrorists because America has been meddling in the Middle East so long. This was bound to happen. And, anyway, don't we support Israel?
And when Muslim terrorists blew up Madrid trains, killing 191 people and injuring 1,500 others, the Left in Spain and elsewhere blamed Spanish foreign policy. After all, the Spanish government had sent troops into Iraq.
When largely Muslim rioters burned and looted for a month in France, who was blamed? France, of course -- France doesn't know how to assimilate immigrants, and, as the BBC reported on Nov. 5, 2005, "[Interior Minister Nicolas] Sarkozy's much-quoted description of urban vandals as 'rabble' a few days before the riots began is said by many to have already created tension." Calling rabble "rabble" causes them to act like to rabble.
If you wish to test the thesis that the Left blames those blown up for being blown up by Muslim terrorists, have your son or daughter at college ask some liberal arts professors who is to blame for 9-11 or Muslim suicide bombers in Israel, etc.
In fact, one way to describe the moral divide between conservatives and liberals is whom they blame for acts of evil committed against innocent people, especially when committed by non-whites and non-Westerners. Conservatives blame the perpetrators, and liberals blame either the victims' group or the circumstances.
We Americans are used to this. For decades, liberals have blamed violent crime in America on racism and poverty, i.e., on American society far more than on the murderers, rapists, arsonists and muggers themselves. Conservatives blame the criminals.
During the Rodney King riots in Los Angeles, black mobs murdered innocent Korean shopkeepers and burned sections of the city. The liberal response in America was virtually universal: We must understand the anger of these people at American racism. The daily special section on the riots in the major local newspaper, the Los Angeles Times, was titled, "Understanding the Rage."
Though Thomas Friedman, the New York Times foreign affairs correspondent, has been among the few prominent liberals to support the Iraq War, he regularly blames Islamic terror on unemployment in the Arab world.
Since examples of liberals refusing to blame criminals and terrorists for their behavior are legion, let's try to figure out why this moral inversion is so common.
Here are three hypotheses:
One is that liberals tend to blame outside forces for evil. This emanates from the secular humanistic view of people as basically good -- and therefore human evil must come not from the bad choices and bad values of the evildoer, but from the unfortunate socioeconomic and other circumstances of the person's life.
The second explanation is that as you go further left on the political spectrum, it becomes increasingly difficult to blame the "weak" for any atrocities they commit. The Left does not divide the world between good and evil nearly as much as it does between rich and poor, and between strong and weak. Israel is stronger and richer, so Palestinian terror is excused. White America is stronger and richer than black America, so black violence is excused. The West is stronger and richer than the Muslim world, so Muslim violence is explained accordingly.
And third, liberals tend to be afraid of the truly evil. That's why the liberal newspapers of America refused to publish the Danish cartoons, probably the most newsworthy cartoons ever drawn, but have never had any hesitance about showing cartoons and photos that mock Jewish and Christian symbols. Christians and Jews don't kill editors.
We don't know who will be the next target of Islamic or other murderers from poor or non-Western or non-white groups. All we can know is that liberal and leftist thought will find reasons to hold the targeted group largely responsible.
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