Political outrage from around the world

Posted: Dec 15, 2003 12:00 AM

While a surgical team still struggles to extract the shiv Al Gore planted in Joe Lieberman's political back, it should be said that Lieberman wasn't the only aggrieved politician to make headlines lately. That said, he was practically the only one who had a bona fide bone to pick. Not to have received a phone call from Gore before the former vice president endorsed Howard Dean for president -- and reporters telephoned an unprepared Lieberman for comment -- was more than any former running mate should have to take. This move was old-fashioned treachery, a blot on the Lieberman escutcheon. Indeed, duels have been fought for less.

A world away, Afghanistan's finance minister, Ashraf Ghani, revealed another bona fide scandal, one of greater, if little-noted, significance. Post-Taliban Afghanistan hasn't received "any major contribution from our Arab brothers," as Ghani put it. He continued: "I think it deserves emphasis that the least amount of assistance is coming from Muslim countries to this country which has been at the forefront of freeing the world from the evils of communism and then terrorism, and I hope Muslim solidarity will come."

Other foul calls rang hollow. The United Nations ginned up sufficient (and sufficiently cynical) outrage to refer Israel's security fence against Palestinian suicide-bombers for judgment to The Hague, which is like the principal's office for the International Community. European Muslims, outraged about a proposed mention of Europe's Christian heritage -- a pesky fact of history -- in the new EU constitution, raised a phony cry of xenophobia to try to deep-six the effort. European Europeans, meanwhile, protested too much after the United States announced -- sacre bleu! -- that only those nations that had helped liberate Iraq (or now contributed to the country's stabilization) could bid for the $18.6 billion in reconstruction contracts in Iraq.

While the sense of shock was real -- Who in Old Europe actually expected repercussions? -- the outrage mustered by European politicians fell flat.

The U.S. decision, a German government spokesman said, went against "a spirit of looking to the future together and not to the past." Translation: How dare Old Europe, having failed to assist in safeguarding the free world, be barred from reaping the profits? Clearly, Old Europe is no Joe Lieberman.

Then there was the outrage that has no name. Or, rather, it has a name (boy, does it have a name), but no voice -- at least not yet. What I refer to is a story on the newswire at www.memri.com reporting that about 50 parents "in a gulf country" have named their newborn infants, boys and girl both, Irhab.

Irhab is the Arabic word for terrorism. According to Memri's report from the newspaper Al-Zaman, Irhab is now the Arabic Ashley and Jason rolled into one because of the "interpretation given by Osama bin Laden to a verse in the Koran: '... and you shall terrorize the enemies of Allah.'"

That begs the question: If your parents name you "Terrorism," do they want you to grow up and hijack Islam? And, if so, will the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) demand an apology?

Famed broadcaster Paul Harvey most recently discovered that attributing to Islam anything the CAIR-correctors deem un-Islamic is an outrage and requires an apology. Reporting on the bloody and debasing sport of cockfighting in Iraq, Harvey explained on his radio program, that Iraqis who have not "had human rights for generations, cannot understand why in the world Americans make such a fuss over the animals. ... Add to the (Iraqis') thirst for blood a religion which encourages killing, and it is entirely understandable if Americans came to this party unprepared."

Never mind whether cockfighting is a reality in Iraq, and never mind whether killing is inspired and condoned by countless Islamic authorities, including the Koran. Because, in the words of CAIR's Ibrahim Hooper, Harvey "falsely attributes to Islam two things that are specifically prohibited by our faith, murder and cruelty to animals," the broadcaster was asked to recant, to surrender his freedom of speech and deny his powers of observation.

And recant he did -- or, rather, he let his stand-in, Doug Limerick, do so for him. Reporting on "several letters" Harvey received "from dear friends in the American Muslim community who expressed their disgust with those who have hijacked their religion to achieve their goal through violence," Limerick said, "they reminded all of us that Islam is a religion of peace, that terrorists do not represent Islam."

What a relief. Otherwise, this would be the biggest outrage of all.