One reason the appeasement press is less consequential today (though no less lost) than it was in the 1930s is because of the new media that has seen the proliferation of smart (and funny) amateur commentators and journalists fill the voids they refuse to cover or cover seriously. BCB and TRUA are just two of thousands. So is My Sandmen. So are hundreds of others who are not waiting to be led blindly into the next war by a blind MSM.
Ten years ago, for example, news consumers would have had no choice but to read today’s Minneapolis Star Tribune editorial about the pope’s speech. Today they can read the pope’s speech, numerous takes on it from numerous analysts, compare it to Ahmadinejad’s urgent appeal to God yesterday to send the twelfth Imam and conclude that perhaps the criticism the pope received in giant waves was not only misdirected but ought to have been directed at Ahmadinejad.
Then, when they were done with the serious reading, writing and thinking, they could have enjoyed a good laugh at the combination of moral equivalency and sheer childishness of the Strib’s take on the pope’s speech and the radical response to it offered up this morning is a Strib editorial entitled “Will everyone stop caricaturing Islam? Pope Benedict XVI, Islamic hotheads aren’t helping things.” (Yes, the worthies at the Strib think of the assassins of nuns as “hotheads.” I think of Brett Favre and the Fraters as “hothead.”) The editorial in its entirety:
Why, we are led to wonder, does the world conspire so tirelessly to make an honest appreciation of Islam impossible? Now it’s Pope Benedict XVI and Islamic hotheads who are doing their best to malign one of the world’s great religions.
The pope started it during a speech at the University of Regensburg in Germany, where he once was on the faculty. His speech was a reflection on the place of reason in Christianity.
To set up the speech (as in, “I was reminded of this recently by …”), he used a quotation from a 14th-century Byzantine emperor. The emperor, peeved at a long-running Ottoman siege of Constantinople (unsuccessful), lectured his Persian correspondent at one point that the prophet Mohammed’s teachings offered “things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached.”
Benedict’s was an ill-fitting, gratuitous slap at Islam dressed up as an entry point for a lecture on reason. Islam is entirely absent from the remainder of his address. He might have chosen dozens of more apt and less inflammatory points of departure; this appears to have been deliberate provocation.
Whereupon some Islamic hotheads took to burning buildings, attacking people and, in a now tiresome, worn tirade, pledging to convert every human being to Islam or lop off their heads. Someone should sit the hotheads down, read them a few of the outrageous statements individual Muslim leaders have made in recent years about Christianity or Judaism … and suggest they gauge the relative heat of the pope’s words. They need also to see the idiocy of responding to accusations of Islamic violence with, well, threats of Islamic violence.
If God, Allah, Adonai were a schoolteacher, he’d send Pope Benedict to one corner and the hotheads to another. Then he’d lecture on the real Islam. Perhaps he’d use Ulug’bek as an example. Ulug’bek was a 15th century Afghan prince and one of the world’s great astronomers. He believed passionately in knowledge and built wonderful madrassahs open to both men and women (you can find a photo gallery of perhaps the greatest of his madrassahs, Samarkand’s exquisite Registan, online at www.startribune.com/opinion).
Unfortunately, his passion was his undoing: Ulug’bek was assassinated in 1449 by Muslim extremists who took issue with his love of math and science. But then, and now, he represents true Islam.
Somehow I have to think that the Salafists and the Twelfth Imam enthusiasts –the two edges of Islamist extremism– aren’t going to take counsel on the “true Islam” from a bunch of tenured flower power hippies grown grey in the service of their failed socialism light and deeply attached to the political theory of Robert Fulgham.. I hope some philanthropist in the Twin Cities will think about having a case of The Looming Tower delivered through the looking glass to the Strib editorial board. They need them., and perhaps because author Lawrence Wright has achieved what they always desired, to be an influential and widely-read writer of books and reporter for The New Yorker, the Strib editors will actually read and understand just a bit of what it is the West faces. A clue: It isn’t “hotheads.”