Mr. Kalsbeek is a teacher in Covenant Christian High School and a member of Hope Protestant Reformed Church, Walker, Michigan. Previous article in this series: May 15, 2005, p. 372.
And of the children of Issachar, which were men that had understanding of the times, to know what Israel ought to do: the heads of them were two hundred; and all their brethren were at their commandment.
Dramatic changes have taken place in our world in the few years since 9/11/01. Islam has been the focus of the West’s attention, but all are not agreed concerning the nature of the Islamic threat—if indeed there is a threat—to the West; consequently, Western responses to Islam have been varied as well.
In previous articles we have examined, albeit sketchily, the history and beliefs of Islam so that we might better understand the clash that is taking place between Islam and the West. Just as important to Issachar, however, or maybe even more so, is the need to examine the various responses of the Western world to Islam, to evaluate the reasons behind these responses, and to consider the impact they may have on present-day Israel.
Mainstream Media’s Response to Islam
The Western mainstream media’s response to Islam and jihad terrorism appears to be one “intended to build bridges to Muslims, to dialogue, to accommodate, to show once again that we are decent folks who don’t hate anybody.”¹ That this is so is supported by reporting that depicts Islam as promoting religious pluralism and diversity, and that Islam is supportive of all the “People of the Book” (Muslims, Jews, and Christians). As we have seen, abundant evidence to the contrary is readily available both in the Qu’ran and the practice in Islamic countries, but that is either ignored or explained in such a way as to make it inconsequential.
Marvin Olasky, of World magazine, conducted a little test of journalistic evenhandedness. The test concerned an incident first reported well over 3,000 years ago. Chapter 22 of Genesis tells of Abraham almost sacrificing his son Isaac. Muslims, however, believe that the Bible is wrong, and when they celebrated recently the Eid-al- Adha holiday that commemorates the event, they told reporters that Abraham nearly killed his oldest son, Ishmael. That provided an interesting test of journalistic evenhandedness. Newspapers had a choice of (A) reporting the Muslim version of the sacrifice and pointing out that the Jewish and Christian version long preceded it, (B) reporting the Muslim version and also noting the Jewish and Christian version, (C) reporting the Muslim version as a version, but not necessarily as fact, and not mentioning the alternative, or (D) reporting the Muslim version of the event as objective fact.² Olasky’s Lexis-Nexis search of the news stories that were printed ended with this as his bottom line: “60 percent of the newspapers offered the Muslim version as if it were objective fact. Only one in five newspapers noted the existence of a biblical story that is older than and different from the Islamic story.”³
While the Olasky test of evenhandedness may not be conclusive, it is revealing. In the context of other reporting that is generally sympathetic to the Islamic position, one cannot help but sense a media that is willing to bend over backwards to placate, if not overtly support, the position of Islam. This is collaborated by the case of General William Boykin, who in a speech to an evangelical Christian audience said that radical Islam threatens to destroy America “because we’re a Christian nation,” and that Muslims worship an “idol” rather than “a real God.”4 Boykin’s remarks resulted in a firestorm of protest from the mainstream media and an order of reprimand from the Pentagon. At the same time there are no calls from the mainstream media to silence Islamic hate speech against the West, though such expression abounds.
The Ward Churchill case immediately comes to mind. Mr. Churchill, chairman of the University of Colorado Ethic Studies Department, wrote an essay titled, “Some People Push Back: On the Justice of Roosting Chickens.” In his essay Churchill defended the actions of those behind the 9/11 attacks on the grounds that they were simply engaged in retaliation for what the U.S. had done in Iraq in the 1991 war and the economic sanctions that followed. In the process of making his case, Churchill claimed the people in the Pentagon were “military targets,” and he wrote that the people in the World Trade Center were not innocent victims but “little Eichmanns.” (The inference here was that just as Eichmann executed Hitler’s plan to exterminate the Jews, the people working in the World Trade Center were carrying out the devastating economic policies of the United States against the people of Iraq.) Churchill stated further: “When you kill 500,000 children in order to impose your will on other countries, then you shouldn’t be surprised when somebody responds in kind.”5
Of interest here is the media response, or rather lack thereof, to Churchill’s statements. In defense of Churchill were the usual comments of “the free exchange of ideas” and “freedom of speech.” That being the case, however, one cannot help but wonder why the media treated Boykin’s statements in such a dramatically different manner. Why the double standard?
Columnist Cal Thomas aptly illustrates the problem with this anecdote:
There are two dogs; one is vicious and the other friendly. The vicious dog regularly attacks the friendly dog. The owner of the friendly dog decides to muzzle his dog, hoping this will demonstrate to the vicious dog that the friendly dog means no harm. The vicious dog sees his opportunity and kills the muzzled friendly dog.6
Western Educational Establishment Responses
The Western mainstream media is not the only organization to give Islam a pass on critical examination of its teachings. Gilbert Sewall, author of a new report by the American Textbook Council, an independent national research organization that acts as a watchdog on educational issues (www. historytextbooks.org,), claims, as reported by syndicated columnist Suzanne Fields:
These textbooks cut, shave and reduce content to pass the litmus test of advocacy groups organized specifically to search for offenses. In California, for example, an Islamic council has oversight to the degree that it exerts a censor-like force as editors gloss over facts crucial to understanding the Muslim culture: jihad, holy law, slavery and the abuse of women. When discussed at all, these matters are discussed at such a distance from reality that all meaning is lost.7
Even worse than glossing over the facts concerning the beliefs and practices of Islam in school textbooks is the three-week course in California public schools that teaches unsuspecting students how to follow Islam. The course…
…requires students to choose a Muslim name, read from the Koran, pray to Allah, and simulate worship activities related to the Five Pillars of Islam. In order to receive a good grade, students are required to give assent to such statements as, “The Koran is God’s third revelation that was revealed to the Prophet Mohammed,” and the Koran is God’s word as revealed to Prophet Mohammed through the Archangel Gabriel.
Amazingly, when these activities were challenged by some Christian parents, the federal judge ruled “that there is no violation of the Constitution when it comes to teaching the Islamic faith in the simulation mode that they’re in, because it is ‘entertaining and effective.'” 9 Apparently it is of no consequence that similar teaching of the Christian faith in public schools regularly illicit cries from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) for censorship on the ground of “separation of church and state.”
Furthermore the ACLU reveals its true colors with respect to Christianity in its defense of practices that favor Islam in the schools. Their longstanding opposition to the display of Christian symbols or the Ten Commandments on public property is common knowledge, yet they were quick to defend the University of North Carolina when the college required that all incoming freshmen read Michael Sell’s bookApproaching the Qur’an: The Early Revelations, a book, by the way, that “sanitizes Islam by omitting the Koran’s passages that command violent behavior or jihad.”10
Western Judicial Responses
The case of a Canadian Christian makes clear that this double standard is applied not only in the United States. While handing out leaflets protesting documented Muslim persecutions in different parts of the Islamic world, he “was accused by Muslims of ‘inciting hatred’ and taken to a Canadian court. He was found guilty of breaking Canada’s hate speech laws and sentenced to 240 hours of community service and six months of probation time in jail.”11
Then there is the case of Pakistani pastor Daniel Scot. Seventeen years ago Pastor Scot was charged with blasphemy because he said he did not believe Muhammed was a prophet, so he fled to Australia. If he stayed in Pakistan, Scot faced life in prison or death for his crime. However, Scot was to find out that Australia’s new religious vilification laws weren’t much better. While speaking at a seminar in Australia, Scot pointed out, based on passages from the Qu’ran, that Islam promotes violence and killing, and that it treats women badly. These remarks led Islamic activists in Australia to bring charges of religious vilification against Scot, and Scot was subsequently found guilty. Interestingly, in the process of defending himself, Scot began reading verses from the Qu’ran that supported his contention that Islam did indeed promote violence and treat women badly, but he was stopped by a lawyer for the Islamic Council of Victoria on the ground that reading these verses would itself be religious vilification. In response to this case Robert Spencer provides this insightful commentary:
With religious vilification laws now coming to Britain, Scot’s question rings out and must be answered. If it is inciting hatred for Muslims simply when non-Muslims explore what Islam and the Koran actually teach, then there will be a chill on reasonable public discussion of Islam—a public discussion that is crucial to hold in this age of global jihad terrorism. Such laws actually make Muslims a protected class, beyond criticism, precisely at the moment when the Western republics need to examine the implications of having admitted into their countries people with greater allegiance to Islamic law than to the pluralist societies in which they have settled.12
It remains to be seen exactly how the recent London subway suicide attacks carried out and promoted by radical Islamists will affect Britain’s policies toward its Muslim citizens. But Why These Responses? How is Issachar to understand this apparent double standard of Western secularism when it comes to evaluating the beliefs and practices of Islam compared to those of the West?
David Horowitz, former founder of the “New Left” of the 1960s and author of the book Unholy Alliance: Radical Islam and the American Left, finds the answer in a political Left that views America in the same way that radical Islam does. In the view of both Islam and the “New Left,” America is the “Great Satan!” Horowitz claims that the American Left once made common cause with Communists, but now has joined forces with radical Islam. He believes that what we are currently seeing is supporters of the “New Left” using their positions of influence in the media, politics, and the universities to promote the idea that America itself is to blame for the attacks of Islam against it. He explains this alliance as follows:
…The radical Islamist believes that by conquering nations and instituting sharia, he can redeem the world for Allah. The socialist’s faith is in using state power and violent means to eliminate private property and thereby usher in the millennium.
Belief in this transformation is the reason the secular radical does not take the religious pathology of radical Islam seriously. The secular radical believes that religion itself is merely an expression of real-world misery, for which capitalist property is ultimately responsible…. In other words, religious belief is a response to the suffering caused by private property, and a mask that obscures its practical causes. The revolution that removes the cause of this suffering will also remove the religious beliefs it inspires. Thus, the liberation of mankind from private property—the defeat of America and Western capitalism—will liberate Islamic fanatics from the need to be Islamic and fanatic.13
Horowitz’s explanation bears consideration by those seeking to understand the times. Throughout history unholy alliances have been formed in opposition to what was perceived as a common enemy. Scripture bears this out as the various powers of the time united against our Lord. Luke by inspiration expresses it this way: “And the same day Pilate and Herod were made friends together: for before they were at enmity between themselves (Luke 23:12).” Could it be that something of a similar nature is happening today? The common enemy today, however, is Christianity, or that which is perceived by the ungodly of the world and Islam as Christianity.
… to be continued.
1. Robert Spencer, “Media Help Global Jihad,” Human Events March 14, 2005: 13.
2. Marvin Olasky, “Siding with Islam,” World March 8, 2003: 64.
3. Olasky 64.
4. Cal Thomas, “Who’s the extremist?” World, November 1, 2003: 9.
5. John C. Ensslin, “CU prof’s essay sparks dispute,” Rocky Mountain News, January 27, 2005.
6. Thomas 9.
7. Suzanne Fields, “Textbook terror in a visual age,” Washington Times, April 19, 2004: 29.
8. “Teaching Islam in school OK’d by court,” AFA Journal, March, 2004: 10.
9. “Teaching Islam in school OK’d by court,” AFA Journal, March, 2004: 10.
10. Alvin J. Schmidt, The Great Divide, Regina Orthodox Press Inc. Boston, Massachusetts, 2004: 240-241.
11. Schmidt 247.
12. Robert Spencer, “Religious Vilification,” Human Events, January 24, 2005: 18.
13. David Horowitz, Unholy Alliance: Radical Islam and the American Left, Regnery Publishing, Inc. Washington D.C., 2004:129-130.