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Friday, July 6, 2012

National Catholic Reporter: Americans Demonize Muslims; Christians Must Learn "to Recognize the Humanity in" Muslims

Zafran Bibi and her daughter Shabnan. Photo by Greg Bearup.
Molly Linehan. Source.
The National Catholic Reporter, winner of the "General Excellence" award from the Catholic Press Association from 2000 through 2011, published a July 2, 2012 article entitled "12 Catholic Women under 40 Making a Difference." Molly Linehan, 35, a graduate student, was one of these twelve women. Linehan is the Alwaleed Bin Talal Scholar at the Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding at Georgetown University.

In the profile of Molly Linehan, The National Catholic Reporter alleges that Americans engage in an "amazing" "continuing demonization of Islam." Christians need to learn "to recognize the humanity in 'the other.'" "The Other" is a charged social science term. Its use implies that Americans and Christians have selected Muslims to demonize, dehumanize, lie about, and irrationally hate.

In Pakistan, Linehan witnessed "the beauty of Islam, especially its own strong sense of social justice."

Jesus would approve of Linehan's work promoting Islam, she said, because "Jesus witnessed nonviolence to us."

The discerning reader will have noted a few problems with this National Catholic Reporter article.

There is no amazing continued demonization of Islam in America. Yes, there are marginalized people who say socially unacceptable, extreme things about Islam in private conversations with trusted friends and in anonymous internet posts.

Were these same people to make these statements publicly, in conversations with a wider circle of friends or in public statements, these people themselves would be demonized. They would be fired. Ask Juan Williams, who made a mild, public confession of his own nervousness when boarding a plane with passengers wearing Muslim attire. Williams was fired and he was demonized. He was fired even though everyone knows that everyone – including the most Politically Correct holier than thou travelers – including Molly Linehan – including the staff of the National Catholic Reporter – share Williams' anxiety.

Islam has been inoculated against public criticism. One can say the most egregious things about Catholics, about Evangelicals, in recent years, as anti-Semitism rises, about Jews. One can joke about people with Indian accents and about Buddhist meditation.

One cannot criticize or joke about Islam. Ask Seattle cartoonist Molly Norris, who had to "go ghost" – who had to enter something like the witness protection program – after she innocently suggested an "Everybody Draw Mohammed Day."

The inoculation of Islam against criticism, against even jokes – never mind the "amazing continued demonization" that Linehan and the NCR fantasize about – is not just an empty social convention. The inoculation of Islam against criticism has a body count.

Just one example: there was one red flag after another in the career of Major Nidal Hasan. For heaven's sake, Hasan made a powerpoint presentation arguing for jihad. His fellow officers saw this powerpoint. They saw multiple other red flags. They did not speak up about this loose cannon about to fire on innocents, because they were afraid of being labeled "Islamophobes." The Fort Hood Massacre is the result of this fear of being labeled an Islamophobe.

Molly Linehan speaks of the "Beauty of Islam" and the "social justice" in Islam she encountered in Pakistan. The National Catholic Reporter did not pause to quiz her about this line. They might have.

The majority of women in prison in Pakistan are in prison because they were raped.

That is not a typo.

Islam's beautiful social justice requires that four adult Muslim males witness a rape for it to count as a rape. Otherwise, a woman who complains of rape is confessing to adultery, and, in Pakistan, she is punished. Zafran Bibi is just one such victim.

Another form of allegedly Islamic justice in Pakistan is gang rape. Mukhtaran Bibi is but one of the more famous victims; there are countless others, including Christian girls.

Robert Spencer has kept a careful eye on the impact that the tens of millions of dollars Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal has lavished upon Georgetown University. His reports can be accessed through the google search here. In brief, Spencer alleges that, in line with an ancient, international proverb, students and scholars at the Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding "sing the praises of him whose bread you eat." Hindi offers an even less attractive, more telling version of this proverb: "Be a slave to him whose bread you eat." In America, we are more likely to say, "Don't bite the hand that feeds you."

Spencer's concerns can be summed up thus: Because the Saudi prince lavishes so much money on Georgetown and its students, the recipients of the money become Public Relations agents for Islam. They close their eyes to any honest assessment of Islam, and emphasize flattery of Islam. If any problem arises, they blame the big, bad, Americans, the big, bad Christians, who "demonize the other" who are blind to Islam's beautiful justice, who need to be coached on "Muslim-Christian understanding" by recipients of millions of Saudi petro-dollars.

The National Catholic Reporter.
Twelve Catholic Women Who Are Making a Difference.
Molly Linehan Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Scholar.

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