On March 9, The New York Times published an anti-Catholic advertisement produced by the Wisconsin-based Freedom From Religion Foundation.
The ad called on “moderate” Catholics to quit their religion: “Why send your children to parochial schools to be indoctrinated into the next generation of obedient donors and voters? Can’t you see how misplaced your loyalty is after two decades of sex scandals involving preying priests, church complicity, collusion and coverup going all the way to the top? … Join those of us who put humanity above dogma.”
As a Catholic, I am not particularly offended by the ad because I love free speech. If the Freedom From Religion Foundation wants to put that message out into the marketplace of ideas, then so be it.
The outrage came next.
Pamela Geller of Stop the Islamization of Nations created a similar ad calling on “moderate” Muslims to quit Islam: “Why put up with an institution that dehumanizes women and non-Muslims — fully 9/10ths of humanity? … As a ‘moderate’ Muslim, you tell yourself and the world that you have chucked out the violent doctrine and hateful, oppressive decrees of your religion, and yet you keep identifying with the ideology. … Join those of us who [put] humanity above the vengeful, hateful and violent teachings of Islam’s ‘prophet.’”
The Times rejected her ad on March 13, four days after running the anti-Catholic ad. Apparently it is OK to denounce Catholicism but not Islam. The Times used the lame excuse that running the ad would jeopardize lives.
If the Times believes that running an ad denouncing Islam would cause violence, and there is plenty of history to show that some Muslims react violently to such things, then it becomes even more important to publish the ad. Otherwise, you give the Muslim extremists a veto via violence, which only invites more violence.
Times officials, after expressing their love of the First Amendment, told Geller to resubmit her ad in a few months and they will re-evaluate their decision.
But the threat of violence is not going to change in a few months. Those living in the Middle East simply do not value life in the same way the Western world does. That is not an Islamic thing, but a cultural thing.
The best example of this is the reaction in Afghanistan to two recent events, the burning of a few Qurans and the horrific murder of 16 civilians, reportedly by an Army staff sergeant.
According to reports, the man left his base, entered a few homes and killed the occupants, mostly women and children, before burning their bodies. He then returned to the base where he was arrested.
The response in Afghanistan was, quite frankly, puzzling.
Yes, there was the faux outrage expressed by politicians, as all politicians do when faced with horrific events. But there were no significant street protests.
Yet, when the soldiers accidently burned a few Qurans last month — Qurans which were already being defaced by Muslim prisoners as they tried to communicate to one another at Bagram Air Field — Afghans took to the streets en masse and at least 24 people were killed and scores injured.
Seems like we have a priority problem.
Afghan President Hamid Karzai is actually trying to score political points from the tragedy. He first demanded the soldier be tried in an Afghan court. No American soldier should ever be tried in a court in an occupied country. That is out of the question.
He also is demanding that U.S. troops leave the villages and turn over security responsibilities to Afghanistan next year, a year earlier than planned. Of course, he still wants the U.S. to continue to prop up his regime. In a statement he said, “They should pay more attention on reconstruction and financial support for our country.”
In other words, shut up but keep giving us money.
While the administration should not let one tragic event dictate policy, it is clear we have no intention of winning in Afghanistan so we should leave as quickly as possible and let the Afghan people determine their own fate.
Meanwhile, we should all spend a moment lamenting the sorry and cowardly state of American media today.