Editorial: U.S. Image Down The Toilet With Report of Koran Flushing
By Linda Sharp
You gotta hand it to the folks at Newsweek. It's one thing to sell alot of copies of your magazine and get people talking about the stories contained within. After all, that's the aim of any publication - sell, sell, sell. Cash is king and the bottom line is, well, the bottom line.
But it's a whole other accomplishment to publish a story and have people killed because of it.
You gotta wonder if there's a special Pulitzer for this category of journalism. As of this writing, sixteen people have now been confirmed dead as a result of violent anti-American protests taking place this past week in Afghanistan. The catalyst? A report published in Newsweek regarding interrogation techniques at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba, which included a tidbit about a copy of the Koran - the most revered book in the Muslim world - being not only placed upon a toilet, but being flushed down it as well.
Anyone with a vague understanding of, or appreciation for, another's religion and beliefs would realize this is not the way to make friends and influence people.
The Koran is believed to be the literal word of God in Muslim society, so highly revered that any desecration of it is a crime punishable by death.
Compare that to the Bible, a tome that may be found and ignored in no-tell Motels around the USA and it gives you a little perspective. Sure we have millions in this country who read their copies regularly, but we are also a nation that legally discourages its passages from appearing in public, at schools, in meetings and on monuments.
And perhaps it is that simple observation that offers the insight into what the interrogators did with the Koran in Cuba. Why value something you don't understand or believe in, when you really don't value your own religious tomes to begin with?
If the squad at Guantanamo was looking for shock value in an attempt to gain information, they failed miserably. Did they shock? Absolutely. Did they receive additional information from their prisoners? Not a chance - in fact all they did was steel the resolve of those men and now Muslims around the world.
Now anti-American sentiment is nothing new in the Middle East, people being people, they thrive on generalities just as much as we do. And it's easier to paint all the people of a specific country with one brush, than to see the broad spectrum of colors and feelings actually represented by the individuals.
The violent protests taking place from Indonesia to Gaza being a perfect example of a Sherwin-Williams bucket of a color called Hatred and Death to All Americans.
It goes well with the black rage in their eyes and the red blood being spilled in their streets.
The problem is that the American individuals who desecrated the Koran are no more representative of ALL Americans that Osama Bin Laden is of ALL Muslims.
What saddens and frankly frightens me about these protests are the comments from the people attending them. "The Holy Koran was defiled by the dirtiest of hands, by American hands," a protester shouted at the Jabalya refugee camp in Gaza, where U.S. and Israeli flags were also burned.
See? Unfortunately, that wide paintbrush does not allow for people like me, and quite possibly you, with clean hands and a sensitivity to what has happened, to escape its all encompassing coverage.
The most disturbing comment I have read is from Mohammad Ghafoor, 18, a student protesting in Peshawar, Pakistan, "Demonstrations serve no purpose, we should do something practical. I am ready to blow myself up for the sake of my religion to embrace martyrdom."
Practical? Blowing oneself up is practical?
THAT is religious conviction, my friend.
What is isn't, however, is rational.
What happened at Guantanamo was WRONG. It was insensitive, it was disrespectful and it was an incident that deserves a very public apology from our government, but it is not something that is going to be corrected or wiped away by blowing oneself up and taking innocent bystanders with you.
My message to all of these rightfully indignant and offended protesters is this: There are MANY, MANY Americans who are indignant and offended on your behalf. And if peace is ever to come to fruition between us, we have to start seeing past our governments and our extremists, to the good hearted individuals that far outnumber them.
You are being heard, I promise you. Your beliefs are being understood. And I beg of you, if you believe in something so strongly that you feel it is worth dying for, then stick around, because it surely must be worth LIVING FOR.
Your words will only be drowned out by the sound of your bomb and any chance you have of making a difference in this world will be blown to bits along with your body.
Do I believe Newsweek was wrong for reporting this story that has resulted in so many deaths? No, freedom of information is key to any society. However, that being said, I certainly hope they are not "flushed" with pride either.