Monday, May 25, 2015

Leah Garchik breaks from the pack on Islam


I was surprised to see the hed on Leah Garchik's Datebook column this morning: "Hirsi Ali sees Islam as religion of violence." This is the first crack in the monolithic Chronicle approach to Islamist violence, which is supposedly only about a few bad apples in that great religious tradition.

Garchik is quoting Hirsi Ali and not presenting her own opinions, but one suspects that she agrees. This is a first for the Chronicle, which has long been wrong about Islam and terrorism, like on the Danish Muhammad cartoon riots, when it editorialized that "The caricatures of Muhammad that have ignited an international furor are offensive and recklessly off base in portraying the prophet as a terrorist." 

Maybe Muhammad wouldn't qualify as a terrorist by present-day standards, but he was a military leader who spread his new religion using military force, which seems like the same thing to me. Of course the Chronicle didn't publish any of the cartoons, but neither did the city's toothless "alternative" media. (I'm the only one to publish the cartoons.)

Garchik's colleague C.W. Nevius got it wrong during the ridiculous controversy about the anti-Jihad ads on Muni buses a few years ago. And Jon Carroll gets honorable mention, as does the editorial department again, and then there's stupidity disguised as news stories, etc.

If there had been a widespread anti-Islam backlash in the US against Muslims after 9/11, this stupidity and spinelessness might be understandable, but that's clearly not the case.

Hirsi Ali revealed the widespread lack of principle among liberals/progressives last year in her interview with Sam Harris (Lifting the Veil of “Islamophobia”). Driven out of Europe and hoping to find safety in a supposedly liberal United States, Ali was shunned by this country's liberal foundations and organizations. She was ultimately taken in by the conservative American Enterprise Institute!

So I approached Cynthia[Schneider], and she took me to the Brookings Institute, and to Rand, and to Johns Hopkins, and to Georgetown—she took me to all these institutions, and there was no interest. They didn’t say it to my face, but I got the feeling that they were uncomfortable with what I had been saying about Islam.

Then, on the last day, just before I left the country, Cynthia suggested that we try the AEI. And I said something like “I can’t believe you’d take me there. It’s supposed to be a right-wing organization.” And she said, “Oh, come on. You Dutch people are too prejudiced against the U.S. Things here are really very different than you think. I was a Clinton appointee, and one of my best friends—one of Clinton’s best friends—Norm Ornstein, is there. So it’s not what you think it is. And it’s definitely not religious.”

So we went to the AEI, and I met with Norm Ornstein and a woman named Colleen Baughman, and they were so enthusiastic. They immediately introduced me to their president, who suggested that we talk again in a month. And we just kept talking. I spoke about my work; they told me about what they do. And I didn’t hear back from any of the other institutions that I had solicited...



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