Wednesday, May 18, 2005

This Newsweek kerfuffle. . .

Jonah Goldberg and Andrew McCarthy actually get to the heart of the uproar about the messed-up and apparently false Newsweek report that interrogators at Guantanamo desecrated the Koran while interrogating prisoners. The story lead to riots in Afghanistan and Pakistan that eventually killed 17 people. Those expressing righteous indignation that Newsweek would print such an article are, to a great extent, correct--the reporting was apparently faulty (by admission of Newsweek--I don't pretend to know anything about journalism), and the results were "foreseeable."

Mr. McCarthy:
"Minor indignities? How can you say something so callous about a desecration of the Holy Koran?" I say it as a member of the real world, not the world of prissy affectation. I don't know about you, but I inhabit a place where crucifixes immersed in urine and Madonna replicas composed of feces are occasions for government funding, not murderous uprisings. If someone was moved to kill on their account, we'd be targeting the killer, not the exhibiting museum, not the "artists," and surely not Newsweek.

Mr. Goldberg:
This stuff has a half-life of course. Every few months, some holder of a PhD in jackassery makes headlines for saying we need “a million Mogadishus” or by calling the murder victims of 9/11 “little Eichmanns.” And like things with a half-life, this thinking has given off a certain degree of background radiation which suffuses the way we look at the world and, more importantly, the way we look at ourselves. Few rational — and no respectable — people believe that we “deserved” 9/11. But the logic which says that we need to compromise with savages in some way, somehow lurks in how we discuss things. The notion that “one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter” still sits in the corner demanding a smidgen of respect despite the fact “another man” is often an idiot.

Isn't the fact that the results were foreseeable the real problem here? Why should we be turning the light of inquiry onto Newsweek or the military when the real bad guys are the ones that kill people over their holy book allegedly getting doused in the crapper?

I have said it before: even if you can't stand the political viewpoint, you are depriving yourself of some good education if you aren't reading National Review Online.