Blaming the victim for murderous Muslim rampages

By Michael Medved

If Islamic thugs slaughter innocent Christians, then who should receive the blame? Is it appropriate to condemn the killers themselves, or should “enlightened” opinion castigate some third party who wounded the feelings of Muslim fanatics and allegedly provoked the murderous rampage?

Recent reactions to bloody Islamic attacks in Nigeria and Lebanon show the lengths that some commentators will go to blame someone else – anyone other than the cruel perpetrators themselves – for the barbarous depredations of Muslim extremism.

In Nigeria, at least 205 civilians perished through machete attacks, beatings or burning alive, with another 500 hospitalized and more than 3,000 made homeless. Numerous churches, newspaper offices and hotels burned to the ground, torched by Muslim mobs enraged by one sentence in a newspaper column. While attempting to defend the Miss World Competition which had arrived in Nigeria despite opposition by local Islamic authorities, columnist Isioma Daniel wrote in defense of the beauty queens: “What would Muhammad think? In all honesty, he would probably have chosen a wife from among them.”

Any student of Islam could back up this statement with reference to the Koran and the Hadith (authoritative Islamic commentaries) which enumerate The Prophet’s more than a dozen wives and concubines, and document his enthusiastic appreciation of female beauty. Such logic, however, couldn’t prevent the violent explosion in two major Nigerian cities, even after the offending newspaper ran front-page apologies and retractions for four consecutive days. While Muslim killers roamed the streets, massacring Christian women and children, the authorities arrested the columnist who wrote the controversial words and the editor who allowed their publication, and imprisoned them on unspecified charges.

Meanwhile, President Olusegun Obasanjo declared: “The beauty queens should not feel that they are the cause of the violence. It could happen at any time irresponsible journalism is committed against Islam.” The organizer of the Miss World pageant, who fled to London with the 80 international contestants, echoed his sentiments, suggesting that the violence wasn’t an indictment of Nigeria or West Africa, since it would occur anywhere, any time that reckless people “attacked Islam.”

On a similar note, Christian authorities in the Middle East refused to blame Islamic killers for the murder of American nurse and missionary Bonnie Witherall, shot dead at the age of 31 while opening the clinic in which she ministered to Lebanon’s poor. At an interfaith memorial service in her honor, Roman Catholic Bishop George Kwaiter told the assembled spiritual leaders: “We told her she might be vulnerable to insults, or even being hit, and she answered that she would consider it an honor.” Concerning her efforts to preach the Gospel and to convert Muslims to Christianity, the bishop unequivocally declared: “We don’t accept this kind of preaching. We reject it totally.”

Even a Baptist pastor in Lebanon, Rev. Pierre Francis, fingered his fellow Christians Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson rather than the Arab extremists who murdered Ms. Witherall. Referring to harsh comments by the American evangelists toward Islamic extremism, Pastor Francis observed, “I would not think that this is our calling to say bad things about this religion. They just jeopardize our safety.”

Meanwhile, an influential Muslim publication in Lebanon, “The Pulpit of the Calling,” denounced the Christian and Missionary Alliance in which Mrs. Witherall participated as “a Zionist organization. They destroy the fighting spirit of the children, especially of the Palestinian youth, by teaching them not to fight the Jews, for the Palestinians to forgive the Jews …” Imagine – a Christian organization that actually teaches peace and forgiveness. No wonder that the Arab terrorists felt the need to assassinate Bonnie Witherall.

In all of this, the Muslim murderers accepted no responsibility and received no blame for their own bloody actions. The politically correct view of the Islamic world treats the fanatics as a force of nature – uncontrollable, unpredictable, no more accountable for their destruction than a hurricane or an earthquake. This view of Muslim culture plumbs new depths of condescension and degradation – treating Islamic young men as if they were nothing more than raging beasts who can’t be criticized for lunging and snapping at any passers-by who dare to rattle their cages.

This approach also characterized explanations by the Western press for the sudden outburst of Palestinian violence that began the second “intifada” more than two years ago. If asked to explain the immediate provocation for this orgy of killing and destruction – just a few brief weeks after the most generous Israeli peace offer in history – most journalists would cite the well-publicized walk to the Temple Mount by then opposition leader Ariel Sharon.

Never mind that he never attempted to enter al-Aqsa Mosque or other Muslim shrines, that no Arabs were injured or arrested during his brief stroll, or that he qualified as one of the government’s most embittered critics rather than its official representative. According to the patronizing European and American press, the Palestinians couldn’t possibly make such distinctions and so Sharon – not the Muslim leadership – could be blamed for instigating the nightmarish season of violence that followed.

Considering the unwillingness of prominent sophisticates to hold Muslims to the standards of sanity and decency they would instantly apply to any Western power, how can we continue to talk about the current battle against Islamo-fascists as “A Clash of Civilizations”? It is, rather, as former Congressman Jack Kemp points out, “a clash against civilization” – a struggle between Western culture, with all its faults, and raw Islamic savagery.

During the bloody riots in Kaduna, Nigeria, in which so many innocents perished so horribly, the Associated Press reported that the enraged Muslim mobs chanted three prominent slogans: “God is Great,” “Miss World Is Sin” and, most revealingly of all, “Down With Beauty.”