Thursday, November 12, 2009

The Fort Hood double standard

Father Raymond J. de Souza, National Post  Published: Thursday, November 12, 2009

Add Fort Hood to the list. It's getting longer: New York, Washington, Jerusalem, Bali, Madrid, London, Bombay. It's the list of places where, we are told, it is important to be vigilant about anti-Muslim activity.
The phenomenon is by now well-established. An apparent jihadist visits death and destruction upon innocents, motivated in part by a violent brand of Islamic extremism, and soon the violence becomes an apt occasion to raise awareness about the danger of anti-Muslim thoughts, words and deeds. Violence by Muslims has a unique ability to spur a Canadian prime minister, British royal, or, as was the case this time, the American secretary of homeland security, to sound the alarm about violence against Muslims.
"The tragic shootings at the Fort Hood U.S. Army Base raise the spectres of hostility against Muslims within the United States, and of Islamic hostility toward the U.S.," editorialized Toronto's Globe and Mail. That's a strange symmetry. On one hand there may be a "spectre," but on the other there is the reality of 13 dead victims.
Denying at the outset the Islamist motivations of men such as Major Nidal Malik Hasan does no favour to Muslims who, after all, bear the largest share of the global death toll caused by Islamist extremism. But we're getting pretty used to the routine: Islamist violence, followed by pundits getting upset when anyone mentions the link between extreme Islamism and violence.
On Tuesday, for example, my colleague Colby Cosh argued that we should be wary about putting too much emphasis on religion as the "evidence of the specifically Islamic nature of Hasan's mania emerges." After all, there were no doubt other factors at play. It would be "pretty stupid," he argued, to draw a straight, simple line between jihadist beliefs and the Fort Hood massacre.
But back in June, when George Tiller, America's most enthusiastic practitioner
of partial-birth abortion, was murdered, Mr. Cosh took to these pages to argue that the killer was the logical extension of the pro-life movement, and that pro-life activists who denounced the abortionist's murder were no better than Pontius Pilate, washing their hands of something in which they were deeply complicit.
Mr. Cosh generally is more careful and rigorous than most, so that even he can use double standards on this issue indicates how widely they are accepted.
Just a few weeks ago, the arrest of a Nova Scotia Roman Catholic bishop on pornography charges sparked all sorts of commentary on how being a Catholic priest was a contributing factor. It's just the norm -- clerical malfeasance is always discussed in the context of a religious doctrine or disciplinary practice. The linkage is made more quickly than one can say double standard.
Or consider the rape case at Duke University. No, not the false rape charges made against the boys on the lacrosse team, which were widely presented as a case of rich white boys exploiting poor black girls. I mean the other Duke rape case, in which Frank Lombard, associate director of the center for health policy, was charged with raping his adopted five-year old son, and offering him on the Internet to be raped by other men. Mr. Lombard is openly gay, but this case was certainly not about identity -- it wasn't about gay men at all, just a one-off weird, wicked guy who happened to be gay. Duke fired him, and newspapers across the country took no notice at all.

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