Tags: Civilized | vs. | Uncivilized | Cultures

Civilized vs. Uncivilized Cultures

Sunday, 22 May 2005 12:00 AM

We all tell the world who we are by our actions. If you can decipher my last three meals from the stains on my shirt, I am a slob. If you catch me with my hand in your pocket, I'm a crook. If I rip your clothes off and force you into sex, I am a rapist.

When the report – true or false, exaggerated or understated, deliberate policy or one bad apple – when the report comes out that your most sacred religious book has been desecrated and you proceed OUT INTO THE STREET TO RIOT AND KILL PEOPLE, you are a 12th-century pre-civilized primitive.

There's room for 12th-century pre-civilized primitives. The Sepik River Valley of New Guinea is full of them. So is the Orinoco Valley of Venezuela and the western Amazon of Ecuador and Peru. I want to help them with their material needs and at least expose them to a modern way of life they may gradually join. I don't want to get killed by them because I carelessly stepped on a holy twig while the witch doctor was in the sensitive part of his incantation during the half-moon.

I'll never quite forgive my otherwise laudable public education for presenting all nationalities and cultures as equal. Long before we ever felt the pinch or even heard the words "political correctness," they were dunking us into it headfirst.

There were children's books with titles like "John and Juan in Mexico" that introduced American children to Mexico without ever dropping the slightest hint that John's life might be a little richer than Juan's. When our sixth-grade class studied the Belgian Congo – later Zaire and now Congo again – the native boy who climbed trees to reach clusters of coconuts was presented as an object of envy. Muslims were called "Mohammedans" then, and our bottom-line impression was "charming, interesting, exotic."

September 11 should occasion a change in the curriculum. Isn't it about time in America we taught our children who's who? I mean who's REALLY who? Who, for instance, believes in freedom of religion, and who believes God wants you to murder those who don't worship your way. Who believes people should choose their own government, and who insists the masses sullenly obey their unelected religious leaders. Who believes women should vote and go wherever their dreams and talents take them, and who believes women should be flogged if they carelessly expose an ankle.

When I hear, as I have many times, that enemies of the Jews have trashed our sacred Hebrew Scriptures, I don't feel even a ripple of vengeance. I may even feel mild amusement. I may hope it makes them feel better. I know we have our sacred writings secure inside our synagogue and I don't sweat it. Can you show me a Christian community that charges into the streets with blood in its breath because it learned (or heard!) that enemies of its faith had flushed the New Testament down the WC?

We are civilized. Those particular Moslems are not. Does that contravene your lovely education and upbringing in civilized America? Get used to it. I'm all for dialoguing with Islam. But after having failed to explain the distressing silence of American Moslems after 9/11, I want them to have a try at explaining the Newsweek riots.

Some commentators after the riots emphasized that most of the Moslems in the world live in democracies like Turkey and Indonesia, hence there's hope. Others emphasized the murderous fanaticism that cost almost twenty Moslem lives because of a Newsweek blurbette of a dozen words. I do both. I rejoice in Islamic democracies and enjoy watching them grow. (Afghanistan, Iraq, Lebanon, Egypt, Kyrgyzstan are the new ones.) At the same time I think it's important to call the world's attention to the Off-the-Wallists who killed seventeen of each other for literally nothing.

It's hard to argue when the truth is simply too much to expect of the other side. In a world where Vladimir Putin thinks President George W. Bush fired Dan Rather because he was angry at his Air National Guard coverage, how can you expect an Afghan-Pakistani-Indonesian rioter to understand that Newsweek magazine is NOT an official organ of the United States government that prints only that which is approved by the rulers of America?

To intensify the impossibility of any real understanding here, imagine yourself speaking fluent Pashtu and Dari, the languages of Afghanistan, trying to explain to the raging mobs while waving a copy of Newsweek that the Periscope section in which that stick of TNT appeared has for over half a century been a kind of "exciting garbage can" into which is thrown all kinds of rumors, speculation, hearsay, might-be, innuendos and "dish," all of which has a much lower threshold of editorial vetting than the rest of Newsweek magazine.

In another column we've got to deal with the genuine stupidities and grotesqueries Americans have committed against suspected terrorists. After World War II America had the highest reputation for treatment of prisoners of war. Anywhere. Everywhere. Despite the falsity of the "Koran flush" reports, America has admitted to two Afghan detainees dying after America mistreatment. (Read: torture.) That won't do.

America needs to get back to being America. Japan attacked us without warning at Pearl Harbor on a Sunday morning in December 1941. We lost about as many Americans as were lost on 9/11. The "sneak attack" part hurt. The "Sunday morning" part doubled the hurt. The fact that Japan was a country we were actively holding talks with at the time tripled the hurt. And our knowledge of the unspeakable atrocities the Japanese were committing against the Chinese quadrupled the hurt.

After the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, America was seething with a hatred not even 9/11 could generate. Nonetheless, in April of 1942, when airman Jimmy Doolittle and his band of heroes improvised our comeback attack on Tokyo, his orders emphatically stated, "Do not allow any of your bombs to fall on or near the Imperial Palace."

There were two reasons for that. The 1942 Americans believed in immunity for the religious symbols of the enemy, regardless of how irredeemably evil that enemy might be. The second reason was pragmatic. Our leaders knew that not every Japanese hated America or favored war with America. But if we were to bomb their emperor, considered a deity by the Japanese of that time, every Japanese WOULD hate America.

In Jihad, it's not what is, it's what your enemies can MAKE of what is. And we've seen a live, murderous demonstration of what the Jihadists can make of a throwaway rumor that Americans flushed the Koran down the toilet.

Thomas Jefferson and the boys promised us a FREE press.

They never promised us a fair press, a prudent press, a protective press, or a patriotic press.

So, our American press is free – free enough to refuse to burn a flag in a crowded theater.


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We all tell the world who we are by our actions.If you can decipher my last three meals from the stains on my shirt, I am a slob.If you catch me with my hand in your pocket, I'm a crook.If I rip your clothes off and force you into sex, I am a rapist. When the report - true...
Sunday, 22 May 2005 12:00 AM
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