We have all suffered the glaring omissions, false moral equivalencies, and unfair and unbalanced reporting in the formerly distinguished mainstream media venues.
This media has absolutely refused to write about Islamic Jihad-terrorism in a truthful way.
The politically correct fearfulness that they will be condemned as unfashionable and Islamophobic–and perhaps sued and bombed by defenders of the “religion of peace,”– has turned them overly cautious and even cowardly.
Not all Muslims are terrorists; many are the first victims of Islamism. Many Muslims and ex-Muslims have risked their lives and limbs to protest Muslim-on-Muslim and Muslim-men-on-Muslim-women atrocities.
Nevertheless, while all Muslims are not terrorists, most terrorists today are Muslims who:
a) are practicing their own versions of 7th century Islam and have instituted Sharia as sovereign law in their nations;
b) have “hijacked” what could, if reformed, become a modern and more tolerant religion;
c) are totalitarian madmen who mean to terrify and subordinate large populations and indoctrinate impoverished male children and young men as well as women to take up arms and perform martyrdom operations in a Holy War against the Infidels in order to establish a global Caliphate;
d) are radical fundamentalist extremists, no different than other fundamental extremists.
In the first five months of 2014, Muslim terrorist attacks have been launched in 36 countries: Afghanistan, Algeria, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Cameroon, Central African Republic (CAR), Chechnya, China, Dagestan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Djibouti , Egypt, Ghana, India, Iraq, Iran, Israel, Jordan, Kenya, Kyrgyzstan, Lebanon, Libya, Nigeria, Pakistan, the Philippines, Russia, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Tanzania, Thailand, Tunisia, Turkey, Turkmenistan, the United States, and Yemen.
However, if you read The New York Times you will not have this perspective. You will have been informed, day after day, that Israel is a genocidal, apartheid state–not that Sudan, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Iran, and Afghanistan are; that Muslims are being persecuted, falsely accused, singled out in hate crimes and entrapped by the police to report on mosque activities both in Europe and in the United States; that individual acts of terrorism aka “Sudden Jihad Syndrome” are always the acts of lone madmen and must be classified as “workplace violence as was Dr. Nidal Hassan’s massacre at Ft Hood;” that conservative Christians are even greater terrorist threats than Muslims are.
On May 13, 2014, my esteemed colleague, Steven Emerson, had to pay for a full page ad in theTimes in order to say all this. By May 23, Emerson had attracted criticism for running an “Islamophobic” ad. Not surprisingly, his main critic was CAIR, the Council on American Islamic Relations.
Islamic terrorism is not the only subject missing in action.
Over the years, the Paper of Record has covered honor killings in India when they are committed by Hindus. According to my third study in this area, Hindus do perpetrate vicious honor killings for caste-related reasons and they sometimes kill boys as well as girls.
Hindus do not tend to bring this tribal/ethnic/cultural/religious custom with them when they immigrate to the West. Mainly, Muslims, and some Sikhs do. Muslims also honor kill for different and for more varied reasons. Muslims mainly kill girls and women, not boys and men.
The NYT has failed to report most of the honor killings that have occurred in the United States, possibly because they have mainly been committed by Muslims. Their European and Canadian counterparts do a much better job of this and may indeed be dealing with many more known and prosecuted honor killings.
To their credit, the Times has increasingly been covering the relentless “tribal” barbarism against girls and women in Muslim Southeast and Central Asia and in Africa, as well as honor related crimes in Afghanistan, a country where I once lived and about which I have written many articles and most recently a book An American Bride in Kabul.
Over a period of six months, from late October of 2013 to late May of 2014, I published three letters in the NYT, critiquing their coverage of honor killings. I suggested to them that since they are publishing my letters, perhaps they might wish to publish an op-ed piece by me on the subject. They said they would consider such a piece. I saw this as the proverbial “teaching” moment.
Thus, with NYT readers in mind, I used the Times’ own coverage of the fate of the pregnant Sudanese Christian woman whom the sovereign state of Sudan has sentenced to death because she will not convert or revert to Islam. I wrote: “What if her entire family (her father, mother, siblings, cousins, uncles, and grandparents) were after her for apostasy which is a capital crime in Islam? What if she was alleged to have done something, however, minor, that smacked of disobedience or was deemed dishonorable to her family?” My point was: This is what an honor killing is like. Families engage in approved extra-judicial killings with or without state support or approval.
I also used the NYT’s own coverage of the Afghan Romeo and Juliet couple, now in hiding, to talk about how those who helped them are now in mortal danger. I said: This happens in the West too.
The Times held the piece for about a week and three days after Steve Emerson’s piece ran, then they “passed on it.” It is entirely their right to do so. Maybe it was not the very best piece I have ever written on the subject. And yet: No other such piece with this information and a similar point of view has ever appeared in their editorial, news, or op-ed pages.
Interestingly, within hours of passing on my op-ed piece, the Times ran a very soft-core piece on May 23, which focused on Muslim-American women who are (safely) “coming out” to their families about being atheists. The columnist, Mark Oppenheimer, covered a conference in which Christian, Jewish, and Muslim women all talked about becoming secular but the piece focuses on two Muslim women only.
Look: I am glad that two Muslim women feel safe enough in America to declare their atheism to their families, I really am. But honestly, does this compare to the fate of Salman Rushdie, Taslima Nasrin, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, and to so many others whose very public and intellectual positions have led to round-the-clock police protection and semi-jailed lives for many years? Once again, in its attempt to present Muslims in a good light (not something I oppose at all), the larger context, the deeper and more dangerous truths are purposely missing.
Then today, May 28, 2014, one-two days later than everyone else, the NYT published a piece about the woman who was stoned to death by her male relatives in Lahore, Pakistan. They are at pains to write: “Honor killings in Pakistan are often mistakenly described as the product of Islamic law. Some reports on Tuesday described Ms. Parveen as the victim of a stoning—an image that conjures up images of Taliban-era executions of women accused of adultery—because she had been beaten to death by bricks.”
Wait one minute.
While honor killings are tribal in origin, the honor killers also believe that they are either upholding the religious requirements of Hinduism or of Islam. More to the point: Religious leaders do not condemn such “tribal” practices in the name of religion and they do not excommunicate the perpetrators.
Wait one more moment.
Being stoned with bricks, (or set on fire, or raped-and-stabbed, or strangled, or electrocuted, or hung) by one’s family is exactly what an honor killing is about. Being stoned with stones by the Islamic state of Afghanistan in a Kabul stadium is precisely what happens when Sharia law is imposed upon its people by a sovereign state. This is what is happening in the Sudan case. Perhaps the Times wants to soften (!) the blows, so to speak, by making sure we know that this extra-judicial killing is not being imposed by an Islamic state or in the name of Islam.
Why would they wish to soften these blows? Bricks, stones, what is the real difference? The poor soul, Farzana Iqbal, not Ms. Parveen (as the NYT identifies her), was tortured by her family and then stoned to death by that same family.
And, I made all these distinctions in my op-ed piece i.e. that tribal traditions are being upheld in the name of religion. I also made the distinction between killings by a family and Sharia state executions in the name of Islam.
The absence of my voice on these issues in their pages grows more curious by the day.
The New York Times is my home town newspaper. I read it every day. It is still read by many as if it is, literally, their Bible. Two of my books have received front page NYT book reviews and I have appeared on the cover of their Sunday magazine. I have published letters, op-ed pieces, and have been interviewed in their pages. Google the New York Times and search for my name–you will find more than a hundred and fifty references to me in their pages.
Something is very wrong if they are not publishing me–or someone else with my point of view and knowledge-base on this subject.
And, by the way: Does everyone now understand that Muslims consider all children “Muslims” who are born to a Muslim father? This is precisely the reason the Sudanese government is claiming the right to execute a woman whose father was Muslim, who abandoned the family, whose mother is Christian, and who raised her daughter as a Christian?
By that same logic President Obama’s father was a Muslim. This is what I meant, so long ago, when I said that our President is a Muslim. I did not mean that he attended mosques. I did not even mean that he was going to bow to the King of Saudi Arabia and adopt foreign, domestic, and Homeland Security policies that were extra-friendly to the Muslim world. I only meant that he would be seen as a “Muslim” by Muslims.
Prof. Phyllis Chesler
The writer, a Fellow of the Middle East Forum and recipient of the 2013 National Jewish Book Award, is the author of fifteen books, including Women and Madness, Woman’s Inhumanity to Woman, and The New Anti-Semitism. She has published three studies about honor killing and is at work on a fourth. Her new book, An American Bride in Kabul, (Palgrave Macmillan) has just been published to great acclaim. Professor Chesler may be reached at her website www.phyllis-chesler.com