Forget Rush Limbaugh; check out your local mosque.
There was a dreary predictability to the claims by liberals that conservative political rhetoric inspired the Arizona shooter. (According to one report, it took less than an hour for a CNN reporter to make this claim.) When you are losing the argument — and the election results show the left is losing the political argument decisively — it is a good idea to change the subject. So the subject now, and for the next few days and weeks, will be our “uncivil discourse” and the effect it has on deranged minds.
Many have already pointed out the hypocrisy of such claims, coming from the left, whose demonizing of conservatives and Republicans has been a constant theme of our politics since at least the 2000 presidential election. Bush, Cheney, Rove, and now Palin, Beck, and Limbaugh — how many times have we heard them described as criminals, cretins, fascists, traitors, lunatics, and morons? Bush and Palin have been the targets (oops) of the worst demonizing I have ever seen in American political debate, most of it from the same precincts where they are agonizing over the “dangerous levels of violent rhetoric” in our political discourse. The NPR program director who fantasized about Rush Limbaugh having a heart attack on the air? The film festival that gave an award to a “documentary” about the assassination of President Bush? David Letterman telling a joke about Palin’s 11-year-old daughter being raped at Yankee Stadium? The eager speculation on the left-wing blogs every time Dick Cheney is hospitalized? The list is shamefully long. (A helpful reminder comes from a blogger in India, who follows American politics more carefully than does the New York Times.)
But there are some places where it it possible to hear truly scary and violent rhetoric, although liberals never complain about it, or even notice it, and when it is pointed out to them they pretend not to see it. Those places are the radical mosques and Islamic centers, all over the country, run by the Muslim Brotherhood and financed by the Saudis. Rather than being shunned for their hateful rhetoric, these establishments are often singled out for praise by the powers-that-be in political, academic, and religious circles. Liberal Jews and Christians host interfaith confabs where radical clerics can sip tea with their intended victims, while those who point out the incongruity of it all are tarred as bigots. Personnel from these centers are hired to do “sensitivity training” for law enforcement. They give guided tours and fanciful depictions of Islam to middle school students.
As deranged as Jared Loughner’s internet postings are, they do not surpass in their ugliness what you could hear at some of the largest, most “respectable” Islamic centers in the country. Here are some examples from the Islamic Society of Boston Cultural Center (ISBCC), the largest Islamic center in the Northeast, to which my colleagues and I in Americans for Peace and Tolerance have been paying special attention. As we have documented here, ISBCC leaders have called for the Jews to be “killed to the last one”; have taught that Christians are “spiritually filthy”; that Muslims cannot obey man-made laws; that the Holocaust was a “hoax”; and that all faithful Muslims must work to establish a global Islamic state.
Unlike Tea Party demands for a return to constitutional government, the hateful rhetoric of the ISBCC has prompted not a single episode of hang-wringing from the Boston Globe, which is all atwitter this week about the “dangerous levels of violent rhetoric” inspired by contemporary debates over health care, taxes, and bailouts.
But maybe it isn’t so mysterious, really. After all, no one from the Roxbury Mosque will be running against the Globe’s candidate for President in 2012, so nothing that they say, no matter how “harsh” or “divisive” it might be, can present a tempting target for comment or criticism.
Civility, like beauty, must be in the eye of the beholder.
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