March 22, 2006

Defending the Indefensible—Sort Of

As you might well imagine, dear reader, we, the crack young staff of “The Hatemonger’s Quarterly,” receive all manner of e-correspondence. Nary a day goes by, it seems, in which we do not obtain our fair share of e-mails. And this is particularly the case since we began writing for “Wizbang,” and got on the bad side of a few Harry Connick Jr. devotees.

Accordingly, it will come as no surprise that one Hala Innab sent us an e-missive from far away Amman, Jordan. Previously, we excoriated Innab for his/her letter to The New York Times regarding the Danish cartoon fiasco. Ms. Innab ended the epistle with the following two paragraphs:

The function of newspapers is to inform, not to inflame. At a time when the relationship between Islamic and Western countries is strained, one would expect more from reputable newspapers.

How would Americans feel if The New York Times decided to print jokes about the Jewish Holocaust or African slavery, just to test our reaction?

In an admitted fit of pique, we, the crack young staff of “The Hatemonger’s Quarterly,” took up Innab’s query: “In short, we feel as if Americans would not act like a bunch of barbarians. So why, exactly, is the chuckleheaded Hala Innab defending these savages?”

Not, we hasten to admit, our calmest moment on the Internet, but we were sick and tired of the finger-pointing at the Western media, as if they, and not the organized rent-a-fascists, were chiefly to blame.

Well, Hala Innab graciously sent us a letter in response. In part, it reads as follows (all the errors are hers):

I recently came across your article mentioned above [?]. I wanted to correct a few things you mentioned in your article…

I did not defend “these savages” I was simply stating my opinion about the European newspapers. These are two different issues and opposing one does not mean I condone the other.

Another point I want to mention in response to “Now, never mind the fact that Arab dailies routinely offer anti-Semitic cartoons to their readers. We’re pretty sure that they’ve printed their share of distasteful references to the Holocaust, but perhaps Hala Innab doesn’t consider such newspapers ‘reputable.’ And we’re inclined to agree, insofar as such countries don’t tend to have papers free from government control.”

You are correct, Newspapers in the Middle East are not reputable, any “moron” can tell you that. And yes, they are government controlled, as is almost everything else in these countries. You are also correct in mentioning that they do publish negative portrayals of certain Jews. However, it is political, they do not make fun of all Jews, only political figures. They have never portrayed Jesus or Moses in a negative way. And, even if they have, we have both agreed that their integrity is in question. Furthermore, two wrongs do not make a right.

Finally, if you think that these Middle Eastern Newspapers are not highly regarded, then what would you call a newspaper (such as yours) which uses derogatory language in reference to people and basis their articles on assumptions not facts.

Hala Innab

Well, well, well: We think someone likes to have it both ways! In the original letter, Innab offered an implicit defense for the roving bands of Islamist thugs. After all, regardless of the carnage, hatred, and havoc spread by these goons, Innab is chiefly perturbed by the provocations in the Western press. Innab even goes so far as to put “these savages” in sneer quotes, as if such murderers were not beyond the pale.

And now, in her response to us, Hala Innab both defends the Arab press, and then backs away from that defense. Well, Hala, which is it? Why are you troubling yourself to defend the indefensible?

Notice, dear reader, how completely inane are Innab’s comments regarding Arab newspapers: To Innab, their criticism “is political” and “they do not make fun of all Jews, only political figures.”

This comes from a person living in Jordan?! Need we even inform Innab that the Arab press routinely offers cartoons that viciously lampoon Jews as hooked-nosed, evil barbarians? That they pass off anti-Semitic forgeries like The Protocols of the Elders of Zion as true? That they label Zionism Nazism? That they engage in bizarre conspiracy theories like the notion that Jews make Passover matzos from the blood of gentiles? Perhaps Mr. or Ms. Innab will want to check out for some of the gruesome details.

In general, we, the crack young staff of “The Hatemonger’s Quarterly,” must say that we find Hala Innab’s attempt to defend such noxiousness appalling. People have lost their lives over cartoons and Hala Innab wants to scold the Western press! We think Daniel Jonah Goldhagen said it best in the pages of The New Republic:

Imagine what European and American commentators would say if tens of thousands of Americans, Britons, Germans, or Israelis marched with calls for the murder of Palestinians, Lebanese, Iranians, or Muslims in response to a few anti-American, anti-European, or anti-Semitic cartoons appearing in one, or a few, Arab or Islamic newspapers. Yet Western politicians and commentators have mostly indulged this outpouring of violent hatred. Even when decrying it, they blame the cartoons’ publishers and express pious regret that the cartoons insulted the Prophet Mohammed and Muslims, as if there is any normal cause and effect (let alone a proportionate one) operating here.

Hala Innab, we think, is among those indulging “this outpouring of violent hatred” and expressing “pious regret.” And it is perverse.

Oh, and by the way, “The Hatemonger’s Quarterly” is not a newspaper and it certainly ain’t reputable.

UPDATE: Our pal Muslihoon offers his sagacious views on Ms. Innab's missive here.

Posted at March 22, 2006 12:01 AM | TrackBack