Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Newsweek-Bashing is Simply a Convenient Distraction

First of all, let me say that Newsweek's reporters used poor judgment when they posted the story alleging that government interrogators were disrespectful of the Koran in GB, Cuba. They didn't corroborate an anonymous source's story, and they should be criticized for their laziness. All media outlets should know better, and hopefully the flack Newsweek is taking will keep some other newsrooms in line.

Second, let me say that, in my personal opinion, Muslims are overreacting. So they (allegedly) put a copy of the Koran in a toilet. Disrespectful? Absolutely. Worth rioting over? Not quite. What was (allegedly) put in the toilet was a book. Pages with words on them bound together. Of course what was on those pages is considered sacred to Muslims, but unless the copy that was (allegedly) put into a toilet was penned by Muhammad himself, it's just a book. I will not argue that the act itself is disrespectful at best, but I simply cannot believe that a book is worth rioting and people dying over. Take my Bible. Throw it in the trash, burn it... Whatever. I'll go out and get a new Bible. I know what's in it, and you can't destroy that. Sure I'll be offended if you put my Bible in the toilet, but again, it's just a book. What's in the book is what matters, and unless it's a special edition or the very last copy on Earth, I'll get over it. I agree that Muslims can and should be upset and lodge complaints about the (alleged) treatment of their holy book, and I'm disappointed that our government (allegedly) acted this way. But is it worth people dying over? Not quite. Just my opinion, and not necessarily that of anyone else on this blog.

Now to the point of this post. You probably noticed that I put "allegedly" in parenthesis above. Normally if someone was accused of a crime, I wouldn't hesitate using that word until the trial was completed. So why am I holding back a little here? Because with all the headlines this Newsweek story has created, no one is actually saying that the Koran desecration never happened. The Pentagon, State Department, and White House are all admonishing Newsweek for their shoddy journalism, but no one has ever said "We never did that." The closest I've seen is "That behavior wasn't covered in the Pentagon report the Newsweek source was citing." In fact, the Pentagon says it's still investigating the allegations. Of course I think there's little chance that anything will be determined now. Too many people have made a big deal of acting indignant and offended, so I doubt the truth will ever come out.

Show me one source that has any government official flat out denying that the events ever happened. I'm serious. Link to a source in the Comments section below. All I'm reading is "Newsweek is bad. Newsweek is sloppy. How could they print this?" I'd much rather be reading "Newsweek is sloppy -- we'd never do such a thing." All of the White House's efforts are going into their Newsweek smear campaign and not into the (alleged) incident. And I've only read one article that bothered to point out that this was not the first time the soldiers in Cuba have been accused of such actions.

I suppose I shouldn't have expected anything more than a smoke screen from this administration. It goes right along with their daily abuse of power.

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