The New York Times did not distinguish itself when the Nazis came to power. It kept stories of the persecution of the Jews to small items, on the inside pages, and failed to convey to its readers, many of whom must surely have been Jewish and had relatives they might have more vigorously attempted to help, the full story of what Hitler so clearly intended. And many readers of The New York Times, both Jewish and non-Jewish, might have done more throughout the 1930s to strengthen the power of those who wanted American intervention, and consequently a much earlier buildup of American military strength at a time when the American army was only the 18th largest in the world. The full story is told by Laurel Leff, and I would go further than she does, and charge that those such as the Sulzberger family who didn't want to have their paper appear to be "too concerned with Jewish matters" in fact have blood on their hands, the blood of those who were not rescued because all through the nineteen thirties, and even into the period of America's entry into the war, there was not nearly enough coverage of the persecution and mass murder of the Jews from the "newspaper of record."
The same was true of the coverage of the Communists, and especially of the forced starvation of the kulaks and others in the Ukraine. Walter Duranty was the Times' correspondent in the Soviet Union, and a sympathizer with the Communists, a man deeply impressed with Joseph Stalin. For his deeply misleading and in retrospect sickening reports, he won a Pulitzer Prize. He helped, by commission, to convey a false reality concerning the Soviet Union and its murderous policies, just as the owners of the Times helped, by deliberate omission and de-emphasizing, to convey a false reality concerning the Nazis and their murderous policies, and chief and earliest victims, the Jews of Germany and then of Eastern Europe.
Not content with that record, the New York Times over nearly the last decade has done nothing to enlighten its readers about the ideology of Islam. If you read the Times every day, faithfully, from 9/11/2001 on to today, you still would not know what the word "Hadith" means or what an "isnad-chain" is. You still would not be able to define the word "Sunnah." You still would not know that Muhammad is regarded as the Model of Conduct, uswa hasana, and the Perfect Man, al-insan al-kamil, or why it matters. You still would not know about little Aisha, and why Muhammad's "marriage" to her when she was nine years old had consequences in the Islamic Republic of Iran when Khomeini came to power, and still has permanent consequences for girls all over the Muslim-ruled lands.
You still would not know what the Muslim attitude toward negotiations and peace treaties with non-Muslims is, or what is the significance of the Treaty of Hudaibiyyah, made by Muhammad with the Meccans in 628 A.D., nor of the continuing significance of that Treaty in Muslim relations with non-Muslims - siyar - today. You still would not fully grasp what the Shari'a is, or what was and remains the legal status of non-Muslims in the Muslim state. You still would never have heard about Taqiyya, the doctrine of religiously-sanctioned dissimulation about the faith, or about the related doctrine of Kitman, which is a variant of Taqiyya that consists of "mental reservation." You still would not have heard of any of the great Western scholars of Islam - not a single mention, I suspect, in the New York Times, of C. Snouck Hurgronje, possibly the greatest of all of them, even when Aceh was much in the news, and Snouck Hurgronje had written extensively on the Acehinese. You would not have heard of Joseph Schacht, the great Western scholar of Islamic law. You would not have heard of Antoine Fattal, and his book (oh, it's in French, so Americans should not be expected to even have heard of it, even to learn of its existence), on the legal status of non-Muslims in Muslim lands. You still would not have had a single reference to, or any explanation of, the concepts of Dar al-Islam and Dar al-Harb. You still would never have heard more than a few gossipy stories, devoid of real content, devoted to Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Wafa Sultan, Nonie Darwish, Ibn Warraq, Ali Sina, Magdi Allam, and many others. You still would not have heard in any detail about all the places where Islam is on the march, and how Islam is the main factor that explains the behavior of the Arab Muslims, not only in the forty-year slow genocide being carried out in southern Sudan, but also in the mass-murdering of black African Muslims in Darfur - because you would assume if Muslims kill Muslims, then "of course Islam can't have anything to do with it."
And you would think that because the New York Times would never publish a syllable about all the ways that Islam has been and always will be a vehicle for Arab supremacism. You would never have heard of Anwar Shaikh, and his book Islam: The Arab National Religion. You would never have heard of Taha Hussain, the great Egyptian writer and intellectual, and his attempt through what is called "Pharaonism" to remove Egypt, or at least to distance it, from the Islamic Middle East and to turn it toward the Greece of classical antiquity and toward Europe. You would never understand what Ba'athism really is, or why it took root only in Alawite-ruled Syria and Sunni-ruled Iraq, and what were the specific local reasons why the regimes in both countries found "Ba'athism" a useful camouflage for regimes that were Alawite and Sunni Arab despotisms, respectively.
You would not, if you dutifully read the preening and pridefully o'erweening New York Times every day since 9/11/2001, know what the word "dhimmi" really means. You would be unable to discuss in any detail what was required of "dhimmis" (that is, the subset of non-Muslims, or Infidels, who were allowed at least to live, and even practice their religion, under Muslim rule, in the lands conquered by Muslims, as long as a series of onerous duties, economic and social, were fulfilled). You would not know what the word "Jizyah" truly meant, and how different it was from merely being a "tax" given the deliberate conditions of humiliation with which it had ideally to be paid.
You would know nothing of how Islam spread in the East Indies, or in India. You would know nothing of the destruction of Buddhist steles and the artifacts of Greco-Bactrian civilization in Central Asia, know nothing about the tens of thousands of Hindu temple complexes destroyed in India, or how many tens of millions of Hindus were killed under Muslim rule, or what the British conquerors, in removing Muslim rulers, managed to do by way of allowing Hindus to rediscover their own past. You would have learned nothing of the massive destruction of Christian iconography all over Byzantium. Nor would you have a hint of how the vast riches of what once contained a hundred Ravennas were destroyed by Muslims, not wantonly but strictly according to the rules laid down by Muhammad as to what was prohibited and what commanded. You would know nothing about why in Islam dogs are so disliked, and why Muhammad is reported in a Hadith to have said that angels would not enter a home in which there were dogs or artworks depicting humans. You would, in short, in your understanding of Islam, had you relied only on the New York Times, still have roughly the same understanding of Islam that you had on 9/10/2001.
And The New York Times continues, in ways little and big, to ignore the reality of Islam. It is a case of individual folly and mediocrity - the egregious Tom Friedman comes immediately to mind, and so too does Nicholas Kristof. But then there are the reporters. There are those who report from Pakistan on various rapes and murders of Christians but are careful never to dwell on, and sometimes fail to mention altogether, the religious prompting of such atrocities by Muslims. See, for example, the report recently of Sabrina Tavernise on the young girl murdered by her Muslim employer, a leader of the Lahore bar, and how little she explained, and how much that was relevant she left out. See how other reporters, in Iraq, for example, have by ignoring Islam never asked the most obvious of questions: how is it that the goal, under Bush, or under Obama, of leaving Iraq unified and prosperous, will somehow contribute to our own defense, the Defense of the West, against the worldwide Jihad that is merely the sum of all the local Jihads? And the same question should be asked of Afghanistan. But while the editors of the New York Times so clearly did not support Bush, and are vaguely unhappy with the transfer of the "center of the war on terrorism" to Afghanistan by the Obama Administration, they lack the ability or willingness to discuss Islam, the ideology of Islam, and hence even to begin to think in terms of the threat to Western Europe through such instruments of Jihad as deployment of the Money Weapon, campaigns of Da'wa, and demographic conquest.
Thus the Times is worse than useless. It is not a guide to understanding the world, or the threat to the wellbeing of non-Muslims everywhere from those who take their Islam seriously, either now, or possibly, as a result of any number of promptings (some political and many personal) in the future. The Times has performed disgracefully, and after the disgraces of the 1930s, it's quite something to find it failing so badly, with such dangerous consequences, again.
Let us take, for example, something very small, something so small that it never appeared in the Times as a full-fledged article, but rather as a small paragraph under the rubric "World News." The Paper of Record took the story - The Times does this more and more - from the AP.
Here it is: "Muslims Try to Pray in Spanish Cathedral."
Where shall we begun? Let's begin with the title: "Muslims Try To Pray In Spanish Cathedral." Now the word "prayer" to non-Muslim readers will evoke an image of people perhaps silently clasping their hands together, leaning forward in a pew, and either silently, to themselves, or in a quiet tone, speaking heartfeltly to God. It seems innocuous, doesn't it? But we have to keep in mind what Muslim prayer is. It is a collective act. It is an act which requires the worshippers to get down on the floor, and to turn in a certain direction, and to simultaneously prostrate themselves, in serried ranks. It is, when carried out in the public spaces of the West - as on the Viale Jenner in Milan - a political statement. The Italian papers show these alarming photographs of hundreds or even thousands of Muslims taking over sidewalks, streets, the space before cathedrals, in a show not, as the Times report might make you think, of religious piety, but rather as a display of strength, a claim that is akin to that of planting the Flag of Islam. They were not merely praying. They were laying claim to territory. But if you do not know about Islam, if you have not thoroughly grasped and assimilated the texts, tenets, attitudes, and atmospherics of Islam, you would not know any of this.
And that is what was going on here, in Cordoba, at a cathedral. But was it, after all, a cathedral? Note that the very first sentence of the report attempts to undercut that claim: "A group of Muslims tried to pray inside a Roman Catholic cathedral that was originally a mosque and then scuffled with security guards and police who tried to stop them, a Spanish official said Friday."
Ah, you see. "A Roman Catholic cathedral" that was -- nota bene, reader - "originally a mosque." Oh, well then, those Muslims certainly have a claim, don't they? Would it help you to understand things better if you were also told that that mosque was last a mosque in the 13th century, when Muslims still ruled in Cordoba, just before the Reconquista finally reached the banks of the Guadalquivir, during a struggle to throw back the Muslim invaders that took 500 years to finally achieve its complete purpose? Would it matter to your understanding if, in addition to being told that the cathedral has been a cathedral since the 13th century, you also knew that the mosque itself had been built over a pre-existing Christian building, the Basilica of St. Vincent? What if the sentence had read thus: "A group of Muslims tried to pray inside a Roman Catholic cathedral that had once, in from the 8th to the 13th centuries, been a mosque, though built on top of what, before the Muslim conquest, had been the Basilica of St. Vincent...The Muslims 120 of them, refused to obey both security guards and police, and put up violent resistance that resulted in several serious injuries to those Spanish police, a Spanish official said Friday."
Would that change how you would view that event? Would your view change if you knew that the "group of Muslims" was not four or six or eight (you know, with Kodaks and postcards, just a group of tourists, who happened to enter the cathedral and, feeling inspired by the religious atmosphere, spontaneously started to pray, in their own way) but rather 120 Muslims "from Austria" ("Austrian Muslims")? They had come all this way perhaps to see "Islamic Spain" and to take part not in land reclamation of the kind the Jewish pioneers engaged in when they revivified the desolate deserts and reclaimed land from the Huleh Marshes in the 1920s and 1930s, but a different kind of land reclamation or re-claiming. How many Arab cities have an Al-Andalus street? How many times do the Arabs and other Muslims speak or write openly about re-claiming Spain, al-Andalus, which was once under Muslim rule and so, just like Israel, and just like Greece and the Balkan states, and Bulgaria, and Rumania, and much of Hungary, and much of Russia, and nearly all of India, are first on the To-Do List of Muslims? For Muslims, while aware that the whole world belongs to Allah, and to the Best of Peoples, his people, the Muslims, those places that were once under Muslim rule should ideally be recovered first, though in the end the order of conquest does not much matter as long as the whole world is ultimately a place where everywhere Islam dominates, and Muslims rule.
The second paragraph puts what happened as innocuously and unalarmingly as it can:
Two of the tourists were arrested after the incident Wednesday night in the southern city of Cordoba and a police officer and a cathedral security guard were slightly injured, National Police spokeswoman Rosa Ortiz told The Associated Press.
"Two of the tourists" were arrested but we still have no sense that there were 120 Muslims - quite a large number for the two or three security guards in the cathedral - there, behaving in a threatening way. And we don't know if those two were the only ones who had caused trouble or if they were the only ones that could be identified with certainty as having caused trouble. And what about the two Spaniards who were "slightly injured"? How were they "slightly injured"? And why do some accounts suggest, or state, that they weren't slightly injured but much more seriously injured? And why is it that there were police there at all? What was it that caused the police to be called in by the cathedral security guards, so that one of the two wounded turned out to be a police officer?
Well, the reporter, or AP editors, and no doubt the New York Times editors who reduced this version even further for the edition of the paper I saw, did not want to get into the details of the aggressive Muslim behavior, and the numbers involved, without first taking us on a little detour so that we would be psychologically soothed, mentally prepared to be on the side of the Muslims, before being told of the little unpleasantness.
Here are the three distracting paragraphs that might well have been omitted or changed, or come much further down in the story. For where they are placed, they interrupt the ordinary reportorial flow:
The Great Mosque of Cordoba was built after the Moorish invasion of Spain in the 8th century. Cordoba is known as the City of Three Cultures because Muslims, Jews and Christians lived there in harmony during medieval times.
The mosque was transformed into a cathedral in 1236 when King Ferdinand III captured the city from the Moors. Since then, except for rare exceptions, Muslim prayer rites have been forbidden inside.
All of a sudden, the Cathedral in Cordoba has become, in the telling, not "what was once the Great Mosque of Cordoba" or "built on the site of, and using much of the structure of, what was once the Great Mosque of Cordoba." No, it has already been transformed, in the report, into "the Great Mosque of Cordoba." And only now do we find out that this took place in the 8th century, "after the Moorish invasion of Spain" and we are quickly told that "Cordoba is known as the City of Three Cultures because Muslims, Jews and Christians lived there in harmony during medieval times."
Why are we told this? What does this have to do with 120 Muslims from Austria coming to Spain and defying orders to stop, continuing to aggressively prostrate themselves, all together, 120 of them, in what is, and what has been for nearly a thousand years, a Christian place of worship? Remember, this was an act not of religious piety - don't be fooled for a minute - but an act of calculated political muscle-flexing and aggression. They behaved in the spirit of the Muslims who from all over Europe came for the dedication of a mosque in Grenada a few years ago, and who, instead of expressing any gratitude to the Spanish government, spoke of Islam being on the march. They also said that Muslims in Europe should refuse to use the Infidel currency, and in other ways work to bring about the collapse of the societies within which those Muslims had been allowed to settle, to live and to receive every conceivable benefit from the generous welfare-states that Infidel taxpayers had set up, long ago, to take care of their own. Now those Infidels were finding that those benefits were being exploited, and then some, by Muslims who had arrived, who were not and could not be part of their societies, who did not and would not accept the legitimacy of non-Muslim legal and political institutions, but who were determined to take whatever advantage they could of Infidel naivety and endless generosity.
Why, the sentence about the Muslims, Jews and Christians living "in harmony" in Cordoba is a staple of Muslim and Arab propaganda. It is the theme of Maria Rosa Menocal's The Ornament of the World, with all of its clichés about Islamic Spain - clichés that owe their origin not to sober historians, but to writers of fiction, and not just any writers of fiction, but those who were part of what is called Romanticism. The three most responsible for the Romantic idealization of Islamic Spain were Sir Walter Scott (not for treating of Spain directly, but for his view of Saladin as a "chivalrous" man, practically someone who could give the Crusaders lessons in true Christian behavior), and Chateaubriand, in "Le Dernier des Abencerages" (you know, the last of Moorish kingdom in Grenada, the Moor's Last Sigh, that sort of thing) and, above all, Washington Irving with his romantic "Tales of the Alhambra."
But is it true? Was Cordoba, was Islamic Spain itself, a place where "Muslims, Christians, and Jews" all lived in splendid harmony? Apparently the Christians didn't feel so, because otherwise why would they have spent 500 years in attempting to throw back the Muslim invaders? And what about the Jews, who had no army? Well, consider the most famous of those Jews - there is a statute of him, by the way, in Cordoba, in the Juderia. What did Maimonides think of Cordoba, where he lived, as a place where under Muslim rule Muslims, Christians, and Jews lived in "harmony"? In his "Epistle to Yemen," Maimonides described his experience. In an excellent response to Amartya Sen's dreamy and utterly conventional view of Islamic Spain, Fouad Ajami took Sen to task for writing about things he knew little about -- it's the intellectual deformation that comes, for some, with winning the Nobel Prize. Like George Wald, like Linus Pauling, Amartya Sen has taken his Nobel to give him license not to observe the same exacting standards required for sensibly commenting on the world as he would observe, one assumes, in his own field of professional specialization.
Ibn Warraq discusses the Myth of Maimonides thus:
Here is how Amartya Sen treats, for example, the Myth of Maimonides. Amartya Sen tells us twice in his book Identity and Violence that when "..the Jewish Philosopher Maimonides was forced to emigrate from an intolerant Europe in the twelfth century, he found a tolerant refuge in the Arab world." I do not know how to characterize this misinterpretation of history -- "willful," "grotesque," "dishonest" or "typical?" It is certainly an indication that in the present intellectual climate that one can denigrate Europe any way one wishes, to the point of distorting history, without, evidently, any one of the distinguished scholars who blurbed the book raising an eyebrow. Ironically, the one reviewer who did object to Sen's "potted history" which "is tailored for interfaith dialogues" was Fouad Ajami in The Washington Post. Ajami reminded Sen that...this will not do as history. Maimonides, born in 1135, did not flee "Europe" for the "Arab world": He fled his native Córdoba in Spain, which was then in the grip of religious-political terror, choking under the yoke of a Berber Muslim dynasty, the Almohads, that was to snuff out all that remained of the culture of conviviencia and made the life of Spain's Jews (and of the free spirits among its Muslims) utter hell. Maimonides and his family fled the fire of the Muslim city-states in the Iberian Peninsula to Morocco and then to Jerusalem. There was darkness and terror in Morocco as well, and Jerusalem was equally inhospitable in the time of the Crusader Kingdom. Deliverance came only in Cairo -- the exception, not the rule, its social peace maintained by the enlightened Saladin. Moses Maimonides [1135 -1204], Jewish rabbi, physician, and philosopher, was fleeing the Muslims, the intolerant Almohads who conquered Cordoba in 1148. The Almohads persecuted the Jews, and offered them the choice of conversion to Islam, death, or exile. Maimonides' family and other Jews chose exile. But this did not bring any peace to the Jews who had to be on the move constantly to avoid the all-conquering Almohads. After a brief sojourn in Morocco and the Holy Land, Maimonides settled in Fostat, Egypt, where he was physician to the Grand Vizier Alfadhil, and possibly Saladin, the Kurdish Sultan. Maimonides's The Epistle to the Jews of Yemen was written in about 1172 in reply to inquiries by Jacob ben Netan'el al-Fayyūmi, the then head of the Jewish community in Yemen. The Jews of Yemen were passing through a crisis, as they were being forced to convert to Islam, a campaign launched in about 1165 by 'Abd-al-Nabī ibn Mahdi. Maimonides provided them with guidance and with what encouragement he could. The Epistle to the Jews of Yemen gives a clear view of what Maimonides thought of Muhammad the Prophet, "the Madman" as he calls him, and of Islam generally. This is what Maimonides wrote:You write that the rebel leader in Yemen decreed compulsory apostasy for the Jews by forcing the Jewish inhabitants of all the places he had subdued to desert the Jewish religion just as the Berbers had compelled them to do in Maghreb [i.e.Islamic West]. Verily, this news has broken our backs and has astounded and dumbfounded the whole of our community. And rightly so. For these are evil tidings, "and whosoever heareth of them, both his ears tingle (I Samuel 3:11)." Indeed our hearts are weakened, our minds are confused, and the powers of the body wasted because of the dire misfortunes which brought religious persecutions upon us from the two ends of the world, the East and the West, "so that the enemies were in the midst of Israel, some on this side, and some on that side." (Joshua 8:22).
But there is no hint of what Islamic Spain was really like in the admiring, if glancing, reference to that "harmony" in which all three faiths lived, so we are told by the Times in an authoritative, not-to-be-questioned tone -- as if the Reconquistas was some quite unnecessary reaction by some right-wing Christians, and as if any Jews who were unhappy with Islamic rule simply didn't realize how good they had it compared to what they would have had in Western Christendom. And so any testimony by Jews expressing discontent with Muslim rule should simply be discounted.
Now, just to make sure we remember that the building is, or was once, Muslim, there is this bit of architectural appreciation:
The building still retains exquisite red and white arches and gleaming marble columns from the original mosque. It was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1984, and is one of Spain's most popular tourist sites.
See? "Exquisite red and white arches" and "gleaming marble columns" from the "original mosque." And it's a World Heritage site to boot. That is all that matters about the place, even though for nearly 800 years the building has been a church, and even though before the Muslim invaders arrived and built on that spot, what was there before, and what no doubt had its stone quarried to help build, had been not a mosque but a church.
Now, toward the end of the story, after all those details about the beauty of the cathedral that owes it all to its having been a mosque (not a word about anything the Christians might have contributed), and after implanting in the readers' minds the notion of that "harmony" among the three faiths (the only thing missing was the word "abrahamic"), we finally learn that it wasn't such a small group of tourists:
Ortiz said a group of 120 Muslim tourists from Austria entered the mosque Wednesday evening and a handful of them -- six or seven, she said -- started to pray. Security guards told them to stop, but the small group insisted and argued with the guards, so National Police were summoned.
So there were 120 Muslims. Some of them - first described as a "handful" and then later in the sentence as a "small group" (see, not to worry) - apparently "insisted and argued with the guards," who told them to stop prostrating themselves in Muslim prayer in what is, and has been for 800 years, a Christian house of worship. At this point you can imagine what would have happened had, say, a group of 120 Christian pilgrims gone to the Great Umayyad Mosque in Damascus, the one built partly upon the prior-existing Church of St. John the Baptist, and had refused requests by the guards to stop praying, even if their prayers were not noisy and ostentatious, as Muslims prostrating themselves and uttering their phrases in loud unison tend to be, and no doubt were, that day in the cathedral in Cordoba.
And then the security guards called the police and the police came, but that was not enough:
Two of the people praying insisted even then, and got into a shoving match with officers, after which they were arrested for disobeying and threatening law enforcement officers, Ortiz said.
She declined to name them saying only they were men aged 23 and 19. The detainees were to appear before a judge in Cordoba on Friday. Ortiz said had never heard of an incident like this before.
And though just two people were arrested in the end, that was only because the others had stopped, and no doubt because the security guards and the police were outnumbered, and did not want a violent confrontation in the cathedral.
There appears to be a difference of opinion, at least in the Times story (taken from the AP), as to the involvement of the other 118 or 115 Muslims:
The bishop's office in Cordoba said the larger group had acted in a coordinated and aggressive fashion, but Ortiz downplayed that idea.
What does "downplay that idea" mean? Does it mean that what National Police spokeswoman Rosa Ortiz told The Associated Press is right, that the bishop is exaggerating? Or is it not more verisimilar to think that it is the National Police spokeswoman who has a stake in minimizing the incident? Certainly the Times-AP story would have you believe - by giving the last word to - that spokeswoman Rosa Ortiz.
And the last few paragraphs return to the subtle legitimizing of the Muslim claim, to take us away from the central fact: 120 Muslims from Austria entered a building that for 800 years has been a cathedral, and behaved as they would never have allowed any non-Muslims to behave, not for even one minute, in any mosque anywhere in the world. And some of them (how many is a matter of dispute) began to pray by prostrating themselves Mecca-wards and going up-and-down in loud, and quite disruptive unison - disruptive to all the non-Muslims who would have been there at this place, that is among the most visited World Heritage Sites in the world.
Here are the last five sentences, each a separate paragraph:
Mansur Escudero, a Spanish Muslim leader, said he has been pressing the Catholic church for years to let Muslims pray in the mosque, but to no end.
Over the past few decades exceptions were made, at the request of King Juan Carlos, and members of the Saudi royal family were allowed to pray in the mosque, Escudero, who is president of the Islamic Commission of Spain, told the newspaper El Mundo.
Spain has a Muslim community of about 1 million, out of a total population of 45 million.
The building's official title is the ''Mezquita Catedral de Cordoba'' -- the mosque cathedral. Escudero said the name should be changed to ex-mosque cathedral.
''Or just cathedral. If it is not a mosque, they should not call it a mosque,'' he was quoted as saying.
So there we have it. Manuel Escudero, a Muslim leader, had been "pressing the Catholic church for years to let Muslims pray in the mosque, but to no end."
Wait a minute. "Pray in the mosque"? It's a cathedral, remember. It has been a cathedral for 800 years. Why has it become, in this AP retelling, a "mosque"?
And only then he adds:
"Or just cathedral, If it not a mosque, they should not call it a mosque."
He is referring to the fact that the Spanish have kindly alluded to the pre-Christian past of this building, or part of it, by describing it as the "Mezquita Catedral," in order to give the Muslim period of the building's existence its due. But this has been turned on its head, and the fact that the Christians did this, in a spirit of historical understanding, was not received in the same spirit. Instead, it is taken to mean that it is, in some sense, now a mosque and therefore Muslims have a perfect right to enter, by the hundreds possibly, to orient themselves toward Mecca, and start in serried ranks to prostrate themselves and utter their loud exclamations which, if you have ever seen, are the kind of thing that give non-Muslims a shudder. For it is so much a group activity, so collectivist in spirit, so much akin to a fanatical rally of the kind that evokes memories of Nuremberg rather than, say, a town meeting in New England. And it is not only a religious but also an aggressively political statement: we are here, we belong, this is ours because this was once ours and shall be ours again.
All of this is missing from the New York Times account which, by the way, in the edition of the paper I received, had reduced even the story above to a single paragraph, as if the whole thing were not really worth being brought to the attention of readers. When, in the next few years, the full story begins to be told of what is going on in Europe with those many Muslims who have been allowed over just the past few decades - this is no long historical process, extending over centuries, but a recent and possibly fatal error - this kind of coverage in the Times will recall the darkest days of Duranty. Non-Muslims in Europe are beginning to rouse themselves and to become aware, just a little late, of what they have so unnecessarily done, through their lax and lackadaisical immigration policy, and inattention to what makes Muslim immigrants so uniquely threatening. After all, there are dozens of different non-Muslim immigrant groups whose members do, after a while, adapt, accept, and fully integrate into European life - but nowhere in Europe has this been true of all but a handful of the Muslim immigrants, and that handful are those who have taken Islam least to heart.
What did other papers report about the Muslims at the mosque in Cordoba? How did they report it? Did they convey something not conveyed by the report in The New York Times?
Here's a paragraph from the coverage of the incident in the French Le Figaro:
D'après l'évêché, l'événement était planifié. Les hommes auraient investi l'ancienne mosquée par des entrées différentes et se seraient retrouvé à un endroit et une heure précis grâce à des talkies-walkies. En pleine semaine sainte, l'acte est perçu comme une véritable provocation. Dans un communiqué, le porte-parole des Jeunesses musulmanes d'Autriche, qui organisaient le voyage, a toutefois tenu à assurer «que les jeunes n'avaient jamais eu l'intention de provoquer ou de blesser les sentiments des croyants catholiques». «Ils ont été si frappé par l'atmosphère spirituelle qui régnait dans la mosquée-cathédrale, ajoute-t-il, qu'ils se sont spontanément mis à prier, sans imaginer les conséquences que cela pourrait avoir.» Les autorités ecclésiastiques ont reconnu de leur côté être conscientes que «cet incident ponctuel ne représente en rien le comportement des musulmans puisque beaucoup d'entre eux sont ouverts au dialogue et considèrent avec respect l'Eglise Catholique».
In that paragraph we learn something that was completely absent from the New York Times article. We learn that, according to the Office of the Bishop, the whole event was carefully planned.
The [Muslim] men entered the former mosque by different entry-ways [presumably at different times] and gathered at the same time, at the same spot, thanks to their walkie-talkies. This act, in the middle of Holy Week itself, was naturally seen as a real provocation. In a communiqué, the spokesmen of Muslim Youth of Austria, that organized the trip, nonetheless insisted that the "young people did not have any intention of provoking or of injuring the sentiments of Catholic believers." "They were so moved by the spiritual atmosphere of the mosque-cathedral" [hence the walkie-talkies, hence the slow infiltration by different entries, and then the prearranged meeting at a certain time and place within the vast cathedral] he added, "that they spontaneously began to pray, without imagining the consequences that could have."
Oh, I won't bother to give you other accounts, as you can google them for yourself, and compare what was written in the European papers with what appeared in The New York Times (in most editions, I suspect only the single-paragraph abridgement of the AP story).
But I do have one question, one that The New York Times failed to answer. How were that cathedral security guard, how was that Spanish police officer, how did they both happen to be wounded? You see, there was a knife drawn by at least one of the Muslims. Shouldn't that have been part of the story?
You know, a story that were truthful would go something like this:
A deliberately-planned display of Muslim force took place in the cathedral of Cordoba on April 2, in the very middle of Holy Week, the holiest time of the year for Christians. Nearly 120 Muslims from Austria slowly filtered into the cathedral, so as not to attract the attention of guards and, using walkie-talkies, arranged to meet at a certain time, in one of the naves of the cathedral. There a number of them began, in the hush of the Christian services, to turn toward Mecca and prostrate themselves, and to loudly chant in unison. When asked by the security guards to please stop, they refused, and began to threaten the guards who, in turn, had to call for reinforcements from the Spanish police. When the Spanish police arrived, thus further disrupting the holy hush of ancient sacrifice, and the spiritual tranquility of the Christian worshippers, they found the Muslims unwilling to stop. At least one pulled out a knife, and at least two of the Spanish guards, one policeman and one from the cathedral detail, were wounded sufficiently to go to the hospital.
How's that for putting it truthfully?
And what about connecting this act of deliberate aggression with the other acts of Muslim aggression, all over Western Europe, designed to say, as Tariq Ramadan likes to repeat, "It's over. We're here. It's over"?
Is it? Is it "over"? Shall we like sheep sheepishly continue to endure, without complaint, what the New York Times tells us, or fails to tell us, about Islam?
At this point, kindly go back to the beginning of this article, and read all of the first part, that is, the entire list of things about Islam that you would not have learned, had you, over nearly the last decade, relied only on the New York Times, which really must get rid of that now-absurd motto about "All The News That's Fit To Print."
When the Times still manages, willfully, deliberately, after all of its many and severe lapses in the last unappetizing century, to fall down so badly, as it did with the Nazis and did with the Communists, in its coverage, and in its understanding, or failure to understand, Islam, one has to ask those associated with it how they can stand to look at themselves in the mirror. How do they do it? How do they wake up and read what they've produced, with all the resources in the world, and then look at themselves in the mirror and say "Well done, thou good and faithful servant"?
No, not good. Not well done. Not faithful to the truth which, come to think of it, is the first casualty not only of war, but of a certain kind of self-righteous worldview and parti-pris. Yes, the Times is very much parti-pris. And it has come a-cropper. A perfect failure, for Nazis, for Communists, and now in its treatment of the adherents, the ones who take the ideology most to heart, of Islam.
Someone, a complacent Punch, a self-satisfied Pinch, a someone, must be very proud of how the Times is covering -- i.e., not covering -- Islam.
But this can't go on forever.
For it's a Triumph -- a Trifecta, forsooth -- of irresponsibility and even idiocy.
Nobody's perfect, Billy Wilder has reminded us. But this is ridiculous.