#1. “Officials blames Muslim insurgents for much of the unrest, although criminal motives are also thought to be at work.”
#2. “The southern provinces are predominantly Muslim, with a separate language and culture to much of the rest of Thailand.”
#3. “Militants often target schools and teachers because they see them as symbols of the Buddhist Thai authorities.”
— from this more or less typical and ordinary BBC piece
Let’s take those three sentences in turn.
#1. The attempt to confuse by not sticking to the main, Muslim point: “although criminal motives are also thought to be at work.” No evidence is given for this statement. No explanation as to what the “criminal motives” might be — for example, what financial gain might result. This is simply tossed in, and the effect is simply to make listeners think: General unrest. Mixed motives. Muslims, criminal gangs, what have you. Too confusing to figure out.
#2. “predominantly Muslim, with a separate language and culture” — so we recognize that the fact that they are Muslim has something to do with it, but we are going to immediately focus on the trivial — that “separate language and culture” — and not say a word about Islam, its tenets and its attitudes, as the main prompting for this behavior against Buddhists.
You find nothing in this report about what might conceivably be found in the Qur’an and Hadith to prompt such acts. Nothing about Muslim agitators from Malaysia, nothing about Saudi money — are there those agitators, or radio stations beaming in? Has Saudi money been arriving? What is it that might prompt local Muslims to act this way? Has the Thai government suddenly started to behave terribly toward them, just as terribly, say, as the Spanish did to warrant Madrid, the English to warrant the bombs in the London metro, the French to warrant their own metro bombing a few years ago, and all the plots (including that against the Strasbourg Christmas Festival) that have been uncovered? Did the Thai government do something as bad as the Italians, which caused plots to be hatched that were not carried out only because the police seized the plotters in time? Was the Thai government as terrible as the terrible Danes, publishing those terrible cartoons, which earned Danes everywhere the threat of Muslim revenge — i.e., death threats?
We want the BBC to tell us what, if anything, has changed in that south where, according to its report, that separate “language” and that separate “culture” needed to be mentioned, but not that separate “religion” as the explanation, both necessary and sufficient, of the whole business. That would take too much time.
#3. “Militants [sic] often target schools and teachers because they see them as symbols of the Buddhist Thai authorities.”
Is that why? Or is it because schools and teachers and schoolchildren are the most helpless of victims, the easiest targets of all? And aren’t schools not “symbols” of Buddhist Thai authorities but places where knowledge outside the only kind of knowledge that counts — the Qur’an and Sunnah — is imparted? And knowledge, if it is not that kind of “knowledge,” is itself to be opposed. How many schools have been bombed by the Taliban, not because they were “symbols” of American-backed Karzai but because they were schools, and they were schools teaching girls things no girls should know — that is, about the world. Why could not the BBC reporter mention the vulnerability of teachers and schools? Why not mention that without those schools of the government, there would be no schools at all save madrasas. Why not?
The effect, of course, is to weirdly justify, or attempt to justify, the bombing of teachers and schools — that is, the bombing of schoolchildren. When the PLO seized schoolchildren at Ma’alot, and then held them hostage, and then murdered 21 of them, it was not because the school was a “symbol” of Israeli authority but because they could seize the schoolchildren more easily than they could seize anyone else. When the Muslims in Beslan seized the school, it was for the same reasons. Not a “symbol.” (How that word somehow mitigates, suggests to the listener that if a mere “symbol” is attacked, then that’s a bit more understandable, for then the attack itself seems…seems….seems somehow “symbolic” then, doesn’t it?
But perhaps I am unduly harsh on the BBC. Yes, I suppose I am. How can the mere BBC be expected to offer its listeners a hint, the tiniest hint, of what Islam inculcates, of what the Hadith are, of what the Sira is, of how the doctrine of abrogation means for an understanding of those passages in the Qur’an that do not quite jibe? After all, the BBC is still a young organization, a fledgling finding its way, with so few resources, with all that constant fund-raising it has to do. Be patient. Give it time. Just the kind of time you will be asked to give Al-Jazeera (“As American as Apple Pie,” according to an American hireling who works for the station, in the Sunday Bandar Beacon). But that is another, even more sinister matter.