We are now ready to continue with our discussion of The Michael Coren show, Part 2. Please take the time, once again, to watch both segments.
Returning from the station break, this segment begins with Tarek Fatah in apparent medias res explaining that the West’s perception of Islam is flawed because it sees everything through the prism of Arab Islam, while the Islam practiced in the subcontinent, Tarek Fatah’s neck of the woods, is so very very different.
There’s Bangladesh, for example, with 150 million people, and yet in Bangladesh, he says, “whenever they get a chance they vote out the extremists.” And neither Michael Coren, nor anyone in the audience, is likely to know what this means, to know who are “extremists” and who the good guys, relatively speaking. I presume that Tarek Fatah means the first head of an independent Bangladesh, back in 1971, Mujibur Rahman, and also Mujibur Rahman’s daughter, the head of the “secular” Awami League, where “secular” means, as almost always in such cases, less fanatically a follower of the Shari’a rules, less fervently a Muslim, than those who oppose them. In his passing allusion to Bangladesh, Tarek Fatah makes no mention — why not? — of the many current examples of popular Muslim intolerance. He is content to limit himself to the misleading statement that when given a chance, Bangladeshis “throw out the despots.” Is that quite enough? He fails to mention, for example, that Taslima Nasrin, the celebrated apostate, had to flee from Bangladesh to India in fear of her life, because of threats by Muslims eager to kill her, and a government unwilling to protect her. Is it the position of Tarek Fatah that if the Awami League were running things, Taslima Nasrin could live safely in Bangladesh?
And he does not mention, either, that astonishingly brave editor and journalist, Mr. Salah Choudhury, who dared to write words of sympathy and support for Israel, and for Hindus and Christians too. Choudhury has been under almost constant pressure – death threats, physical attacks, charges of treason, and finally, arrest and formal charges laid, all because he is a true and brave version of what we in the West would dearly wish all “moderate Muslims” to be. Shouldn’t Tarek Fatah have done more than pretend that Islam somehow changes its spots, and so do Muslims, when we move from the Arab countries to Pakistan and Bangladesh?
In fact, it is not only Taslima Nasrin and Salah Choudhury and their persecutors and would-be murderers whom Tarek Fatah gives not a hint about, as he attempts to convince the audience that there is some great difference between “Arab Islam” and the Islam to be found in Pakistan and Bangladesh. He knows this isn’t true, and he knows, furthermore, that Pakistanis not only try to emulate the Arabs, but many of them have created a false Arab lineage for themselves – look at all the Pakistani Sayeeds.
He could have taken a different tack. He could have deplored the persecution of Hindus, Christians, Buddhists, Sikhs. He could have described the attacks on those Hindus. He could have compared the percentage of the population that was non-Muslim in Pakistan at Partition, in 1947, and today, and pointedly wondered why that was, when the percentage of Muslims in the Indian population has in the same period gone steadily up. He could have even have told of the Hindus who have been beaten to death by Muslims, inflamed by the khutbas at Friday Prayers, for the sole crime of being in the neighborhood of the mosque when the Muslim worshippers existed.
And if even Awami League members – the non-despots in Tarek Fatah’s version of events – lead the attacks on Salah Choudury, just how “moderate” is this Awami League?
For Tarek Fatah, Bangladesh is simply the place where “every time they hold an election, they throw out the despots.” To which one wishes to ask a few more questions: how do the despots who are being thrown out get in in the first place? And just how often are there elections in Bangladesh to throw out “the despots”? And what difference, in the end, has it made to the lives of Hindus, Christians, and Buddhists living in Bangladesh, or to those brave souls, such as Taslima Nasrin and Mr. Choudhury, if it’s the Muslim despots or the Muslim non-despots in power who persecute them? Wasn’t it Awami League members who repeatedly threatened and then attacked Salah Choudury? Who in Bangladesh among the “non-despots” stood up for Taslima Nasrin? Of what relevance is what he maintains to the fate of non-Muslims, or of those who are apostates, or of those who would like policies that are not quite so rabidly anti-Infidel?
Then Michael Coren says: Well, what about Pakistan, the country you are from? Isn’t that a country with religious extremists, with “radical fundamentalist Islam” in the saddle? Not at all, answers Tarek Fatah.
Pakistan, too, seems just like Bangladesh in the view of Tarek Fatah. If, in Bangladesh, whenever they have elections the despots, and the religious parties, are voted out, it’s the same rosy picture in Pakistan, where “the Islamists were defeated in elections.” In passing, we might note that if we had to award a LEAST FANATICAL MUSLIM prize – Tarek Fatah could award it – and the two contestants were Pakistan (formerly West Pakistan) and Bangladesh (formerly East Pakistan), we might indeed award the prize to Bangladesh. Why? Well, during the 1971 war, in which the Pakistani Army, largely officered by people from West Pakistan, attempted to crush the people of what was then East Pakistan, part of their effort consisted of trying to convince the people in East Pakistan that they simply had to remain within Pakistan, because, so the argument went, if Pakistan became two countries, that would damage Pakistan, Land of the Pure, and thus damage Islam. And nothing should be allowed to damage Islam.
And then, too, the people in East Pakistan who were most fanatically Muslim, most willing to fight to keep Pakistan together, the razakars, were distinguished by their fanatical Muslim faith. And so, when an independent Bangladesh came into being, under its first president, Mujibur Rahman, the most fanatical Muslims, those former collaborators with the Pakistani army, were in bad odor. And that has had its subsequent effect. It is of note, however, that Bangladeshis in the West do not appear to be less fanatically Muslim than Pakistanis, but in the West, of course, the differences exhibited within Dar al-Islam become so much less significant, because the Infidels are right there, just waiting to be hated.
But that war took place way back in 1971, in practically antediluvian days. You don’t really expect Tarek Fatah to talk about, or even remember, any of that, do you? Why, that would be like expecting people in the American government dealing with Nigeria today to remember the Biafra War, that lasted from 1967 to 1969, and of course they don’t. The motto of those “taking a leadership role” in the media and in politics consists of two words, uttered proudly: Born Yesterday.
And while Tarek Fatah had insisted that in Pakistan, “the Islamists were defeated in elections,” it is clear that his definition of “Islamists” does not include those such as Western-educated, daughter-of-zamindar, Pinky Bhutto, she of Briggs Hall, Radcliffe (where she loved the freedom of walking to Harvard Square, without a bodyguard in tow, and buying newspapers at Nini’s Corner), and who in the West is thought of as our sort, because of Harvard, because of Oxford, because of her Anglophone plausibility. But you can see Prime Minister Bhutto on YouTube, screaming about “Jihad” against the Indians over Kashmir. And you can see others whom Tarek Fatah would no doubt consider to be practically “secular” behaving the same way – well, compared to General Zia ul-Haq I suppose they are secular, but is that really a consolation to Infidels around the world?
Michael Coren introduces a discordant note: what about the treatment of Christians in Pakistan? What about those blasphemy laws which have allowed the prosecution, and even death sentences, passed against Christians accused of “blasphemy” of Islam? Coren did not mention the beating to death of 10-year-old Christian maids, nor the burning alive of Christian families in their houses by Muslim mobs. And what does Tarek Fatah say about this? Oh, he admits that there have been problems with the Christians, though he does not repeat the word Coren uses, “killed” or “murdered” when he is in the very act, the seeming act, of volunteering even more: “oh yes, whole villages have been attacked.” And so, according to Tarek Fatah, the secularists in the government of course want to change “those blasphemy laws,” but unfortunately their hands are tied. Oh why? Well, because of the very large religious groups, the Jamaat-i-Islami, and the Muslim Brotherhood too, and also the Intelligence Services, and they are all “threatening to overthrow that government if there is a change in the blasphemy laws.”
Well, what about it? What Tarek Fatah is saying is that one of the largest religio-political groups in Pakistan, with millions of members, the powerful Jamaat-e-Islami, and the powerful Muslim Brotherhood, and the single most powerful group within the military, the shadowy I.S.I., friend and promoter and now protector of A. Q. Khan, won’t allow for a change in the blasphemy laws. But if no civilian government dares to undo the blasphemy laws – gee, I wonder why Tarek Fatah failed to mention Bishop John Joseph, who to protest the endless cruelty of Pakistani Muslims toward the Christians made himself a martyr, some years ago, to bring attention to the plight of Pakistan’s Christians. But no one heard, and no one hears now, certainly not in the banana-peel-strewn corridors of power in Washington or London.
So let’s get this straight. You are being asked to believe that Pakistan is a place where both the civilian leadership (i.e., the Anglophone zamindars, who own whatever the military doesn’t own) and the military are secular, moderate, and so on, and would happily do away with those blasphemy laws. But it’s just that pesky I.S.I. (apparently separate from the military) and just that pesky Jamaat-e-Islami getting in the way.
Of course Tarek Fatah will not allude to what’s wrong with Pakistan. But he doesn’t have to, at least on this program, explain or explain away why Pakistan’s national heroine is someone now in an American jail for terrorism, Aafia Siddiqui, or why the national hero of Pakistan is the ferociously anti-American and anti-Infidel A. Q. Khan, a metallurgist who stole Western nuclear secrets and managed to bring them back to Pakistan, where American taxpayers unwittingly footed the bill for the development of Pakistan’s nuclear project and what it calls its “Islamic bomb,” and then went on to offer nuclear secrets to, inter alia, North Korea, Iran, and Libya. No, he doesn’t have time to go into any details about Bangladesh and Pakistan.
And then, just to establish his credentials as a “moderate” by offering a criticism of something Muslim, Tarek Fatah lights into the “despotic” regimes of the Middle East. But he has something else in view. He wants us to understand that it these “despotisms” that explain Muslim terrorism – and not, not, not what Islam inculcates. Perhaps, in Tarek Fatah’s view, Mr. Al-Zahawiri and Mr. Bin Laden were in their youths deeply impressed with that famous line of George Bernard Shaw, describing a country that possessed a “despotism tempered by dynamite.” Except that the “dynamite” in question turns out to be terrorist attacks in Amsterdam, Madrid, and London, by Muslims living in the Netherlands, Spain, and Great Britain, not one of them a despotism, and other attacks that have been made on Christians by Muslims in Nigeria (if a despotism, one run by Muslims), in Indonesia and in the Sudan and in Iraq and in Egypt (all of them countries run by Muslims, all of them with elections) and in many other places too, while other non-Muslims, Hindus and Buddhists and Confucians, have been subject to attacks by Muslim terrorists in India, in Pakistan, in Bangladesh, in Thailand, in Indonesia.
Tarek Fatah never explains why his charge – that “in the West” we talk of Islam “essentially in Arab terms” – makes any sense. There is not one Islam for the Arabs and another for the non-Arabs. The texts are identical. The tenets are identical. It would be true to say that some among the 80% of the world’s Muslims who are not Arabs find that their non-Arab identity can help cool the natural fanaticism that Islam commands, because they have another identity, something other than Islam to look to – think of the Kurds, the Berbers, even the Iranians – something which the Arabs do not possess, for the Arab self-consciousness about Arab identity, ‘Uruba, reinforces rather than weakens the hold of Islam, as “the gift of the Arabs.” But of all the non-Arab Muslims, it is probably the Pakistanis who have the most problem finding an alternate identity. Few of them wish to consider the circumstances under which their Hindu (or Buddhist, or Jain) ancestors converted to Islam in order to escape the anguish of being non-Muslims who were not even entitled to the status of dhimmis. (Eventually that changed, when Muslim rulers realized it made sense not to kill or forcibly convert all Hindus, for that would destroy the Jizyah-tax base.)
Pakistanis are not interested in Bharat, and the Wonder That Was India. They are not even interested in the ruins at Mohenjo-Daro. For them, the world begins and ends with Islam. Why doesn’t Tarek Fatah even hint at any of this? He’s not unintelligent. He knows perfectly well what I am talking about here. It is because he has chosen to stick with Islam, rather than to become an apostate. And that means, perforce, he will always at some level remain an apologist – not as sinister as some, but still, not someone to be relied on, not someone to be trusted. And his outburst against Wafa Sultan is the last nail in the coffin of his trustworthiness.
But let’s come back to that “Arab Islam” business having no relevance to Pakistan, to Bangladesh. He still has said not one word about how the ideology of Islam might differ, and we know that his claims about “the despots” being tossed out in Bangladesh and the “Islamists losing” at the polls in Pakistan are false, or meaningless, or both. Everyone in Pakistan is rooting for Aafia Siddiqui – everyone, including the handful of Anglophone families who own most of the country and who have lived in the West, and experienced the mental freedom of the West. What does that tell us that should give us cause for hope? And now Michael Coren chooses to turn to a guest not in the studio, but presumably, being beamed in from the windswept high oil-falutin’ plains of Alberta, for that guest is a former journalist with the Calgary Herald, Joan Crockatt.
She’s bright-faced, she’s cheery. She doesn’t stop to think, even for a minute, before speaking, because, you see, she doesn’t have to, and if, later on, she utters a complete fatuity, her very obliviousness to her own fatuousness pulls her – smiling – through. There are no shadows, no doubts, no complexities, in the mind of Joan Crockatt; she understands things and doesn’t understand why other people have such trouble understanding them, especially when everything is so…so obvious. Not a shadow of a doubt about this or anything, her radiant face seems to say, even before her voice does.
Michael Coren brings her into the discussion about Muslim extremism and violence, and who and what explains it. Is it, he asks her, only “radical fundamentalist Islam”? He says also that “there are those who say it is Islam itself.” He is careful to add that “I believe that to be wrong.”
Joan Crockatt is amazed that anyone would even ask that question:
“Of course it’s radical Islam, and when we start painting [sic] all Muslims with the same brush, this hysteria is the kind of thing that fomets [sic] fear among people. The basic thing that Sun Tzu says is know thy enemy. Okay, we know our enemy it’s radical Islam…but get your allies on-side and allies are the moderate Muslims who are living everyday lives in Canada, who want the same thing for their kinds, to do well in school, to go to university, to get a nice job as a pharmacist or doctor or whatever.” And then Joan Crockatt starts babbling about one “Kim Bohlen who used to cover Sikhist extremism and is one of the foremost experts in the media” And those Sikh terrorists “used to allow the Tamil Tigers to come in and do their fundraising,” but then they – those Sikhs – “they decided no, this is giving all Sikhs a band name” and “that was when we actually started got to the bottom of the Tamil Tigers problem.”
Coren, aghast: “Tamil Tigers. Did you mean the Tamil Tigers?”
Crockatt: “Tamil Tigers.” Pause. More pause. Trying to think, trying and not really succeeding. “Ah, maybe not, but the Tamil Tigers were raising money, and the ethnic communities which I guess is my point were seeking to cull themselves of the problem…” Well, it doesn’t matter, thinks Joan Crockatt, if she got a little thing wrong like confusing the Tamil Tigers, down there in Sri Lanka, with the Sikhs way up there in the Punjab. Who cares – it’s all about India, isn’t it? Why nit-pick? She is the type who might ask: Does anyone think there’s a difference between one kind of “African” and another? Joan Crockatt knows just how silly it is to focus on these little details.
“The point is, Michael, the point is…The ethnic communities which I guess is my point…” (2.55)
And then a hint, just a hint, that she might be confused, and that she should try, on national television, to start making sense: Joan says, at 2.53, well, “I might have to check my…my things there.” Her “things.”
Michael Coren asks about those Christian schoolgirls who were beheaded by Muslims while “on the way to class in Indonesia.” And then about the Muslim terror attacks in Europe where, Coren notes, 30-40% of the Muslims in the countries involved, when asked if they approved of such attacks, said “Possibly, possibly.” In fact, Coren is wrong. I think he knows it. They did not answer “possibly, possibly.” They answered that they approved of those attacks. There were surely many other Muslims who approved but did not think it wise to say it openly to those taking a poll that would be read by their non-Muslim neighbors, acquaintances, restaurant clients, employers.
Joan Crockatt at this point surprises, for she does not deny, as we might expect, these poll results from Muslims. In fact, she even volunteers that in the Middle East there were people celebrating the 9/11/2001 attacks, but quickly adds her own explanation as to why people engaged in such celebrations:
“In certain countries we are all homers [Apparently a “homer” is someone who roots for the home team. Is that it? Canadian readers, please help out] and we feel that if our team is winning that’s a good thing.” (3.54-3.55)
Let me repeat that line, to make sure you take that in. In Part 2, at 3.54, of this Michael Coren Show, Joan Crockatt, a journalist formerly with the Calgary Herald, explaining to a nationwide audience in Canada why it is that many Muslims who live in Europe support terrorism, and why many Muslims in the Middle East expressed their delight over the 9/11/2001 attacks in New York and Washington, says this:
“In certain countries we are all homers and we feel that if our team is winning that’s a good thing.”
“If our team is winning” is Joan Crockatt’s way of describing acts of Muslim terrorism against Infidels. To her it is perfectly reasonable to rally round the home team, for we all feel, don’t we, that “if our team is winning that ‘s a good thing.”
Sophie Scholl and her brother Hans and others in the White Rose anti-Nazi network in Munich, did not feel that they should be rooting for the home team – Nazi Germany – but instead did everything they could to work for a defeat of their “home team.” So did Oleg Penkovsky, for his Soviet “home team.” And so have many others, thank god, including Mus’ab Hassan Yousuf, when he refused to bat for his “home team” of Hamas.
But the Scholls, brother and sister, lived in an age before there was televised sports, and perhaps that is why they didn’t exhibit the natural human tendency to “root for the home team.” Perhaps they would react differently now. I don’t know. Ask Joan Crockatt.
And according to Joan Crockatt, Muslims may once have cheered for the home team, they were cheering in the streets, they were thinking that all this terrorism “was a good thing” (4:05), but now they are coming around – that is, coming around to the view that terrorism is not such a great thing even if it’s committed by the home team. For, she says at 4.12, that “now people are understanding that this puts all of our human rights at risk.” And that is “a global issue and a global problem.”
This statement mystifies. What does it mean? Does it mean that Muslim terrorism causes Western governments to put more stringent laws into place, to install security cameras, and conduct searches, and monitor mosques? Is that what she means when she says that “this” (I assume she means Muslim terrorism) is no longer supported by Muslims, not because it’s bad to blow up Infidel office workers or people on subways and busses and planes, but because it is the Western reaction to this terrorism that “puts all of our human rights at risk”?
Bye for now to Joan Crockatt, as we wipe the tears of laughter from our eyes, and try to ignore the despair that is in our hearts.
And now it is time for another station break.