23 May 2005

Sacrilege is no crime, but do we have to be idiots about it?

Does anyone really believe that Korans were not thrown into toilets? Given the abuse that has been documented, and the anti-Islamic vitriol thrown about by the American right wing, is it possible that the Koran was not the target of abuse?

Certainly, several former detainees have attested to abuses like that alleged in the Newsweek article. But the entire right-wing blogosphere seems to think that anything that wasn't photographed didn't occur. And the reports did not come from Al Qaeda operatives supposedly trained in the fine art of making the US look bad. Remember, these were former detainees — people the US picked up and then released, presumably because they were found to be innocent.

Still, I find the reaction of some Muslims to the Newsweek article to be insane. Abuse of a book is not remotely in the same league as abuse of a person, no matter how holy the book's contents. (If the book is of particular historical or artistic value, I think it's more worthy of protection than it otherwise would be; but no one has alleged that any of the books abused were, say, the work of a master 10th-century calligrapher.) It was bone-stupid of the troops to desecrate the Koran; it's also bone-stupid of Muslims to get so upset about it.

It's the abuse of people that we all should be getting upset about.