Politically incorrect, but honestI'd like to add some thoughts. First, the author is writing about political correctness. This strange phenomenon was once inspiredly defined as the doctrine that it is possible to pick up a turd at its clean end. Interestingly, whereas it is applied to criticizing Muslims or people of non-white races, it has never been applied to Jews. Antisemitism, which most people don't even bother to veil thinly as "anti-Zionism", was never something worthy of being covered by the smokescreen of political correctness. Also, and even more interestingly, any attempt to refute antisemitism as what it is, is met by strident complaints that "it isn't possible to criticise Jews anymore" because of -- you've guessed it -- "political correctness". Genuine, valid criticism of Jews as an ethnic group, like here, is as rare as a Blue Mauritius stamp. I think we ought to thank the author for clarifying the difference so lucidly.
By Leonard Stern, The Ottawa CitizenAugust 1, 2009
Muslim leaders have long cried foul when the media highlight the religious affiliation of suicide terrorists. Murders of all kinds happen every day and news reports don't note which perpetrators attended a Methodist church or which were baptized Catholic. Why the double standard for Muslims?
The religion of those such as the 9/11 hijackers was -- is -- relevant because, in their minds, the crimes were religious acts. It's impossible to ignore the Islamic dimension of crimes that are executed in the name of Islam. To pretend that the shared religious identity of al-Qaeda operatives is coincidence would be absurd.
Now it's fair to ask the media at least to make clear that while terrorists see themselves as holy warriors, they might not represent true Islam. But that's not what some Muslim leaders are asking. The Islamic Society of North America wants to abandon altogether any mention of the Muslim aspect. "We should just call them criminals," said Muneer Fareed, the Islamic Society's spokesman. The Canadian Islamic Congress has likewise referred to the "myth of 'Islamic' Terrorism."
The legitimacy of the term "Islamic terrorism," to denote terrorism committed in the name of Islam, is easy to defend. But in other criminal cases, it's trickier to explore the relevance of culture, race, religion or national origin.
This is an issue journalists, police and politicians struggle with all the time. Much of the gun violence in Toronto, for example, is apparently connected to the black community, often Jamaican-Canadian, whose members comprise a disproportionate number of both victims and assailants. But for a long time you wouldn't have known this from any public discussion about crime in Toronto.
Globe and Mail columnist Margaret Wente broke the taboo after the 2005 Boxing Day shooting death of Jane Creba, the 15-year-old who got caught in the crossfire between warring gangs. Wente said it was ridiculous that amid all the handwringing over Toronto's unsafe streets, "the word 'Jamaica' can't be found ... even though police will tell you off the record that 80 per cent or more of the city's gun crime is Jamaican-related."
But covering them up also incurs costs. First, it's dishonest. Politicians and social activists who pretend that these shootings are just expressions of generic "youth violence," when everyone knows otherwise, lose credibility. Secondly, it's impossible to fix a problem when you deny it exists.
Of course bad people can incubate in any community, but cultural or ethnic groups have particular vulnerabilities. It shouldn't be forbidden to say so. As one who has always emphasized the Islamic dimension of suicide terrorism, I recently received a gloating letter from someone hoping to catch me in an inconsistency. The writer was under the impression that I would naturally object to news reports mentioning the Jewishness of Bernie Madoff, the Wall Street swindler.
Actually, if I had been the reporter to break the Madoff story, I'd have not only highlighted the Jewish connection, I'd have put it in the lead. Heck, I'd make it the headline. Sure it's a little different from the issue of Islam and terrorism -- Madoff wasn't expressing an article of religious faith in defrauding people. But Madoff operated within a defined ethnic network, the monied Jewish community of New York, which is why police classified his escapade as a crime of "affinity."
The crime was made possible because Madoff exploited his position as a big shot -- a macher -- in that network. I mentioned earlier that we shouldn't be afraid to say that ethno-cultural groups have particular vulnerabilities. Madoff was as sleazy as they come but his perceived ability to make money conferred on him much status in the Jewish world, which he took advantage of.
Although financial misbehaviour is an equal opportunity vice, rabbis and others who teach Jewish ethics are not out of line to worry that the accumulation of Ivan Boeskys, Michael Milkens and Bernie Madoffs eventually points to misplaced values in some corners of the Jewish community.
Right now there's a debate whether to situate honour killings in a Muslim context. Some people want simply to place these murders in the catch-all category of "domestic violence." I suppose that it would be politically convenient for multiculturalists to de-Islamicize honour killings, but it sure won't do much towards actually stopping them.
Next, Stern says that the legitimacy of the term "Islamic terrorism," is easy to defend. Yes, it is easy to defend on a factual, intellectually honest basis. However, it is indefensible in day-to-day political discourse. I am under the impression that America and Canada have not (yet) arrived where we are, at a point where any criticism of Islam and Muslims, however fact-based and restrained, comes under attack as "hate speech". Criticizing Islam in Germany is a hermit's profession. It has ostracizing consequences. One is either forced to lie or at least to remain quiet (which is an implied lie) or to restrict one's social contacts dramatically. This and this may serve as a reminder. I, personally, consider it partly as a good thing. It showed me at least that my choice of friends, made long before Islamisation or political correctness became an issue, was right. But I guess if one has small children and thus HAS to socialize with certain people, other parents, teachers, kindergarden teachers, come to mind, it must be hell.
Last, Stern says that "it's impossible to fix a problem when you deny it exists". Again, that is right, but it implies that there ARE people who have both, an interest in and the authority to fix the problem and I challenge everybody on earth to name ONE German who has both.
Case in point (among countless others) is the former Berlin senior prosecuting attorney Roman Reusch, who made two mistakes. In 2008, that was: He took a hard line bringing young criminals to justice and declared publicly that ca. 80% (eighty percent) of those are not ethnic Germans. The result? The Berlin government muzzled and then transfered him to a position where he surely couldn't do any more "harm". Meanwhile, the "no go areas" for the police in Berlin are thriving. Again: I challenge all the world to tell me ONE German who has both, an interest in AND the authority for fixing this problem.
Canada (America), I guess you are better off! See that it remains that way.