Kristof to Muslims: I’m sorry

NYT op-ed columnist Nicholas Kristof today writes, “I hereby apologize to Muslims for the wave of bigotry and simple nuttiness that has lately been directed at you. The venom on the airwaves, equating Muslims with terrorists, should embarrass us more than you. Muslims are one of the last minorities in the United States that it is still possible to demean openly, and I apologize for the slurs.”

Yes, he says, there are violent and crazy Muslims: “In my travels, I’ve seen some of the worst of Islam: theocratic mullahs oppressing people in Iran; girls kept out of school in Afghanistan in the name of religion; girls subjected to genital mutilation in Africa in the name of Islam; warlords in Yemen and Sudan who wield AK-47s and claim to be doing God’s bidding.”

But: “I’ve also seen the exact opposite: Muslim aid workers in Afghanistan who risk their lives to educate girls; a Pakistani imam who shelters rape victims; Muslim leaders who campaign against female genital mutilation and note that it is not really an Islamic practice; Pakistani Muslims who stand up for oppressed Christians and Hindus; and above all, the innumerable Muslim aid workers in Congo, Darfur, Bangladesh and so many other parts of the world who are inspired by the Koran to risk their lives to help others. Those Muslims have helped keep me alive, and they set a standard of compassion, peacefulness and altruism that we should all emulate.

“I’m sickened when I hear such gentle souls lumped in with Qaeda terrorists, and when I hear the faith they hold sacred excoriated and mocked. To them and to others smeared, I apologize.”

Quite a contrast to the fervid lumping-together we see elsewhere. My right-wing pal, Chris Fountain, recently announced, “I don’t like these people.” He meant Muslims in general, as he later made clear.

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7 Responses to Kristof to Muslims: I’m sorry

  1. Old School Grump says:

    LLS,
    Ummm …. so what?

    I have a proposal for you:

    First, find me a writer/journalist in a Muslim country who is as prominent there as Kristof is here. Second, find me a publication in that particular country that is as prominent there as the New York Times is here. Third, find me the article(s) that particular author wrote for that particular publication in which he apologized for the dancing-in-the-street, flat-out joy with which some people in the Arab world who had nothing to do with 9/11 greeted the news of 9/11.

    Ground rules: There are only two. First, it must be an apology. Not a bemoaning, not a scolding, not an analysis, not an apologia. An apology. And second, it must pertain specifically to that joyous dancing in the street, because that is the moral equivalent of the ignorant and hateful anti-Muslim outbursts we have here.

    I doubt you’ll find such a thing, of course. But I’m not going where you probably think I’m going with this. The U.S. has plenty of things to apologize for, in print, in front of the whole world. But the bad behavior of a random assortment of civilian nut jobs who are indeed appalling but who haven’t tried to kill anybody (let alone succeeded at it) doesn’t make the list. I for one was saddened to see such a powerful spotlight wasted on such small vermin. This kind of self flagellation earns snickers on the world stage, not respect. I think most nations have figured that out. I wish we would.

    • In your closing paragraph, you dismiss Kristof’s apology as “self flagellation” that “earns snickers on the world stage, not respect.” Your rationale is that he’s apologizing needlessly for “the bad behavior of a random assortment of civilian nut jobs who . . . haven’t tried to kill anybody.” The offense is not sufficiently rank? No one killed, so why apologize? That appears to be how you see it, for in your earlier paragraphs you challenged me to find a Muslim apologist “for the dancing-in-the-street, flat-out joy with which some people in the Arab world . . . greeted the news of 9/11.” Similar offenses in each case–no crimes committed, just serious breaches of civility and ugly expressions of insensitivity.

      I disagree with you about restricting apologies to only the most heinous crimes. You seem to assume that the entire Muslim world is nothing but murderous male adolescents who see decency as weak and snicker-worthy. Where’d you get that idea?

      And I disagree with the notion that we should express sorrow only if they do.

      If I understand you correctly, you’re saying that we shouldn’t apologize for our bad manners if there aren’t people in the Muslim world who are apologizing for THEIR bad manners. But doing the right thing should not be contingent on someone else doing the right thing. (My students in school think that way–their favorite line is, “I will respect you if you show respect to me”–but it’s not mature reasoning.)

    • MaxSharp says:

      Okay Grumpy Butt!

      Obviously you believe everything you see on TV. Check in to something for me…

      When 9/11 happened, approximately 9am, what time was it in the Middle East? Pick a city… Beruit, Baghdad. Do you remember what time of day you watched the news reports about the Muslims dancing in the streets?

      I will bet that if you do your research, you will find that at the time those videos were aired, the sun was not shining in the Middle East. Yet, in those very same videos, the sun was shining pretty brightly.

      It’s called stock footage. And, I am certain that every major news network has stock footage of Muslims in the Middle East dancing and celebrating in the streets… at the ready for the news caption to be attached.

      There was intention in those news broadcasts… and the intention was to build hate for the Muslim world. If you disagree with that, then I am sorry. Open your mind and stop believing everything you see or read from our so-called “free press”.

  2. Old School Grump says:

    P.S., speaking of apologies, I want to apologize for my “Ummm …. so what” opener. I started with that when I was organizing my thoughts, and by the time I was done it had scrolled off the top of the screen and I’d forgotten it was there. It is disrespectful and dismissive, which is not what I want to be. I’m sorry.

  3. Old School Grump says:

    Whoa, LLS, when I got to this part of your reply …

    “You seem to assume that the entire Muslim world is nothing but murderous male adolescents who see decency as weak and snicker-worthy. Where’d you get that idea?”

    … I had to conclude we are too far apart to continue this conversation.

    If that’s your chosen interpretation of what I said (which is pretty odd; who brought up murderous Muslim male adolescents? It sure wasn’t me), then we’ll call it a standoff. You can write me off as guilty of immature reasoning, like your students, and give me a C-minus. I can write you off as guilty of emotion masquerading as reasoning and give you a C-minus as well. My point was that this particular case of bad domestic U.S. behavior, distasteful as it is, is not worthy of a big-caliber apology like Kristof’s, and I stand by it.

  4. I’m not trying to write you off, but to challenge your thinking. And I’m certainly not hoping to be written off by you.

    No, you didn’t say that the entire Muslim world is nothing but murderous male adolescents. But when you say that Kristof’s apology to Muslims for something that didn’t kill anybody is a bad idea because it’s a “kind of self flagellation” that “earns snickers on the world stage, not respect,” aren’t you assuming that the only opinion that matters is the opinion of hotheads? Which world stage are you referring to? I would guess that there are billions of people in the world who think an apology for rudeness is appropriate, not laughable.

    If I offended you so strongly that you consider writing me off, I apologize for overstating my case. I’ll accept a C-minus on this assignment, though.

  5. Old School Grump says:

    I appreciate your temperate reply, but I think we should just call a truce. I not only think that Kristof’s apology was wildly excessive, I’m annoyed at him for giving these nut jobs the gift of such prestigious press coverage. The more press these idiots get, the more legitimate they appear, thus insuring even more press; it’s a snowball effect that has everything to do with the media’s desperate competitiveness, and nothing to do with getting us to the truth.

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