The Case of the Two Books
by Ahmed Rehab
Double-standardism (Don’t look it up in the dictionary, I made this term up
) is an ever inherent characteristic of the western, specifically American, rationalization of, and approach to, world social and political events. Fate has repeatedly placed the west in an embarrassingly noticeable position so far as their treatment of such events are concerned. One example among many: Just, yesterday on "Charlie Rose" on channel 11, PBS (home of the infamous "Jihad in America") was an interesting debate between an American Journalist and a British "Vanity fair" columnist about the columnist’s published view concerning a controversy in Britain in which he affirmed the question of whether or not a certain book denying elements of the holocaust should have been published by a well known publishing house. The American journalist was appalled, exasperated, crushed and close to tears. He could not possibly conceive of how such an evil and vicious book could ever be published by a well known house. Oh, the nerve! well, I was drawn to this conversation for several reasons. The main reason was that it struck a certain chord in my memory that drew back some images of an astoundingly similar situation with which the Muslim world was faced not too long ago. The irony of the comparison, or rather the contrast, however was overwhelming. Consider this:
The infamous "Satanic verses" was published by not only a famous publishing house as was the Holocaust book, but by the most famous of publishing houses: Penguin. That however did not seem to bother any of the American journalists at the time. As the matter of fact, when the ignorant, barbaric, third-world Arab dared voice an objection to the absurdity of the book being published so widely in Europe, The prim and proper, sophisticated and cultured, first-world West ridiculed the idea, wondering how on earth the Muslims could have possibly missed the spicy literature behind all the offensive obscenities (oh la la). Columnists everywhere from France to the USA were outraged, not at the gutter-level language of the book, but at the objection of the Muslims. Suddenly, the issue was hurled 180 degrees from the original controversy of whether the book should have been published to the new controversy of how the wonderful western democratic ideal of free speech and free opinion was now under fire from a far off barbarians who were beneath understanding such uplifting ideals.
The West focused all its media’s attention, in the traditional ideal of their hypocrisy, to one teeny weenie part of the protesters. This manipulation they knew would gain for them the sympathy and support of the Islam-ignorant European mobs. Khomeini and his cronies who represented less than a ten thousandth of the protesters was suddenly hailed by the Western media as "Islam", his view was the view of Islam and his response was the response of Islam. An outrageous generalization as it may be, it was established then and still extends as such today. The rest of the Muslim world’s view voiced by the Sunni leader, sheikh Al- Azhar, was never heard: "a press session, hosting delegates from Christianity, Judaism and Islam should meet in London, the hometown of Rushdie, and peacefully condemn the attitude of Rushdie and his views as being contrary to the tradition of literary and world religious morals and with this" he suggested, "would be the real death of Rushdie". To this day, not a word of this announcement was expressed by the Western media.
Ironically, the same American media has repeatedly condemned books that "demean the reality" of the Holocaust (i.e.: disagree with the established opinions of the able Jewish historians regarding the details of the holocaust). Yesterday’s "Charlie Rose" is just a case in point. The American Journalist was forclempt at the idea of a major British house publishing such a book. My question is: what happened to the marvelous uplifting ideals of Western free speech? But what happened to the right of an author to convince the audience of a certain view he may have as long as he goes about it in peace? If the Jewish historians have the right to research the history of the Holocaust and dictate it for schools and Universities, why can’t other historians do the same even if their findings are different? aren’t they less likely to be biased and non-objectively sympathetic? Most importantly however, I ask why weren’t the American journalists, and the Western media as a whole, as skeptical and repulsive of anti-Islamic books as they were of anti-Semitic ones keeping in mind that the former type is ten-fold as offensive and biased the latter as we shall see further on. The American Journalist on "Charlie Rose" passionately condemned the publishing of the British book, were the barbaric Muslims then justified after all in protesting "Satanic verses", or is double-standardism an inherent characteristic of Western media and intellect?
What surprised me further was that Good ol’ American Charlie Rose, the host of the show "Charlie Rose"(!), actually took sides in this conversation, and guess with whom. As the matter of fact, this same Charlie, had hosted on the very same show the infamous Salman Rushdie in an effort to publicize his new book (and that he did) and revitalize his brittle image in the American public eye. Once again, on that episode, an effort was made by the American media to affirm that Rushdie was a great man, and his book a true piece of literature, and as always, the Muslim world’s objection was condemned as ignorant and radical by shedding the whole light on Khomeini, his name perpetually associated with this ordeal. Yet the same Charlie now attacks the ideals of free speech (clear double-standardism!). He even ended the show by launching two strict questions at the columnist in the manner of an authoritative judge holding a criminal on trial, asking whether or not he supported the views of Irving (the book’s author) and whether or not Irving managed to change any of his views. The columnist answered a hesitant and weak "no". By that, Rose confirmed the Jewish control over the media.
A necessary point to point comparison must now be made between "Satanic Verses", and the holocaust book. Rushdie targeted a world-wide religion, 1300 years of history, and one billion people. Irving targeted a historical event, 2 years of history and three million people. Rushdie did so in an uneducated, non-researched, non-objective manner using obscene language and extremely offensive words that if told to Charlie, would make him blush primrose (the title itself "Satanic Verses" outrageously referred to the Muslim holy book). Irving, although still offending the Jews (unavoidably), used educated methods, a researched content, and objective arguments devoid of any non-objective useless obscenities as opposed to Rushdie. Rushdie’s book was written with the intention of offending and insulting, as he never expressed any apologies, clarifications or remorse of any kind when objections by the Muslims showed him that his work had in fact resulted in offending them deeply, he then showed only further scorn and continuing contempt. Irving wrote his book with the intention of offering a different perspective on certain elements of the holocaust as he saw them through his own research and study, he tried to present them objectively but if the mere idea of his effort were to offend the Jews and Zionists before they could even consider his work, then the offense is truly unavoidable as well as unjustified.
Now that the above contrast has clearly established the difference in the nature of the two books and authors, let us take a look at the American reaction to both books. Rushdie was hailed as a hero of free speech, a patron of democracy, and a literary giant. On the extreme contrary, Irving was found as being anti-Semitic and evil, vicious and slanderous. The final big irony in this story of many ironies is that Rushdie was even awarded a major European Literary award for his "Satanic verses".
Finally let us contrast how the western media viewed the protesters themselves. The Muslims protesting "Satanic verses" were given little credibility as they were seen as being biased for their religion. On the other hand the Jews and the Jewish subjects were not seen as such but rather as credible professionals, as the "American journalist" (he is of course Jewish) and as good ol’ American Charlie Rose.
The point of this article is not to justify the validity of Irving’s book for I, myself, have never read it before, but to show that awhile the Western media ridiculed those who condemned Rushdie’s offensiveness, they themselves joined in with those who condemned Irving. The Western media’s approach towards anti-Islamic actions is very different than towards anti-Semitism, it can best be described as being hypocritically double-standard. I used yesterday’s episode of "Charlie Rose" as a simple yet clear case in point of this ever reoccurring theme, Charlie Rose is considered to be one of the giants of American media and one of the most distinguished interviewers with a wealth of interviews with important people world-wide, moreover he is a good example of the typical daily American media. For these reasons I chose the case of "Charlie Rose" to illustrate what double-standardism is and how it works, yet the cases are many.
In conclusion, I will quote the victim of media discrimination as I heard him sigh: "Aaaaaah, praise the lord for the Western ideals of freedom and democracy....... yet if only they weren’t so selective, if only they weren’t so hypocritical, if only they weren’t so discriminative and biased........if only they weren’t so double- standard.......
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