Understanding Muslims

Journalists Racing to Israel for Their Combat Veteran Medals

I noticed Shepard Smith from FOXNews and Carl Quintanilla from CNBC went to Israel to cover the crisis from “the front lines”. Absurd. Do you think they hit the beach and use slimey pickup lines on Israeli chicks when they’re not donning their body armor and kevlars to cover the latest BREAKING NEWS out of Lebanon? I mean, how do I get an assignment to cover a battle from a place like Israel? The worst part is that these jokers are going to come back and pull a U.S. senator line like, “Well, when I was there last week, so-and-so and so-and-so told me that everyone they knew felt this way,” and other lines like, “I was there, man. There I was, no shit. Dodging gunfire, rockets, mortars. Don’t tell me what it’s like. I was THERE, man.”

One of the best moments was seeing Shepard Smith and his producer or something sitting on the floor in some bunker doing their report. This hard-hitting coverage will get him some combat experience, just like it did for Geraldo when he “deployed”.

To his credit, I think I heard Smith say some things that reflected the sober reality on the ground there, so maybe this getting out of the house will be a good experience for him, and open up his eyes a bit. It may be a bit unfair of me to bash news figures for actually going somewhere for a story — I mean, one of the problems with reporting now is the lack of engagement. But it still revolts me to see him doing a Lebanon crisis story FROM THE FRONT LINES.

Now, if Shepard Smith decided to go into Lebanon or the Palestine to do his reports, I’d be impressed!

Muqtedar Khan

Once again I must mention how awesome C-SPAN is in the mornings. Today I was watching coverage of Tuesday’s hearings of the senate foreign relations committee which as far as I could tell consisted only of two senators (surprise) sharing speeches with prominent Middle East experts and scholars.

The guy I listened to was Muqtedar Khan (read his bio), an Indian-born professor of international relations at the University of Delaware. This guy spoke the truth. What he did was point out the reasons the Administration should look to its Americanized Muslim community not only for understanding, but also for human intelligence, target identification and threat assessment, an example of liberal Islam that works within a contemporary framework, and to push a message towards the Middle Eastern world that the U.S. is not fighting a war against Islam. He lamented the lack of consultation given to Middle Eastern experts within the U.S. and representation within the government.

He promotes the idea of “ijtihad”, not “jihad”. Though from the same linguistic roots, “ijtihad” instead means depth, intensity, and freedom of thought.

It was just refreshing to hear actual intelligent discussion of the possibilities and potential for Muslim contribution to our foreign policy. Khan was articulate, thorough, and constructive in his laying out of a plan to improve Middle Eastern relations and policy-making. I was incredibly impressed.

Read this summary of Khan’s ideas.

One thing he brought up was how quickly peoples’ tunes about America changed when he pointed out to them that we spend more money on charity, or “saddaqa”, for the Middle East than Saudi Arabia’s annual GDP. He pointed out that Muslims respect the concept of charity in a very deep, honest way.

It makes me upset that we have not done more to understand Islam since the war on terror began. It would seem to make sense that we study such a foreign culture in order to learn how to approach it, but we haven’t. With anti-intellectualism, xenophobia, and militarism running rampant in the U.S. for the last 5 years, we doom ourselves to failure. One of the most important things I learned while in the Army was the Arab culture. Being exposed to naturalized Arabs, Coptics, Druze, Shi’ite and Sunni Muslims (in the same platoons!), Arabs who naturalized but go back as translators to Iraq to help us, and first generation Arabs who live in the U.S., I now have a deeper understanding of the variety, differences and similarities. It would be my wish to give more airtime to scholars of Arab and Muslim culture, and to encourage their input.

I also wouldn’t have fired half the terrorism/Middle East experts in our analysis networks, either. But hey, what do I know?

This whole hearing of course was ruined once the panelists (also among them, CATO’s counter-terrorism chief) stopped talking and the senators began their screeching.

Barbara Boxer, that lameass Dem from California, began making some analogy to motherhood in response to Khan’s eloquent speech. Something about how bad leadership comes from having only bad choices, which somehow relates to a mother telling her child to go to bed at either 8:00, 8:15, or 8:30. I dunno. Then the dumb windbag starts preaching about how Hezballah (not Hizzzballlahhh as many pronounce it) started all this fighting as a counter to Khan saying that Lebanon feels that the U.S., which built it up for so long, has now betrayed it by standing aside to Israel.

Then she got up and left to do whatever it is that senators do (kowtow I guess) and then the Republican senator (I forget his name) started going on about something that really didn’t make any sense, while the panelists and audience looked pretty bored.

When Mr. Smith goes to Washington, it’s like going to talk to that bitter, senile grandfather-in-law who goes on and on about nothing at all!