Flushed Korans and Protected Victims

By Robert Spencer

FrontPageMagazine.com | 8/1/2007

A 23-year-old student at Pace University, Stanislav Shmulevich, was arrested Friday and charged with two felony counts of Criminal Mischief in the Fourth Degree as a Hate Crime. Numerous analysts have been quick to recognize the cruel irony of these charges. Mark Steyn quipped that instead of flushing the Qur'an, "obviously Mr Shmulevich should have submerged it in his own urine, applied for an NEA grant and offered it to the Whitney Biennial." But to that Michelle Malkin responded with the grim truth: "Actually, no. The NEA would have turned Shmulevich in to the police, too. Now, if he had submerged a Bible in urine or coated a Torah in cow dung and submitted it for a federal grant, he'd be sitting pretty-and facing rave New York Times editorials instead of time behind bars."

And that's why, as Christopher Hitchens said, "This has to stop, and it has to stop right now. There can be no concession to sharia in the United States. When will we see someone detained, or even cautioned, for advocating the burning of books in the name of God? If the police are honestly interested in this sort of 'hate crime,' I can help them identify those who spent much of last year uttering physical threats against the republication in this country of some Danish cartoons."

Indeed, it has to stop. For all the examples of the double standard that he, Malkin and others have brought forth - from Piss Christ to Chris Ofili's Turner-Prize-winning, elephant-dung and pornography-bedecked Virgin Mary and the rest - emphasize the fact that the real agenda of today's dominant politically correct culture is certainly not tolerance, or even anything-goes moral relativism. Some things most emphatically don't go, as Stanislav Shmulevich's two felony charges indicate. As a cultural movement, political correctness and multiculturalism are emphatically anti-Western and anti-Christian. And they are also suicidal.

But it is not going to stop. As mad as the felony charges against him are, Stanislav Shmulevich most likely is not the end of anything, but rather the beginning. We are unlikely as a society to become a place in which disrespect or even hatred of Christianity comes to be regarded as just as dangerous to the social order as disrespect or hatred of Islam, and we are just as unlikely to return to a saner time when one could not be prosecuted for disliking someone else's beliefs (in which case Shmulevich would have to pay for the books, and for any necessary plumbing work, but that would be all).

We have become a society of sacrosanct protected classes whose victim status places them above all criticism. Those individuals and groups who do not enjoy victim status can be shredded with impunity in the public square, and the shredders are hailed as "courageous," "iconoclastic," and "irreverent." But if the protected group is criticized in any way, we are told that the criticism creates a climate of "hostility" and "hate" that can culminate in yet more victimization.

The Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) has worked assiduously for years to claim this protected victim status for Muslims, and its reaction to this incident has allowed them to articulate how they want Muslims in America to be regarded. CAIR-NY Civil Rights Coordinator Aliya Latif said: "We must all be concerned when any actions cross the line from protected free speech to acts designed to intimidate. Just as there is a difference between someone burning a cross in their own backyard and burning that same cross in the yard of an African-American family, there is a difference between desecrating a religious text in a private setting and doing so in a setting that will create a hostile learning environment."

Muslims are the new blacks, and CAIR is the new NAACP; this statement is of a piece with CAIR's annual hate crimes report, which attempts, often in quite imaginative ways, to project an image of Muslims as bravely going about their daily lives in an American society that is inveterately hostile, racist, and on the verge of breaking out into open violence against them.

Yet this is nothing more than a myth. A potent one, to be sure, but a myth. Muslims are not being lynched, or persecuted, or discriminated against in America. Time and time again breathless media-amplified fears of 'backlash" against Muslims prove unfounded, and Muslims continue to practice their faith here with more freedom than they enjoy in most of the countries from which they came.

That's why Stanislav Shmulevich and his flushed Qur'ans are a windfall for American Muslim advocacy groups: he has now validated the victim status they so doggedly claim. And until the American public discourse can dare to break away from the protected-victim model and its subtext of white Christian guilt, these groups will experience many more such windfalls, whenever someone acts obnoxiously or boorishly toward any Muslim or Islamic object. The American public square today simply has no apparatus for dealing with the possibility that the protected victims might be perpetrating evil themselves.

The cognitive dissonance regarding Muslims since 9/11 is ultimately what has given birth to 9/11 conspiracy theories, Reichstag fire analogies, and the like. Muslims can't be responsible, because they are non-white, non-Christian, non-Westerners. It must be something we have done.

Most ominous of all is the fact that policymakers at the highest levels assume this. Western leaders routinely assume that money will defeat terrorism: that alleviating poverty in the Islamic world will end the jihad. This assumption rests on a further assumption: that the jihad imperative doesn't arise from anything within the Islamic world that would still be present even if the West somehow began to treat Muslims better. For Muslims are victims, and Westerners are the guilty party.

That is the West's guiding myth. It is why desecration of the Bible will continue to be celebrated as art, and desecration of the Qur'an as a "hate crime." So also is an objective examination of the elements of Islam that jihadists use today to incite to violence, for that violence is all the fault of the guilty post-Christians of Europe and America. If the West is to survive the challenge of the global jihad, this foundational myth must be brought out into the open, repudiated, and decisively rejected.

Robert Spencer is a scholar of Islamic history, theology, and law and the director of Jihad Watch. He is the author of seven books, eight monographs, and hundreds of articles about jihad and Islamic terrorism, including the New York Times Bestsellers The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades) and The Truth About Muhammad. His latest book is Religion of Peace?.

Excerpts from Will Durant's The Age of Faith Pages 162-186 Pub. 1950