Monday, January 10, 2005

An important distinction

Babble on.

Peter Bergen makes the point - made by many others (via Daimnation!) - that western nations, and the U.S. in particular are often more charitable towards Muslims in need than Muslims nations are:

Around the Islamic world it is common currency that Muslims are perpetual victims of Western and Zionist conspiracies. The bill of particulars includes the handling of prisoners at Guantánamo Bay, Israel's inequitable treatment of the Palestinians, and the deaths of thousands of civilians in Iraq - as a result first of United Nations sanctions after the Gulf war, and more recently of the American occupation. The most articulate spokesman of such views is, of course, Osama bin Laden.

Yet when Muslims are suffering, it is usually the West, and often the United States, that takes the lead in helping.
...
This anemic effort on the part of the richest Islamic countries is emblematic of a wider political problem in the Islamic world. For all of the invocations by Muslim leaders of the ummah, or the global community of believers, they typically do little to help their fellow Muslims in times of crisis.


There's certainly some substance to the accusation. Another telling example - and one surprisingly overlooked by Bergen - is the slaughter of Sudanese muslims in Darfur. My posts in August of last year still hold true, though: the failure of Muslims and their governments worldwide to forgo demonizing Americans and Jews and support their co-religionists in times of crisis is shameful; but the real problem is one of poor governance of Muslim nations, not paucity of individual Muslims' charitable spirit.

While the citizens of a country can never fully escape responsibility for the actions of those they allow to govern them, there is inarguably a greater degree of separation between the people and the government in dictatorships than in democracies. It's intellectually lazy to equate corrupt, selfish, unprincipled Muslim rulers with the worldwide Muslim population.

On the other hand, it's telling that the American government, American businesses, and the American people all seem to be on the same page regarding disaster relief for tsunami victims - regardless of religion. Muslims, domestic and abroad, should take note.

Babble off.

5 Comments:

At 11:39 AM, Blogger Greg said...

I am not sure about your Sudanese example, B. Don't forget that it was Christians killing Christians in Rwanda and the Christian world did nothing to stop that slaughter either. In both cases, I think, racism trumps religious solidarity and shames both "Muslims" and "Christians".

 
At 12:08 PM, Blogger Babbling Brooks said...

I think you may have missed my point, Greg. I'm not saying the West is pure as the driven snow. I'm saying that we need to resist the wholesale equation of Muslims with corrupt and incidentally "Muslim" governments, while not completely absolving the citizens of Islamic countries of blame. I'm saying Muslims who identify themselves more with their religion than with any nationality need to look at what non-Muslim nations and individuals do when the offal hits the fan in Muslim countries, and think a little harder about any reflexive anti-Western (and esp. anti-Americanism) sentiments they may hold.

As far as racism is concerned, it's still a problem, but I'm not sure it's applicable here. Tsunami victims are not predominantly white. I think the bigger determinant of relief money comes from the random nature of an event (war in Darfur is man-made, famine relief in Ethopia was less noticeably so, and E/Q and tsunami relief are always well-funded), the suddenness of it (slow-burning problems like African AIDS are a tougher draw), and how well it's publicized (any relief concerts or protest marches planned for Western Sahara?).

 
At 1:01 PM, Blogger Mike H said...

It isn't only humanitarian aid that the western democracies, and the U.S. in particular, have provided to the Muslim world in times of crisis.

Kuwait was liberated primarily by the efforts of the U.S. and other western military powers in 1991. Yet today, we're seeing young Kuwaiti jihadists fighting and dying in places like Falluja. While shamefully late, the west eventually intervened on the side of the Bosnian Muslims, against the Christian Bosnian Serbs.

Arab Muslims seem particularly prone to anti-American brainwashing. Leftists like to claim the invasion of Iraq is responsible for this, but that completely overlooks the widespread hatred and distrust of the U.S. that existed among the Arab population long before Saddam was overthrown.

The venom reserved for the U.S. is all the more remarkable when one considers the largely free pass the Arab world gives to France, a country with an ugly colonial past in the Middle East. The French fought a bloody insurgency in Algeria, resulting in the deaths of over 100,000 Algerians. Along with Britain, France attempted to seize the Suez Canal by invading Egypt in 1956, to prevent Nassar from nationalizing it. France provided Israel with the technological assistance and material procurement assistance to build Israel's nuclear arsenal. Yet at the end of the day, it's the U.S, not France, who is " the Great Satan."

 
At 1:01 PM, Blogger Mike H said...

It isn't only humanitarian aid that the western democracies, and the U.S. in particular, have provided to the Muslim world in times of crisis.

Kuwait was liberated primarily by the efforts of the U.S. and other western military powers in 1991. Yet today, we're seeing young Kuwaiti jihadists fighting and dying in places like Falluja. While shamefully late, the west eventually intervened on the side of the Bosnian Muslims, against the Christian Bosnian Serbs.

Arab Muslims seem particularly prone to anti-American brainwashing. Leftists like to claim the invasion of Iraq is responsible for this, but that completely overlooks the widespread hatred and distrust of the U.S. that existed among the Arab population long before Saddam was overthrown.

The venom reserved for the U.S. is all the more remarkable when one considers the largely free pass the Arab world gives to France, a country with an ugly colonial past in the Middle East. The French fought a bloody insurgency in Algeria, resulting in the deaths of over 100,000 Algerians. Along with Britain, France attempted to seize the Suez Canal by invading Egypt in 1956, to prevent Nassar from nationalizing it. France provided Israel with the technological assistance and material procurement assistance to build Israel's nuclear arsenal. Yet at the end of the day, it's the U.S, not France, who is " the Great Satan."

 
At 11:26 PM, Blogger Doug said...

Mike H - I believe you dropped a zero from your Algerian war casualty figure, unless you were counting the French dead rather than the Algerians. And France doesn't just get a free pass from Arab press - they get it all around. When American soldiers made criminals stand on boxes and put underwear on their heads, it dominated international headlines for weeks. When French troops opened fire on a peaceful anti-French protest in Cote d'Ivoire killing 60 and wounding 2000, it hardly seemed to hit the front page anywhere.

 

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