Rude Advice: Don't Make the Koran the Issue:
For some reason, the Rude Pundit can't find it in him to give a fuck about the "desecration" of the Koran at Gitmo except in the most abstract sense. We'll get to that in a sec. Now that it's been "confirmed" by the military that interrogators stepped on, kicked, "inadvertently" splashed with water and urine the holy book of Islam, the Rude Pundit simply looks at the report and says the same thing he says to conservatives who get their panties in a wad over flag burning: "Goddamn shame you put so much belief into a replaceable inanimate object." Because it seems like in the "outrage" over Koran desecration by the left, it's been conveniently forgotten that religious fundamentalism, in the Middle East and in America, is what's gotten us into this mess in the first place. And, frankly, the Rude Pundit would be pretty fuckin' hard-pressed to find sympathy for a Christian who was gonna screech and scream over a stomped Good Book or a crucifix used for sodomizin', so, you know, let's be consistent in our contempt here, a'ight?
Brookings Fellow M.A. Muqtedar Khan played to white liberal guilt when he wrote over at Common Dreams, "This is worse than Abu Ghraib; Abu Ghraib represents the physical and psychological torture of a few Muslims, Quran desecration represents a spiritual, emotional and psychological torture of all Muslims." Ah, yes, the sweet oblivion of cultural relativism, which sometimes is a magnificent thing when it teaches us that other people and places can be right, too, but often is a way of pandering to the ignorance of others. In other words, if we were talkin' King James's or Ol'Glory in the potty, it'd be a damn shame for many on the left, but not a fuckin' cause. But, mercy, we gotta look after the delicate constitutions of the Islamic world and howl about their word o'God. It's racist. It's Orientalist. And it's fuckin' insufferable. If we buy Khan's argument, if we say, "Well, it's worse to punt a book than to beat a body," then we are continuing down the slippery slope of allowing religion to dictate our legal and ethical behavior as surely as Bush's decisions on the funding of stem cell research.
The Rude Pundit doesn't suffer fundamentalists gladly. It doesn't matter if you're a Bible-thumpin' Christian, a Koran-riotin' Muslim, or a ripped-to-shit flag waver, you can take your strict adherence to your religious and/or nationalistic code and, well, flush it down the toilet. Because, frankly, if you're willing to go nutzoid over the desecration of a book, then you're someone who's willing to oppress real, living people - maybe that's forcing women to always be accompanied by a man, maybe it's not allowing gay people to marry each other or adopt kids, maybe it's re-electin' a lyin' sack of shit to the presidency. However it forces you to behave, it's gonna end up screwin' someone else's freedoms over. So fuck you.
However, in that abstract sense, there's a few important things about the whole Koran in the shitter story that are instructive. For instance, we all know this is really about the behavior of soldiers at Gitmo (and elsewhere) and America's policies toward prisoners. Why the fuck were soldiers throwing water balloons? Were they at each other or at the prisoners? What kind of magical urine splashes through an air vent onto the belongings of prisoners? And why, for the love of Christ, Allah, whoever, are prisoners being beaten and their property wrecked when they haven't even been charged with any crimes (not that it should happen even if they're tried and guilty)? (And we shouldn't give a shit if the desecrated book was the Koran, a Harry Potter book, or Mitch Albom's Five People You Wanna Bone In Heaven.) And, finally, and most importantly, why aren't Americans rioting in the streets over the fact that the Guantanamo gulag even exists?
The issue is not the crazed religious beliefs of others. The issue is how a nation treats people. The issue is personal property. The issue is torture. The issue is the presumption of guilt. The issue is the inversion of everything most of us were taught about this great nation, whose fall from grace has been harrowing to watch. It's not that a Koran or two or five were pissed on or stomped. Once we make it that, we buy into a religious doctrine that places faith over the physical. And we cannot make legal decisions in that way.
Yes, yes, the Rude Pundit knows that mostly the left's emphasis on the Koran desecration story was about the way the Bush administration demanded that Newsweek retract its original article and denies any wrongdoing at Gitmo in any way, shape, or form. And yes, yes, the Rude Pundit knows that Koran-kickin' wasn't the real cause of the Afghanistan riots. But it became the story. Now, let's simply make it into what it is: another type of American arrogance and violence, another kind of colonialism, another way to degrade the minds and bodies of the Arab world; and let's not buy into anything that gives Koran desecration a privileged place in the pantheon of American horrors.
(Let's open this up, motherfuckers: You disagree? Hit the Rude Pundit with both barrels. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Later this week, the Rude Pundit will print any worthy responses.)
Update: Kevin Beck wrote about much the same on Saturday. Thanks to reader Bill for the heads up.