Where’s THEIR outrage?

First, let me say that I’m in accord with Laurie’s sentiments below: indeed, there are many things perpetrated by the West with which we should be "outraged." I’m sure she would agree, however, that "outrage" is a two-way street, and that "outrage" is severely lacking in many other parts of the world.

It is rare that I agree with David Brooks, but his Op-Ed today is right on the money: why on earth are we blaming Newsweek for deaths from rioting in Afghanistan? Says Brooks:

They’re (the Administration) attacking Newsweek while bending over backward to show sensitivity to the Afghans who just went on a murderous rampage. Talk about the bigotry of low expectations.

Maybe we should all focus on what’s important. Newsweek’s little item was seized and exploited by America’s enemies in a way that was characteristically cynical, delusional and fascistic.

The people who seized upon this item, like the radical clerics in Afghanistan, are cynical in the way they manipulate episodes like this to whip up hatred and so magnify their own standing.

And in case we needed a reason to be disturbed at the shortage of "outrage" in the Middle East for the doctrine of hate, here’s a little snippet from a sermon delivered by Sheik Ibrahim Mudeiris, which ran last weekend on the Palestinian Authority’s official TV station:

"The day will come when we will rule America. The day will come when we will rule Britain and the entire world – except for the Jews. The Jews will not enjoy a life of tranquility under our rule because they are treacherous by nature, as they have been throughout history. The day will come when everything will be relieved of the Jews – even the stones and trees which were harmed by them. Listen to the Prophet Muhammad, who tells you about the evil end that awaits Jews. The stones and trees will want the Muslims to finish off every Jew."

A cautionary tale indeed for those of us who sometimes imagine the media/Israel/Rumsfeld are the real dangers in this world. By all means hold them to account (yes!), but don’t treat these fanatics as if "they can’t help it."

Where’s the Arab world’s "outrage" at the car-bombings in Iraq? If it exists at all it’s directed at America. Just what these people want.


  1. Interesting post, Ronan. I had the same thoughts as I watched the news yesterday about how a prominent Muslim insurgent proclaimed to his compatriots that muslim deaths were justified in the jihad to oust the Western occupiers. I was struck that the news didn’t show any muslims denouncing this statement on every level.

    My thoughts were, first, that our media outlets are biased and disproportionately report only the “bad” muslims, and second, that I guess we’re supposed to think that these (and the Newsweek deaths) are collateral damage in the war.

    Or maybe theirs is just a more violent, bloodthirsty culture?

  2. Or maybe theirs is just a more violent, bloodthirsty culture?

    I would be very reluctant to draw that conclusion. All of my experiences with Muslims and Arabs have been wonderful.

    That said, I think there is a disturbing level of unaccountability in the Middle East. OK, earlier and modern imperialism must shoulder some blame, but at some stage someone has to stand up and be counted.

  3. a random John says:

    Look at nearly every hot-spot in the world today and there is a common denominator: The British spent time there, drew the borders, and left a mess.


  4. rJ,
    Very funny.
    But we only created a mess when we left. We should have stayed. It’s time the Empire struck back to save these savages from themselves. Oh wait…

  5. If you are going to beat up on colonialism, don’t forget the French, the Dutch, etc.

  6. a random John says:

    When I was living in Portugal there was news in the papers about East Timor every single day. In the US papers? Nothing. For whatever reason, the US mostly cares about problems they have caused or that the UK has caused.

  7. I don’t know enough muslims or enough about their culture to believe their culture is any more bloodthirsty than any other culture, but I think the general portrayal of muslims in the media and elsewhere is that not only are they more violent, bloodthirsty and socially backward, but they are particularly susceptible to believing heavenly rewards justify murder.

    And as a tie-in to Laurie’s thread about the prison abuse, seems to me that the prison abuse scandal and the Newsweek scandal about the flushing of the Koran down the toilet (where no one was killed in the incidents themselves) provoked much more outrage than the deaths of hundreds of muslims assassinated every day by other muslims (or by others).

  8. Laurie DiPadova-Stocks says:

    I want to thank Ronan for extending the discussion of an important topic. The Brooks piece also make important points.

    However, I regret the impression that I would agree that outrage is a two-way street. I hold my outrage as my responsibility, which I abdicate to no one. Just like morality is not a two-way street, nor is honesty. My determination to be moral and honest does not depend on what others may or may not do. I think most folks on this blog would hold the same, if pressed on the issue.

    Like others, I was struck at the lack of outrage reported in the media by the Arab leaders to the beheadings of Americans. But that does not, in my view, excuse any Americans–or Christians–from deep regret over the way Arab prisoners have been treated by us, by the clever ways we tortured them in a manner which profoundly denigrated their sacred religious beliefs, and their moral views of sexual purity. In torturing prisoners with these means, Americans were attacking another religion–not the prisoners per se. Not the country. Not Saddam. But the RELIGION. And say what you will, most of the pictures we saw had nothing to do with questioning and interrogation.

    And don’t forget–we are the aggressors in their country (Iraq). Iraqis did not attack us on 9/11. Saudis did. And look at our relationship with the Saudi government. Even Laura Bush made fun of the handholding at the ranch! But I digress.

    [For the sake of clarity, i state that my sources for these comments and my recent public observations on this matter, for Erik and others who are bound to ask, are multiple mainstream media broadcasts. If the Nation has taken over the networks and CNN, I am not aware of it.]

    Again, my thanks to Ronan for extending this important discussion. Laurie

  9. I second Laurie’s thanks for continuing this issue.

    I think that there are three issues here that are prompting outrage from different groups. Listed in no particular order, these are:

    First, a news magazine that purports to be objective, but that is alleged to have standards for publishing have tilt toward bludgeoning perceived Republican causes and protecting Democratic causes.

    Second, there appears to be Muslims all over the world who seem to be willing to kill themselves, each other, and others at the least provocation.

    Third, there are those who find the preceding two characterizations to be mean-spirited, bigoted, or just downright foolish.

    I’d say that the first of these issues is the most trivial, the second (if true) represents the most dangerous, and the third is the most challenging to our presuppositions. What is a bit surprising is that conservatives like those in the administration (though not like David Brooks) tend to be focussing the first to the exclusion of the second (as Ronan points out). Liberals tend to be focussing on the third, which is perfectly consistent with their point of view. But the second issue is the one that really aligns with the conservative agenda to protect America and try to stabilize the world in the face of jihadists.

    So I share your bewilderment, Ronan. Why have outrage over the first instead of the second? If nothing else, the administration’s reluctance to embrace a stance that would justify harsher measures in the countries we are occupying or trying to stabilize (depending on who you ask) either (a) undermines the claims by critics that they are basically imperialists, or (b) shows them to be lousy imperialists.

  10. Also, might I suggest that you change the title to something like “Where’s the Outrage (2)” so that people don’t avoid the links in the sidebar because they mistakenly think we’re still droning on about me? (no need to respond to this, and please delete it if it constitutes a thread-jack)

  11. Looks like Brother random John is crossed over to the side of the “hate-America”, “the USA is the font of all evil” meme.
    And, as one who grew up in a country colonised by the Brits, I am of the opinion that the coming of the Brits actually was a good thing. The Brits brought western rational thought and pulled us out of the morass of savagery, and ignorance we were in. Think about it – if the Brits hadnt come, we would still be burning widows at their dead husband’s funeral pyres(if Hindu), or burying them alive with their dead husbands(if Muslim).
    Colonialism is not necessarily the bad thing that academic po-mo leftists make it out to be. The good stuff that has happened, is simply overlooked, cuz, it is so much more fun to deconstruct, and write negative stuff about western societies. becasue, as all of us know, non-western societies are so much more civilised and superior to the USA and the UK!!!!
    And as far as tyhe Brits screwing up countries like India and Pakistan – lets blame the people actually responsible for the mess. Lets blame the Indian National congress and the Muslim League, and their political heirs, not the Brits. It is us Indians and pakistanis, our “august” leaders, and the extremists Islamic Imama and the extremist hindu priests who are responsible for the mess on the sub-continent, not t he Brits or George W. Bush and SecDef Rumsfield.
    Just my opinion. I know a lot of my countrymen would like to bitch on and on about the alleged “crimes” of colonial powers, yet, theya re lining up at the british and American Embassies and consulates all over India, trying desperately to get a Visa to move outof India and emigrate to the USA and the UK.

  12. Apologies for the ADHD typosand misspelling. Ah, I have an excuse, moving to the USA caused me to get ADHD, and my anger at the “oppression” suffered by my ancestors by Ronan’s countrymen, has caused me to mess up the contents of the comment!!! :) :) ASo, do I get extra affirmative action points so that I can get into Yale Law? or else, i will settle for a place at Michigan law, so that I can take classes with catherine MacKinnon, and be taught how much of a criminal I am, my crime being that I was born male.
    My apologies for this uncalled for thread hijacking.

  13. lyle stamps says:

    Ronin: Nice post. Funny, combining Brooks & Friedman, one almost gets a decent view of whats going on. However, while there is plenty of “outrage” to go around…why don’t we focus on “applause” instead? Personally, I like the “thumper” theory of foreign policy…say nice things only; and let your silence speak volumes.

    NOte, you are correct re: British ‘colonialism’. Try running a GDP comparison, Human Rights respect, and democracy comparison of former british colonies vis-a-vis other colonies and non-colonies. The fact is, the Brits did plenty of good by these countries. Having been in Kenya and Uganda about 1.5 years ago, it was nice to see alot of progress.

  14. ronin,
    and let’s not talk about Zimbabwe either…

    (BTW: ronin and ronan are (i think) two different people. i do not have adhd, nor am i from india.)

  15. Ronan is right – he and I, Ronin, aka Sid, are two distinctly seperate people. Since our names are similar, i will go bac to using my real name rather than using my usual internet handle. Apologies for causing any confusion.

  16. Mark B. says:

    Ronin were, of course, Samurai warriors not attached to a master. Ronan has no such shameful past.

  17. Ronin/Sid,

    That is why I asked you a year or so ago, before Ronan was really an active member of the bloggernacle, if you were “Ronan of Oxford fame, now of Johns Hopkins fame…”

    It was because even then, I was confusing you with him, though he was not really around then except in the form of “headlife”.

  18. Laurie,

    You stated that

    “I hold my outrage as my responsibility, which I abdicate to no one. Just like morality is not a two-way street, nor is honesty. My determination to be moral and honest does not depend on what others may or may not do. ”

    which I agree with absolutely, but that does not coincide with your apparent call to repentance of the original post which started this discussion.

    “I am not only ashamed that fellow Americans committed these acts, but also that the majority of Americans–and Mormons apparently–cannot find it in themselves to regard these acts as outrageous.”

  19. a random John says:


    I actually was characterizing the UK as the font of all evil, but not very seriously. If the US is evil it is only because the UK left us that way. As soon as the UK really leaves Canada they’ll become evil as well, I am sure. Take the monarch off the currency and there goes the neighborhood.

  20. John – I apologise, I misunderstood your comment.

  21. Laurie DiPadova-Stocks says:

    Fiona, thanks for catching this apparent contradiction. I do contradict myself on occasion–which is fine with me. I freely own such contradictions!

    But to what you pointed out: I do not perceive any inconsistency, so perhaps I did not express myself clearly.

    In the first quote, I am stating that my being outraged is not dependent on what someone else does–that is to say, two wrongs do not make a right. If someone is dishonest with me, that does not give me license to be dishonest. Thus the lack of Muslim outrage (from what we hear across miles of nonknowledge, imho) is not an excuse for any lack of outrage over US actions.

    In the second quote, I am advocating for open expression of outrage, which I see as qualitatively different from and consistent with the former quote. The fact that I own my outrage does not prelude actions to encourage others to do the same. Just like having a testimony does not preclude me from sharing it.

    Thanks, Laurie

  22. Mark B. says:

    To clarify something I said in #16.

    I did not intend to suggest anything about the poster ronin’s past.

    The last sentence of my comment was a half-baked allusion to the position of the ronin, samurai w/o a master, in Japanese feudal society.

    My apologies to our ronin here for the confusion.

  23. danithew says:

    I’ve only looked here briefly but I don’t think I’ve seen links to the transcript or video of Sheik Ibrahim Mudeiris’s speech.

    Here or here.

    What bothers me most is when the video pans to the attentive calm (unoutraged) audience, as he says these horribly racist and Islamofascist comments.

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