Sunday, September 03, 2006

The Good Kind of Martyrdom

Jon Swift has a devastating and funny post up under the title "Kidnapped Fox Newsmen Let Us Down by Not Dying" in which he bursts the bubble of haughtiness surrounding so many right-wing bloggers who think Steven Centanni and Olaf Wiig should have taken a bullet, literally, for Jesus. And I thought martyrdom for religion was supposed to be a bit creepy.

Willing to protect Canada, and Jesus, from the jihadis

Now Canadian theater critic-turned pundit and Conrad Black comrade Mark Steyn has written a ridiculous screed in the pages of the Chicago Sun-Times entitled "Why abduct us? We cede our values for free".

Much like the moral and intellectual midgets Mr. Swift quotes, Steyn is content to sit back in his overstuffed chair (perhaps with a hockey game on in the background?) and pass judgment on real journalists who actually took risks and found themselves in danger.

Since real-world peril is apparently alien to Mr. Steyn, he can only resort to fiction to elucidate the moral mettle he so esteems. He brings up an episode in Arthur Conan Doyle's novel The Tragedy of the Korosko in which some European tourists have been kidnapped by Mahdists. They are given the choice to convert to Islam or die.
Yet in the end, even as men with no religious convictions, they cannot bring themselves to submit to Islam, for they understand it to be not just a denial of Christ but in some sense a denial of themselves, too. So they stall and delay and bog down the imam in a lot of technical questions until eventually he wises up and they're condemned to death.
How brave of these fictional characters in a fictional predicament. And how noble. As everyone knows, denying Christ is the worst thing possible and no good could possibly come after committing such a crime against the divine. Saint Peter denied Christ three times—all in one night—for the base goal of saving himself. And I'm pretty sure he never went on to do anything worthwhile after that.

Steyn's main concern is not for the souls of our weak-willed friends at FOX, however. He's worried that their capitulation sends the wrong message to the Muslim world.
[The conversion video] confirms the central truth Osama and the mullahs have been peddling — that the West is weak, that there's nothing — no core, no bedrock — nothing it's not willing to trade.
Nice to see that Mark Steyn and Osama bin Laden agree on something. It's strange that conservatives would be so concerned over what the rest of the world thinks about this, when they don't give half a damn what message we send to the "Arab street" when we torture prisoners or rape and murder their women. It's an interesting change of heart.

Of course, the feeble FOX journalists converting to Islam is just a symptom of something much worse.
The larger problem, it seems to me, is that much of the rest of the Western media have also converted to Islam, and there seems to be no way to get them to convert back to journalism.
Strange. During the Muhammad cartoon crisis I missed out on the pro-Islam Western press. I must have just been reading the wrong papers. It's certainly worth noting that Islam is somehow antithetical to journalism. I doubt that the Anglican Mr. Steyn would say the same of Christianity. Go figure.

But we haven't even gotten to the really strange part of the article yet. Steyn wouldn't miss a chance to engage in a little homophobia at the expense of Andrew Sullivan.
...attempting to reconcile his sexual temperament and his alleged political one, Time magazine's gay Tory Andrew Sullivan enthuses, "By letting go, we become. By giving up, we gain. And we learn how to live — now, which is the only time that matters." That's almost a literal restatement of Faust's bargain with the devil...
Oh, is Sullivan gay? I barely noticed both of your references. And what on earth does that have to do with the matter at hand? Not a thing. Except, I suppose, to make a connection between homosexuality and Satan. Well done, Mr. Steyn.

In fact, the quote, which Steyn pulled out of Sullivan's new book on conservatism, is slightly off topic. Sullivan is talking about self-imposed guilt. He's not talking about Islam at all. It's certainly odd, to say the least, for Steyn to lecture us on "journalism" when he evidently doesn't know the first thing about it. Taking a quote wildly out of context to make your "point" and simultaneously score a cheap shot is a bit of a journalistic no-no.

But, then again, so is choosing life over execution at the hands of Muslim fundamentalists. Don't they teach that in j-school?
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