AskWHYBlog: Carol Harvey In San Francisco

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Wednesday, May 18, 2005

WILL NEWSWEEK'S FLUSHING THE KORAN BRING JIHAD?









Striking that there have been so many major mainstream media mistakes of late.

First reporter, Jayson Blair, seriously undermined the New York Time's century-old gold standard credibility by manufacturing news. Then there was Dan's Rather pathetic apology in September 2004 for unauthenticated documentation of lapses in Bushes' National Guard record. Now the death of fifteen people in Afghan riots because of a paragraph-long news story that nobody but Newsweek and the Pentagon saw for weeks.

One wonders if the News Giant and the Octagonal Behemoth hoped no one would notice the story, and it would all just go away.

The sad truth is that Afghans who got released from Gitmo went home and told folks what was really happening there. Rule of Thumb: When you hear a rumor from an eyewitness, it's probably true. No one else but former prisoners could be privy to it. No one else is allowed inside.

The pictures from Abu Ghraib confirmed the slow stain of the spreading word. The Newsweek story was the tripwire detonating a long-ticking explosive device.

Sadder still is the fact that Westerners do not understand that the image of someone flushing the Koran down a toilet, whether or not it was actually done, is a major hit to the spiritual solar plexus of the largest religious group on the planet. The core values of this vast population are centered on the Word of the Koran. To desecrate it with excrement, metaphorical or real, will threaten to touch off, sooner or later, the beginning of a Holy War.

The journalists who participated in this sloppy, insensitive "mistake" of not thoroughly checking sources for a story so incendiary could have done far otherwise years ago. They could have written pieces to help The West "grasp" The East, not to absolve from their responsibility the few that perpetrated violence during 911, but to understand their culture. Understanding could have helped us avoid falling into horrible pits like this and saved all our lives from a true Jihad if that came about as a result.


Newsweek should do far more than apologize and retract this story. They took the easy way out.

Newsweek should have mandated reporter Michael Isikoff, Washington Bureau Chief Daniel Klaidman, and its Editor-In-Chief to make formal and public apologies to the Afghani people and the families of the fifteen souls killed in the riots. They should send emissaries to Afghanistan with monetary reparations paid directly to these families for their pain and suffering.

This atrocity should be addressed in at the United Nations as far more than an "incident" with profound International implications. Any attempt to pass it off with pale apologies will merely serve to verify once again the negative world opinion coalescing like a black pestilence around the badly tarnished image of the United States.

The vast numbers of the world's good people, both East and West, deserve much better than this.