Compare and Contrast

Once upon a time, there was fighting in Northern Ireland. Since it was contiguous with sovereign Ireland, some who lived there (generally speaking, Catholics, as this was the majority religion of the Republic of Ireland) regarded the presence of the British government as an illegitimate occupying force. By contrast, descendants of the occupiers, typically Protestant, unsurprisingly regarded the existing government as legitimate precisely because it existed, and was protecting them from people who, as they saw it, wanted to drive them out of their homes.

Meanwhile, back in America… Throughout the twentieth century, appeals from the pulpits of many Catholic churches would from time to time issue forth to pray for and remember brothers and sisters suffering from want and violence in Northern Ireland. Sometimes fund drives would accompany these appeals. Anecdotally, sometimes members of such congregations would privately raise funds for another purpose: to lend aid and comfort to those who “struggle” (the IRA).

Though I grew up not some distance from Catholicism (my mother was Catholic) I honestly can’t recall a whole lot of public effort by Catholics to publicly denounce the IRA to successfully rebut the presumption of guilt. I imagine such denunciations, had they been vigorously insisted upon, would’ve been half-hearted at best. My impression is that a normally socialized American might’ve responded to an expression of sympathy for Northern Irish Catholics, even if prefaced with “I’m not defending the IRA, but…” with those “worship words” of ours: I may not agree with what you’re saying, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.

But what an odd attitude to take! Such people are insufficiently benign, insufficiently American, to be permitted to construct churches. Right? After all we see “hardly one who has raised a fuss about the routine and random bloodshed that defines their brotherhood. So, yes, I wonder whether I need honor these people and pretend that they are worthy of the privileges of the First Amendment which I have in my gut the sense that they will abuse.”

But that’s different, right? I dare you to explain to me why.

And no fair suppressing the fact that 200,000 people took to the streets to condemn the 9/11 attack in Tehran. That 350,000 people did in Istanbul. That there was a candlelight vigil in Algiers on 9/12 which much of the city attended. That at a soccer game in Tehran all 60,000 spectators took a moment of silence before supporters from both teams joined in chants denouncing the terrroist attacks. That the Presidents of Iran, Malaysia, Pakistan, Syria and Indonesia condemned the attacks within hours. That in a Joint Statement on 9/12 by American Muslim Alliance, American Muslim Council, Association of Muslim Scientists and Engineers, Association of Muslim Social Scientists, Council on American-Islamic Relations, Islamic Medical Association of North America, Islamic Circle of North America, Islamic Society of North America, Ministry of Imam W. Deen Mohammed, Muslim American Society and Muslim Public Affairs Council, stated:

“American Muslims utterly condemn the vicious and cowardly acts of terrorism against innocent civilians. We join with all Americans in calling for the swift apprehension and punishment of the perpetrators. No political cause could ever be assisted by such immoral acts.”

unless you wish to presume that each Muslim has responsibility for all violence committed by every Muslim everywhere, and are guilty if they don’t repudiate it in a manner sufficiently convincing to the likes of Mr. Peretz.


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