Thursday, August 10, 2006

The Fear of Stefan Sharkansky and Co.

It's not a helpful fear.

I had remembered that Stefan Sharkansky wrote a few pieces in The Stranger a while back and was curious to check out his blog, Sound Politics. I was intrigued that Sharkansky was writing as a staunch conservative in the progressive bastion of Seattle and was curious to see his blog's conservative take on politics both local and beyond. But I was a bit shocked by what I found there.

Apparently, Stefan's favorite blogging theme right now is that the Seattle area Muslim community has not been apologetic enough in the aftermath of last week's Jewish center shooting. He has particularly singled out a Jeff Siddiqui of American Muslims of Puget Sound. Note Stefan's cute headline about 'reluctantly expressing sympathy,' trying to make Saddiqui seem very cold-hearted about the shooting. Here's Saddiqui's actual point:
We struggled for some time about whether a statement should be sent out or not, because we would like this to be recognized for the grievous crime that it is, rather than an event that calls for an explanation or apology by Muslims.

In the end, it was decided that we need to extend our sympathies and good will to those who were victimized by this crime because it would prevent misunderstandings between the faiths.

Now, I don't know the first thing about Siddiqui and am not going to try to judge him in general, but if we're just discussing his words, then Stefan is way off the mark in his interpretation. Siddiqui is saying that it should not be assumed that all Muslims are sympathetic with the gunman unless they explicitly come out and say that they are not.

But Stefan plods on. Apparently 9 days before the shooting, Siddiqui had a letter to the editor published in the Everett Herald, in which he wrote the following:
I grieve that once more Muslims will sit it out and watch the slaughter of Muslims and Arabs (many are Christians) [in Lebanon] and only grumble among ourselves.

I fear there may be some idiotic Muslim who will decide to take matters into his own hand and perpetrate some terrible act on people whose only guilt is inaction (just like the Muslims themselves). This will only fuel more fire against us.

His letter can be read in its entirety here. Stefan's comment is just plain nuts, saying that Siddiqui was making veiled threats and that it's 'not unreasonable' to surmise that the gunman was inspired by Siddiqui. In fact, Siddiqui's point seems to be that terrorists like Naveed Haq, the Seattle shooter, are not only committing terrible acts but also causing a great deal of grief for other Muslims, because the community holds all Muslims responsible. And in that respect Siddiqui is remarkably prescient, because that's exactly what Stefan and his crew are doing.

And then Stefan goes from the ridiculous to the sublime, apparently outraged that Muslims are organizing a peace march in Seattle. Stefan even puts 'peace march' in scare quotes. Shouldn't he be celebrating these Muslims? What do you want, Stefan?

I encourage you to read a few of the comment threads, as much as you can stomach. It gives an interesting taste of how deranged the far-right is in the US. I posted a few comments challenging Stefan's arguments and was threatened with decapitation and having a bullet put through my head. And these are the folks who brush all Muslims as being violent and sick.

It's sad, but people like Stefan and many of his readers seem to have sold their souls, thinking that doing so is necessary to fight the war on terror. Should we be concerned about fanatical Muslims? Absolutely - just look at the news today. But Stefan and many of his readers are demented and dangerous and afraid of everything, and they're absolutely not helpful, to say the least.

Update: I also found this, which Sharkansky seems to ignore.

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