In the days since President Obama’s highly touted “speech to the Muslim world,” a number of commentators have pointed out that Obama, a self-described “student of history,” managed to serve up a pastiche of half-truths, exaggerations, and utter nonsense about Islamic history, and that even in his supposedly gutsier moments — as when he criticized the treatment of women in Muslim societies — he was hardly as forceful as the circumstances warrant.
It’s no coincidence that the commentators who have made these points have done so, almost without exception, not in major media organs but in places like PJ Media. For the flattering account of Islam that Obama served up in Cairo — the celebration of imaginary Islamic achievements in science and culture, the evocation of a golden-age Andalusia where Christians and Jews were treated with respect and equality, and the references to the Koran that made it sound like the Sermon on the Mount — are of a piece with the fictions about Islam found regularly in the mainstream press. This is certainly true of the New York Times, and it’s equally the case with the Washington Post — a fact that will be obvious to any reader of my new book, Surrender: Appeasing Islam, Sacrificing Freedom, in which the index includes the following entry:
Washington Post, 66, 102, 103, 149-51, 156, 163-64, 238, 262, 263-64, 276
Now, with the single exception of the very last Post reference (the one on page 276, which is a thumbs-up for columnist Anne Applebaum), my mentions of the Post in Surrender all point to the reliability with which the newspaper clings to what one might call a wishful-thinking view of Islam — as if Islam were, say, nothing more than Episcopalianism with prayer rugs and burkas.
On page 102, for example, I recount a 2008 speech in which Post managing editor Philip Bennett “lamented that the media, including his own newspaper, had failed to give the American public a clear understanding of Islam.” He was right — but his point was not that the Post routinely skirts the severity of Islamic doctrine and whitewashes Islamic views of freedom of speech and religion, women’s rights, and so forth. No, his argument was that his and other newspapers portray Islam too negatively. The answer to this dilemma, in his view? Employ more Muslim reporters and editors.
Then there’s page 150, where I cite a blog on the Post/Newsweek website by top-tier Islam apologist John Esposito. Esposito is the founding director of something called the Prince Alwaleed bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding at Georgetown University — which means that the Saudi royal family pays his salary. Which, in turn, means that a man on the payroll of the world’s most oppressive Islamic regime is engaged by the Washington Post and Newsweek to provide their readers with objective facts about Islam. This perverse state of affairs is, alas, par for the course in today’s mainstream media.
Turn to page 156 of my book and you’ll read about a softball Post Q & A with media darling Tariq Ramadan that utterly failed to address, among other things, Ramadan’s refusal to condemn the stoning of adulteresses or to challenge this out-and-out Islamist’s bald-faced effort to come off as moderate. On page 164, I note that the Post and New York Times, on the very same day (June 20, 2007), published op-eds by Hamas spokesman Ahmad Yousef; on page 238 I point out that while the Post op-ed page ran not only Yousef’s propaganda but also similar material by other Hamas and Hezbollah heavies, it rejected an op-ed it had commissioned from author Sam Harris to write about Geert Wilders’s short film Fitna for being “too critical of Islam.” In short, as I put it in the book: “Harris was too extreme for the Post, but Hamas wasn’t.”