Madeleine Bunting, writing in England’s Guardian believes that the Pope should not have spoken out about Islam because he knew it would lead to violence–in fact, she dubbed it, “papal stupidty”. In an exceptional TCS column, Lee Harris writes:
“Papal stupidity” is strong language. But a few paragraphs before this harsh phrase, Madeleine Bunting has prepared us for it by arguing that “even the most cursory knowledge of dialogue with Islam teaches…that reverence for the Prophet is non-negotiable. What unites all Muslims is a passionate devotion and commitment to protecting the honor of Mohammed.” A Pope who did not know that “reverence for the Prophet is non-negotiable” must, therefore, be guilty of egregious stupidity.
Harris writes, “This leads me to the question that I would like to pose to Madeleine Bunting and all those who have attacked Benedict for his lack of moral responsibility in making the Regensburg address”:
Suppose that the eminent English biologist Richard Dawkins delivered a speech at the University of Regensburg in which he attacked supporters of Creationism and Intelligent Design theory as “ignorant boobs” — words that he has already applied in them in a written article. Now, let us imagine that Christian fundamentalists all over the United States, outraged by this inflammatory language, went on a violent rampage. Suppose that they lynched an elderly professor of biology, and attacked biology departments at several universities. Suppose that teachers of high school biology went about in fear of their lives, while many simply quit their jobs.
What kind of article would Madeleine Bunting write about such a hypothetical incident? Do you think she would violently condemn Richard Dawkins, writing something along the lines of:
“Even the most cursory knowledge of dialogue with Creationists teaches…that reverence for the Biblical account of man’s creation is non-negotiable. What unites all Christian fundamentalists is a passionate devotion and commitment to the inerrancy of the Holy Bible.”
Would Madeleine Bunting refer to Dawkins’ speech as illustrating professorial stupidity? Would she imply that he was personally responsible for the death of the elderly American professor of biology, and describe the brutal murder as having been done “in retaliation” for Dawkins’ remarks?
What fools the American Creationists have been to write books, give speeches, and attend the tedious meetings of School Boards, when by rioting, murdering, and running amok, they could have earned the sympathy and respect of enlightened intellectuals like Madeleine Bunting. Instead of being ridiculed as “ignorant boobs,” even such prestigious left-leaning papers as The Guardian would rally to their defense reminding us all that for Christian fundamentalists the teaching of creationism is “non-negotiable.”
Of course, it was only a year ago, that the Guardian was running columns written by an Islamic journalist trainee who praised the 7/7 London bombers as “sassy”. And only a year before that, when the Guardian gave another budding trainee journalist a crack at the op-ed page…