As you watch the pictures of Paris aflame with burning cars and torched buildings, the media want to make sure you remember one thing: it has nothing, absolutely nothing to do with religion.
The rioters? Why, they're merely youths -- "French youths," as the mainstream media insist on calling them. Or, if forced by the facts, the AP will occasionally refer to them as "French-born children of immigrants from France's former territories like Algeria." That's it? Don't they share any other common attribute, perhaps like being Mus--
--NO! Stop that, you bigot! Why, don't you know that merely asking the question is a hate crime?
It's the same in Australia, where police rounded up 17 terror suspects allegedly stockpiling chemical agents for a "large scale" attack. The arrests "had nothing to do with ethnic origin, cultural beliefs, or religious beliefs," New South Wales Police Commissioner Ken Moroney insisted.
That, of course, didn't stop people from coming to the obvious, rational conclusion that, whether the police admit it or not, these suspects were almost certainly motivated by Isl--
--SHUT UP, you xenophobic pig! Stop making your completely baseless and biased assumptions about a world religion that, while you ignorant right-wingers might denigrate it as violent and barbaric, is in fact very well known as the "religion of peace."
Well, that's certainly the position of the mainstream press. After 13 days of rioting, both the AP and Reuters were still sending out lengthy dispatches that, while giving great detail on the number of police officers shot and cars set ablaze, made no mention whatsoever to the rioters' religious beliefs. The Washington Post joined CNN and others in explicitly rejecting the notion of a religious motive: "Islamic ideology and leaders play no role in the disturbances, and many of those participating are not Muslim."
But if the riots have nothing whatsoever to do with Islam and "many" non-Muslims were involved, why does the Post feel the need to make of point of Islam's innocence? Why not make special note that Catholic, Hindu, and Rastafarian ideology played no role in these riots, either?
Could it be related to the fact that the rioters themselves have been quoted in Newsweek (a sister publication of the Post, by the way) shouting "It's Baghdad" and "Jihad!" as they raged through the streets of Paris? Or to the fact that the president of Turkey -- formerly the head of the Islamist National Salvation Party -- declared the root cause of the riots to be France's ban on Islamic headwear (the hijab) in public schools?
Or how about the more obvious fact that, while they'll never mention it, every reader of the New York Times and viewer of MSNBC knows the vast majority of rioters are Mus--
--STOP! Don't you dare use the "M" word! Any religious commonality is sheer coincidence! Nobody would even be talking about I---- in these stories if it weren't for right-wing bigots like you, Mr. Graham!
OK, fine. So the fact that all of the terror suspects arrested in Australia were Mus--
--Prejudice! Racial profiling!
And one of those arrested is an imam who says "my religion doesn't tolerate other religion. It doesn't tolerate. The only one law which needs to spread, it can be here or anywhere else, has to be Isl--"
--Some fringe extremist planted by the CIA! He was probably trained by the American-backed mujahideen in Afghanistan.
And the first World Trade Center bombing in 1993? The embassy in Africa? The USS Cole? 9/11? Madrid? Bali? London? And in every case, the attackers claim they were motivated by Isla--
--Coincidence! Happenstance! There is no evidence whatsoever that Muslims are more motivated by their faith to commit violent acts than any other religion.
So suicide bombings, terror cells, riots in the streets -- even the president of Iran (a nation governed by mullahs) issuing a Hitler-esque call for the annihilation of Israel -- none of this has any direct connection at all to--
--None whatsoever! This is the kind of simplistic, one-dimensional thinking that makes Americans look like such buffoons to suave, sophisticated Europeans.
You mean like in France, where the suave and sophisticated are firebombing churches and synagogues?
--Hah, hah. What's happening in France is simply a form of political protest. Chirac should send in the army.
He can't. The French army refuses to go until someone tells them who they're supposed to surrender to.
--Now that's funny!
I knew we'd agree on something.