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Sometimes Students Just Aren't the Best Ambassadors

The University of Georgia's student-run newspaper, the Red and Black (circulation 17,000+), dealt with Monday's fifth anniversary of 9/11 in a very unconventional way: they ignored it. The middle of the paper's front page featured a giant picture of Steve Spurrier and a recap of Saturday’s football game against the South Carolina Gamecocks, with the juvenile headline "Cocks Blocked 18-0." Above the fold was an article about Muslim students “facing prejudice” – with the only supporting evidence of that being a story of mosque vandalism five years ago.

The only mention of the terrorist attacks themselves, the loss of American life, and the anniversary of that terrible day was on the editorial page – and even there, it was severely limited. Two recent UGA alumni gave their lives fighting the War on Terror; they were only mentioned once, and that in passing. When letters to the editor poured in complaining about the lack of anniversary coverage – as well as the refusal to mention any memorial events being put on by students, including the one organized by Hatfield and Bentley – the paper responded with an editorial defense of Monday’s decisions, saying of the outcry: “If it got students talking, then we did our job.”

It's an obvious point, but one which must obviously be said here -- the job of the media this past Monday was not to foster “talk” by summarily ignoring 9/11 – much less by choosing front page stories which serve as a collective slap in the face to the 2,997 innocents who needlessly lost their lives five years ago Monday. It was to remember – and to help others do so, as well.

Unfortunately -- and predictably -- the letter writers are now facing a backlash from their more "enlightened," more "progressive" fellow students. David Kirby, publisher of the University's conservative newspaper, the Guard Dawg, wrote this letter to the editor in response to the Red and Black's 9/11 (non) coverage:

Instead of focusing on the 2,977 Americans killed in the Sept. 11 attacks, The Red & Black chose to portray Muslims as the victims. Yesterday’s article “Muslim Students Face Prejudices,” focused on the backlash against the religion whose radical wing has killed thousands rather than memorializing the true tragedy — the senseless murder of nearly 3,000 Americans. This measure is a pathetic attempt at political correctness for a religion whose leaders haven’t collectively apologized for the terrorist acts of its members. If Allah does not condone terrorist acts, and the Koran does not teach this destruction, then Islamic leaders have the moral obligation to denounce these acts. At the University, I think the Muslim Student Association would be a great place to start for these types of official apologies. Anything less and the silence is deafening.

Any problem there? How about with this information added: Kirby called the President of the Muslim Student Association to let them know what he planned to write, and to give them an opportunity to respond -- and the MSA President declined to make a statement.

What MSA members did do [Editor’s note: the Muslim Student Association has officially disavowed any affiliation with the group; it was started in the MSA’s name, but not with the leadership’s consent] was to start a new student common-interest group, called "David Kirby is ignorant." The group's logo is a picture of Kirby with the words "I suck!!" written on it, and the reasoning for it, as stated by the group's founder, was:

This dude wrote an editorial in Red and Black, which was published September 12th in the Red and Black, demanding the Muslim community and their leaders to apologize for the 9/11 terrorist attacks. He specially attacked our very own Muslim Student Association. He is obviously ignorant about Islam and the Qur'an. We would like to invite him to become less ignorant and read a book about Islam, any book, it does not matter as long as it has a cover and it is over one phrase long.

Excuse me, but does this jive with anything that was written in the above-posted letter? Of course not. As is typical, with the Left as well as with most anybody else, the first things to go when in a losing argument are facts, logic, and civility -- as evidenced (even more greatly) in this case by the posts on the group's message board, such as this one:

you say that islam is an expansionist religion? ? ? ? HAH, wow, can you be any more blind and ignorant? tell me this, have you ever met a muslim MISSIONARY? have you ever met a muslim who said that everybody should be a muslim? this war isn't about religion, and if you are so ignorant to believe it is, then go right ahead. ...think about ALL that's going on in the world and then make a judgement. because if you do so, i am sure you'll come to the conclusion that 'islam' is just a nominal conduit used to get to something completely different and unrelated.

Again, huh? One line, especially, jumps out at me as being a mind-blowing ignorance of fact -- both current and historic: "have [sic] you ever met a muslim [sic] who said that everybody should be a muslim [sic]?" I think a better choice of questions -- and one which could actually be answered quickly, as there are few or no examples to give -- would be, "Have you ever met a muslim who did not say that everybody should be a Muslim?" Expansionism and conversion -- often at the point of the sword -- have been staples of Islam for centuries, and the tradition is being continued by today's radicals.

A great example of what an understanding, progressive follower of the "Religion of Peace" this is, is the fact that he is also a member of the student group "F**k Israel" (asterisks supplied by me -- the group's name is the unedited version of the word). Nice representation of a religion whose public image is hurting, there.

The co-leader of the group wrote:

Drawing conclusions about a whole race or religion based on the actions of a small minority is prejudice; no better than those americans in the early 1900's who believed that blacks were barbaric, savage, and stupid. If you guys would like to see the true face of Islam then come to the mosque sometime during Ramadan. It is coming up and I think everyone would be suprised at how supportive, understanding, kind, and peaceful true muslims are. I am not muslim, but I still go to the mosque because of the wonderful people. Church, Mass, Temple, Mosque... these are all houses of God and we should treat eachother as the brothers and sisters that God made us to be.

Last I checked, it wasn't non-Muslims who were blowing up mosques...but I suppose I could be alone in that observation. I don't think so, though.

This effective rebuttal was also left on the group's message board:

I mean this in all politeness, but what are you guys trying to accomplish here? Who are you to pass final judgement on those who believe Islam is an intrinsically expansionist and violent religion? Laying the Qur'an aside, we could talk about 1,400 years of Islamic expansion through war. We could talk about Muhammad's own war mongering and incitement to murder. We could even talk about present day terrorism being a continuation of a never ending jihad to subjugate all non-Muslims to Islam. Or, we could talk about the countless Muslim and non-Muslim scholars who believe the Qur'an teaches holy war, with the Dar al-Harb v. Dar al-Islam teachings. So, before you lob the word ignorant around, you need to realize their are dozens of conservative, Islamic scholars who would disagree with your statements.

Well said. Islam is struggling enough right now without having to worry about representatives like these.

Nice response to an extended hand, as well.

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