Why Not Blame Koran Rioters?

I should start by admitting I’ve hardly followed the story of U.S. military Koran abuse in Afghanistan that didn’t really happen as Newsweek reported, but still touched off riots in the Muslim world that killed several people. I know enough to know that it happened, that it’s another blow to the credibility of journalists, and that it’s touched off another abuse scandal in the U.S. military.

But I was talking to a friend the other night about the issue, and he wondered why everyone was so quick to blame Newsweek and the U.S. military. Surely some of the blame belongs there for irresponsible reporting and potential abuses, but neither Newsweek nor the U.S. military killed anyone. Why hasn’t anyone blamed the rioters?


Now maybe some of the editorials and op-ed pieces have pointed the finger at Muslim rioters, but I haven’t seen them. I admit I haven’t looked hard for them, I’ve only seen the general news media response and have hardly sifted through it. So maybe those voices are there, but they’re hardly being heard.

I understand that the Koran is a holy book for Muslims and it’s more sacred to them than the Bible is to us. But how does that justify riots that kill people? When people malign the Bible or even Jesus Christ some Christians get mad, but you rarely hear of riots where people are killed. That’s ridiculous. If Islam is such a peace-loving religion, why are deadly riots so easily incited?

I don’t really know the answers to any of these questions. I’m not an Islam expert and hardly know anything about the religion (have I expressed my lack of knowledge enough yet?). But it just seems like these are questions no one asks. Is the U.S. media afraid of offending Muslims across the world?

It also got me thinking whether or not this is an isolated case. Are rioters ever blamed when people are killed or property damaged, or is the cause of the riots blamed? It seems like all the attention usually falls on the cause of the riots. Isn’t that kind of backwards? Sure, the inciting event is important and deserves attention and response. But is it too much to expect people to keep their emotions in check and not blow up and flip over cars, break windows and trample a few people just because they’re pissed off?

3 thoughts on “Why Not Blame Koran Rioters?”

  1. I couldn’t agree more. Each individual must always be responsible for his or her actions, not just the instigators that might have sparked something off.

    Good questions, Kevin.

  2. Perhaps you’re right, Kevin. A riot is done by rioters, and they should be held responsible. And we shouldn’t be afraid to say that. (I don’t know if we have been; I haven’t been following this very closely.)

    But perhaps there is something else at work.

    Perhaps the reason we get after journalists and are upset by the alleged actions of the US military personnel is that we have some control over their actions (we read their magazines and their organization reports to us, the people) and thus we have some responsibility to reprimand/correct their actions. You and I have much less control over a Muslim man living in Afghanistan than we do over an editor at Newsweek and a general at the Pentagon. We can more directly influence them. So we speak up not because they are primarily responsible for the riots, but because we can do a part to hold them accountable for their actions – even if those actions are less severe than others’.

  3. yeah, i could see it now:

    “Detroit Pistons lose NBA Finals; blamed for riots killing 16, destroying buildings”

    [aside…i could care less who really wins. i had to google who was even IN the finals!]

    not to sound conspiratorial, but whether the rioters are blamed or not, usually depends on if the media agree with the reason they’re rioting.

    also, if you riot, you could die. i have friends in law enforcement and there are strict rules of engagement in riot control. much of it is based on shooting rioters if they do certain things (risking others lives, mostly).

    that’s why anarchy sounds sexy to the young, but the reality is that you could die doing it. so maybe the cause doesn’t seem so important anymore, eh?

    i know this is pretty caustic – and we need youthful passion in our world – but i think it’s part of where adults have fallen down in not teaching our kids proper response to anger, righteous or not…

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