In his latest New York Times op-ed entitled "How Well Do You Know Religion?," Nicholas Kristof declares, "There’s a widespread perception in America that Islam is rooted in misogyny and violence." He then quizzes us in order to demonstrate that the passages of the Old and New Testaments are just as violent as those of the Quran. Acknowledging that he cherry-picked the texts forming the basis of his quiz (no mention of the Islamic hadith, "Judgment Day will not come before the Muslims fight the Jews, and the Jews will hide behind the rocks and the trees, but the rocks and the trees will say: Oh Muslim, oh servant of Allah, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him") Kristof goes on to say:
"It’s true that terrorism in the 21st century is disproportionately rooted in the Islamic world. And it’s legitimate to criticize the violence, mistreatment of women or oppression of religious minorities that some Muslims justify by citing passages in the Quran. But let’s not stereotype 1.6 billion Muslims because of their faith. What counts most is not the content of holy books, but the content of our hearts.
. . . .
In international relations, extremists on one side empower extremists on the other side. ISIS empowers Trump, who inadvertently empowers ISIS. He’s not confronting a national security threat; he’s creating one.
. . . .
Yes, the Islamic world today has a strain of dangerous intolerance. And for all of America’s strengths as a society, as Donald Trump shows, so does America."
A "strain" of dangerous intolerance? Kristof is straining our credulity. As much as I am appalled by Trump and his antics, he does not call for the hanging of homosexuals or the stoning to death of women for alleged adultery, as occurs in Iran. Perhaps you recall Kristof's op-ed "In Iran, They Want Fun, Fun, Fun," in which he describes a 1,700-mile, magical mystery tour across Iran in June 2012, accompanied by his son and daughter. In a journey akin to Borat's excursion across the US, he relayed profound anecdotes from his chance meetings with ordinary Iranians. Discussions with members of Iran's persecuted Baha'i minority? Kristof doesn't mention any. Exchanges of views with Iran's oppressed Kurds? Again, no such thing. Dialogue with Iranian homosexuals? No way. A visit to Evin Prison to check the well-being of political dissidents languishing in its dungeons? Sorry, not on this road trip. Better still, an off-the-beaten-track side trip to witness a stoning? No, he wouldn't want his children to witness such a spectacle.
Fun, fun, fun . . .
Also, there is no mention by Kristof of "honor killings" of women throughout the Muslim Middle East. Although I am disgusted by his assignment of numbers to the appearance of women, e.g., Heidi Klum, Trump's indiscretions cannot be compared with Islam's treatment of women. Consider the genital mutilation of more than 90 percent of married women in Egypt. Consider also the lashing and imprisonment of Saudi women who have been gang raped.
I agree with Kristof that "What counts most is not the content of holy books, but the content of our hearts." A pity that Kristof, during his tour of Iran, did not examine the hearts of Khamenei and his henchmen.
It will be interesting to see if Trump sues both Kristof and the Times.