Newsweek is backing away from its earlier report that American servicemen flushed a copy of the Koran down a toilet to taunt Guantanamo Bay prisoners a claim that prompted violent riots in Muslim nations. CNN reports:
"Top administration officials have promised to continue looking into the charges, and so will we," Newsweek Editor Mark Whitaker wrote in the magazine's May 23 issue, out Sunday.By casually publishing unverified assertions, Newsweek has certainly behaved irresponsibly and unprofessionally, and done great harm to the image of the United States in the Muslim world. It deserves plenty of criticism on that score.
"But we regret that we got any part of our story wrong, and extend our sympathies to victims of the violence and to the U.S. soldiers caught in its midst."
Pentagon spokesman Larry DiRita blamed Newsweek's report for the unrest in Muslim countries.
"People are dying. They are burning American flags. Our forces are in danger," he told CNN.
But I disagree with Mr. DiRita that Newsweek bears the blame for violent Muslim reactions to its report. Responsibility for that must lie with Muslims themselves.
If Al-Jazeera reported that Arab troops desecrated a Bible, would there be riots in the streets of any Western nation? No, there would not. Would the West's religious leaders be calling for holy war? Again, no. But for some reason, the mere rumor that Americans have defiled the Koran is seen as a perfectly legitimate reason for Muslims to go berserk.
To hold Newsweek responsible for the riots and threats of jihad that followed its report is to believe that Muslims are incapable of controlling their passions. This is an infantilizing, even dehumanizing view. We do the Arab world no favors by humoring its violent revenge fantasies. To truly respect Muslims, we should demand better of them.
Instapundit reader John Lynch shares my view.