THE DAILY BLADE: The Quality Of Mercy
Americans reached into their pockets and gave 40 times more to Haiti earthquake victims than to Pakistani flood victims. What gives? Aside from the still-sluggish U.S. economy and high rate of unemployment becoming entrenched, “[r]easons include the slow-motion nature of the calamity, relatively scant TV coverage, and - unmistakably - the fact that the strategic Muslim ally is viewed warily by many Americans,” The Associated Press reports:
No disasters are alike. Yet a month into Pakistan's flood catastrophe, with 8 million people in dire need and a fifth of its territory affected, the donation comparisons are startling.
InterAction, an umbrella group for U.S. relief agencies active abroad, says its affiliates have raised about $12 million thus far for Pakistan, compared to more than $500 million at the same stage of the Haiti earthquake relief effort earlier this year.
The American Red Cross, traditionally the biggest recipient of disaster relief donations, has collected about $2 million for Pakistan and is dipping into a contingency fund to support its work there. At the same stage, it had raised about $100 million in response to the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, more than $670 million for Hurricane Katrina and about $230 million for the Haiti quake.
"People find it complicated to understand our relationship with Pakistan - how the government works, who to trust," said Stacy Palmer, editor of the Chronicle of Philanthropy, which has been tracking the donations.
Maybe it’s compassion fatigue - there was also massive flooding in Nashville, TN, in May that caused $1 billion in damage - but this time around, Americans are saying “we gave at the office” and are content to let President Barack Hussein Obama send government aid (after all, the $200 million in “public money” he has already committed still comes out of our wallets).
Zeeshan Suhail, a Pakistani-American who serves on the board of NYC's Muslim Consultative Network, tells Reuters that the controversy over the Ground Zero mosque is a factor: "The culture of hate and bigotry has robbed the Pakistanis of some much needed aid."
The Stiletto recalls that in 2004 American citizens and corporations donated $515 million to Indonesian tsunami victims – a rate of $100,000 per hour. The last she checked, Indonesia is a Muslim country so leaving aside Suhail’s staggering sense of entitlement to American money and compassion, the “Americans hate Muslims” accusation doesn’t cut it – particularly as those Americans who are most likely to donate to charity are also most likely to object to the Ground Zero mosque.
Perhaps Suhail should instead focus on the culture of hate and bigotry in Pakistan: A recent Pew Foundation poll found that 59 percent of called the U.S. an enemy. The same poll found that favorable opinion of al Qaeda doubled between last year and this year (from 9 percent to 18 percent). This goes a long way towards explaining why workaday Americans opened our hearts and wallets to Indonesian Muslims but not to Pakistanis.
Washington Post columnist David Ignatius argues that we should somehow move past our antipathy towards the duplicitous Pakistan because “[h]elping desperate Pakistanis in this catastrophe would be good for the American soul” and “would help get America past its recent traumas about Islamophobia”:
We all know in our personal lives the paradoxical truth about charity - that it helps the giver as much as the receiver. This would be especially true now, with a national mobilization to aid Pakistan. An America that remains closed and bitter toward the Muslim world is a nation still suffering the aftershocks of Sept. 11, 2001. An America that extends a helping hand is one that has surmounted this tragedy and regained its balance.
Clearly it has not occurred to Ignatius that the proposal to build the mosque in the vicinity of Ground Zero has reopened the deep psychic wounds and that Americans have suffered a collective setback. If you cut out her gratuitous swipes at FOX News, Sarah Palin, and “neocons” this commentary by syndicated columnist Froma Harrop about “the American street” serves to explain to Ignatius why he’s moving too fast for the rest of us:
As Richard Haass, president of the Council on Foreign Relations, writes, the mosque debate could "take a toll on prospects for U.S. policies throughout the greater Middle East." The experts fear that the nastiness will antagonize what is sometimes called the "Arab street" - roughly defined as the frustrated, angry masses in much of the Mideast.
Well, here's the American street. Perhaps it is useful for our makers of foreign policy to understand these feelings, as well. Perhaps their military interventions to turn the Islamic cultures into Jeffersonian democracies have not … delivered the promised groundswell of affection from the people that Condoleezza Rice kept saying we were liberating. …
[P]olls taken nationwide show broad opposition to the Islamic center proposal. Clearly, many good people are against this also.
Perhaps they feel that the project to make common cause with very different cultures has been a one-way street. They've been told for years to tiptoe around Islamic sensitivities, while Islamists have provoked theirs. If a mosque two blocks from the site of outrage done in the name of Islam, albeit a twisted brand, bothers so many Americans - rightly or wrongly - why not just move it elsewhere?
The American Street is talking. The Street sees its government's program to win hearts and minds delivering only contempt.
The Stiletto is amazed (though perhaps she shouldn’t be) that Suhail expects – demands, even - contempt to be rewarded with compassion.
Another Day, Another Dem Ethics Scandal
Between 2005 and 2008 Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX) steered roughly $20,000 in college scholarships from the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation to her grandsons, Kirk and David Johnson, and great-nephews, Gregory and Preston Moore, as well as to the son and daughter of her district director, Rod Givens, The Dallas Morning News reports:
The recipients were ineligible under anti-nepotism rules … [a]nd all of the awards violated a foundation requirement that scholarship winners live or study in a caucus member's district. …
Her handling of the scholarships puts a rare spotlight on the program and how it is overseen. Caucus members have great leeway in how they pick winners and how aggressively they publicize the awards. Some lawmakers promote the program online, for instance, while Johnson does not.
Philanthropy experts said such lax oversight of scholarship money doesn't match the standards for charities.
The foundation - which is supported by private and corporate donations, not taxpayer money - provides $10,000 annually for each member of the Congressional Black Caucus to award in scholarships. Each gets to decide how many ways to split the money and whether to create a judging panel, choose personally or delegate the task.
Johnson, a former chairwoman of the caucus who has served on the board that oversees the foundation, said she wasn't fully aware of the program rules and emphasized that she didn't "personally benefit." …
"The most that any kid normally gets is from $1,000 to $1,200. ... If it was a secret or if I was trying to hide it, I wouldn't have done it," she said.
The foundation's general counsel, Amy Goldson, said Saturday that the scholarships Johnson awarded violated eligibility rules regarding relatives and residency and are "of great concern."
The program "operates on an honor system," so the foundation hadn't known that money went to Johnson's relatives, she said. But when a recipient fails to meet eligibility requirements or "misrepresents their eligibility, the scholarship funds must be returned."
The Stiletto Scoops Glenn Beck
Americans have legitimate questions about the influence Rev. Jeremiah Wright’s Afrocentric, liberation theology has had on Obama. Does Obama believe that Jesus was a black man? That the brains of black and white children are “different?” That the U.S. government is capable of deliberately infecting his people with AIDS to wipe them out? Obama says he doesn’t. But that he waited 20 years to make this declaration - and only under duress - doesn’t exactly inspire confidence. …
[A]s black pastors go, how representative is Wright? … Not being a congregant of a black church – or of any church – The Stiletto is not in a position to determine … However, this doesn’t prevent her from taking issue with Wright's offensive, over-the-top sermons and speeches – he is reading from a different bible than most Americans, one that Jews and Christians would find unrecognizable.
- “The Gospel According To Jeremiah Wright,” The Stiletto Blog, May 2, 2008
You see, it's all about victims and victimhood; oppressors and the oppressed; reparations, not repentance; collectivism, not individual salvation. I don't know what that is, other than it's not Muslim, it's not Christian. It's a perversion of the gospel of Jesus Christ as most Christians know it.
- Glenn Beck, “Obama’s Faith,” FOX News, August 25, 2010
WALLACE: You said recently that the reason that a growing number of Americans don't think President Obama is a Christian is because they don't recognize the faith that he's practicing. And in fact, you even called it a perversion of the gospel of Jesus Christ. And I - you know I respect you, and I say this affectionately - but who made you the G-d squad?
BECK: Oh, nobody made me the G-d squad. The pope even said - this is Pope Benedict - that it is demonic, not divine, when theology crosses into the line of doing that which only the divine can do. He was speaking specifically about liberation theology. … It's Marxism disguised as religion. … [M]ost Christians would look at collective salvation, which is my salvation - my redemption is incumbent on what the collective does - so I can't be saved unless the collective is saved. Well, that is a direct opposite of what the gospel talks about. … What does the president believe? Four different speeches since he's been president, he has told - and mainly students - that your salvation is directly tied to the collective salvation. That -- that's not something that most Christians recognize. … People aren't recognizing his version of Christianity, just like - and 48 percent of the African American community doesn't recognize it either, by the way. They didn't recognize it with Jeremiah Wright. They don't recognize it now.
“Glenn Beck on 'Restoring Honor' Rally, America's future and His Critics,” FOX News Sunday, August 29, 2010
The Stiletto Scoops Ross Douthat And Daniel Larison (In 140 Characters Or Less)
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Here are a couple of related passages rebutting my recent comments regarding what non-Muslim Americans should expect from moderate Muslim leaders:
[T]here is no way for Rauf to satisfy his critics in a way that will not destroy his credibility with most other Muslims, which I have to assume is the point. Anti-jihadists are always lamenting that moderate Muslims are too quiescent, passive and silent, but the moment that one of them says anything that they don’t like they dismiss him entirely. …
As far as I can tell, what Rauf’s critics want is not merely someone who is a moderate Muslim, which presumably means someone moderate in his interpretation of Islam as a religion. What they would apparently also like is someone who has no sympathy for the political causes or grievances of any other Muslims in the world. If moderation is defined in that unreasonable way, there probably aren’t very many moderate Muslims after all.
- Ross Douthat quoting Daniel Larison, “More on Rauf and Moderate Islam,” The New York Times, August 27, 2010
[W]ould Rauf really “destroy his credibility” with the world’s Muslims if, say, he didn’t bend over backward to avoid saying a negative word about Iran’s regime when it was in the midst of a brutal crackdown on dissent? Or if he hadn’t offered an inflammatory analogy - using the kind of rhetoric that fuels the poisonous “America’s at war with Muslims” narrative - between al Qaeda’s campaign of terror and the sanctions on Saddam Hussein’s regime? Or if he’d found a way to say something critical about Hamas when an interviewer put him on the spot - not about the Palestinian cause in general, but just about Hamas? …
Maybe his non-comments about Hamas were just an attempt to a duck a “gotcha” question. Certainly I don’t see the imam as a deeply sinister figure, or a brilliant machiavel with vast and dark designs. But he does seem like the kind of person who makes excuses for sinister figures, and curries favor with them, and bobs and weaves where their crimes are concerned, all in the name of dialogue and evenhandedness. And that seems like sufficient grounds for criticism and mistrust.- Ross Douthat responding to Daniel Larison, “More on Rauf and Moderate Islam,” The New York Times, August 27, 2010