In a May 17 radio broadcast, telephilosopher Bill O'Reilly fantasized unpleasantly that terrorists might "grab" the Los Angeles Times editorial and opinion editor "out of his little house and ... cut his head off." O'Reilly went on, "And maybe when the blade sinks in, he'll go, 'Perhaps O'Reilly was right.' "
What popped O'Reilly's cork was an editorial one week ago on the Newsweek controversy. The magazine reported, apparently without good evidence, that American guards at the Guantanamo prison for terrorism "detainees" had flushed a copy of the Koran down a toilet. This reportedly led to riots in Pakistan and Afghanistan in which 14 people were killed.
Contrary to the impression you might get by following the story in the U.S. media, the riots were not about the journalists' use of anonymous sources. They were about perceived American contempt for the faith, the culture and ultimately the lives of Muslim Arabs and other dark-skinned people in distant lands.
It is legitimately maddening to Americans that people whom we have liberated from tyranny or the nearby threat of it, at a vast cost in American lives and dollars, should be so spectacularly ungrateful, and should misunderstand us so completely. Why don't they love us? It doesn't seem worthy of decapitation to suggest that ghastly stories (not all fabricated by Newsweek) about abuse of prisoners don't help. Or that American preaching about liberal democratic values might be enhanced by practicing them. For instance, by letting the Gitmo detainees (some totally innocent) have lawyers.