Jaws dropped when a New York Times blogger compared the jihadist figure that connects Fort Hood, the Christmas Day airplane bomb and Times Square -- Anwar al-Awlaki -- to Jesus Christ. How can liberals, who pride themselves on being so much more shades-of-gray nuanced, not distinguish between figures of violence and non-violence? On the Opinionator blog, Robert Wright complained about Barack Obama authorizing the assassination of al-Awlaki:
Even leaving aside the constitutional questions (al-Awlaki is an American citizen), doesn’t Obama see what a gift the killing of this imam would be to his cause? Just ask the Romans how their anti-Jesus-movement strategy worked out. (And Jesus’s followers didn’t have their leader’s sermons saved in ready-to-go video and audio files; al-Awlaki’s resurrection would be vivid indeed.)
Wright began his blog post by mocking neocon Daniel Pipes as hardly "drowning in conceptual complexity." Wright's larger point was that "war on terror" folks find "jihadi intent" or religious extremism in terror incidents in Times Square, while Wright finds every terrorist is motivated by American militarism and terror-fighting excess. Wright just can't believe Obama is going down the "disastrous" Bush-Cheney path:
When you look at how much real-world evidence there is against the views of war-on-terror hawks, it’s not surprising that they would construct their own little universe, a place where “jihadi intent” is an uncaused cause, and our only hope is to kill or intimidate the people who, through some magical process that defies comprehension, have been possessed by it.
What is surprising is that Barack Obama, who became the Democratic nominee for president largely because he had opposed the Iraq war, seems increasingly to be taking his cues from the people who so disastrously supported it.
Which editor at the New York Times read this comparison of Jesus Christ to a bomber-inspiring imam and signed off on it? Either Wright is too important to have one, or there's an editor who thinks all these "fundamentalist" religions are alike in their menacing qualities. At the National Catholic Register, Matthew Archbold (a blogger at Creative Minority Report) added some context on Wright:
Mr. Wright can argue whether killing al-Awlaki is a wise foreign policy move or even a moral one. But the assassination of an imam leading fanatics to rally around his banner and committing hateful atrocities in his name is like Jesus in what manner exactly? Only a mindset that views all religion as dangerous could feel comfortable reading this comparison. To compare Jesus to a terrorist inspiring Imam and to compare Jesus’ resurrection to the playing of a video file seems like a pretty disrespectful reach.
But seemingly to Wright, Christians are often to blame for violence done in Islam’s name. A few months ago, Wright blamed Christian proselytizing for anti-Christian violence by Muslims. Wright recently wrote: “Even if proselytizing isn’t the prime mover, my guess is that it pretty consistently falls in the “not helpful” category from the point of view of world peace and, ultimately, American security. And some of it… is particularly antagonistic.”
So Islamic terrorism is now caused by Christian evangelism. It's just another day, another anti-religious outburst from the New York Times.