I don’t mean to keep picking on the Wall Street Journal . . . oh, heck, of course I do. It ran an editorial this week entitled “Islam’s Christians” that would have fit in nicely at the New York Times. The piece bemoaned the persecution of Christians in Iraq and Egypt but contrasted their current plight with the shangri-la of tolerance that reigned in the Middle East until recently:
With the rise of radical Islam, this tradition of peaceful and productive coexistence has been displaced by a practice of religious cleansing.
This is something so provincial and uninformed that only an educated cosmopolitan could write it; maybe we should be thankful the piece didn’t pine for the tolerant utopia of Al-Andalus. “Tradition of peaceful and productive coexistence”? Why do they think there were only a million Christians left in Iraq before our invasion? Why is Egypt, once a Christian country, now 90 percent Muslim? Has anyone taken communion in Hagia Sophia in the past 500 years? Did the Christians all just move away from all that “peaceful and productive coexistence”?
Even the glimmer of sense at the end is based on a fantasy version of Islam:
Living amid an overwhelmingly large majority, the small Christian sects pose no conceivable threat to Islamic hegemony. One can only conclude that they are attacked merely because they exist amid Islamic majorities. The implications of watching a strain of Islam show that it cannot coexist with others extend well beyond the borders of Iraq.
Get that: “a strain of Islam” that “cannot coexist with others” — what other strains are there? But then we probably shouldn’t expect better from the anonymous editorialist who wrote this:
Some of these Christian minorities have coexisted with Islam in Iraq and elsewhere in the Middle East since the time of Jesus.
Now, I’m not too good with dates, but I’m pretty sure there was no Islam at “the time of Jesus.” And that’s not the kind of slip that happens when you’re in a hurry, like writing “there” for “their” — that’s the kind of thing that happens when a completely uninformed person substitutes political correctness for reality.
I expect that the seminar on Capitol Hill today by Voice of the Copts featured a more realistic view of all that “peaceful and productive coexistence,” because the Copts have been staring down the business end of Islam for almost 1,400 years now.