The reactions were fast and furious, after Roseanne Barr’s Valerie Jarrett tweet hit the Twitter world early Tuesday morning. Jarrett, former President Obama’s senior adviser, was born in Iran to African-American parents. Barr’s insulting comment about Jarrett read, “muslim brotherhood & planet of the apes had a baby=vj.”
Within a few hours, ABC announced they were cancelling the very successful “Roseanne” sitcom reboot, declaring that her tweet was “…abhorrent, repugnant and inconsistent with our values.” Barr, for her part, had already issued an apology, recognizing that she had crossed the line of decency in a poor attempt at partisan humor. But the damage was done, and thousands erupted with indignation using words such as “offensive, disgraceful, racist, distasteful, inexcusable, and hateful.”
Rightly so. Such pejoratives should never be thought much less directed at another human being. Yet unbridled human nature is capable of much worse. Spend a day on a middle school or high school campus and you’ll hear a lot more hair-raising verbal abuse than Rosanne’s tweet. But we excuse that in adolescents. With 65 years olds, it’s another story. Roseanne is reaping what she has sown, and the public heaping shame and scorn on her.
Frankly, I’ve been a bit surprised by the speed and ferocity of condemnations issued, especially by the self-described “tolerant Left.” In spite of her swift apology, very few have been willing to cut her any slack. I can understand this. But in the name of consistency, we need to apply this same standard elsewhere.
Barr’s “Planet of the Apes” allusion immediately reminded me of another instance where certain human beings are regularly regarded as sub-human by millions of other human beings, yet this reality hardly ever makes the news. On any given Friday in thousands of venues around the world, this hate speech spews from orators and is applauded by listeners. It happens in mosques and prayer halls, in classrooms and at rallies. Muslim leaders routinely speak of “the Jews” variously as the “descendants of apes and pigs,” “brothers of apes and pigs,” or simply as “apes and pigs” by nature. Mohammad Morsi, former president of Egypt and leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, argued that the Arab peoples should never negotiate with Israel, “the descendants of apes and pigs.” Mahmoud Abbas, president of the Palestinian Authority, has echoed the same language. So have imams and popular religious leaders around the Muslim world. Have any of them apologized for such hate speech? No. Have Western mainstream media or leading politicians called them out for such odious remarks? No. If you think I’m exaggerating, take a look at the video below, recorded about 12 years ago, of the then Syrian Deputy Minister of Religious Endowment, Dr. Muhammad ‘Abd al-Sattar, who in light of his official position should know a little something about Islam:
If you didn’t already know, Dr. Sattar makes it clear that the reason Muslims commonly denigrate and dehumanize “the Jews” as a people is because the Qur’an teaches them to. In three places, the Muslim “holy book” teaches that because of Jewish disobedience, Allah transformed a group of Jews into apes or pigs:
And question them concerning the township which was bordering the sea, when they transgressed the Sabbath, when their fish came to them on the day of their Sabbath, swimming shorewards, but on the day they kept not Sabbath, they came not unto them. Even so We were trying them for their ungodliness. And when a certain nation of them said, ‘Why do you admonish a people God is about to destroy or to chastise with a terrible chastisement?’ They said, ‘As an excuse to your Lord; and haply they will be godfearing.’ So, when they forgot that they were reminded of; We delivered those who were forbidding wickedness, and We seized the evildoers with evil chastisement for their ungodliness. And when they turned in disdain from that forbidding We said to them, ‘Be you apes, miserably slinking!’ (Sura 7:163-66; Arberry translation).
And [recall] when We took your covenant, [O Children of Israel, to abide by the Torah] and We raised over you the mount, [saying], “Take what We have given you with determination and remember what is in it that perhaps you may become righteous”…. And you had already known about those who transgressed among you concerning the sabbath, and We said to them, “Be apes, despised.” (Sura 2:63, 65; Sahih International translation).
Say: “Shall I inform you of something worse than that, regarding the recompense from Allah: those (Jews) who incurred the Curse of Allah and His Wrath, those of whom (some) He transformed into monkeys and swines, those who worshipped Taghut (false deities); such are worse in rank (on the Day of Resurrection in the Hellfire), and far more astray from the Right Path (in the life of this world)” (Sura 5:60; Mohsin Khan translation).
If Roseanne Barr is rightly pilloried for the atrocious abuse she directed publicly toward Valerie Jarrett in one tweet, for which she immediately apologized, what should conscientious, ethically-minded Westerners who don’t want to be charged with hypocrisy say concerning a religion which tars and feathers a whole race of people, linking them with animals which are despised by that religion? Apologists will say, “The Qur’an does not say that Allah has transformed all Jews into apes and pigs, but only specific groups in the past who disobeyed him.” Certainly this is true. But the Qur’an makes it clear that the Jews are the enemies of Allah and thus of all Muslims. And a random sampling of Friday sermons or Muslim clerics speaking about the Jews reveals very quickly the common mindset that Jews are subhuman, vile, greedy, treacherous, filthy degenerates who are behind all the world’s major ills. This is racism at its most robust, most satanic.
It’s bad enough when one human being publicly speaks evilly of another. Such behavior needs to be called out and condemned, as is happening in the case of Roseanne Barr. But what happens when the same kind of thing happens on a massive scale, as mandated by a religion’s sacred scriptures and historical practice? Do we have the guts to stand against such an evil mindset, to challenge Islam on its ingrained hatred of the Jews?
If not, let’s get used to wearing the title, “Hypocrites,” for that is what we will be. In spades.