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Journalistic Responsibility

Is there no sense of responsibility on the part either of Seymour Hersh, or of those who publish his stuff? In order to possess that sense, in this case, you would have to have informed yourself about the texts and tenets of Islam, about the attitudes of those who run the Islamic Republic of Iran, about the history of the Middle East and Islamic conquest of non-Muslim lands, about the model of Muhammad and the stance taken toward treaties with non-Muslims. You'd have to know something about world history, and beyond knowing those facts, you would have to have acquired some historical sense, some feeling for history.

You'd also have to have some sense of the responsibility of the journalist in a free society that is in a war, a war that it did not invite, scarcely knows is being waged, and does not understand what prompts its enemies, or what instruments they most effectively employ.

The New Yorker could try to carry stories that will make sense of Islam for its readers. It could try to familiarize them with such words as "Jizyah" and "dhimmi" and such important matters as Muhammad as the Perfect Man, al-insan al-kamil. It might try to explain why the Treaty of Al-Hudaibiyya is so important. But it has done none of that. It publishes those who, while they may have had some encounter with Bin Laden, or written some topical stuff about Al Qaeda, give no sign of having sat down and studied, and then assimilated, and then thought and re-thought about, the problem of Islam, and of Muslims in relation to Infidels. Would Shawn, would Ross, have given that kind of aid, during World War II, to an enemy that posed a threat of a similar magnitude?