The New York Sun* reports that the EastWest Institute held a conference yesterday "to promote 'new thinking against violent extremism and radicalization.' " Among the speakers was Harvard's Jessica Stern:
Dr. Stern opened her remarks by saying that, while it may be true there is presently more violence being committed in the name of Islam than in the name of other religions, "all three major monotheistic religions have produced violence." . . .
"I've heard a lot of bashing of Muslim clerics for not stepping up to the plate and condemning extremist violence," she said. "But Catholic priests are not stepping up to condemn those who kill abortion doctors . . . [and] rabbis are not condemning the violent settlers' movement." . . .
When asked to cite specific examples of violence undertaken by this "violent settlers' movement," she mentioned Yigal Amir's 1995 assassination of Israeli Prime Minister Yitzchak Rabin, a crime that was almost universally condemned by Jewish leadership.
Bill Donohue of the Catholic League quickly weighed in with a rebuttal of Stern's anti-Catholic remark:
There has not been a single abortionist killed in the U.S. since 1998. When there were killings in the mid-1990s, Cardinal Roger Mahony of Los Angeles, chairman of the Pro-Life Activities of the bishops' conference, said that such shootings make "a mockery of everything we stand for." When there were two killings at Massachusetts abortion clinics, Cardinal Bernard Law not only denounced them, he ordered a moratorium on sidewalk protest vigils outside abortion clinics in Boston. Cardinal John O'Connor's response in New York was profound: "If anyone has an urge to kill an abortionist, kill me instead."
It is of course true, and worth noting, that not all fanatics who murder in the name of religion are Muslims. But Stern seems to have drawn these false equivalences for the purpose of excusing decent Muslims who remain silent when others commit atrocities in the the name of Islam. How can this possibly be helpful? If this is an example of "new thinking," we'll stick with the old kind, thanks.