Ask Matt Labash: Rethinking the Religion of Peace, and photographic evidence

Matt Labash | Columnist

EDITOR’S NOTE: Have a burning sensation? Consult your doctor. Have a burning question for Matt Labash? Submit it here.

Dear Matt, Since the Boston Marathon bombings, I’ve heard many commentators say that we should not let this one incident color how we feel about Islam. Has it changed how you feel about Islam? — Sharon K.

Ahhh, I see what I’m supposed to do here: rise to the bait. To slake the bloodlust of Judeo-Christian troglodytes by taking some Muslim scalp. That’s how it works, right? They send one of ours to the morgue, we send one of theirs to death row. They take three of ours with a pressure-cooker in a backpack, we take two of theirs with some highly charged words in a faux-advice column.

But if you came here to see me set flame to the Religion of Peace ®, then I’m afraid you’ve come to the wrong place. For as Jesus Himself said in the Sermon on the Mount, “Slay the idolaters wherever you find them, and take them captive and besiege them and lie in wait for them in every ambush.” Wait, strike that. Got the holy books from my comparative religion class mixed up again. Turns out that was the Quran. It was Jesus who actually said, “Blessed are the cheesemakers.”

The point here is that we needn’t let a few bad apples spoil the bunch. We all have some difficult patches to account for in our holy books. And religions don’t kill people – individuals do. True, if you watch the regular vanilla news, as opposed to say, reading CAIR press releases or David Sirota columns in Salon, it might not have escaped your notice that most of the extracurricular killing of innocents for its own sake seems to happen under the banner of the Religion of Peace ® . Which is not so much an Islamo-problem, as a problem of scale.

The National Counterterrorism Center’s 2011 numbers demonstrated that about 70 percent of the world’s 12,533 terrorist murders that year were committed by Sunni Muslim terrorists. There are about 1.6 billion Muslims in the world, and there are nearly 7 billion people in the world, proper. So sure, Muslims are punching above their weight, terrorism-wise (70 percent of terrorist acts are attributable to those murdering in the name of a religion subscribed to by 23 percent of the world). It’s enough to make us ecumenically-minded types wonder when Christians, Jews, Hindus and Buddhists are going to get off their fat asses and pitch in a little. (Islamic cultures throughout the ages are already responsible for pioneering astronomy, algebra and filicidal honor killings — do they have to do everything around here?)

But that’s the short game. The long game is that if the Islamoterrorists ever have their way — subjugating the world and bringing it under one shiny, happy Caliphate — there’ll be fewer infidels to kill, and those ratios are bound to drop precipitously. Then, without Islam to kick around anymore, those Presbyterian extremists are going to have a lot of explaining to do. While Religion of Peace ® extremists can get back to more peaceable domestic enterprises, like throwing homosexuals off tall buildings or stoning adulterous 13-year-old girls in soccer stadiums. In their idealized future, killing 8-year-old boys watching their dad run a marathon through the streets of Boston will no longer be necessary.

So to answer your original question, no, it hasn’t changed how I feel about the Religion of Peace® at all.

Aren’t there any other pictures in existence of Matt Labash? TheDC photos are all the same as the author photo on his book. Is it possible he (you) has (have) never had a photo taken other than this one head & shoulders shot? Or are you a vampire, don’t show up in photographs, and this one shot is actually a photo-realistic painting? Signed, Dr. Acula

This is a fair question. If there’s one thing readers ask on the side with great regularity, besides whether I can send them a pair of Ginni Thomas’s unlaundered stockings, it’s for more pictures of me – nude, if possible. I can’t say I condone that sort of thinking. But I certainly understand it. We live in a more-is-more world. It’s not enough that I come here every week (or as my slave-driver editor often reminds me, more like every 3-to-6 weeks) and stand naked before you in word pictures. You want to see me, feel me, touch me, heal me.

Well that’s not going to happen. I’ve been burned before when getting too close to readers. (She said it was a cold sore. Live and learn.) And like many of the Native Americans who used to own this land before we turned them into blackjack dealers and Land O’Lakes mascots, I believe that photography steals your soul. Or not so much steals it, as diminishes it. Can one badly-lit snapshot with my lids half-closed and my hostage-video smile possibly convey to you, the stranger, the multitudes contained within me? Of course it can’t. So why fence myself in with your overly literal representations of me? I ain’t here to sit on your Instagram reservation, Kemosabe.

So yes, there aren’t all that many pictures of me. At least not ones taken with my consent. But I’ll throw you an extra photographic bone. This was me a few years back. I was going through what friends now call my “Esther Rolle phase”: salt’n’pepper do, minimal jewelry, lots of acrylic pantsuits — which are not only comfortable, but which quickly absorb and release moisture. Looking back, maybe I was subconsciously emulating her. She was a special lady, my rock, really, and got me through some difficult times. Like the ‘70s and the ‘80s. So here I am. This isn’t all of me, but it’s a part of me. Some say the best part.

Matt Labash is a senior writer with the Weekly Standard magazine. His book, “Fly Fishing With Darth Vader: And Other Adventures with Evangelical Wrestlers, Political Hitmen, and Jewish Cowboys,” is now available in paperback from Simon and Schuster. Have a question for Matt Labash? Submit it here.

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