By DEROY MURDOCK
SCRIPPS HOWARD NEWS SERVICE
NEW YORK -- The contrast could not have been clearer. The day President Bush recruited former Presidents Bill Clinton and G.H.W. Bush to generate private tsunami-relief donations (www.freedomcorps.gov), Osama bin Laden's comrades detonated three bombs in Baghdad, killing 16 Iraqi cops and soldiers toiling to rebuild their country.
Once again, "the Great Satan" rescues endangered Muslims while Islamic zealots blew their co-religionists to bits. As the South Asian recovery unfolds, American public diplomacy should highlight this comparison to Muslims worldwide.
Countless Muslims were battered on "Black Sunday." Indonesia, Earth's most populous Islamic nation, was lashed hardest with 94,200 fatalities by Wednesday. Sri Lanka and India, both with significant Muslim minorities, have lost 30,240 and 9,675 people so far. Largely spared on Dec. 26, an increasingly violent Muslim citizenry lives in southern Thailand, a country that has lost 5,288. Astonishingly, in Somalia and Tanzania -- five air hours northwest of the massive Indonesian earthquake that triggered this emergency -- the tsunami respectively killed 200 and 10 among their largely Muslim populations.
These and other nations have begun to see America's $350 million in government relief. At least $190 million in private assistance is en route, from multimillion-dollar corporate contributions to double-digit sums gleaned from piggy banks and church collection plates.
At an estimated $4 million daily, the Pentagon has mobilized its largest Asian military operation since Saigon fell to communism (www.pacom.mil). By Wednesday, 13,435 GIs had used 21 vessels, 41 airplanes and 50 helicopters to deliver 305 tons of supplies. U.S. warships desalinate water for the parched. There is much more help on the way.
All this from a nation that our Islamo-fascist enemies claim is committed to vanquishing their Muslim brethren.
America and the civilized world, the "infidels" in Islamo-fascism's crosshairs, are locked in a death match with this toxic ideology and its enthusiasts. Winning this struggle involves swaying rank-and-file Muslims around the world, many of whom call South Asia home. They and their Middle Eastern peers have eyes and ears attached to their hearts and minds. American press officers at embassies in Muslim nations should communicate this ongoing story via the Voice of America, local media outlets, public appearances, conversations with pedestrians on the Arab street, and even advertising, where available.
They also should observe that this matches America's record of aiding at-risk Muslims. The United States saved Muslims in Bosnia and Kosovo, for instance, and donated $2.5 billion in development assistance to the Middle East and Northern Africa in 2003 alone, according to the OECD.
Supply boxes and food sacks should be emblazoned with American flags. GIs who distribute that assistance should wear Old Glory on their uniforms. Private-sector American volunteers should be offered T-shirts that identify them as U.S. ambassadors of good will.
Stingy bin Laden
We also should compare our generosity to the silence and stinginess of our foes. To date, Laden has yet to offer a public word of sympathy regarding the hundreds of thousands of Muslims this calamity has killed, maimed and dispossessed. The reclusive billionaire apparently has shared none of his wealth with the Muslims he claims to cherish. He has not even publicly invited fellow Muslims to open their wallets to aid those in, say, Banda Aceh, the largely Islamic Sumatran city erased like a misspelled word just 20 minutes after a 9-magnitude earthquake as ferocious as 10,000 Nagasakis.
While $350 million in government help now makes America the fourth-largest donor-nation (behind Australia's $810 million, Germany's $680 million, and Japan's $500 million), no Muslim country rated among the top 10 benefactors. Before pledging $30 million Tuesday, 19th-ranked Saudi Arabia offered just $10 million. Sandra Bullock, an actress bereft of mineral resources, somehow gave the Red Cross $1 million (www.redcross.org).
America leads this massive mission of mercy because it is the right thing to do. That it benefits many Muslims who Islamo-fascists hope to infuse with hate is even more reason for us to show them our love.
X Deroy Murdock is a columnist with Scripps Howard News Service and a senior fellow with the Atlas Economic Research Foundation in Fairfax, Va. Distributed by Scripps Howard.