Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, is under attack for statements he made about America and the war in Iraq. A stream of criticism has come in comments by Americans to the Sunday Times website. But much of the attack is based on the misleading Sunday Times headline, and one particularly misleading selective quotation from an article in Emel based on an interview with the archbishop. The Lead first pointed to the Sunday Times article and the Emel article here. As was observed there in a comment,
The tragic thing about The Sunday Times report is the way it distorts what the archbishop says - and leaves him appearing to be ignorant of basic distinctions in the American political landscape.Stephen Bates writing in The Guardian today:
For example, ...
1) The Sunday Times writes, He said the crisis was caused not just by America’s actions but also by its misguided sense of its own mission. He poured scorn on the “chosen nation myth of America, meaning that what happens in America is very much at the heart of God’s purpose for humanity”.
2) Emel writes, Christian Zionists support the return of Jews to Israel because they believe the second coming of Jesus will not occur until all Jews are in Israel. The Archbishop is scathing, accusing them of being connected to “the chosen nation myth of America, meaning that what happens in America is very much at the heart of God’s purpose for humanity.”
The archbishop's criticism of Christian Zionism - the fundamentalist movement, particularly in the US, which supports the Jewish homeland of Israel because it sees it as a fulfilment of biblical prophesy - was transcribed by the [Sunday Times] newspaper as a more general criticism.Ekklesia today: Archbishop of Canterbury Dr
The remarks were immediately seized upon by US conservatives, scathing of the archbishop for his attempts to hold the worldwide Anglican communion together in its internecine struggle over the place of homosexuals in the church, as they attempt to wrest control of the US Episcopal church from its liberal leadership.
Rowan Williams has found himself at the centre of an unexpected row, following cautious remarks to a Muslim magazine, after a Sunday newspaper construed it as an all-out attack on the US and the BBC gave neocon hard-liner John Bolton free rein to attack him this morning.British military chaplains serving in Iraq are among those criticizing the archbishop.
The Sunday Times chose to interpret the interview as an assualt on the United States as the "worst" imperialist nation, an accusation not made in the interview.
Meanwhile, John Bolton, a former US ambassador known for his extreme neocon views, launched a vitriolic attack on the archbishop and all critics of the US-led war on the BBC Radio 4 Today programme.
He called Dr Williams' comments "incoherent", said that there "was a good reason that the Anglican church does not declare its leaders infallible" and invited the archbishop to "concentrate on his day job".
Mr Bolton had been given the opportunity to plug his new book on Iraq and related issues. Unchallenged by any opposing viewpoint, he called for the selective bombing of Iran over the nuclear installations row.
See also the coverage by The New York Sun.