Saturday, February 11, 2006

Cartoons, Muslims, Christians, and Civility

The blogosphere, or at least the Conservative side of the blogosphere, has been on fire (no pun intended) as of late over Cartoon-gate…the reaction of various segments of the world Muslim community to some satire published by a Danish newspaper. To hear it from these sources, one would think that the riots provide the smoking gun to prove the assertion that Islam is a religion of violence, hate, and intolerance, and should be wiped from the face of the planet by whatever means necessary.

I’ve not commented on it thus far because, well…I find it a non-issue. Paper offends group A, group A expresses outrage…end of story. Yeah, yeah…Violence and riots and the destruction of private property and such is completely and morally unjustified….but stuff like this happens on a daily basis. So why bother talking about it?

Then I read this article by Charley Reese offering a voice of reason to the perceptions of these riots.

The first thing to remember is that electronic communication is a two-edged sword. Ninety-nine and more percent of the world's Muslims are neither rioting nor demonstrating over those cartoons. We can now take pictures of a crowd in Beirut, one in Damascus and one in Kabul, and with the magic of generalization create the impression that the whole Muslim population is in the streets.

Trust me, if all 1.1 billion Muslims ever do take to the streets, we'll know about it.

Which brings up a bigger point. Sure… 20 years ago, when Christian groups headed by the likes of Jerry Falwell campaigned to have the film The Last Temptation of Christ censored by government, did we hear an explosion of “Christianity is a religion of intolerance” rhetoric? With the exception of a handful of anti-religion fringe groups, no.

How about the reaction to film Dogma, a comedic satire of Catholicism? There were protests, but by and large, most people recognized that the protestors were a small minority of believers who simply were humor-impaired. There was no mass movement to label all Catholics as members of “a religion of hate and intolerance”.

Ok, ok.. One might say…well these were just peaceful protests, designed to apply economic pressure against the perpetrators of these malicious, anti-Christian antic. Fine…point made. But what about abortion clinic bombers? What about people who murder gay people for no other reason than the victims are gay? Like it or not, these people are committing their heinous deeds in the name of Christian values , or at least finding support from Christian groups. Do they represent the whole of the Christian community? Of course not… Probably not even 1 percent of 1 percent. Yet, Christianity-sympathetic Conservatives would take the view that because some fringe element of the Muslim community acts out in a completely uncivilized way, we should all be tempted to view the whole of Islam in the same light.

And don’t give me that line, “well, more Muslim groups should be speaking out against this if they don’t want to be labeled that way”…. The fact is…practically NO Christian I have ever met has ever said one bad word about nutcases like Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson and Fred “God Hates Fags” Phelps …even when these Christian “leaders” would call on God to strike down “enemies” of the Bible. So, should all Christians be judged in light of the actions of a few nutcases in their ranks?

The bottom line: I agree with Reese. What’s wrong with a little civility regarding one of our most sacred freedoms…the freedom of conscience? (Or, at least if we are uncivil, we should expect to bear the consequences of our incivility). Sure, we can disagree with each other on theological and spiritual matters, but what’s wrong with according a little respect to others who are different? After all, that’s why we have a separation of church and state in America…(even if most Christian fundamentalists disagree)….


Blogger Speedothebrief said...

I don't see anyone disrespecting muslims just because their muslim (or different).

If the difference happens to be that the different person is actively trying to do anything he can to kill me... that is where my respect starts wavering. I have an even more difficult time respecting that person when they start praising the murder of innocent Americans.

What is wrong with identifying a group of people by their desire to destroy the rest of the world. The idea that jihad against the unbelieving world is a minority opinion of eastern islam (which makes up the huge majority of islam) is simply false.

If you don't want to take my word for it, I don't blame you one bit.

Here is a great analysis.

12:41 AM  
Blogger Libertarian Jason said...

What is wrong with identifying a group of people by their desire to destroy the rest of the world.

Because it is an essentially collectivist mentality. Judging and assigning a merit (or blame) to an individual based on his or her group identity is at the core of much of the societal conflict we have today...and is a core element of socialism.

Think about it... Affirmative Action is a program that assigns a value to a person, not on account of one individual merit, but simply on the incidental basis that they belong to a certain politically correct "group". The same can be said of that whole "slavery reparations" nonsense. Marxist thought assigned all people to "classes"...and so on.

Muslims do not want to destroy the world any more than Christians want all abortion clinics to be bombed, or all gay people to be tied to a fence, pistol whipped, and left to die slowly in subfreezing temperatures.

10:07 AM  
Blogger Wulf said...

Jason, I have to disagree. There is nothing wrong in identifying a group of people by their desire to destroy the rest of the world, provided it is a true assessment. This is no different from identifying all gay people as gay, or all redheads as redheads. The danger is only when one draws conclusions from the grouping, because people so often get their conclusions wrong.

Also, the cartoon affair may be a non-issue here in the States, but that is not the case in Europe, and it might be worthy of a second look even though you don't live there. Did you know that in the four largest Dutch cities, the majority among children under 14 are Muslims? There is a definite identity crisis in the cities of Western Europe, and this will have long term geopolitical consequences.

Stop by AtlasBlogged - we haven't heard from you in a while -and definitely be sure to do some reading at the Brussels Journal before just brushing off this situation.

3:16 PM  
Blogger Libertarian Jason said...

There is nothing wrong in identifying a group of people by their desire to destroy the rest of the world, provided it is a true assessment.

Ok.. Fair enough.

So are you saying all Muslims want to destroy the world?

My point is...many in the the talk radio and conservative blogosphere have carved out a niche with their blanket "Islam itself is the enemy" message.

I think its rather simplistic to say that.

6:32 PM  

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