That's right, folks. For the first time in over ten years, I have strep. So I'm on that forced vacation we like to call 'quarantine.' Gives me a chance to go back and blog about stuff I've been meaning to, but haven't had time on the lunchbreak to do.
This one is more about the Cartoon Craziness. I guess we'll keep talking about it until folks stop acting out of control. For those of you tired of this line of discussion, don't miss SAWB's music post. (If it garners enough response, we may finally have to start up that Hurricane Radio Music & Art page I've talked about for a year...)
One thing I like about the Internet in general and the blogosphere specifically is the double edged sword. While it can give voice to absolute madness on the one hand, you can pick up on so many more opinions and stories than you would be able to just by watching "real journalists."
I made a comment a while back that the crazies have picked a fight with this one that they just can't win. Christopher Hitchens makes this bittersweet point by saying:
The prohibition on picturing the prophet—who was only another male mammal—is apparently absolute. So is the prohibition on pork or alcohol or, in some Muslim societies, music or dancing. Very well then, let a good Muslim abstain rigorously from all these. But if he claims the right to make me abstain as well, he offers the clearest possible warning and proof of an aggressive intent. This current uneasy coexistence is only an interlude, he seems to say. For the moment, all I can do is claim to possess absolute truth and demand absolute immunity from criticism. But in the future, you will do what I say and you will do it on pain of death.While I don't agree with many items in this selection, I have emboldened the important point. We in the West are a rebellious sort, and don't like being told what to do. That is why we have such a history of offending what is sacred.
I refuse to be spoken to in that tone of voice, which as it happens I chance to find "offensive." ( By the way, hasn't the word "offensive" become really offensive lately?) The innate human revulsion against desecration is much older than any monotheism: Its most powerful expression is in the Antigone of Sophocles. It belongs to civilization. I am not asking for the right to slaughter a pig in a synagogue or mosque or to relieve myself on a "holy" book. But I will not be told I can't eat pork, and I will not respect those who burn books on a regular basis. I, too, have strong convictions and beliefs and value the Enlightenment above any priesthood or any sacred fetish-object. It is revolting to me to breathe the same air as wafts from the exhalations of the madrasahs, or the reeking fumes of the suicide-murderers, or the sermons of Billy Graham and Joseph Ratzinger. But these same principles of mine also prevent me from wreaking random violence on the nearest church, or kidnapping a Muslim at random and holding him hostage, or violating diplomatic immunity by attacking the embassy or the envoys of even the most despotic Islamic state, or making a moronic spectacle of myself threatening blood and fire to faraway individuals who may have hurt my feelings.
I went on Crossfire at one point, to debate some spokesman for outraged faith, and said that we on our side would happily debate the propriety of using holy writ for literary and artistic purposes. But that we would not exchange a word until the person on the other side of the podium had put away his gun. (The menacing Muslim bigmouth on the other side refused to forswear state-sponsored suborning of assassination, and was of course backed up by the Catholic bigot Pat Buchanan.)
Because of that history, we have learned long and diffiuclt lessons on how to react when others take such delight in ticking us off. Not to say what we have is perfect: we still have religious leaders who try to ban Huckleberry Finn from high schools and drive steamrollers over SAWB's favorite metal albums, we wage 'wars' on Christmas and Halloween, our most hypersensitive get red in the face trying to define the line between 'political correctness' and 'polite company,' and some of us still have problems acting classy even at funerals. But these battles, and our outrage, are often expressed less by attacking one another with sticks and stones, and more about attacking one another by nasty name calling.
While that doesn't make for much 'polite conversation,' it is a darn sight better than rioting in the streets.
At any rate, as I also said before in my apparently notorious letter, I'm waiting to hear from the millions of reasonable Muslims around the world on this cartoon crisis. And here we have an example of how important free speech, the internet and the blogosphere really are: massive self exploratory media. While there are a fair number of apologists, there are still plenty of jems.
Though DADvocate thinks he advocates appeasement, I see that Reza Aslan reminds us of two things: 1) that the correct way to express outrage is through words (fight free speech with free speech), and 2) that the cartoons as well as the reaction to them, are different sides of the same coin:
the Muslims who have resorted to violence in response to this offense are merely reaffirming the stereotypes advanced by the cartoons. Likewise, the Europeans who point to the Muslim reaction as proof that, in the words of the popular Dutch blogger Mike Tidmus, "Islam probably has no place in Europe," have reaffirmed the stereotype of Europeans as aggressively anti-Islamic. It is this common attitude among Europeans that has led to the marginalization of Muslim communities there, which in turn has fed the isolationism and destructive behavior of European Muslims, which has then reinforced European prejudices against Islam. It is a Gordian knot that has become almost impossible to untangle.I am forced to agree with him here. In the days of my longhaired, iconoclastic youth, I would strike out at anything sacred and do things just for shock value. While I sometimes slip back into old roles, I have found that doing things just to provoke a reaction oftentimes win you more enemies than friends.
And that is why as a Muslim American I am enraged by the publication of these cartoons. Not because they offend my prophet or my religion, but because they fly in the face of the tireless efforts of so many civic and religious leaders—both Muslim and non-Muslim—to promote unity and assimilation rather than hatred and discord; because they play into the hands of those who preach extremism; because they are fodder for the clash-of-civilizations mentality that pits East against West.
And here's an exhaustive roundup, especially of what Muslim blogs are saying about the thing. (Hat tip to Clicked.)
From that roundup, I was able to focus in on this specific selection, aptly entitled "WWMD?"
So, therefore, how could it be that Muslims today - who claim to love the the Prophet (pbuh) deeply and follow his example - reacted in such an ugly manner to the publication of cartoons that depict him in a negative manner? I mean, gunfire at an EU office? Threatening Europeans and churches? Beating up employees of Arla Foods? Is this what Muhammad (pbuh) would do?There are plenty of others who are saying similar things, and many of you should go and take a look. Apparently I do have more to go on than patience and faith alone. Again, the lesson: the only way to fight the classlessness and crudeness enabled by free speech is with tempered, sensible and well reasoned speech in response. Think of this every time you see only the bad news on the MSM.
Absolutely not. There are so many other - more dignified, more truly Muslim - ways to lodge a protest against the cartoons. Muslims could have had a silent vigil in from the Danish embassy, instead of pelting the embassy with eggs. Muslims could have written the newspaper - with polite, non-hateful, non-threatening language - and told it that this is wrong. Muslims could have taken the opportunity to show the world the true face of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) - the face we know and love - to contrast the ugly face that was printed by the Danish newspaper. There are so many ways to disagree without being violently disagreeable. Muslims, sadly, failed to do so, and that is offensive in and of itself.
(Bold emphasised by me -HR)
Tags: Cartoon Outrage