“Don’t depict (Muhammad/Jesus) in (Newspaper Cartoons/The Book of Daniel)!”
The Islamic world is in a snit right now, because a Danish newspaper published some cartoons that depict Muhammad (See Wikipedia overview or the actual cartoons). The Bay of Fundie is devoted to exposing Christian extremism. Muslim extremists are at least as dangerous, but I’ll have to leave that coverage to others.
The current uproar is a perfect example of what will happen if you let the fundies get any more powerful. We keep hearing Muslims claim that the extremists are a minority, their radical notions do not reflect the opinions of most followers of Islam, it is a peaceful religion that does not advocate violence, etc.
Why, then, are so many Muslims setting off so many bombs, crashing so many airplanes, and killing so many people (including many Muslims! And they get pissed off about the amount of collateral damage the Americans inflict in Iraq!)?
The vast majority of Muslims probably are peaceful, but they have allowed their religion to be dominated by extremists. Many non-Muslims view Islam as a terrorist religion. Islamic moderates are to blame for allowing this perception to arise, and they are doing nothing to change the situation. Complaining that a non-Muslim drew an offensive picture isn’t the way to change public misconceptions. That isn’t the cause; it’s an effect. If they want the rest of the world to view Islam as non-violent, the peaceful majority must stamp out the radical elements within their religion.
The extremists have become so emboldened that they are now trying to inflict Islamic law on non-Muslims. As Wikipedia explains, “Islamic teachings forbid the depiction of Muhammad as a measure against idolatry.” Well, guess what? That only applies to Muslims! Any religious teaching can only apply to its followers. Everybody else is exempt. But somehow the rest of the world has to get permission from some self-imposed arbiter of what is offensive.
I don’t care what your religion is or whether its ideas are crazy or sane. But don’t you dare try to force your way of life upon those who want to live differently.
Somehow it’s OK for Iranians to burn the American flag at every political rally, sporting event, and Port-a-Potty siphoning, but a Westerner can’t draw a goofy picture of Muhammad? You guys go do your thing, and we’ll do our thing. If we offend each other, well tough. It’s a great big world, and there are bound to be people in it who offend you. Get over it.
The irony of this incident, of course, is that those cartoons were to illustrate an article on self-censorship. The Muslims kind of proved its point!
Here’s an interesting bit of trivia. Right now, the Muslims are pissed-off at Europe. Keep this to yourself, or they’ll turn on us next. I was researching the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment at Wikipedia, when I read this:
It is worth noting that among the eighteen influential lawgivers depicted in the north and south friezes of Supreme Court building are three religious figures: Moses, Confucius, and Muhammad.
(Actually, Confucius is a philosopher.) What this means is that the United States government has a depiction of Muhammad on a public building. This depiction is in direct violation of Islamic law! It has been there for decades, but they never complained! Why the hell not? It seems a bit inconsistent to me, but guess what? Inconsistency is one of the hallmarks of fundies! (no matter what their stripes)
The Problem is Bigger than Just Extremists
Unfortunately, it is not just bomb-wearing Muslims who are making a stink about this. Because the extremists in the Muslim world have become so visible and vocal, they have become the thought leaders. What they say influences millions of otherwise rational Muslims. Their hatred and intolerance is slowly permeating the Islamic world. If the moderate majority don’t make a bold stand now to stamp out the cancer of extremism, it will ultimately consume their entire religion.
Just listen to what we’re hearing these days:
- “(The West/The Liberals) are trying to destroy (Islam/Christianity)!”
- “There’s a (Crusade/War) against (Islam/Christmas)!”
- “(The Jews/The Homosexuals) are trying to remove (Palestinians/God) from (Palestine/The Classroom)!”
- “(The Jews/The Jews) are making blasphemous films about (Islam/Christianity)!”
- “Mel Gibson is (A Loony/A Saint)!”
(Actually, that last one isn’t Muslims/Christians, it’s me/Christians.)
You can see where I’m going with this. Christianity risks becoming perceived as another extremist religion. Christianity has more than its fair share of wackos: Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson, James Dobson, Donald Wildmon, Ralph Reed, etc. We all laugh when one of them says that Tinky Winky is gay or the CIA should assassinate Hugo Chavez.
Don’t be fooled. These people aren’t merely the jesters of Christianity. Beneath those pathetic exteriors lie devious minds. They are having more successes than failures in their attempts to destroy our civil liberties and impose their own narrow brand of hatred upon us all.
Where are the high-profile moderate Christian leaders? For every Donald Wildmon, we need ten equally-vocal priests and ministers to refute and marginalize the extremists. Don’t let the crazy ideas breathe, or they will grow. And they have been growing!
Because moderate Christians are not stopping them, the extremists have become the thought leaders of the Christian community. More and more of what they say is becoming accepted by the mainstream.
If this trend continues, I see only three paths:
- The cancer of radical Christianity destroys Christianity itself in the same way that radical Islam appears to be destroying that religion.
- Radical Christianity gets powerful enough to elect more Presidents and Congress-critters and put more fundies on the Supreme Court. Your rights to read what you want, watch what you want, and say what you want; your rights to free association; and your rights to keep the government out of your personal life will all be gone.
- Radical Islam will continue its terrorist attacks on the West, prompting the government to “protect” you by taking away your rights to read what you want, watch what you want, and say what you want; your rights to free association; and your rights to keep the government out of your personal life.
All three are equally likely. (2) and (3) have the same end result, because they have the same root cause. (1) might really happen, but I suspect not before it causes (2).