Respect the respectable

I think not
By John V. Fleming
Princetonian Columnist

Earlier this month, following widespread reporting of crowds howling in the street as embassies burned and corpses littered the ground, two guest columnists published an essay here complaining of a media-perpetrated anti-Muslim "stereotype" of unreason and violence. "Islam is a religion with a long tradition of tolerance and coexistence with other religions," they concluded, "and the Muslim community asks only for basic tolerance and respect."

That we should tolerate the tolerable and respect the respectable seems an unexceptionable if modest aspiration of civil society. The Myth of Islamic Tolerance itself, however, is unlikely long to survive the perusal of a recent book of that title (Prometheus, 2005, 593 pages) or, for that matter, the wider familiarity with the Koran and Hadith among non-Muslims. These columnists complain, with regard to the Danish cartoons, of "the double standard by which slurs against Islam are permitted in the West while attacks on other faiths are not."

That is one of the more fantastic things I have ever read in a newspaper, not excluding even my own columns. The Danish cartoons appeared in a provincial newspaper published in a language spoken by a world population well under half that of Cairo. In the meantime in English (1.9 billion speakers), appears a record-selling book called "The Da Vinci Code." Its thesis is that Jesus Christ got it on with Mary Magdalene and that institutional Christianity, particularly the Roman Catholic Church, will do whatever is necessary to cover up the truth threatening to expose centuries of knowing fraud. There were no howling mobs, burning churches or art historians dead in the street, only fabulous sales spurred by aggressive publicity and a big movie on the way. I suppose that does qualify as a double standard.

As for the standard of "basic tolerance and respect," we might consider the plight of Abdul Rahman, the most celebrated Afghan Christian and perhaps the only living one. His problem is not coexistence, just simple existence. As I write, he is in prison awaiting a capital trial for the crime of converting from Islam to Christianity. And yes, that is a capital crime, so interpreted from the lips of the Prophet himself in several scriptural passages. It is enshrined in the Shari'a and in the schizophrenic Afghan Constitution, one face of which is Shari'a Light. It is not an aberration or a "tribal" anomaly. We witness the operation of the "democratic constitution" of a land liberated from tyranny by American blood and treasure. This is not American Islam but neither is it a "stereotype" or a malignant invention of Edward Said's orientalists. It is absolutely mainstream Islam, and it accurately reflects the nature of Islam's "long tradition of tolerance" as it exists in history wherever Islam has wielded power over non-Muslims and as we can expect it to exist anywhere the Shari'a may be installed in the future. Only a parody of political correctness could have the brass to demand my tolerance for an intolerance so obscurantist or my respect for a disrespect so lethal.

Less than three years ago, Afghan President Karzai made a triumphant visit to our campus, where he was lionized by President Tilghman and other major officers of the University. An adoring audience hung on his every word.

"During his address, Karzai focused on the ideals of peace and democracy shared by Afghan and American citizens and emphasized that cultural differences, particularly religious ones, are not barriers to further cooperation between the two countries and with the rest of the world." So wrote my former boss, Alyson Zureick, in the pages of this paper on Monday, Sept. 29, 2003.

Fine. We won't call it a "clash of civilizations." We can call it a manifestation of "cultural differences, particularly religious ones." Whatever its name, it does, I fear, raise barriers for lovers of liberty. I seriously doubt that Rahman will be hanged. No decent respect for the opinions of mankind could save the Bamiyan statuary, but now that the "moderates" are in control, there is a good chance that Abdul can in effect be ransomed. The Afghan legal authorities are hinting at a solution of declaring him crazy and "hospitalizing" him. That was the technique perfected by the Soviets to deal with their apostates, after improved communications made it awkward for them simply to shoot them. My conjunction of these two totalitarian mindsets is not factitious. The courageous "Manifesto" recently signed by Irshad Manji, Salman Rushdie, Ali Ayaan Hirsi and several other writers and thinkers begins thus: "After having overcome fascism, Nazism and Stalinism, the world now faces a new totalitarian global threat: Islamism." If Islamophobia is the fear of Islam, these folks earn their place among charter Islamophobes. Each of them is a Muslim born and raised, now threatened with murder for what they have dared to think and say. (external - login to view)
i really dont think
most of the muslim world gave a damn about those cartoons
what we saw was the actions of a small minority of unstable people raging
so when we see those images of violent protest-- we may get the erroneous impression that most of the muslim world thinks its appropiate to respond to an insult with that kind of childish
behaviour-- and that does reinforce the stereotype.

perhaps comparing it to the davinci code may not be appropiate

but hypothetically suppose that the danish had published cartoons say mocking moses-- not the holocaust as has previously been argued -- but something commenting about current events in the isreali- palestinian conflict

perhaps a cartoon having moses comment after a particularly repressive gesture on the part of the isreali army-
hey we can do whatever we want were the chosen people--

now if that had occurred-- personally it would smack of anti-semitism to me---
and to many others-- and even granted the freedom of the pree wouldnt be the most tastefull way to comment on the issue-- and woulnt be funny

so i think that the way many islamics see it-- they are offended by it -- but i dont believe any but a tiny percentage of them would do anything more than respond with a a *** for tat--verbal muttering

or- i could be completely wrong--again
Quote: Originally Posted by I think not

By John V. Fleming
Princetonian Columnist

Each of them is a Muslim born and raised, now threatened with murder for what they have dared to think and say. (external - login to view)

Off topic but in the same light.. Terry Schaivo's husband was on TV tonight saying that he recieved death threats and his children were threatened in letters written to him. The letters ended with quotes from scripture.

Seems there is no shortage of nuts in any society

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