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Tuesday, February 07, 2006

It Continues To Get Worse

Enraged Muslims (which has now become a redundancy) attack NATO base in Afghanistan. My view of this conflict perhaps is beginning to take hold. This reporter writes: The drawings -- including one depicting the prophet wearing a turban shaped as a bomb -- have touched a raw nerve partly because Islam is interpreted to forbid any illustrations of Muhammad for fear they could lead to idolatry. At least it is now being reported that Islam holds any depictions of Muhammad as blasphemous, so I reiterate my question: Why should we think that this has to do with the nature of the depiction rather then the act itself of depicting the prophet? And if it is the mere act of publishing the depictions that is found offensive, the argument against doing so requires that we apply to non-Muslims the belief system and religious dogma of Muslims. Is that what we're talking about here? About 50 protesters hurled stones and firebombs at the Norwegian Embassy in Tehran. Norway? What does Norway have to do with this other than geographic proximity to Denmark and perhaps the belief that the Norse and the Danes are interchangeable blonds? We are to try to honor the sentiments of people who are this scattershot in their hate? The larger point here is that it is not possible to meet minds with an adversary who so obviously holds completely different values. We would have no less success in attempting to reach common ground with a medieval landholder. Ralph Peters of the NY Post has a generally interesting take on all this, but falls into the modern day requirement to find fault on both sides no matter how tortured the logic must become. But whether he realizes it or not, he has made my point when he writes, "The problem is that with freedom comes responsibility, a quality to which Europe's become allergic (nothing is ever a European's fault). Breaking a well-known taboo of Islam was irresponsible. No other word for it." The taboo he speaks of is that against depictions of Muhammed; not against negative depictions of Muhammed. He is right when he says it is Islam's taboo, because it is no other's. Why are we to be governed by the "taboos" of religions or societies not our own? How many other taboos are out there that we should be concerned about? Or is it only Muslim taboos that should cause us to alter our conduct? It's time for all of us to recognize that different cultures have different values. For the West, broadly speaking, the highest value is freedom, including freedom of religious expression. But for the Muslim world, the highest value seems to be Islamic piety. To draw such a distinction between West and East is not to endorse cultural relativism; it's simply to take note of cultural reality. Read all of James Pinkerton's piece. Thomas Kleine-Brockhoff reminds us where this controversy started which, if I may so so again, makes my point. Recall that the Dutch paper got the idea to commission the cartoons after the would-be publisher of a children's book about the life of Muhammed and, ironically, religious tolerance, could not find one illustrator in the entire country of Denmark to draw for his book. Not one. They all literally feared for their lives even though the illustrations were certainly not going to be negative or derogatory to the Muslim prophet. Why such fear? Because Muslims consider any depictions of their prophet as a blasphemy of the highest order, and they remembered what had happened to Theo Van Gogh. Are we there yet? Finally, Thomas Lifson gets it: The injunction to force the rest of humanity to choose between conversion and death or Dhimmitude is not merely a matter of saving souls, the power driving Christian evangelism, or compassion for fellow men trapped in suffering, the motive driving Buddhist outreach. Islam as dictated by its scripture is not merely a matter of personal faith, it is also a political system, forever unchangeable, based on the Quran and Hadith.

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