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Wednesday, February 08, 2006
Denmark + Cartoons

Do a Google search for that, and the pictures are all of angry Muslims, and things on fire. It's quite an age in which we live.

I've given all of this some thought, and I've kind of gotten to the bottom of what it is that bothers me about all of this. As usual, it is hypocrisy.

The Muslims are angry because the prophet Muhammad is never supposed to be rendered visually, lest it lead to idol worship, and especially not as wearing a turban made out of a bomb with a lit fuse. More sensible, I suppose, would be to just not worship a picture of a guy. But Islam is old, like most religions, and people were stupid enough to buy into a lot of things back then.

So a Danish newspaper publishes some drawings of the prophet, editorial cartoons really, that speak more about the current state of Islam, and it's not all flattering. But let's face it, like with most things, a few bad apples have ruined the image of Islam for the millions of peaceful followers of this faith. What to do? One way might have been to look at these drawings and say, "Well, I suppose I can see why people may think we are all about violence and terror. Perhaps we should work toward altering perceptions, and try to change some minds. Let's show people what we really believe."

Or, you know, we could smash things and burn down buildings.

"How dare they represent my faith as violent! Death to them all!"

Christians sit back, cluck, and shake their heads. "See how they are? See? Oh, they're such hypocrites."

And this isn't even the pot calling the kettle black. This is the kettle calling the kettle kettle.


But I want to focus on the Muslims, while I can. The newspaper claims, and rightly so, that this is a free speech issue, and ultimately it is. All speech must be protected, and especially offensive speech. No one needs to protect the weather forecast from fundamentalists. It's new and radical ideas, and truly ugly things that need protection. I don't like to see hatemongers in the streets chanting disgusting things, but if a government or theocracy can stop them, then they can stop anyone. Let them speak; rational people can discern truth from garbage.

And the Muslims are not against free speech. You would think they were, but you are so wrong. Pick up almost any newspaper in the Arab or Muslim world, and you will see just how open-minded they are. Sure, criticism of elected leaders is a bit scarce, but that's likely just because everything is so great in these countries. You sense that I am being ironic, and have become frustrated. Let me get to the point.

Have a glance at the editorial pages. Find any cartoon that is about Israelis, or more specifically, Jews.

"I can't read Arabic! Which ones are the Jews?"

Hmm, does the character have a hook nose? Is there blood dripping from its hands? Has it just killed and eaten some children?

Those are the Jews.

And this stuff is in there every single day. The Arabs have the right to print whatever they wish, because they need to sell newspapers, and they have freedom of speech, of that sort, at least. If these publications wish to fan the flames of hate, it's not really my place to tell them their business. But they need to not be such disgusting hypocrites when their own beliefs are mocked.

No one gets a free pass. No one is innocent.

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posted at 10:06 PM

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