The Islamic double-standard
“There is certainly freedom in America to deride Christ. This is done every day on Broadway, and every other day in Hollywood. Americans do not take up arms in protest.”
— William F. Buckley Jr.
With his usual insight, Buckley has located the dog that not only isn’t barking, but has apparently taken an eternal vow of silence. As Muslim mobs torch embassies and Muslim governments begin boycotts in response to European newspapers’ publication of cartoons mocking Mohammad, there has been little surprise at such savagery.
There have been plenty of platitudes about respect and dialogue, many mealy-mouthed statements about the value of a free press, and bountiful bromides about tolerance. What there hasn’t been is any serious inquiry into the special status Islam enjoys.
Let Christians so much as stage a peaceful protest against the latest “art” to blaspheme Christianity, and the liberal media chorus will issue a cacophony of condemnation. Not at the offending art, of course, or the tasteless artist, but at those bourgeoisie boobs who had the audacity to display disgust at the demeaning of their religion. Art, we are told, exists to break taboos and transgress standards.
And Christianity is considered ripe for ridicule, as it is thought Puritanical and hierarchical, repressive and patriarchal. Islam, of course, possesses such attributes in spades (Sura 4:38: but chide [women] for whose refractoriness ye have cause to fear … and scourge them), but it’s awfully gauche to say so. Also, doing so isn’t nearly so safe as Christian-baiting; there’s no Moral Majority equivalent of Mohammad Bouyeri, the chap who butchered Dutch filmmaker Theo van Gogh for making a film critical of Islam.
When Muslims worldwide go on violent rampages over a few caricatures published in a newspaper they would never have heard of otherwise, no one is surprised, and the storm of disapprobation that would arise if anyone else did such a thing is forestalled. Bluntly put, we expect Muslims to behave barbarously: Muslims die in protests over supposed insults to Islam, ho-hum.
Saudi Arabia has recalled its envoy to Denmark in response to the cartoon kerfuffle, blathering about how showing such disrespect for Islam is unacceptable. I would suggest to the Saudi government that if they want me to show their pedophile prophet (yes, Mohammad first had sex with his favorite wife when she was nine and he was in his fifties) any respect, they ought to make it legal to publicly practice my religion in their kingdom. Not executing Muslims who convert to other religions would also be good.
Notes Victor Davis Hanson, “Ever since that seminal death sentence handed down to Salman Rushdie by the Iranian theocracy, the Western world has incrementally and insidiously accepted these laws of asymmetry … the Muslim Middle East can insist on one standard of behavior for itself and quite another for others.” We are not, he acridly points out, “to remember that Hamas terrorists occupied and desecrated the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem in a globally televised charade.” In that case, the Vatican declined to call another Crusade in response.
When I read passages in the Koran like Sura 8:40: “fight then against [the infidels] till strife be at an end, and the religion be all of it God’s,” I started doubting the “religion of peace” cant. Perhaps this “peace” is the peace of the grave.
Christianity grew on the blood of its martyrs; Islam grew on the blood of its enemies. The only combatant a modern Muslim martyr is sure of killing is himself; he prefers that the others be women and children.
Oh, I’m sorry; I forgot that those extremists don’t represent the majority of Muslims, who are kind and peaceable. I suppose that I’ll have to suppress the knowledge that the Palestinian majority just elected a terrorist group to govern them.
There are, to be sure, individual Muslims who are quite nice, and even a few Muslim countries that aren’t run by tyrannical kleptocrats or theocrats. But on average, Islamic nations are oppressive and poor.
The problem with Islam is that it is an immanentist religion. While Christianity teaches that the kingdom of God is not of this world, Islam holds that it is the duty of Muslims to bring the kingdom of God to this world. Islam allows no distinction between religious and governmental authority, and proclaims that good Muslims will always triumph over their infidel enemies. That’s hardly a metaphysical view that inclines toward tolerance and religious freedom.
If Muslims are incapable of separating the political from the spiritual, then both the right and the left are going to have to examine some of their favorite views. Conservatives need to take a hard look at whether the Muslim Middle East really can be remade in a free, democratic image. I used to think so, but now I’m skeptical.
Liberals, meanwhile, need to consider if their vision of multiculturalism is really possible, or whether it will succumb to what Leszek Kolakowski called “The self-poisoning of the open society.”
Finally, the “moderate” Muslims that are constantly touted need to demonstrate that they have the will and ability to lead their religion out of barbarism.
Nathanael Blake is a senior in microbiology. The opinions expressed in his columns, which appear every Wednesday, do not necessarily represent those of The Daily Barometer staff. Blake can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.