Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Much Ado About...Nothing?

Bonfire of the Pieties: Islam prohibits neither images of Muhammad nor jokes about religion
(May require free registration)

In this article, OpinionJournal commentator Amir Taheri makes some great points, both that there is no scriptural prohibition in Islam of depictions of Mohammed, and that the prevailing Sulafist (also called Wahhabist, or Islamofascist) attitude of humorlessness and intolerance of parody is also unsupported, either by the Koran or by other anecdotes of Mohammed's own life.

At his article's end, Taheri takes a final parting shot at both sides of the debate:
Just as Muslims should not blame all Westerners for the poor taste of a cartoonist who wanted to be offensive, those horrified by the spectacle of rent-a-mob sackings of embassies in the name of Islam should not blame all Muslims for what is an outburst of fascist energy.
Sadly, this misses the larger point of the debate, and glosses the deafening near-silence from the non-rioting Muslims of the world on this latest smear of their faith by what one would hope is a highly embarrassing, if vocal, minority.

This crisis/debate/farce is not about some Danish cartoonists' decisions to offend Islam, and never has been. It's about whether we in the West will stand up for our own nations' interpretation of the right to a free press, and freedom of speech, and we allow this fact to be obscured in the debate at our peril. Reactions of our governments have been mixed, but largely disappointing aside from a few bright points, which leaves it up to braver newspapers and people in the blogosphere to make the stand. It's not so courageous a stand as some might think (I'm fairly certain I have little to fear from cartoon-mad crazies on U.S. soil), but I'm big on standing up to be counted when issues like this one arise. In situations like this one, failure to take a side is to stand aside.

And as regards the near-silence of the nonviolent, tolerant majority of Muslims we're assured are out there, we need to see more of the sort of story I blogged about below. Like dozens or hundreds more. I hopped over to to see what it's saying about the matter, and its lead story as of this afternoon is of President Bush effectively strengthening the case of the Islamofascists and rioters with quotes like "With freedom comes the responsibility to be thoughtful about others," and perpetuating the canard about Islam prohibiting representations of Mohammed. I want to see the top five stories on Al Jazeera to be denunciations of the riots, and exposés of Iranian and Syrian state support of the rioting.

I would hope that such material would, in modern parlance, be newsworthy.


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