Square Zero

Of Three Minds

Posted by Eric (February 15, 2006 at 12:45 pm)

Offensive cartoon?I’m of “three minds” on this whole Muhammed cartoons business—or at least of two minds. On the one hand, I’m disgusted at the violent reaction of the so-called “Muslim Street” over the kind of ridicule that we Christians have to put up with day after day from the Western media. But on the other hand, I have to admit a kind of admiration that Muslims are so willing to go to the mat defending the Prophet; and it’s always hard to muster a whole lot of sympathy for Europeans and their sneering attitude towards religion in general.

If I’m of a “third mind” about the whole business, it’s that these cartoons are just plain stupid. We’ve heard a lot of controversy over why the American (liberal) media won’t show the cartoons—Are they for some reason, somehow, out of the blue, unwilling to offend? Or are they simply afraid? What I’d like to hear is that these cartoons just aren’t clever enough to warrant further publicity.

Of course, at this point the cartoons are an international incident, and ought to be shown. But I don’t think it’s just that the liberal media are afraid of reprisals (and I don’t buy the argument that they’ve suddenly become sensitive to the tender feelings of religious people, Muslim or otherwise). I think they’re unwilling to show in such an unequivocal way how radicalized Islam has become—it doesn’t fit with the storyline wherein the world’s Muslims are the innocent victims of Western aggression. If they show just exactly how little it takes to spark riots the world over, it’s harder to sell that line to the American public.

But I wonder what’s really behind the street violence over these mostly insipid cartoons. Is it that the Muslim faith is so deeply held that adherants are able to make the whole world take notice of their outrage? Or is it so shallow as to be really threatened by a series of cartoons published in one of Europe’s smallest and most insignificant countries? I don’t know.

By the way, I chose the cartoon above because it strikes me that there is something tender about it. If it was meant to be offensive or critical of Muhammed or Islam, I don’t see how. Maybe I just don’t understand Muslims—or Danes. Perhaps that drawing reminds me of Jesus the Good Shepherd—the staff, the humble posture, the desert background.

I feel sorry for a people who dare not allow their holy men to be depicted. As a Byzantine Catholic, I find this particularly unfortunate and impoverished. Muslims are burning Danish flags in the street, in their outrage at not being able to burn up all of their own icons.

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