I was surprised by the mild reaction to my post yesterday about what I see as the unnecessary infliction of pain on devout Muslims by republishing the cartoons.
Just goes to show I’m an idiot to underestimate the intelligence of my readers.
The comments were almost all thoughtful, insightful, and made me think. I can certainly understand why some would take my forbearance as a sign of weakness and the point is well taken. However, there are aspects to this war against radical Islamists - and by their silent assent to the tactics of the terrorists, the rest of the Muslim world - where we are still feeling our way. And I think it important to make a couple of points before I leave the subject for a while:
* There is an extraordinary amount of ignorance on the part of Muslims about how we in the West live our lives. The concepts of freedom and liberty as we understand them are so far outside their ability to comprehend that they may as well originate on another planet. I am not talking about the demonstrators in the streets and the evil men egging them on and who have probably carefully planned this “uprising” for months. I am talking about the hundreds of millions of ordinary people who are in Islam’s thrall, mindlessly following the diktats of their holy men who keep their flocks mired in the distant past. There is a school of thought that Muslims seek the accoutrements of the modern world - flush toilets and electric lights - without the concomitant ideological imperative of having to absorb modern ideas. If true, the imams and the mullahs, like the Soviets before them, are in for a big surprise.
* There is an almost equal ignorance on our part in how Muslims actually view the world around them. The fear and suspicion with which we look upon Muslims is not healthy and actually makes the radicals job easier. Until we can see beyond the bloodcurdling rhetoric of the terrorists and their enablers and try and understand ordinary Muslims, we will be unable to enlist them in any meaningful way in this fight. Before it’s over, they are going to have to choose sides. Will they join us if we continue to condemn an entire religion for the actions of a few? By engaging in such sweeping condemnations, it only becomes easier for the terrorists to show which side the bulk of Muslims in the world should be on. And I’ve got news for those of us who persist in such folly - there are 1.3 billion Muslims in the world. We can’t kill them all.
* We absolutely must continue to stand up for freedom of speech. In fact, I am convinced that the only way to reach the majority of Muslims in the world who should be our natural allies in this war is by showcasing our “secular religion” of liberty. If Muslims are willing to die for Allah what do you think the effect on ordinary people will be if they realize we are willing to die for an abstract idea like freedom? I think if we can ever penetrate the propaganda, the lies, and the hate generated by Islam’s leaders against the West and prove by example that our beliefs are as powerful as theirs, the tide will begin to turn. The President sees this in his belief that by bringing at least the outward manifestations of democracy - free elections, free speech, and the free exchange of ideas - the rest will follow. History will prove him right or wrong in this approach. But at the moment, it looks like the best bet we have.