I really hate it when other people make me look like a fool.
Most who know me are aware that I need no help in that department. I am quite capable of looking like a fool all by myself without so much as a “by your leave” from anyone else, thank you. Hence, when others, by their actions, show me to be either naive or just plain wrong, I really hate it.
First of all, it requires the obligatory mea culpa post full of angst-ridden questions like “How dare they?” Or perhaps “Am I really that stupid?” This is followed by a flood of comments from readers along the lines of “I don’t like saying “I told ya so’ but I told ya so,” and other deep thoughts. In the end, I give the lie to the old adage “There are no stupid questions, only stupid answers” by proving that if the interlocutor is clueless, no answer on God’s green earth is dumb enough to justify being wrong in the first place.
I have been dead wrong about the Cartoon Controversy. I haven’t been just a little off target or slightly misguided. I have been four square, 100%, dyed in the wool, hugely mistaken about both the issues at stake and my analysis of so-called “moderate Muslims” whose almost virtual silence on these matters has made me look like an imbecile while trying to defend them.
I really hate being made to look like an imbecile by people I’ve stood up for. In short, my call for forebearance and understanding on the cartoon issue has been tossed back at me with a sneer and a kick in the ass by many of the Muslim leaders I counted on to calm the situation. This is no longer an issue of trying to separate the jihadists from the so-called “moderates.” At bottom, they are both using each other and the controversy itself to advance their own agendas while at the same time, viciously attacking the very concept of free speech as we in the west understand it.
When radical Muslims like President Ahmadinejad of Iran start echoing the arguments made by what passes for moderate Muslims in Great Britain, it is time for everyone who supported the notion that the cartoons were making it more difficult for moderate Muslims to marginalize the fanatics to admit they were wrong.
Ahmadinejad is trying to pressure Europeans to address Muslim “sensitivities” by making it illegal to criticize Islam. He is trying to do this through the “moderate” Organization of Islamic Council (OIC) who know a good thing when they see it:
Iran has demanded an emergency meeting of the 57 Muslim countries comprising the Organization of Islamic Council (OIC), which announced it would call on the European Union (EU) to pass laws to counter hostility to Muslims.
“The OIC member countries expect the EU to identify islamophobia as a dangerous phenomenon to be scrutinized and combated as is the case with xenophobia and antisemitism,” the council said in a statement to AFP Saturday.
Europe had to create “appropriate mechanisms of surveillance and to look again at its legislation with the aim of preventing in the future repetition of recent unfortunate events,” the statement said.
By piggybacking their victimhood claims on the back of the cartoon controversy along with the radical’s call for suppressing free speech, we see an instance where the fanatics and “mainstream” Muslims scratch each other’s backs in order to advance their own agendas.
Thanks for that kick in the groin, guys.
Not to be outdone, the Imam of the Grand Mosque in Mecca, the most important mosque in holiest city in Islam, has said “thanks but no thanks” to western apologies for the cartoons and instead, has called for the arrest and trial of the cartoonists:
Speaking to hundreds of faithful at his Friday sermon, Sheik Abdul Rahman al-Seedes, the imam of the Grand Mosque in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, called on the international community to enact laws that condemn insults against the prophet and holy sites.
“Where is the world with all its agencies and organizations? Is there only freedom of expression when it involves insults to Muslims? With one voice…we will reject the apology and demand a trial,” Al Riyad, a Saudi daily newspaper, quoted al-Seedes as saying.
Al-Seedes said the cartoons “made a mockery” of the Islam and the Prophet and called them “slanderous.”
Sheik Abdul Rahman al-Seedes is not some obscure radical preaching from the hinterlands of Islam. He is one of the most important leaders in the Muslim world. To “reject” the meek apologies of the Europeans and call for criminalizing free speech goes beyond the pale. Charles Johnson has noted that the US has taken the Syrians and Iranians to task for stoking the fires of this controversy but have been unconscionably silent about our Saudi friends.
Don’t expect that to change anytime soon.
More suggestions from “moderates” on what the West can do with their free speech comes from the President of the semi-free, military dominated government of Indonesia:
Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono reiterated that many Muslims consider the cartoons an insult to their faith, but he called on Muslims to forgive those who have sincerely apologized.
“Reprinting the cartoons in order to make a point about free speech is an act of senseless brinkmanship,” he said in a commentary in the International Herald Tribune.
“It is also a disservice to democracy. It sends a conflicting message to the Muslim community: that in a democracy it is permissible to offend Islam. This message damages efforts to prove that democracy and Islam go together.”
How very big of President Yudhoyono. He forgives us while accusing the west of “brinksmanship” for practicing free speech and then showing how really clueless he is about the idea of freedom by saying that it is undemocratic to offend Islam.
If I got a dollar every time I’ve read over the past three weeks of some Muslim “leader” giving lip service to the idea of free speech and then undercutting it by saying it should be illegal to criticize Islam, I’d be able to buy a new laptop.
Since my original postings on the cartoon controversy, we have learned about how both the Syrians and Iranians are using it to deflect attention from other problems. We have learned that western Muslims are using the controversy to advance their own agendas by playing upon the timidity and meekness of European governments. And we have witnessed the depth of hatred that the fanatical jihadists have for us and the contempt with which they view our most cherished freedoms.
What good does empathy and forbearance do in the face of such calculated calumny? To be considered whatever the Muslim equivalent of a “useful idiot” is does not sit well with me. It’s a mistake I will not repeat.
In fact, if the moderates want to impress me, they can start by coming out and laying into President Ahmadinejad for his constant denial of the Holocaust. That would be a pretty good start toward initiating a useful dialog that would lead to a better understanding between Islam and the West.