“Can you explain why Muslims are so angry over a cartoon and why they are rioting, killing and making threats?”
Good questions, I thought. So how do I explain it?
First, I think Muslims take their religion more seriously than Christians.
Christians get angry at similar things, like when an “artist” immersed a crucifix in a vat of urine. Yes, you heard me. Really disgusting. Went way beyond free speech into incitement.
But it’s not easy to incite Christians. They complained, expressed some outrage but they didn’t rush into the streets of America screaming for beheadings and torching buildings.
They protested the Christian way, just shrugging it off. That’s Western culture. Most Christians don’t have time to defend their religion because they are too busy spending all their money buying the latest fad junk.
And many Jews are no different. God forbid that you criticize Israel. You would quickly be denounced as an “anti-Semite” and “Jew-hater.”
Demagoguery is so much more effective in punishing those you disagree with. It doesn’t require any real physical energy. You just label someone and that’s it. Why kill someone or burn down their home when the loss of their job will force them to sell their home, and they will probably starve to death without work?
My views on the cartoons are simple: They were offensive and Muslims have every right to protest them. But the violence and the threats, the killings and the arson, are wrong and all symptomatic of problems that Muslims and Arabs do face but can’t seem to control.
They are not used to “free speech” and the subtle ways that the West uses to punish those who free speak things they dislike.
Some Americans were upset when they read that President Bush, who lied about Iraq, discussed bombing al-Jazeera, the Arabic language satellite TV channel.
Al-Jazeera has been broadcasting images that Bush and most Americans don’t like, such as American soldiers killing Iraqi civilians. Iraqi fighters blowing up American forces. Saying things like “Bush lied about weapons of mass destruction” and “the Iraq war is immoral and wrong.”
Americans were probably mad not that Bush was going to bomb an al-Jazeera TV station in Iraq, but because Bush was not subtle about it. They preferred when the U.S. Military simply killed an Arab or Muslim journalist and said “Ooops! It was an accident. Sorry.”
Or when American forces blew up an al-Jazeera office. If you are going to do something like that, don’t talk about it. Just do it. “Ooops!” works.
Americans are not even that angry about corruption, which seemingly pushed Arabs and Muslims in the Palestinian Authority to throw out the “corrupt” secular government that wanted to make peace with Israel, and replace it with a morally corrupt terrorist organization that has spent its entire existence using suicide bombings to derail the peace process.
In America, and probably even in most Western nations, corruption is an acceptable part of everyday life. As long as the corruption results in clean streets, city services and lowered property taxes. And, as long as you don’t get caught at it.
Politicians who get caught stealing from the taxpayers are so embarrassing.
The writer asked me if I could come up with examples of how Christians have “ever” done what Muslims are now doing.
Well, I remember as a child in 1966, a lot of Americans wanted to lynch John Lennon for saying that he was more popular than Jesus. They boycotted his band, The Beatles, boycotted his music and boycotted his shows.
The threat of economic damage was so great, and subtle, Lennon apologized faster than a Danish Newspaper Cartoonist could ask, “If I make fun of Mohammed, will I get attention?”
About the same time Americans were protesting Lennon, the FBI was smearing the Rev. Martin Luther King, Americans in the south were lynching African Americans and burning down Black churches. A little bit before, President Johnson lied about an alleged North Vietnamese assault in the Tonkin Bay to justify increasing American bombing raids over North Vietnamese civilian villages, escalating the war.
The whole Danish cartoon episode would be funny except that people on both sides really don’t care about the issues. Each side is using the incident to justify their own anger against the other.
The real issue isn’t that a cartoonist insulted the name of the Prophet Mohammed or any religion.
It’s that there is an underlying hatred by the West of Islam and by Islam of the West. It’s been going on for centuries.
I am just hoping my editor receives this column.
You know, here in freedom loving America, the government is secretly reading all the emails and listening to the telephone conversations of people like me who think free speech is really free.
People are free in the West. It’s just that some are freer than others.
Ray Hanania is an award winning Palestinian American journalist, author and standup comedian. He writes regularly for Ynetnews.com and can be reached at www.hanania.com