Thursday, February 16, 2006

More on the Danish Cartoons

Somebody must've linked to my What It's Really About post, as I've gotten some very odd comments about it, which isn't really normal for a non-comic book post on this blog. Still, it has been interesting to see the various viewpoints.

I was at a dinner the other night with some friends, and when the subject of the cartoons came up, one of them mentioned that he was in Denmark during 9/11. The reaction there was considerably different than in the United States in many ways, and very much the same in other ways. He said that some of the Muslim minority did go out into the streets and celebrate. That turned the Danish press against the Muslims, and led to what he thinks has been several years of oppression. Keep in mind, this is the viewpoint of a single American citizen who spent time in Denmark. But I trust his judgement, and in his opinion, complaints by Danish Muslims about being hated and oppressed are probably correct.

I don't know about anyone else, but this certainly added a level to my understanding of the whole thing. Stupidity escalating into stupidity. Mob mentality, all the way.

I still tend to think this is less an issue about free speech than it is about people being manipulated. The Danish Imams were desperate to get the world to see what they considered massive racism and oppression, so desperate that they added images to the mildly offensive Danish cartoons. The Saudis were delighted to have something else to occupy people's minds than the deaths at the Hajj. And who knows what exactly motivated other folks to pile on? But pile on they did, until what should've been a "roll your eyes at the disbelievers" turned into a "let's kill each other to show how serious we are about this".

The thing is, nobody is impressed.

Oh, we're impressed enough by the violence. In the same way we'd be impressed by a rabid dog.

But impressed by their religion? This degrades their religion. Every act of violence meant to show how serious Muslims are only works to convince the world that the criticisms of their religion are correct, that it's a violent and hateful religion.

Every death is an insult to Muhammed more serious than the original cartoons.

I have to wonder if the rioters know what they are doing. Do they know that they are dragging Muhammed's name through the mud with their actions? Every Muslim who really believes their religion should be condemning the rioters. They can condemn the cartoons, too, but the cartoons aren't jumping off the page and killing people. The rioters are the ones who have made all of Islam look bad to the rest of the world. The cartoons were mildly offensive and boring, but the drawings of a Dane can't make the world hate Muslims. But when Muslims riot, burn, and murder, THAT makes the world think less of Muhammed and Islam.

I know that every day that goes by with more news of riots and deaths is another day I think less of the supposedly peaceful and beautiful religion. How strong is a religion if a drawing is a threat to it? How peaceful is a religion if members of it kill innocent bystanders over a mild insult? How beautiful can a religion be if artwork causes riots?

Update: So I write this long, rambling note, and Peter David writes something that makes even more sense. Go read.