*UPDATE* Democracies Don't Care
As the cartoon crisis continues to unfold, there are many people that are falling all over themselves as they attempt to 'engage' Muslims in conversation, trying to convey the meaning of plurality. We respect your faith, they say and we must allow freedom to reign. Surely there is a way these ideal notions can co-exist, the well meaning and overly thoughtful pundits declare.
In fact, the well meaning and overly thoughtful pundits in the MSM, most of the blogosphere and in an the hallowed (if often shallow) halls of academia, have it wrong.
We do not need to assure Muslims that we are caring. We do not need to bestow a status upon Islam that we not bestow upon other religions and other faiths. Muslims are not special and they are not deserving of special status.
Why? Because in a free society, we don't care about your beliefs. We do care about your actions and behavior. You are free to integrate and to assimilate into our society in whole or in part. We really don't care. Do not tell us we need to care about your beliefs and your concerns above all else and above our own beliefs. If you do try to make that assertion, you will soon be surprised at how easily you will be marginalized and resented- not for your beliefs, but rather, for your attempt to jump to the head of line. You are not more important than anyone else.
We don't care if your are a Christian, Jewish, Muslim or Hindu. You are free to worship as you believe. In fact, that is the last thing we worry about. America and free nations have long ago dispensed with the notion that what you believe how you believe, is relevant to peaceful existence. Notwithstanding the religious voices from the pulpits and the media, America has learned to live and let live.
We want to know if you are a good neighbor or an honest business person. We want to know that you'll make sure to keep a watchful eye on your kids and ours, in the neighborhood we live in. We don't really care how you dress (any more than they care how we dress) and we don't care what language you speak in your home. We don't care which newspapers you read or which TV news broadcast you watch. In fact, you are free to change the channel.
Let's repeat that- you are free to change the channel, read another newspaper or listen to another radio channel.
If you don't like offensive cartoons (and we don't blame you!), you are free not to buy that paper or cancel your subscription. You are free to boycott advertisers and write scathing letters to the editor.
You are not free to react violently or to threaten those you disagree with. Western democracies are just that- free societies and we do not operate under the 'laws of the jungle.' If we did, we would not take kindly to even the first display of barbaric behavior. Your dissent is a right. But it is also a privilege, contained in the same way a painting is contained in a frame. You are free to paint the canvas as you please- as long as you stay within the borders of what is deemed acceptable behavior- that is, behavior that is non violent or destructive.
Just as clearly, we are free to ignore your protests or disagree with your expressions. That is our right- to ignore you- and there is nothing you can do to change that. Your protests are not a mandate of recognition or credibility.
For many, the concept is a difficult one to assimilate. They come from cultures where they are a part of a majority- a culture and society that often persecute minorities and a culture and society the routinely afford that majority with privileges not afforded others.
When they come to the west, they are quickly made aware that they are not special, but rather, they are like everyone else. We wrote, in French Riots And American Diner:
'Melting' into the melange that is America is optional and always has been. In fact, there are communities that integrate fully and others that choose to integrate partially. It is not a zero sum game. There are Hindus and Hasidic Jews that have been here for a few generations and they retain as much or as little ethnic identity as they desire. There are Muslims that came to these shores with nothing, and within a few years and with a lot of hard work, have found economic and personal success. Certainly, the Amish, as noted by Ymarsaker, keep themselves apart by choice as he says, but they too, are clearly part of the American landscape. They too, can be counted as a community that has enjoyed success in America.You see, when it comes to what you believe, we don't care.
American minorities are integrated into the social fabric of the country because there is an interdependence with society at large
We do care about your behavior and how you treat others.
*UPDATE* A conversation at an excessive midday repast (paid for by our clients, of course), bears repeating.
There Islamic leaders that are encouraging that Muslims continue to demonstrate, even violently, saying they are acting on God's behalf.
This is of course, is only another indication of how different and and distinct the Judeo-Christian ethic is from that of what passes for Islam today.
We do not believe that God requires us to to exact revenge on his behalf. We believe that God is perfectly capable of taking care of his own interests. We do not believe that God instructs us to kill and slaughter in His name and then celebrate that savagery. If God wishes to visit trials and tribulations on anyone, we believe he can do so Himself.
Further, there is a curious question that must be addressed.
Can you imagine Jews lining up to emigrate to a country under a Nazi regime? Can you imagine Jews obsessed with living under a regime that persecuted them and took delight in their oppression and despair? Of course not.
Yet everyday, if you believe the MSM, we are asked to believe that Muslims in the west have come here, only to find themselves oppressed and discriminated against. In a world with instant communications and the speed of the internet available everywhere, surely these people knew about life in America. We have to wonder why in the world a person would come here, with their families, only to be oppressed and persecuted.
Why on earth are the US and the western world the primary destinations for those looking to begin a new life elsewhere? Why on earth would they even consider coming to a place where they would be targets? Why on earth wouldn't they go back to where they came from, those places where they felt safe and weren't prosecuted?
It is possible that life isn't as bad here as they say?
The fact remains that no matter how hard anyone tries, the truth is a constant. In the west, no one cares who or what you believe in.
A NYT article quotes a communique issued by the leaders of 57 Muslim nations
"..concern at rising hatred against Islam and Muslims and condemned the recent incident of desecration of the image of the Holy Prophet Muhammad in the media of certain countries" as well as over "using the freedom of expression as a pretext to defame religions."The disconnect is clear and complete. They do not see their own culpability in the matter of spreading religious hate. It is not Jews or Christians that have made religious hatred an integral part of their agenda. That has clearly been the domain of radical Islam- an ideology cum theology.
If indeed the west is so offensive to Muslims, why do so many aspire to come here? As we said earlier, would the Jews have lined up to emigrate to Nazi Germany?For another, related discussion, see Shrinkwrapped's, The New York Times Misreporting On The Cartoon Wars.
The reporter tries to whitewash the efforts of the totalitarians of the Muslim world who are using this issue to stir up anger and direct at the usual suspects (democracy, the West in general) and concludes with a description of the spread of Muslim discontent... IIn fact, Shrinkwrapped makes his point clearly and unequivcably. In a world that welcomes and celebrates obfuscation his words are clarion:
The worst aspect of the Times non-coverage remains their refusal, on grounds of "cultural sensitivity" that has traditionally been missing when it involved attacks on Christianity, to actually show the cartoons. Most commentators have suggested that the refusal to show the cartoons involves a degree of intimidation (Christians have not threatened to behead anyone over Piss Christ or the Dung Madonna that the Times published, again, yesterday) and a misguided need to preserve the left's world view that all non-white, non-American, non-Jews are victims of American, Jewish, and/or Western aggression and cannot be held responsible for their behavior.
I would like to suggest another reason for the Times delicacy in dealing with the cartoons as well as their apparent diffidence in showing the posters many of the protesters have been carrying. If the Times were a news gathering and disseminating organization (and it is likely some of them continue to think that is what they are) then showing the images would require some investigation. It would be problematic for the Times to reveal that the most outrageous and vile hatred appearing in any cartoons in the world emanate from the Muslim media. The Times goes out of its way to avoid these kinds of stories, perhaps fearing that if they show the true nature of our "allies" and "friends" in the Middle East, like Egypt and Saudi Arabia, or the perpetual "victims", the Palestinians who danced in celebration of 9/11, the backlash would engulf those who have spent so many years enabling such evil. Further, it is a not very well hidden secret that Saudi oil money makes its way into the pockets of many semi-retired American diplomats, lobbyists, academics; would it be a surprise if there were tendrils of Saudi Arabian money insinuating their way into the hallowed halls of the New York Times? Further, we have learned that Palestinian newsmen were uniformly in the service of the Palestinian cause, bought and paid for by the Palestinians or intimidated into acquiescence.