Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Now history is off limits lest we offend Islamicists

James Lileks wrote in Austin American Statesmen Clip and save, for this may come in handy: If you mock Islam with a drawing or a novel, you get riots and dead people. News of mishandled holy books yields riots and dead people. Insufficiently reverent short films by a Dutchman yields a dead person, specifically the Dutchman. Now we add this detail: Quoting medieval religious colloquies is a reasonable justification for burning churches, shooting a nun and holding up signs demanding that the pope convert to Islam or saw off his own head. (There have been reports of carpal tunnel syndrome among radical Islam's enforcers, and they have requested we all help out.) This is a new twist: Now history itself cannot be discussed. Since it's difficult to predict what else will enflame the devout, Islam has to be treated with unusual deference, like a 3-year-old child with anger management problems.

A 3 year old child with an automatic weapon.
But it's not what we say that truly offends. It's what we are. The West's lack of interest in joining the Ummah is an affront in itself,
I suspect Hitler was equally insulted that we did not all want to be subservient to the Third Reich.
and we broadcast our sins in High Infidelity. If you believed that the West's apostasy was an affront to God, you'd spend your leisure hours torching straw popes, too.... The Christianists, as some clever equivocators call them, are an impediment to Utopia as great as the terrorists. No less a philosopher than Rosie O'Donnell said so on "The View" recently, proclaiming Christian fundamentalists and Islamicists equal threats to America. They're both judgmental — boo, hiss! — and that makes them equal. O'Donnell had a point, one supposes. Using the legislative process to pass faith-based initiatives, driving jets into skyscrapers: madness, everywhere.
Yes, let us compare. The faith based initiative would have allowed churches to be on an equal footing with secular organizations to get contracts to help the poor. Compare that to flying airplanes into buildings and killing thousands. Yes, in the warped mind of a liberal I guess both are equally bad.
At the risk of making a generalization: The secular right seems more tolerant of Christianity, and skeptical toward large swaths of Islam. The secular left often seems annoyed and contemptuous towards American religion — unless the pastor on the dais insists Jesus would have been a board member of Planned Parenthood — and oddly protective of Islam. Not because they believe in it; heavens, no. Some progressives are simply besotted by any civilization not their own.
Others have no vocabulary to oppose its more radical manifestations, because, well, we cannot judge other cultures. (Unless they're in the American South.) Others are less concerned by Islamicists because they have greater dislike for the people who oppose radical Islam, who are probably bigots. (Boo, hiss!) When those theo-neos get tough on radical Islam, it's just a convenient mask for their dislike of the Scary Non-Christian Dusky Hordes. Besides, what about the Crusades and the Inquisition? Huh? OK, then.

Thus the most enlightened and well-intentioned beneficiaries of the human civilization excuse or wish away the words of their most implacable opponents. It'll take something drastic to change their minds. A dirty bomb? Maybe. A demonstration in Pakistan in favor of Wal-Mart? That would certainly reorder some opinions.

In the meantime, we will learn to say less and less about more and more. As the grim cliche has it: If you say Islam isn't always a religion of peace, the Islamicists will kill you. This doesn't make them hypocrites, of course. The grave is a very peaceful place.
You've got a point there.

No comments: