I’ve been thinking about the Danish cartoons of Muhammad, and trying to decide where I stand on the issue. On the one hand, I feel like the outraged Muslims are being very unreasonable about what they perceived as a blasphemous attack. On the other hand, as a religious person myself, I am sensitive to the need to be respectful to others’ beliefs. How would I feel if Christ were held up as an object of ridicule and portrayed in a negative light? Oh wait, that happens all the time, even in my own country which has a majority of Christians. So what do I do if I am offended by something? A recent example would be the NBC show The Book of Daniel. Unlike some, I don’t worry too much about the pastor’s crazy family. However, I do find the portrayal of Jesus as a hip, cool, sort of guy next door irreverent and offensive. My solution is to not watch the show. I am not going to take any NBC employees hostage, or kill anyone. Does this just mean that Christianity, unlike Islam, does not produce strong fervor and zeal in its adherents? Hardly so. History is replete with contrary examples (not all of them good). I have a fair amount of fervor and zeal for my beliefs, but it does not extend to violence, or insisting that others act precisely as I do.
So back to the cartoon brouhaha. They were published in a nation where Islam is a minority. Sometimes it’s kind of stinky to be the minority (and yes, I have been a minority). If you don’t like being the minority, work to change things peaceably, or move to where you are no longer the minority. I find it very unreasonable that Muslims in nations other than Denmark are trying to control what happens there. That is clearly a lack of respect for national sovereignty. I also suspect that much of this is just an excuse to incite violence and anger against the West. Take note those of you who seek to apologize for the extremists: they hate us. When I was in Belgium and France in the early 1990s, I was astounded at the hatred that North African immigrants had for Americans. Just walking down the street, it was not uncommon for “youths” to shout vulgarities and other venomous remarks at myself, and any other Americans I might happen to be with. I quickly learned to avoid all Arab and North African men. This hatred is not just a phenomena created by the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. It’s been around for a long time, and will not be ended by us changing our mid-East policies.
Update: Oops. My husband informed me that The Book of Daniel has been off the air for several weeks now. My boycott was more influential than I had thought!