"You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you odd." ~Flannery O'Connor

Friday, February 10, 2006

That double standard again

You'll note that I've added a "Support Denmark" banner and link in the upper-right corner of this blog. Here's why.

In a post on radical Islam ten days ago, I wrote: "it's a measure of what we're up against that there's nowhere near as much outrage among Muslims about the death of non-Muslim innocents at the hands of terrorists who want to kill them as there is about the death of Muslim innocents at the hands of American forces who don't want to kill them. We're dealing with a double standard here, and it poses for us an inescapable choice: we can be seen as good guys, or we can defend ourselves." That was before the worldwide Muslim eruption about a Danish newspaper cartoon depicting the prophet Muhammad as a terrorist (left). Now we have further confirmation of the double standard that must be resisted.

By law, Christians in the West tolerate all sorts of blasphemies against their religion. I remember well the controversy over Andres Serrano's Piss Christ, which excited strong passions on all sides. But hardly anybody suggested that public depiction of Our Lord in such fashion should be punishable by law. Indeed, it can now be argued that discrimination against Christianity, or at least in favor of non-Christian religions, is a respectable legal position in the West; see. e.g., the recent New York court decision upholding the display of Jewish and Muslim symbols in public schools but banning Christian nativity scenes. (I shall write about that in my next post.) Why, then, have Muslims reacted to the Danish cartoon by rioting, attacking consulates, and calling for death to Denmark, whose prime minister has rightly pointed out that the laws of his country forbid his government's censoring such depictions? It's not enough to say that depiction of Muhammad, in the offending or indeed in any fashion, is against Islamic law. Non-Muslims are, after all, not Muslims, and countries not ruled by Muslims are not subject to Islamic law. Indeed, even some countries ruled by Muslims, such as Turkey and Indonesia, are not fully subject to Islamic law. So why all the fuss?

Say what you want about the emotions aroused by violation of religious sensibilities. Nobody would give Christians a free pass for doing such things, and Muslims shouldn't be either. And some Muslims even say so. But almost to a person, Muslims really want it to be illegal, even in non-Muslim countries, to do things that so deeply offend Muslim sensibilities. From a moral standpoint, I could accept that if the same consideration were extended to every religion—even though such a law would arguably be unconstitutional in the United States. But of course such consideration isn't extended equally to all religions, nor could it be. Muslims cannot be reasonably required to refrain from publishing anything deeply offensive to non-Muslim sensibilities; that would mean, among other things, forbidding them to publicly affirm some things in the Qu'ran. That would be persecution, which nobody wants. So how can non-Muslims reasonably be expected to refrain from publishing anything deeply offensive to Muslim sensibilities?

There's only one answer: the double standard arising from the natural Muslim belief that their religion is true and all others are inferior if not thoroughly false and contemptible. That is the double standard that must be resisted. Failure to resist it would be dhimmitude, which is morally unacceptable by humanist as well as Christian moral standards. That's why I support Denmark and urge you to do the same.

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