A scam artist and some collaborators mislead some low-end actors into making a stupid video trashing Mohammed. Base and crude, but a core human right of critical free speech. When a quarter hour of what may not be a real full length movie that was never distributed gets posted and noticed on the web, a major chunk of the Islamic world goes wild. They riot in city after city. Egged on by mosques and the politicians, they protest and go violent day after day after day after day. Because of a video that was merely insulting, many believers feel so offended that they cannot restrain themselves. They cannot act like mature, grown up adults. They decry blasphemy and demand a global ban on criticism of their beloved prophet. They throw a juvenile tantrum designed to intimidate the rest of the world into doing what Islam wants. It is censorship by the mob, denying free speech by riot (click here).
Think about it. The situation in Islam is so bad that, assuming she survives, Malala Yousafzai will not be able to survive in her national habitat. They will eventually kill her if she continues to dwell openly in her own country that is so badly ruled by Muslims that it is a lawless state (the Indian Hindus have done a much better job of running a broad based democracy).
And the response of the Muslim world of the attempt by hard right Muslim men to murder a moderate Muslim girl? In
There are attempts, understandable in their effort at cross-cultural moderation, to assert that the problem is not with Islam per se, but with Muslim extremists. And it is true that most Muslims are ordinary people who just want to live their lives. During the
But there is something very profoundly wrong with modern Islam. If someone did a video trashing Jesus the way Mohammed was, there would not be Christians rioting in the streets. You don't see Jews getting violent because of the virulent anti-Semitism that is rampant in Islamic media. Same for Buddhists if they are insulted. Or atheists when they have to put up with more chronic disrespect (click here). If a Christian extremist shot a 14 year old girl who professed moderate theism the Christian churches and parishioners would be uniformly livid. The same attitude would apply to Jews, pagans, atheists (of which I am one).
Stories on All Things Considered (10/15) and Morning Edition (10/16) illustrate the retro ethics of many Muslims. In Pakistan there are many who deny that the deliberate attempt to murder a girl in order to punish her for her opinions, stop her from expressing them, and deter others for doing the same, is worse than the children killed despite not wishing to do so in American drone attacks that target adult militants. Another reason that there is not more anger is simply because educating girls is controversial. A quarter or less of rural Pakistani females finish grade school.
The Quran is part of the Islamic problem. But the Bible is not better. They are similarly autocratic, patriarchal, archaic texts packed with God ordained genocide, vicious punishment, misogyny, and endorsement of slavery. The difference is that modern Christians, even most fundamentalists, do not take the Bible as seriously as a broad range of Muslims take the Quran. Except for a tiny fringe element, fundamentalist Christians believe in the vote for men and women even though the Bible never mentions democracy, which was an invention of the pagan Athenians followed by the Roman republic that was not revived when the Christians took over the empire. Opposition to democracy is the Quranic belief of a major section of global Islam. As Washington Post columnist Richard Cohen noted at the height of the Arab Spring, it was and is in dire danger of going Islamic oppressive. The only major Islamic nation that has organically gone reasonably democratic and tolerant is
It is no secret that Christianity used to be as thuggish as Islam. What has reformed the former is centuries of enlightened secularization that has left the faith dramatically weakened, to the point that the most successful western democracies are predominantly atheistic (http://www.epjournal.net/filestore/EP07398441_c.pdf). The more objective, scientific western worldview that has resulted allows for more critical self analysis. Islam has not been so reformed (it is not just Islam that needs upgrading). So even most moderate Muslims think blasphemy laws are a good idea (it is not clear if this applicable to most AmeroMuslims). Although the Taliban are extreme by Muslim standards, the fact the Muslims are generally reluctant to criticize their own means their global community remains insecure and self protective in the manner of a tribe. So the Islamic world will not rise up in mass condemnation of the heinous attempt to assassinate a child, while they will go crazy over stupid video meant to get their goat. Islamic culture has yet to learn to adopt the self criticism that makes western society morally superior for all its flaws.
Let us hope that this Taliban excrement will be a tipping point. An outrage so virulent that the Islamic world will at long last begin to stop whining to excess about their victimhood (which has its validity but has become a dysfunctional crutch), and begin the internal criticism and secularization that is their only hope of becoming successful societies. But the latest news out of