Cartoon Blasphemy

02 Feb 2006

Well, today did nothing to further the Western world's understanding of Islam.Who among us can make sense of it? Over recent years, we've now seen media clips of Palestinian gunmen surrounding EU offices in Gaza because they're angry about a cartoon, of Buzkashi matches (the national polo-like sport of Afghanistan that uses a dead calf as the "ball"), and of the seemingly annual Hajj stampedes that often kill hundreds. We've heard all about the famous death threats against Salman Rusdie, about the jihad, about journalist abductions, about infidels, about 9/11, about suicide bombers, about beheadings, and about the Taliban destroying ancient Buddhist ruins at Bamiyan. Oh, and let's not forget the 70 virgins awaiting anyone "martyred" for the cause. It's tough to plumb the depths of that world, as it's so utterly foreign from our own. I don't even want to attempt it.

As much as I truly believe that the majority of Moslems are probably ordinary people just like you and me, I sure the hell won't be touringSaudi Arabiaanytime soon. As an American, I think it's wise to err on the side of caution. However, many years before 9/11, I spent some time inAsiain an area that had a considerable Moslem population. And, you know what --it was just like being anywhere else in the world. The people I met welcomed me, taught me how to say Salamun'Alaikum, and I should also point out that they didn't take me hostage and behead me on videotape. Still ... Would I visit, say,Islamabadat any time in the foreseeable future?I don't think so.

There sure are 180 full degrees of viewpoints on this topic, though. You have people on one side sayingAmericadeserves what it gets --that we've brought all of this on ourselves through our shameful behavior in the world. And, then the other side wants to pull a Harry Truman on them --nuke the Kaaba and be done with it. What a world, man.

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