February 18, 2006

On The Outside Looking In And Really Hoping

In a recent contributing op-ed to the Los Angeles Fish Wrapper, a Muslim professor at Cal State Los Angeles publicly wrings his hands at the rioting and violence appearing in the wake of a few innocuous and generally unremarkable cartoons.

I am not Muslim and at the end of the day, I cannot tell Muslims what to think, believe, or feel about attacks on their religion and that which they hold sacred. I am an advocate of free speech and individual liberties, and in that capacity I have some standing to say what they ought to do about that which they find offensive -- which is not to riot, kill, or destroy but rather to demonstrate the falsity of that which offends them; to change the hearts and minds of their critics with good deeds and by living ethical and moral lives. It is heartening to know that some Muslims seem to agree with me that this is the right way to go.

Still, I really wish and hope that 99.94% of all Muslims feel the way this guy does (and the way this guy does, too) and that the world is really only dealing with a really small minority of fanatics and sociopaths. I fear that the percentage is somewhat smaller than 99.94%, but it still seems reasonable to hope that the percentage is quite large.


Anonymous said...

I'm getting more and more of the feeling that these cartoons are nothing more than a U.S. governmental psyop that these poor folks are playing into.

Think about it, these people take to the streets on something this small (to us), where our government is taking our freedoms with the Patriot Act and all we do is look for the next football game.

Burt Likko said...

Well, that's a theory, to be sure. I don't understand how the U.S. would benefit from a psyop like this, though; Pakistanis burning the U.S. flag in the streets and Turks believing we kidnap and sell Arabs for spare parts isn't exactly a net benefit to our standing in the world community. Nor is it much of a help to the government at home -- it demonstrates that Americans are leery of militant fundamentalist Islam and that we understand that enjoying a free press means having to confront offensive speech from time to time, both of which we already knew.

...And I am living proof that one can remain vigilant about civil liberties and still like football.