Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Moderate Islam?

The inferno over a Danish editorial cartoon is starting to make me wonder ...

Several years ago, when I met the woman who would be my future wife, she remarked that she wished the leaders of moderate Islam would speak up in the post-9/11 world. "You never really hear from moderate Islam," she said over lunch at Sushi Neko.

In my chronic inability to carry on a serious discussion, I agreed and noted how they never write, they never call.

For whatever reason, she thought it was funny. Hell, I think it's why she married me.

Little did I know how prescient that comment would seem now, nearly four years after that initial conversation. This is madness. Amid widespread rioting targeting Denmark over a batch of editorial cartoons, you've gotta wonder where moderate Islam is. Or if it even exists.


At 5:23 AM, Anonymous Joe Goodwin said...

I think moderate Islam is in the same place that moderate Christianity is when Pat Robertson makes one of his kooky announcements about the judgements of God - they're shunted to the side while the news world focuses on the noisy extremists.

In other words, the moderates are trying to call, but the lines are jammed and all they get is an automated voice mail that says, "We're sorry, all of our reporters are busy covering extremist activity. Your call is important to us. Please wait, and the next available reporter will take your call just as soon as we can make room in our next newscast."

In my social circles, everyone knows I'm a Christian. When some wacko like Robertson or Fred "God Hates Fags" Phelps makes the headlines, everyone says to me, "Robertson/Phelps said so-and-so. You don't believe in that, do you?" Note that they never ask what I believe. My beliefs are immediately put into context with the wacko's actions.

When that's the basis for discussion, it's no wonder the moderate voices are drowned out.

At 9:57 AM, Blogger JunaidAfeef said...

There are many Muslims voicing their objections to the madness of terrorism and wanton violence.

Unfortunately these voices often do not have an adequate outlet through which their voices can be heard by others. By and large American newspapers do not publish the opinions of American Muslims.

Perhaps the reason for this is as Joe Goodwin points out - the moderate voices are being drowned out.

At 1:22 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I thought she married you for your big . . oh never mind.

At 2:27 PM, Anonymous Mrs. Chase said...

Thank you, JunaidAfeef. Comments and blogs like yours do give me hope. Thank you for speaking out, and please keep it up.

And Joe Goodwin, I agree totally that moderate Christianity has lost its voice in our culture. If we moderate Christians have allowed the right-wing crazy "Christians" to define Christianity for our nation and the world, how can we fault moderate Muslims for failing to define their religion for the rest of us?

And, Anonymous, I married him for his big heart, his big mind, his big sense of humor, AND his big...oh never mind. :-)

At 11:21 PM, Anonymous Red Dirt said...

Look, I hate to be the killjoy around these parts, constantly yammering on about reality. But since no one else on this blog seems to want to talk about the Elaphas Maximus stinking up the room....

Islam is a "religion of peace." Or hadn't you heard the good news?

Actually, it's only peaceful if you're part of the dar al-Islam - literally the "house of submission," that is, a Muslim.

If you're not in that exclusive club, you're a part of the dar al-Harb -- literally the "house of war." So get used to the war. It's an artilce of faith, you see.

John Quincy Adams put it this way not quite two centuries ago when he was writing about the Muslim subjugation of the Greeks at that time: "…he [Muhammad] declared undistinguishing and exterminating war, as a part of his religion, against all the rest of mankind…The precept of the Koran is, perpetual war against all who deny that Mahomet is the prophet of God.”

And just in case we're unclear on his point, Adams wrote further: "Adopting from the new revelation of Jesus, the faith and hope of immortal life, and of future retribution, he humbled it to the dust by adapting all the rewards and sanctions of his religion to the gratification of the sexual passion. He poisoned the sources of human felicity at the fountain, by degrading the condition of the female sex, and the allowance of polygamy; and he declared undistinguishing and exterminating war, as a part of his religion, against all the rest of mankind. The essence of his doctrine was vioence and lust: to exalt the brutal over the spiritual part of human nature."

This pungent prose from the past has an awfully familiar ring to it, doesn't it?

"...the gratification of sexual passion" - You mean like a reward of doe-eyed virgins in paradise for killing 3,000 innocents with a jetliner?

"... by degrading the condition of the female sex" - You mean like burkhas and stoning, sex slavery and female genital mutilation?

"... he declared undistinguishing and exterminating war, as a part of his religion, against all the rest of mankind" - You mean like Osama?

" exalt the brutal over the spiritual part of human nature" - You mean like ululating in the streets with glee after the fall of the Twin Towers, or celebrating yet another suicide bomber's death in Gaza, or kohl-eyed religious police patrolling bombed-out streets for victims to beat, or electing terrorists to run a government, or saying, "We love death" and really, really meaning it?

Yes, apparently, that's what ole John Quincy meant. Culture, it turns out, matters.

Is it any wonder that one particular culture on our planet seems to have a propensity for creating more than its share of death-loving beheaders and bombers?

Now cue up the vapid, one-liners I have come to expect as a response. Oh blast it, here, let me help you along...

"Red Dirt, you need to wean yourself from World Net Daily."

"Well, while Red Dirt may want to usher in the Third Reich, I happen to love my freedom."

"It's sad to read comments from someone with so much hate in their heart. I will pray to Gaia for Red Dirt's bad karma to resolve itself."

"Red Dirt, defender of the toothless Jesusland citizens, strikes again!"


At 8:11 AM, Blogger Cassandra D said...

What are you talking about Red Dirt? Do you think that Joe Goodwin, JunaidAfeef, and Mrs. Chase somehow missed all the evil you are talking about? That they didn't notice 9/11 and the beheadings and the cartoon riots?

Don't be silly. The conversation is about moderate Muslims, not the extremists. And the point is that there ARE some moderate Muslims who aren't being heard.

Moderate Muslims who are out there, bravely defying extremists who might want to kill them for disagreeing with them, don't need "help" from folks like you who insinuate that they aren't TRUE Muslims. I'm sure they can get plenty of that from the Islamofascists out there.

We aren't (I hope to God) going to try to wipe Islam off the face of the earth, and we couldn't even if some crazies out there tried, so for the sake of peace, we need to do our best to support those who choose to live and teach Islam as a religion of peace.

At 8:48 AM, Anonymous Red Dirt said...

Oh, I'm sorry. I thought the discussion was about snidely equating American Christians with Islamist terrorists. My bad. I guess I was confused, too, because I thought Chase was pointing out that "moderate" Muslims -- if they really exist in any large number -- aren't being heard because they either don't care to make themselves heard, or they are in an extremely distinct minority within their faith -- a faith born in blood and conquest.

At 10:54 AM, Blogger Cassandra D said...

What you point out is very important,Red Dirt, and perhaps could be the beginning of meaningful discussions on a broader front within our country and the world. Perhaps if we make it completely clear that we are NOT comparing the relative evil of various religious extremists, but rather are discussing ways for tolerant and peace-loving people within all religions to be heard, we may make some headway in bringing about a more peaceful and tolerant world.

At 7:30 PM, Anonymous Red Dirt said...

Well on that note, here is perhaps a more productive and less-vitriolic question from yours truly, an open-ended query seeking meaningful response: Chase recently posted a jpg of the magazine cover with Kanye West posing as Christ. Though the magazine cover was clearly sacrireligious, what is the particular quality of American Christians that this magazine cover notably did NOT spark widespread violent protests, rioting and the torching of the magazine offices, in contrast to the violence in the Muslim world over an editorial cartoon?

At 4:41 PM, Blogger Cassandra D said...

A big part of the cartoon story is the response of the West. Is not showing the cartoon "sensitivity" or "caving in to a bully"?

A Danish perspective was articulated on Andrew Sullivan's blog:

At 9:40 AM, Anonymous Red Dirt said...

Cassandra, a recent columnist suggests that it's not only caving in to not show the cartoon, but coming awfully close to dhimmitude.

Closer to home, here's what the Tulsa World's new Pulitzer-Prize-winning editorial cartoonist Doug Marlette had to say about the subject in today's edition of the newspaper...

"Roman Catholics, Protestants and Jews react to cartoons they consider insensitive," Marlette said, "but they don't take to the streets and start burning things."

Thanks, Doug. Couldn't have said it better or more succinctly.

Along those same lines, a "United Against Incitement" rally was held in London to presumably demonstrate that there are moderate Muslims. Unfortunately, it devolved into -- what else? -- an opportunity for more incitement over the cartoon.


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