Saturday, February 04, 2006

Does anyone now doubt that our cultures are not equal?

This isn't the last straw; it's just another log on the fire. But at least it's easy to understand.

In Western cultures -- the ones, by the way, that abolished slavery and enshrined the principles of individual rights -- if an artist depicted, say, a Christian crucifix in a jar of urine or Osama bin Laden as Jesus Christ, he would be publicly castigated for poor taste and such. But he would be lionized by the arts community and garner more grants to continue his "work".

We now have the spectacle of Danish editorial cartoonists in hiding for publishing satirical cartoons featuring the likeness of Mohammed. The cartoons can be seen here.

Of course the demonstrations have started. Danish embassies have been picketed and attacked. The Danish government shrugged off the complaints from the country's Muslims at first, but now ambassadors of dozens of Muslim countries are recommending diplomatic action against the Danes.

The Germans have, so far, stood firm in their defense of the newspapers that published the cartoons. Interestingly, the British government has sided with Pakistan and Turkey in condemning the cartoons' publication. This pusillanimous response reminded me of an interesting article on describing recent British government pronunciamentoes as coming from the "Paris Hilton School of Political Science." Shame on the Brits!

In America we've begun wetting our pants every time a rough word is directed at Islam. There are, as I mentioned above, dozens of "Muslim" nations; but dare to suggest that the United States and Western Europe are (or were) "Christian" nations and the Furies of the Habitat of Old Ned are released!

But doesn't this show that Muslims are really different from us? Western culture champions freedom of the press and the freedom of speech and assembly that those Muslim protesters enjoy. Does anyone see a disconnect here? Muslim countries: official state news, no freedom of assembly, speech, or dissent, no equal rights for women, etc. ... Western countries: well, you get the idea.

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