Sunday, October 3, 2010

Are Muslims Human?

Well, I think they are and most of the conservative commentators on the Ground Zero Mosque and the Koran burning story think so too. But do left-wing, Western elites think Muslims are human? Jonah Goldberg lays out the problem.
. . . it isn’t fair to hold people legally accountable for the evil or misguided deeds of others.

And the same basically goes for Jones. His plan to burn the Koran was stupid, irresponsible, and repugnant, but it’s not his fault that there are a significant number of Muslim men who are not only ready but eager to riot and kill in response to insults to Islam.

If you deny this, you are basically denying the humanity of Muslims. We take it as a given in this country that not only are all men created equal, but that each individual is responsible for his own actions. Each man and woman is a captain of his or her own self.

To say that Muslims have no choice in the matter, that they must act like animals, is to say that they are animals. If you tease a bear and he kills you, your stupidity is to blame. If you tease a man and he kills you, the murderer is to blame.

Mark Steyn agrees that something is out of whack here:

Take this no-name pastor from an obscure church who was threatening to burn the Koran. He didn’t burn any buildings or women and children. He didn’t even burn a book. He hadn’t actually laid a finger on a Koran, and yet the mere suggestion that he might do so prompted the President of the United States to denounce him, and the Secretary of State, and the commander of US forces in Afghanistan, various G7 leaders, and golly, even Angelina Jolie. President Obama has never said a word about honor killings of Muslim women. Secretary Clinton has never said a word about female genital mutilation. . . . But let an obscure man in Florida so much as raise the possibility that he might disrespect a book – an inanimate object – and the most powerful figures in the western world feel they have to weigh in. . . .

When someone destroys a bible, US government officials don’t line up to attack him. President Obama bowed lower than a fawning maitre d’ before the King of Saudi Arabia, a man whose regime destroys bibles as a matter of state policy, and a man whose depraved religious police forces schoolgirls fleeing from a burning building back into the flames to die because they’d committed the sin of trying to escape without wearing their head scarves. If you show a representation of Mohammed, European commissioners and foreign ministers line up to denounce you. If you show a representation of Jesus Christ immersed in your own urine, you get a government grant for producing a widely admired work of art. . . .

So just to clarify the ground rules, if you insult Christ, the media report the issue as freedom of expression: A healthy society has to have bold, brave, transgressive artists willing to question and challenge our assumptions, etc. But, if it’s Mohammed, the issue is no longer freedom of expression but the need for "respect" and "sensitivity" toward Islam, and all those bold brave transgressive artists don’t have a thing to say about it.

The contrast between what happens when someone insults Christ versus what happens when someone insults Mohammed is so striking that it cries out for explanation. What is the view of Muslims held by these left-wing advocates of political correctness? They seem terrified of Muslims as if Muslims were collectively insane and unable to control themselves and therefore likely to lash out in anger in an uncontrollable rage at the slightest provocation. But is that really what Muslims are like?

Goldberg notes that US Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer has hinted that burning the Koran (or any criticism of Islam perhaps) might not be constitutionally protected speech:

When Supreme Court justice Stephen Breyer was asked in an interview about Koran-burning, he brought up former Supreme Court justice Oliver Wendell Holmes’s famous comment that the First Amendment “doesn’t mean you can shout ‘fire’ in a crowded theater. . . . Why? Because people will be trampled to death. And what is the crowded theater today? What is the being trampled to death?”
Steyn draws the logical conclusion from Breyer's remarks:
This is a particularly obtuse remark even by the standards of contemporary American jurists. As I've said before, the fire-in-a-crowded-theatre shtick is the first refuge of the brain-dead. But it's worth noting the repellent modification Justice Breyer makes to Holmes' argument: If someone shouts fire in a gaslit Broadway theatre of 1893, people will panic. By definition, panic is an involuntary reaction. If someone threatens to burn a Koran, belligerent Muslims do not panic - they bully, they intimidate, they threaten, they burn and they kill. Those are conscious acts, at least if you take the view that Muslims are as fully human as the rest of us and therefore responsible for their choices. As my colleague Jonah Goldberg points out, Justice Breyer's remarks seem to assume that Muslims are not fully human.
Muslim reaction to Mohammed cartoons or a Rushdie novel or a Comedy Central sketch is not an involuntary spasm of panic; rather, it is a species of bullying, an attempt to get one's own way by using violence in a calculated manner. It is more like the popular stereotype of what the Crusades supposedly were like than the historical Crusades were!

As Steyn goes on to point out, Breyer's reaction actually encourages anyone who is aggrieved and angry to resort to violence because it appears that to do so will be effective in coercing Western liberal elites to bow to your wishes. Appeasement is the method of a decadent, dying culture.

All human beings are created in the image of God and have free will, conscience and the ability to make moral choices. Muslims, no less than anyone else, should be expected to control their anger and refrain from using violence to intimidate their critics. The rule of law applies to all - certainly in Western countries built on constitutional guarantees of free speech and freedom of religion. Those who treat Muslims as rage-filled children who cannot be expected to control themselves are not friends of Islam or of Muslims and they are not tolerant and respectful of the other; actually they are the worst sort of patronizing, cowardly, snobs.


NLW said...

Liberals ‘Hate’ the Constitution

Pedro said...

Great argument Graig.
But what really astonished me was the Breyer' commentary. How a Supreme Court Justice man could say such thing? He is defending the right of the Americans to 'shut up' before the violence.