Monday, June 18, 2007

On “Insulting Islam”

Tibor R. Machan

Reuters reported that “Iran accused Britain on Sunday of insulting Islamic values by knighting Salman Rushdie, whose novel ‘The Satanic Verses’ prompted the late Iranian Ayatollah Ruholla Khomeini to issue a fatwa death warrant against him.” I read on and there is more of this in the piece, faithfully laying out the rant of Iranian Foreign Minister spokesman Mohammad Ali Hossein. He is quoted as saying that “Honoring and commending an apostate and hated figure will definitely put the British officials in a position of confrontation with Islamic society.”

So I am reading this and thinking, who are these barbarians and why do they get such elaborate treatment from Reuters. Why not just ignore the bastards? Why give them the honor of reporting their ravings? Beats me for sure. After all, what did Rushdie do? He wrote a novel in which the fictional story involves ferreting out some parts of the Koran in ways that Muslims—or, rather, some of the self-appointed leaders of Islam—consider offensive. So what?

Nearly everything written in newspapers, broadcast on TV and radio, shown at the movies, etc., etc., offends my views daily. The stuff is infuriating—I consider much of it hazardous to the welfare of my fellow human beings, not to mention myself. Do I then call up my favorite cousin Guido and urge him to put out a contract against all these people who fail to take into consideration my sensitive nature? No.

I realize, as should all Muslims, including Minister Hossein, that we live in a world of human beings who are likely to be at odds with one another on innumerable topics, including on just what is true and false in the Koran. Civilized people acknowledge this fact and live with it and if they care enough, they write books, articles, letters to the editor and, perhaps, now and then join a march, so as to express their objections but always peacefully.

But no. The Iranian Minister is talking about confrontations. Growing out of an insult? Get real—the world would be bogged down in constant, unrelenting large and huge battles if an insult justified a confrontation. Who the hell are these people, the Ayatollah Ruholla Khomeini or the Iranian Foreign Minister spokesman Mohammad Ali Hossein, to issue death threats against people who speak or write against their views? Have they no shame? Acting like angry infants, throwing fits, issuing threats when all they have to deal with is ideas, words, gestures—that is, various peaceful ways of making a point.

To my mind this repeated outburst on the part of these Muslim leaders does little more than demonstrate just how infantile they are and how little confidence they have in their own doctrines. If a set of beliefs is well founded, sound, true, does it really require being enforced by a bunch of thugs? Well, come to think of it, some folks have thought this about their own views but then they were usually deluded about their views being well founded, sound and true. The Nazis, the Fascists, the Commies and many others have, of course, acted exactly like these barbarians in Iran are acting. And they were all peddling false ideas!

But then why does Reuters report on these maniacs as if they were civilized contributors to international dialogue? Why doesn’t Reuters interview some folks who could answer nonsense like this from the Iranian Minister: “Giving a badge to one of the most hated figures in Islamic society is .. an obvious example of fighting against Islam by high-ranking British officials.” Could they not find someone prominent who could be quoted saying, “The Minister is crazy—giving honors to people isn’t fighting! Fighting is sending in an army or, come to think of it, issuing a fatwa! That’s what amounts to fighting. What giving Rushdie a knighthood amounts to extending a peaceful gesture of admiration. Nothing more. No fighting. And others need not agree!”

But the failure to heed these and other distinctions in how people can behave toward one another seems to be endemic of the Muslim leadership, at least in Iran. This failure pretty much consigns them all to an age that the West is mostly left, in the spirit of that nice and widely known cliché, “Sticks and stones may hurt my bones but words I can always walk away from” (with my spin).

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