Saturday, January 10, 2015

Our Duty to Offend

The strain of Islam that motivated the killers in Paris appears to be Wahhabism.  I say this because one of the killers is said to have been trained by al-Qaeda. This strain of Islam is clearly incompatible with western concepts of civilization.  While Francois Hollande may say that these attacks have nothing to do with the Muslim religion, that is like saying that an action by say, the Southern Baptists, has nothing to do with Christianity in America.  Wahhabism has been the most successful global cultural export in modern times.  From Frontline
For more than two centuries, Wahhabism has been Saudi Arabia's dominant faith. It is an austere form of Islam that insists on a literal interpretation of the Koran. Strict Wahhabis believe that all those who don't practice their form of Islam are heathens and enemies. Critics say that Wahhabism's rigidity has led it to misinterpret and distort Islam, pointing to extremists such as Osama bin Laden and the Taliban. Wahhabism's explosive growth began in the 1970s when Saudi charities started funding Wahhabi schools (madrassas) and mosques from Islamabad to Culver City, California. 
This brand of faith has millions of adherents and its precepts infuse al-Qaeda, ISIS and the Taliban with their religious fervor.  And the drastic interpretation of Islam contained in sharia law enjoys widespread support in Muslim countries
Overall, among those in favor of making sharia the law of the land, the survey finds broad support for allowing religious judges to adjudicate domestic disputes. Lower but substantial proportions of Muslims support severe punishments such as cutting off the hands of thieves or stoning people who commit adultery. The survey finds even lower support for executing apostates.
I infer that there are also many Muslims who believe that the publishers of Charlie Hedbo deserved death for heaping disrespect on the Prophet.  This belief system is the cauldron from which killers emerge.  This belief system is a threat to the west because its adherents tolerate those murder by select members of their sect.  It is unfortunate that their are other, more tolerant, Muslims who are offended by the images in Charlie Hedbo.  But as long there is a credible threat of murder in retaliation, then such images should be published, to hammer home the lesson that our right to free expression is inviolate.  I am sorry that the following image from Charlie Hedbo is crude and offensive.  I personally dislike giving offense to someone's religion; but if Muslims make a credible threat to murder in retaliation then it becomes a duty to offend them to defend our sense of the civilized order.  And the burden must be shared so that there is not a single convenient target for the terrorists to seek out.

I would prefer to live in a world where I could merely offer my indifference or hostility to cartoons that offend religious sensibility.  But today, it is only images that offend Muslims that have the remotest possibility of getting a publisher killed, so it is Muslim sensibility that will have to be offended.

And to answer my friend KT, yes, if a KKK rally was shot up by Black Panthers due to the presence of confederate flags, I would display a confederate flag.  But I note that even Black Panthers aren't provoked by mere symbols and drawings.

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