Wednesday, February 08, 2006

If the "Muslim Street" isn't responsible for the violence... Amir Taheri (linked by Instapundit) says, then what is the acceptable response to the violence from the "Muslim Street's" perspective? Taheri writes:

::::::::But how representative of Islam are all those demonstrators? The "rage machine" was set in motion when the Muslim Brotherhood--a political, not a religious, organization--called on sympathizers in the Middle East and Europe to take the field. A fatwa was issued by Yussuf al-Qaradawi, a Brotherhood sheikh with his own program on al-Jazeera. Not to be left behind, the Brotherhood's rivals, Hizb al-Tahrir al-Islami (Islamic Liberation Party) and the Movement of the Exiles (Ghuraba), joined the fray. Believing that there might be something in it for themselves, the Syrian Baathist leaders abandoned their party's 60-year-old secular pretensions and organized attacks on the Danish and Norwegian embassies in Damascus and Beirut. . . .

The truth is that Islam has always had a sense of humor and has never called for chopping heads as the answer to satirists. Muhammad himself pardoned a famous Meccan poet who had lampooned him for more than a decade. Both Arabic and Persian literature, the two great literatures of Islam, are full of examples of "laughing at religion," at times to the point of irreverence. Again, offering an exhaustive list is not possible. But those familiar with Islam's literature know of Ubaid Zakani's "Mush va Gorbeh" (Mouse and Cat), a match for Rabelais when it comes to mocking religion. Sa'adi's eloquent soliloquy on behalf of Satan mocks the "dry pious ones." And Attar portrays a hypocritical sheikh who, having fallen into the Tigris, is choked by his enormous beard. Islamic satire reaches its heights in Rumi, where a shepherd conspires with God to pull a stunt on Moses; all three end up having a good laugh.

Islamic ethics is based on "limits and proportions," which means that the answer to an offensive cartoon is a cartoon, not the burning of embassies or the kidnapping of people designated as the enemy. Islam rejects guilt by association. Just as Muslims should not blame all Westerners for the poor taste of a cartoonist who wanted to be offensive, those horrified by the spectacle of rent-a-mob sackings of embassies in the name of Islam should not blame all Muslims for what is an outburst of fascist energy.

All of which is a wonderful sentiment well familiar to those of us who live with the rhetoric of multiculturalism daily. The problem is that those of us "horrified by the spectacle" of the attacks and firebombings and kidnappings and shootings aren't doing any of those things as a reaction to our horror. The issue isn't what to do about those Muslims who realize that not all Westerners have the "poor taste" of the cartoonists in question. The issue is what to do about the raging, murderous mob who do not realize this and who lack the civilized spirit to not burn down buildings and shoot priests. While it's an interesting question to ask just how representative of the Muslim world this attitude is - do those rioting display the attitudes and beliefs of the majority of Muslims or a minority? - it's irrelevant in both the short and long run. Those Muslims who think burning and killing aren't the proper response aren't providing any resistance to those who do and they provide no protection to the Westerners who must now bear the brunt of the rioters' indiscriminate rage.

So what's the appropriate response here? Frankly, if the "Muslim Street" is unable or unwilling to help, then what response do they consider OK? If we start cracking down on the rioters - arresting them, deporting them, and outright killing them, if necessary to protect life and property - would they be accepting of that as a necessary response to protect ourselves? If not, then what - aside from capitulation and conversion to Islam - do they suggest that will stop this violence and continue to allow us to enjoy the freedoms our society allows?