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Moscow has now canceled its Gay Pride parade. It was canceled after the chief Muslim leader in Russia warned that marchers would be "bashed" if they dared to walk the streets. Money quote:
"Earlier this week Chief Mufti Talgat Tadzhuddin warned that Russia's Muslims would stage violent protests if the march went ahead. "If they come out on to the streets anyway they should be flogged. Any normal person would do that - Muslims and Orthodox Christians alike ... [The protests] might be even more intense than protests abroad against those controversial cartoons." The cleric said the Koran taught that homosexuals should be killed because their lifestyle spells the extinction of the human race and said that gays had no human rights."
Notice this is not al Qaeda. It is the official mainstream Muslim leadership. Bob Wright today makes the case for self-censorship to avoid offense to religious groups and others. In principle, this makes sense. Gratuitous, arbitrary offense of someone else's faith is not a laudable exercize of free speech. It's an abuse of such freedom. But context is vital. Bob cites an example of portraying Jesus with a crown of thorns made up of dynamite sticks, after an abortion clinic bombing. I'd say that's a perfectly legitimate comment after an act of violence performed in the name of a religious figure who preached non-violence. Many Christians would share the sentiments of the cartoonist. It's ironic, as the Muhammad cartoon was. And if it's defensible in that case, it is exponentially more so in the case of Islam in 2006.
The world has been terrorized for decades now by murderers who specifically cite Muhammad as their inspiration. It is completely legitimate speech to point that out. Not to point it out - to remain silent in the face of it - is an act of denial.The reason that so many Muslims are offended is not just because any depiction of Muhammad is taboo; but because the conflation of Islam and murder is now firmly fixed in the global consciousness. I can understand why the repetition of that fact should upset many peace-loving Muslims. But that is not the fault of cartoonists. It's the fault of the Muslim terrorists, and the failure of mainstream Muslims to condemn them sufficiently, ostracize them completely, and prevent them effectively from further mayhem. At this point, in my judgment, further appeasement of these religious terrorists is counter-productive - and actually enables the extremists in their simultaneous intimidation of moderate Muslims.
Interesting to note that the Russian Christian Orthodox religious leadership and members in Russia also are anti-gay. Difference being that they do not advocate violence openly and were they to do so, they'd be pilloried for it loudly by other members of Christianity.
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The mainstream Muslim community does seem to be even weaker than the Democratic Party in speaking out for what's right. It's a terrible shame. Fundamentalism is always a danger -- its the Christian right that has led the fight against gay rights, but Hasidic Jews have also been involved, and now we're seeing Muslims in Russia getting involved. I think the reason China is evolving so quickly is that they've done a very good job at keeping the lid on religion. I don't know what the answer is, but there must be a better way bombing the Muslims back another generation.
Aside from the moral issues, bombing Muslims to the stone age is impractical. Somehow we have to make a cultural change and tame the radical fringes of the religion as was done with the gelding of murderous Christianity, eliminating joys like the Inquisition of heathen protestants. It may have been fun, but it was wrong.
If Liberals think they are going to "brainwash" the Muslims they are in for a big surprise, they are also in for a big fight.
Some ding dong in Harvard Sq that has a little newspaper for homeless people (wino's I used to know never read papers) says he is going to publish the Mohammad Cartoons. Next week his head will be floating down the Charles River.
Why won't the NY Times publish them.
I think I'll tell my wife I want her to sit in the backseat from now on when we go shopping, I am going to make her wear a towel over her head and a sheet.