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The Great Satan

Reader comment on item: Cartoons and Islamic Imperialism

Submitted by PeterS (United States), Feb 9, 2006 at 18:06

It has been said many times by Muslim spokesmen, never ones to shy away from sigmatizing others, that we, the West, are the Great Satans. And of course they are right, for what does Satan do, he tempts. Can there be societies with more temptations than those in the West; the temptation to think for yourself, to read what books you fancy, for women to become educated and go into professional fields, even, astonishingly, make their own decisions on a husband. Resistance to bad temptations, the seven deadly sins, emanate from personal moral character, developed through religious teaching or secular philosophy. No one, and no religion, can fault the ethical principles established by Socrates for example. But moral character is premised upon free will; of what value is it to be moral if you have no choice to be anything else?

Part of the development of personal moral character is the open market place of ideas and part of that are cartoons. It has been said by many that the Danish publications are "just cartoons". But free wheeling "cartoons" have always been feared and banned by all totalitarian groups precisely because of their power. They can in a second cut to the bone; destroying the over blown posture of the pompous. They can bring a chuckle or a howl depending on whose oxen is being gored. If they didn't what would be the point of their publication?

That having been said let's put aside, once and for all, that I or a book or a cartoon can be responsible for other people's "feelings". "Feelings" are freely chosen. Political Correctness has led us to a ‘victims' mentality i.e. "Oh, no don't say that, I'm too emotionally immature to hear such ideas." If you can't take responsibility for your own feelings what can you be responsible for? Further, this idea quickly morphs into "those ideas, those publications, those books offend me and since I choose to lead an dependent existence I think authors should be murdered or have their hands cut off. Only in such a world can I feel safe." This brings the entire world down to the lowest possible infantile level of emotional and intellectual existence—a new Dark Ages. No thank you, I can't respect any part of this paradigm i.e. "As a MuslimI have an absolute right to expect the world to cater to all my feelings!"

Moderate Muslims: it's like a snipe hunt, I keep being told they are there but I never find any evidence of them. Part of the problem is that Islam has no established hierarchy of authority, as for example the Pope, to decide which ideas are within or without the religious teaching or tradition. There are authority figures, with many years of study, or many guns as in Bani Sadr, who may come to any conclusion or disagreement among themselves. This leaves the ‘moderate' voicing any descent always open to being accused of apostate thinking and wouldn't you just know it the sanction for that is death. And so we're back to personal moral character, the will to stand up for what's right and condemn what's wrong. In fact democracy requires such citizens, demands it! For a democracy to continue in existence the responsibility of citizens goes beyond just shopping at Wal-Mart. Democracy requires a lot of personal involvement, ‘dirty work', if you will e.g. keeping local and national governments responsive to the needs of the people. Western tradition is filled with people with the moral courage to stand up to kings and Popes and ‘elected officials'. Those people earn respect by their courage. I have to earn respect in my professional life on a daily basis. I work to continue to earn the respect of my wife and children. Why do Muslims think they live in a different universe than the rest of us and what is it about rioting and threatening murder that they find to respect? Maybe a cartoon could explain it?
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Note: Opinions expressed in comments are those of the authors alone and not necessarily those of Daniel Pipes. Original writing only, please. Comments are screened and in some cases edited before posting. Reasoned disagreement is welcome but not comments that are scurrilous, off-topic, commercial, disparaging religions, or otherwise inappropriate. For complete regulations, see the "Guidelines for Reader Comments".

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