Friday, February 03, 2006

Mohammed and other stuff

First: I have been out of the loop for a while. If you have read my last couple of entries, you know that my neighbor, Susie, died unexpectly several days ago. There is to be a memorial service for her tomorrow. Several members of her husband's family have stayed with him for support. Soon, though, he will have to face the first days alone in his house. He is essentially retired, so he has a lot of time on his hands. He generally stays busy doing yard work and otherwise working around the house. But, of course, February is not a great time for yard work. While he is an inveterate tinkerer, I imagine he will have times when he becomes painfully aware of the silence, the emptiness. My wife and I will do what we can; have him join us for meals either at home or when we go out, and just checking in.

I am not close enough to Ernie to know how he will respond. He may be fine. Or not. Again, we will do what we can.

Now, on to other things.

Images of Mohammed:

Obviously, I could care less about someone printing caricatures of mohammed or any other religious figure. I responded to a poll taken on the MSNBC web site which asked if those who created and printed the images of mohammed should be punished. I voted no. (big surprise.) I clicked on results to find that something more than 80% agreed with me.

It then occured to me it was likely that most of the respondents were christians. Most christians would not likely be overly concerned with images of mohammed. What if the images had been of jesus? I suppose the numbers would have revealed another bias.

There is a difference, however. As most predominantly christian countries enjoy (or endure) a free press, it is likely that any number of less than flattering images of jesus have been printed in all manner of media. Certainly, some would voice their displeasure, but there would probably not be a massive angry response with thousands of people taking to the streets firing automatic weapons in the air, burning flags and effigies, and making murderous threats.

Muslims should get over themselves. Why should the rest of the world walk on proverbial eggshells whenever an issue arises which might affect members of the nation of islam? Political life is often not polite. If you expect to be able to make accusations against someone else, you have to expect to take them as well. Do muslims imagine that mohammed's feelings are hurt?

A look at the history of much of the Muslim world - including current history - reveals a people who have long been and, in many countries, continue to be violent in nature. A book I cited in an earlier post - The End of Faith - goes to some length in revealing the root of Islamic violence. Current protestations notwithstanding, the koran makes literally dozens of pronouncements in support of violence against anyone not of the faith, or against any muslim believed to be insufficiently devout.

Of course, it should be noted that the christian bible also reveals a vengeful god, especially in the old testament.

I am fearful that, unless cooler heads prevail, there will ultimately be a major conflagration between muslims collectively against the western, and largely christian, world. I am making no predictions about how or when such a conflict might happen, but my gut is, at best, queasy about the future. I hope this fear is foolishly alarmist.

However, I find it not a little alarming that many of our political leaders, both Rs and Ds, have recently stated they believe it to be almost inevitable that the USA will suffer a nuclear (or nuculer) attack(s,) and/or chemical and/or biological attacks at the hands of fundmentalist muslim terrorists. That's just dandy! Where might it happen? New York? DC? LA? Gnawbone?
(Yeah, there is a town in Indiana named Gnawbone.) Do you suppose that the politicos making such statements know something? Are they guessing? Or just hedging their bets?

What would our response be to such an attack? Who would we retaliate against? And how?

Good questions!



jazzycat said...

Good to see you back. It is good for you to reach out to your neighbor.

Some good points in this post. Your fourth paragraph from end about what you are fearful of is a point I share and is the goal of the radical Islamists. We should not underestimate their tactic of terrorism being able to pull this off in time. There may be a little shred of conservative thinking in your views after all. I mean that as a compliment.

Terry S said...

Well, don't get too excited, but yes, I am fearful that owing to the fact that the rift between the judeo/christian west and the muslim world is too broad to allow for any kind of meaningful discourse - that a violent conflict may be inevitable. Sadly, there are far too many people on both sides just itching for a fight. Never mind that millions may well die, and millions more may suffer years of agonizing hardship. By god, we gotta defend our, well, uh, our god!!

However, while it is easy for us to become impatient of and angry with muslims(I tend to find all this hoopla over the cartoons a ridiculous over-reaction. Of course, when it comes down to it, all the taking to the streets and burning Danish embassies, etc. isn't really about cartoons. It goes much deeper than that.,) it is much more difficult for us to admit that this grat rift has grown, at least in part, due to american actions in virtually every part of the world over many years.

While the religious differences are the most obvious cause of the palpable hatred of all things US, there are a number of, perhaps, less obvious sources that together created this dangerously volatile situation under which we now live.
(Perhaps, truly more dangerous than at any time during the cold war.)

Americans make up approximately 4% of the world's population. Americans use approximately 65% of the worlds resources. You think that could be a source of contention? Our reputation throughout much of the world is one of arrogance. We think that we are the true chosen of god. That we are inherently superior to all others. Our self-serving actions in virtually all parts of the world, especially since the end of WWII, are legion. All post WWII administrations have committed literally hundreds of atrocities against other governments and/or their people. These actions are usually justified as being in the interest of national security, while in actuality, they were often done at the behest of one or more american corporate interests. Our government and our military have taken action on behalf of american business, not the american people. They are not the same thing.

Actually, such activities can be traced back at least as far as the post-civil war era and even more prominantly during the McKinley administration in the 1890s.

Americans have overthrown or aided in the overthrow of a number of governments around the world. Many of them have been properly elected democratic regimes which were overthrown in favor of ruthless dictators who the american administrations viewed as being more likely to allow US business or military interests in their respective countries to operate more freely.

People around the world are not completely stupid or unaware. They know these kind of things have and continue to happen. They bloody well hate us for it.

We have learned nothing from history. We've learned nothing from the Romans, the Ottomans, the Austro-Hungarians, the British, or even the Soviets.

All of those so called empires are gone. They all abused their conquests. All were ultimately defeated or otherwise thrown out of the countries over which they maintained dominion. Removed due to their arrogance, their corruption, their disrespect for native cultures and mores. We have acted in much the same way throughout the world. We may be about to get our comeuppance. And it's not likely to be pretty.

The US is currently the only extant super power. We act with no sense of humility. We are the class bully.

Remember - "The bigger they are ...."


noell said...

As much as we, non-believers, can sometimes rag on Christians, we have to admit, the Christian majority gave did well giving us a country based on freedom and democracy. That is a credit to them.

I read the End of Faith also. You mentioned how Harris traces Muslim violence to its roots. I'm trying to remember the book, and I'm thinking that he cited the Quran as the major root of it. Is that right? I do agree that it is the major source of current Muslim violence. But I have always thought maybe their violent roots go even further back. Perhaps a violent past is what even inspired the passages in the Quran. Perhaps it is that violent past that is the difference between the West's ability to ignore the violence of the Old Testament, and the Middle East's submersion in it.

Terry, thanks for introducing yourself on my blog, AgnosticMom. I tried to get to your site when you left your comment, but my connection was having problems and I couldn't pull your blog up. Now that I am here, I am very impressed. Just be patient. You'll get more readers in time.

The best way I know to get readers is to keep commenting on other people's blogs. The bloggers will start coming to you, and so will some of their readers. Also, I like to make a community out of mine with my readers who comment. I highlight them frequently. I hope you will continue to comment on my more current posts, and I know some of my readers will head your way. We could use your experiences and insight, having raised children.

As for your neighbor, I am sorry. I'm sure you know that men don't tend to outlive their wives very long. I heard once that six months is the average time. I don't know if that is true, but it was just that with my grandfather. I'm glad for your neighbor's sake that you are there to look after him and give him some company.