Dissent and Tolerance

I have been remiss in not posting to this blog and for that I apologize. It is so cliché to say that I have been busy yet what else can I say? When you are performing two or three staff functions plus extra duties, you pretty much run out of time. Anyway, on with the blog

Right now the big thing in the world is that a bunch of people who are Muslim are upset over cartoons that were published by a newspaper in Denmark. Interestingly enough, these cartoons were published last September as described in this article by Jack Kelly. The Muslim world didn’t get into an uproar until an imam from Denmark traveled the Muslim world showing the cartoons plus a few that weren’t published.

Mark Steyn commented in his article that it is amazing that in a poor Middle Eastern country you can obtain a Danish flag and burn it. If I were to protest something that Yemen did (like let the planner for the attack on the USS Cole escape) in Jefferson City, MO, I would be hard pressed to find a Yemeni flag to torch in front of the Post Office/Courthouse!

So what’s my perspective on this whole mess? While I agree with positions Mr. Steyn and Mr. Kelly staked out in their articles, Ralph Peters’ article is very compelling, especially after spending time in an Islamic country.

There is a point where we all have to agree to disagree. In modern Western democracies, we can yell and scream at each other until we are blue in the face yet still break bread with each other. I personally know this because I have engaged in verbal combat with many people in Jefferson City yet I am still invited to their homes and spend time with their families to eat, drink, and be merry. Maybe they enjoy the company of my bride more or they like the food I bring, who knows but God bless you all!

That is not the case in many Islamic countries. Dissent is not tolerated. My personal observations here tell me that while Afghanistan has come a long way, it still has a long way to go. So far, politicians haven’t gunned each other down in the Wolesi Jirga (the legislature) but there is still an active insurgency prosecuted by people who do not want to participate in the give and take of a democracy. In short, these guys aren’t tolerant of others views and will brook no dissent.

James Pinkerton in his article focuses on how multiculturalism is to blame for the mess. It is hard to be tolerant when you have some loudmouth screaming “more 9/11’s” when he can’t protest in his home country and he is advocating the destruction of your family. When my bride and I talked about this when I called home I pretty much said “screw em, if they can’t develop a thicker skin then they will never have a culture that will function in a democratic society”. I still believe that, but this whole mess over the cartoons misses the point and the article by Ralph Peters brings it home.

Instead of attacking the Muslim community over it’s treatment of women, it’s unwillingness to allow other religions to exist within their countries, or it’s denial of the occurrence of the Holocaust, they make a gratuitous attack on the centerpiece of the Muslim faith.

How many people remember the controversy back in the 1990’s about the Federal Government funding an art exhibit where there was a depiction of the Crucifix in a jar of urine? Or the uproar over the movie that had Jesus having sexual relations with Mary Magdelene? While the glitterati amused themselves by supporting these examples of “artistic expression”, many people in “fly over country” were clearly not amused.

I do have some sympathy for the Muslims, only because as a Christian I do not enjoy seeing my faith ridiculed by people who think they are superior to me. Having said that, I draw the line at calling for the death of people I do not agree with.

Democracy is not for the faint of heart. You have to have a thick skin, discipline, and a willingness to engage your opponent face to face verbally and having to listen to the vitriol that others say about you. What we are seeing here are the Europeans missing the mark by picking the wrong fight and Muslims demonstrating yet again that they still have a lot to learn about dissent and tolerance.


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