Monday, September 17, 2012

Are Written on the Subway Walls

“No one has a right to not be offended.”
    Salman Rushdie

But what does Salman know? Just because they want to kill him for being offensive, why should we listen to him? What does Desmond Tutu say, he’s an inoffensive guy? 

Today (9/17/12) it was announced that some Muslim group is calling for an international law protecting the three Judeo-Christian-Muslim religions from defamation. Make it an international offense to flick your finger at the mosque, church, or synagog. If you have a Baha’i temple, tuff shit. Buddhists, bend over. I hope I can say without fear of mistake that such a proposal will go nowhere. Not that it won’t have its advocates, but that too many big nations—like China, India, or Japan, say—will take exception.

But, Jesus, what a distasteful proposal. Who do they think they are? Okay, we know who they think they are, but still… Can’t they go back to tending sheep? Must the world still suffer Muslims roaring out of the desert? Does the sand get in their eyes?

We aren’t going to begin to get a grip on the situation, though, until we get realistic about the root causes of the violence and stop passing it off as the work of extremists or terrorists. It’s certainly true that strapping bombs to oneself and setting them off in crowded marketplaces is both extreme and engenders terror; but if that’s as far as you’re going in understanding what’s happening, you’ll never come to deal with it. What’s causing the violence in the Middle East, what’s causing the rift between Israel and its neighbors, what’s dividing America down the middle, is all the same thing: religion. Plain, old, everyday religion. Just like the people you know practice. Maybe you yourself.

Someday, folks, we’ve got to start talking about it. Religion. What it does to people. How it affects government. This schtick with the Muslims isn’t going to be over anytime soon. We can’t keep our collective heads in the desert sands forever.


The other amazing example of people not getting it was much more local: the Chinese government sent a delegation from San Francisco to Corvallis, OR to pressure the mayor of that city into pressuring a local business to take down a mural promoting freedom for Tibet and Taiwan. After all these years, have they not figured out the basics of American rights? Not that I’m suggesting the Chinese officials were out on a junket, but, surely, they knew their errand was ill-fated from the conception. Surely, they must have seen it as a good excuse for a drive up north. Or however they got here. I can see wanting to get out of The City. But did they have to look silly doing it? Couldn’t they have classed-up their act somewhat?

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