Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Lessons of Cartoon Jihad

Lessons of cartoon jihad

From: The Arizona Republic
Robert Robb

Republic columnist
Mar. 1, 2006 12:00 AM

[Emphasis throughout by TIMe]

"Pluralistic values require a respect for the religious beliefs of others. But the liberty to discuss and debate important questions includes the right to assert that the religious beliefs of others are wrong."

"There is a strong desire in the West to believe that there is a silent majority within the Muslim world that believes in secular governance and a pluralistic culture, which has been suppressed by authoritarianism and shouted out by militants. That, however, might be wishful thinking.

Even among perceived moderate Muslim leaders, the talk is often of modernizing without Westernizing. By that they mean, among other things, not adopting the West's pluralistic approach to the role of religion in society."

"...virtually every leader of every Western nation ended up expressing an opinion about the propriety of the Danish cartoons.

That was extraordinary. And clearly a waste of time. The protests against the Danish cartoons quickly slid into protests against Israel and the United States, both of which had nothing to do with the cartoons."

"Because of oil and terrorism, the West must have some degree of engagement with particularly the Islamic Middle East. But the reality check of the Danish cartoons should cause more circumspection about what we do and hope to accomplish there."

"Modernity is primarily a product of Western historical and cultural development. In significant respects, it is impossible to modernize without Westernizing.

That includes at least partially adopting the principles of secularism and pluralism. Modernity includes interacting with the rest of the world, which is difficult to do well when a critical mass of your population threatens to behead those with whom they disagree."

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