Wednesday, April 28, 2010
Ayaan Hirsi Ali writes an informative and important piece in the Wall Street Journal regarding the "informal fatwa" against South Park Creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone. Besides filling in a few details you might have missed -- like the fact that Zachary Chesser/Abu Al-Amrikee published the home addresses of the men he "predicted" would "probably end up" like Theo Van Gogh -- Hirsi Ali explains why this threat should be taken seriously and how it should be countered.
My own integration of what I know about the nature of religion in general and Islam in particular with the past behavior of Moslem fanatics had already raised my hackles. Nevertheless, Hirsi Ali definitely improved my knowledge of the enemy and the threat it represents with this column:
There is a basic principle in Islamic scripture--unknown to most not-so-observant Muslims and most non-Muslims--called "commanding right and forbidding wrong." It obligates Muslim males to police behavior seen to be wrong and personally deal out the appropriate punishment as stated in scripture. In its mildest form, devout people give friendly advice to abstain from wrongdoing. Less mild is the practice whereby Afghan men feel empowered to beat women who are not veiled.Regarding the murder of Theo Van Gogh, I noted years ago that, "[f]or the religious fanatic, opinions that differ from his will shake his confidence ... as they [challenge the] very foundations of his own worldview." But, in case this -- and the cognitive dissonance of seeing the "evil" West prosper -- aren't enough to provoke a murderous rage, Mohammed (pictured) has made sure to tip the balance in this direction with a combination of authority and unearned guilt.
By publicizing the supposed sins of Messrs. Stone and Parker, Mr. Amrikee undoubtedly believes he is fulfilling his duty to command right and forbid wrong. His message is not just an opinion. It will appeal to like-minded individuals who, even though they are a minority, are a large and random enough group to carry out the divine punishment. The best illustration of this was demonstrated by the Somali man who broke into Mr. Westergaard's home in January carrying an axe and a knife.
I did not know this, but it doesn't really surprise me coming from what I long ago concluded to be, "the ideology most nearly the opposite to that which man needs to live a proper and fulfilling life."
Just having to think about things like this makes me want to bathe, but if knowledge of an enemy can be unpleasant, its reward is that it illuminates a means to fight back. Hirsi Ali suggests ways to supplement (replace absent?) government protection of freedom of speech and reminds us that defiance is the order of the day. All involve the strategic use of solidarity against the threat.
Another idea is to do stories of Muhammad where his image is shown as much as possible. These stories do not have to be negative or insulting [How can they be otherwise? --ed], they just need to spread the risk. The aim is to confront hypersensitive Muslims with more targets than they can possibly contend with.One way or the other, we will come out of this clash with barbarism as a nation of laws. Whether these are secular, objectively-determined laws designed to protect our rights and thereby help us live -- or they are the dictates of a long-dead barbarian -- is up to us.
Another important advantage of such a campaign is to accustom Muslims to the kind of treatment that the followers of other religions have long been used to. After the "South Park" episode in question there was no threatening response from Buddhists, Christians and Jews--to say nothing of Tom Cruise and Barbra Streisand fans--all of whom had far more reason to be offended than Muslims.
4-29-10: Added missing hyperlink.