26 September 2012

'Respect our cultural specifics'

President Morsi of Egypt told the United Nations today, in effect, that no one on earth should insult the Prophet Muhammad. Muslims, he told the world body, cannot respect freedom of expression when it "targets a specific religion or a specific culture." They will respect "expression that is not used to incite hate against anyone." In turn, non-Muslims must respect "our cultural specifics and religious references." This is hypocrisy. You can accept the premise that Muslim nations have been oppressed and victimized by non-Muslims in recent generations without needing to deny that particular groups of Muslims, and perhaps Arabs above all, are some of the biggest haters on earth. The argument that their hatred towards Christians, Jews, etc. isn't the same thing as everyone else's hatred toward them because they don't insult Jesus or Moses is worthless. Muslims have no right to lecture anyone else about the proper limits of freedom of expression. Their doing so insults my culture. As a human being, I do not owe the Prophet Muhammad any respect. I do not owe it to Muslims to respect him. I am not obliged to affirm that he was a great or even a good man. I would owe it to them as a guest in their land not to offend them as persons, or not to go out of my way to insult their way of life. But when I am not in a Muslim nation I will speak frankly about Islam without any consideration for Muslim feelings. I am not accountable to them if I speak publicly about Islam or its prophet, either in my own nation to non-Muslims or to the world in general within their earshot. Nor do I consider it my right to take reprisal if they insult my nation, my culture, or any historical figure I may revere. Let them hate America. Let them hate Christians or atheists. Let them insult us, either with crude jokes or threats of hellfire. But let us remind them, as our ultimate reprisal, that we don't hit them back, we don't burn their mosques, we don't sack their consulates, because we are not children.  This is one case where the "Grow up!" comeback is perfectly appropriate. Muslims can no more have their own way in the world than any other nation or culture, and they have no right to take it out on foreigners when they don't get their way, or when someone other than the person they actually kill says something cross to them. Muslims: if you don't like it when someone insults Muhammad, why not try some old fashioned missionary work? Why don't you try explaining in some other way besides a take-it-or-burn-in-hell appeal to faith or violence why he is worthy of respect from people who reject his revelation and deny his god? We believe we can disrespect Muhammad without disrespecting you. If you can't agree, I don't know if there's room on the planet for all of us.

No comments: