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Sundries
...a sweatshop of moxie

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

The Essential Differences Between Modern Christianity & Islam

(Welcome the Anchoress readers!)

Is that Christians do not police the actions of their fellow Christians, by and large.

If you decide to go to Mass, or not -- that's your business. If you commit adultery, same. If you are a practising homosexual, that's your call. If you profane the name of our Lord, it's on your conscience not ours.

These are decisions which may involve religious prohibitions, but should you fall afoul of them, you will not be policed by the guy next to you, and especially not by physical punishment.

If he or she does, it is almost certain that THEY will be punished.

Now tell me what would happen if say, a newspaper were to publish cartoons of Jesus or the Prophet Mohammmed?

Which religious group would feel most offended by this blasphemy, do you think?

We have had the answer, to a question we all knew would be answered thusly, this week.

And at its core is the fact that Christians do not police each other for our actions done in the name of our religion.

However, this should not be a point of pride, or taken as such. It is simply a statement.

But a statement of fact.

It is important to add the word modern to this statement, because it used to be that we Christians did indeed police, control, and punish each other, for our religious transgressions, real or perceived.

"Witches" were burnt at the stake for heresy.

The Holy Inquisition tortured and abused people, at the drop of the merest hint of apostasy.

Neighbours would denounce neighbours to the local vicar or priest, or even civic officials, for their every day crimes against the "true" faith.

They could face village abuse, the least of which was the stockade, if they were judged guilty.

One could go to gaol for crimes such as using the Lord's name in profanity, and the Tyburn gallows in London swung for many who had commited an offence which might be termed religious in nature.

Certainly common law is different from the sharia, but at its core, it is based on precepts from those biblical guidelines known as the Ten Commandments, which gives these laws the legality and authority to be upheld as true and just -- do not steal, kill, or tell lies being just some of them.

But slowly that hold of Christianity over people's daily lives began to erode, following that secular revolution known as the Enlightenment.

Reason, not religion, slowly became the only true judge of character we in the Western world allowed in our public spheres.

What we did in private, including the practise (or not) of our faith, became entirely our own affairs.

At most there was a social kind of pressure to conform, to be seen to be good Christians by going to mass or chapel on Sundays, or perhaps by paying our respects once a year at Easter.

But nothing more severe than that.

Certainly dicta from the pulpit against "heathens" or "infidels" (the very words I use here with inverted commas, so laughable to most of us, as to seem otherworldly) were tempered with this knowledge.

The knowledge that the time of the Crusades was over.

No more would Popes order Christians to battle against those of unlike beliefs.

No more could religious offices mete out physical punishment for sins against the faith.

Only in countries like Russia, that most anti-Semitic of lands, or Poland, were pogroms ordinary, yet even then, only until the early 1900s.

But these lands and their peoples were judged to be unbelievably backwards, especially in Western Europe, and held in scorn even by those to whom Jews were not favourites.

Though what prompted the Holocaust was not religious as such, Judaism having been stripped of its religiosity by the idea of "race" (a fallacious human construct based on physical differences), it only reinforced to many, that religion -- especially their own, Christianity -- was somehow a vicious force in this world, which for many is considered more an evil pox, rather than a noble good...

...and therefore, religion should be repudiated by all clear-thinking people.

And this phrase is merely short-hand for:

By all civilised people.

I personally have always rejected this idea, not qualifying my civility by whether or not I am religious, in my case Roman Catholic, but whether or not a person acts in a righteous manner whenever possible.

If they do, whenever possible, then I consider them a worthy human being.

But still their humanity is not qualified, or made acceptable to me, because of their righteousness.

The truth of the matter is that they are human, simply because they are sentient, breathing beings.

If they should commit a crime, they should pay, but not wanting vigilante justice, I expect the State to bring charges against them on my behalf, to try them, and if found guilty, to sentence them to be punished.

Should they take a life wantonly, ruthlessly, and without self-defence being involved, though I am not in favour of the death penalty as such, I understand that certain cultures would ask the ultimate price to be paid by this person, and that is to lose their lives in turn.

But there is a stricture in our modern Western societies, that frowns on undue corporal punishment -- the phrase "cruel and unusual punishment" being seared into our brains by now.

Somehow hanging and firing squads were seen as more, what shall we call it..."humane" seems contradictory...perhaps just "acceptable", than anything involving swords or hand-to-hand physicality.

Perhaps it is the psychological remove a rope or a bullet has from punisher to punished, that made it acceptable.

Perhaps some think the same of an electric switch or lethal injection. It is that remove, a distance which in turn, makes it more civilised.

Perhaps when you swing an axe to sever a head, it strikes many modern Western people as being hopelessly, disgustingly, unimaginably mediæval, and is rejected immediately as obscene.

(To be sure, lethal injections and the like, are also seen as obscene by many. But it should be remembered that the guillotine was invented to make the process more "humane", less personal perhaps, though it was in practise in France by the State until 1977)

Now imagine all of these thoughts, and add religion as a reason for punishment into the mix.

It is almost too retrograde to imagine, even for the most religious of Christian persons.

It is not only foreign to our worlds, but very nearly sub-human.

Let's pause for a moment to recap my points, so far:

Religion in the West -- private/individual, not communal/public

Punishment -- ideally, not corporal in nature; executions, a question of exceptional circumstances relating to the taking of another human life only; or just completely outlawed if they involve a religious element

Western culture -- secular, which authorises governments to act on behalf of its citizenry, not religious in nature, authorising clerics or lay people to punish transgressions against their faith

And it is this last point which hits us closest, to the events we have seen in Denmark recently.

Freedom of expression and of faith, or that is to say -- practises which do not infringe the intellectual or physical rights of others, are paramount to the West.

Of course, actions will always have consequences.

There are some people who complain, for example, when they want to denounce the Iraq War, or the present Bush Administration, and find their words having an unexpected backlash.

Their complaint then becomes that they are able to say what they want, but that there are pressures against saying what they will, which makes them wary of speaking up in future.

Well, naturally.

Speech is not spoken into a void, a vacuum of space with no one listening.

The freedom of speech does not mean the freedom to say what you want without a reaction.

It just guarantees your right to reasonable expressions of thought.

The word reasonable is not stated plainly in writing in the Bill of Rights of any country, but it is implicit due to our Western historical trajectory.

Thus, you may indeed shout "Fire!" in a theatre, but you could be arrested. You may call someone a child molester, but you could be sued for libel.

And you could be the Dixie Chicks, or Toby Keith, and say what you will about the topics of the day, but have your livelihood boycotted by certain people, who disagree with your behaviour.

That yes.

But your very life will not be in danger because of that behaviour.

If someone feels they have a right to kill you because they disagree with you, that person is judged a criminal by society, quite possibly also diagnosed for sociopathic behaviour, and if caught, will be punished or interned by the State.

But what if the punishment is not killing, but merely that of protest?

That is when our religions collide, and at the same time, differ, because certain adherents of our religions act out their outrage in very dissimilar ways.

What is most striking today, is how we Christians at times, do NOT act out our outrages against our religions.

For one, having no concept of the Muslim idea of the Umma, (or the totality of the practioners of Islam), their sense of community and oneness with their faith in other words, we:

- Do not take umbrage at lapses done to our faith

either

- For or to each other.

Here are three quick but telling examples:

  • Recently, Kanye West was portrayed on the cover of Rolling Stone magazine with a crown of thorns on his head, evoking the vision of the Christ in his Passion.



  • The movie, Dogma, famously came out in 1999. Critic David Bruce said of it:

    This is an incredible film that dares to explore and question the Christian faith without restraints of any kind. Martin Luther would be proud. The bottom line is: God cares about you and will stand on her head to prove it.

    But where many people haven't seen the film (I haven't, and that's saying something for a cinephile), most people are aware of this famous effigy of Christ from the movie:



  • The brilliant comic, George Carlin, once challenged the Ten Commandments, by citing their often redundant messages.

    He said they should be whittled down to just 2 Commandments, using his own inimitable phrasing:


    Thou shalt always be honest and faithful to the provider of thy nookie.

    &

    Thou shalt try real hard not to kill anyone, unless of course they pray to a different invisible man than you.

    Ending his skit, he said that the Jesus Freaks (I paraphrase, you understand) could even put their tablets in Alabama Courthouses, as long as they appended this handy Commandment to them:

    "Thou shalt keep thy religion to thyself"


  • That last bit of George Carlin's routine sums up the Western liberal, post-modernist attitude to religion, perfectly.

    (As well as my characerisation of George Carlin as brilliant, despite my vigourous disagreement of what he says about religion, and how he goes about making his point. I don't think many religious Muslims would characterise the Danish paper as anything but loathesome)

    But the point of these three examples is that very very few Christians, took more than moral umbrage at these three acts of outright blasphemy against the Christian faith.

    They may be deeply, deeply wounding to many, but those many would not condone physical violence done to the perpetrators of these blasphemies.

    In fact, they barely register as blasphemies, and would not be referred to as such by mainstream media (MSM), since implicit in that word, or concept, is the notion that they would AGREE they are blasphemous acts.

    Because it is such in our societies, as explained at length above, that religion is devalued publicly, and thus blasphemies of this sort go unchallenged in any major way.

    It would have been unthinkable in modern times for Pope John Paul II to rally Catholics to kill Nikos Kazantzakis or Martin Scorcese, for "The Last Temptation of Jesus Christ", as was done to Salman Rushdie for what many Muslims believed was his blasphemous rendition of the Prophet Mohammed, in the "Satanic Verses".

    And if non-Christians had come out with such a movie, or anti-Christian books, it would as likely be held in moral contempt, but not in violent contempt, needing the redress of this action, to bring back honour to ourselves, or our religions.

    It likewise would seem EXTREMELY bizarre to us that traditionally Christian nations would hold a meeting with its leaders, as Muslims world leaders do in the Islamic Summit Conferences.

    When Presidents Bush, Chirac, Chancellor Merkel, or Prime Minister Blair meet, you can be sure a shared religion is not the impetus for such a meeting.

    It would not even rank amongst the top 10 reasons for such a meeting.

    Not even the top 100 reasons for such a meeting.

    That is simply NOT the Christian raison-d'être.

    So it is with all these preambles and explanations above, that we confront the latest friction between the so-called "Clash of Civilisations", happening in Denmark today.

    12 cartoons, launched to see if Denmark does indeed have freedom of expression, or if their society is not open enough to withstand pressures within some of its communities.

    12 cartoons which are the exact dividing line between two religions -- how certain elements of those religions react to the testing of their faiths.

    Because as assuredly as not all Muslims agree what is being done to the Danish consulates and embassies around the world, and there are many who do not, there are assuredly many Muslims who would condemn with violence a whole nation, based on the decision of the editorial board of one Danish newspaper.

    What we see in this entire sorry spectacle on the world stage is the reductionist human element at work.

    When one small faction takes over an entire group, and that entire group is unable or unwilling to control the subset, because it is scared of the physical consequences they will encounter if they do.

    And that is the essential difference between our two monotheistic religions.

    One side has dared to in its past, as belatedly, as imperfectly, as it has.

    The other, to this day, has not.


    ADDENDUM: Perhaps the most telling, and most disturbing difference between these two religions today, is that extremist thought becomes mainstream, and even acceptable to be used publicly, even by certain leaders.

    It is no coincidence that the bugbear of modern Islam, Israel, is suddenly the reason why Denmark, a liberal, unreligious Protestant country, is at fault for these 12 cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed.

    But Danes (the Christians) didn't really do it. No, these fanatics say.

    It was the Jews, the Zionists, behind it all.

    Anti-Semitism is as old as the Hebrews of history themselves, but in some parts of the world, anti-Semitic speech of any kind, is completely discredited.

    But in some other parts of the world, anti-Semitism is just getting its second wind.

    Alas, the differences just keep piling up, and I'm not sure what can bring them together without acknowledging them as such, first.

    24 Comments:

    • Nietzsche about how Christianity used to punish: "It's not that they've gotten more moral that they've stopped killing us."

      Linda Fiorentino on the film Dogma, which she starred in:
      "Ugh!"

      By Blogger Ron, at Tue Feb 07, 03:50:00 pm GMT-5  

    • Nietzsche about how Christianity used to punish: "It's not that they've gotten more moral that they've stopped killing us."

      That's okay. Nietzsche has squared it all with the Big Man upstairs.

      Linda Fiorentino on the film Dogma, which she starred in:
      "Ugh!"


      Have you seen Dogma, Ron?

      I only ask because I know you too are a world-class cinephile.

      Cheers,
      Victoria

      By Blogger vbspurs, at Tue Feb 07, 04:07:00 pm GMT-5  

    • I liked Dogma, actually, but then I'm a godless heathen.

      And as far as the rest of this article, it's so full of aintwrongness that it will definitely be part of my You Ain't Wrong post for this week.

      The Muslim world needs to grow up!
      (I would include some profanity between 'grow' and 'up' but, it's not my blog, and I've already done so, twice on mine).

      Even someone as smart as Virginia Postrel agrees with me.

      As a thought experiment, think what any of these folks would do with one of our Aircraft Carriers and its Flotilla, now compare what we've done with ours.


      Verification Word: xwqcoky

      well I admit sometimes to being a little cocky, but really, does Blogger have to remind me of that through their verification word?

      By Blogger XWL, at Tue Feb 07, 05:10:00 pm GMT-5  

    • Have you seen Dogma, Ron?

      I only ask because I know you too are a world-class cinephile.


      First, I'd hardly call myself a world-class cinephile! My ego and my gut have a race for which has greater girth, but even I have limits!

      Yes, I have seen it; being raised Catholic, it is nice to see a non-Protestant view on the big screen, but this is Comic Book Catholicism, and I didn't really care for it all that much... I've seen worse, much worse, but still...is there a good Catholic film? He wonders rhetorically!

      By Blogger Ron, at Tue Feb 07, 05:35:00 pm GMT-5  

    • Oh, BTW, Victoria, forgive me a faux pas! This, again, was another excellent, thoughtful, throughly modern, but very respectful of religion post. I've come to take your delight-giving writing for granted, and that's wrong! So, again, a tip o' the cap to Sundries...

      By Blogger Ron, at Tue Feb 07, 05:41:00 pm GMT-5  

    • I too was raised Roman Catholic but gradually moved away from organized religion as I became a young adult. While I also think your post is well written, I think you could have been a bit less "politically correct" when writing about the Muslims today and about the Christians throughout history. A lot more Enlightenment seems to still be needed in this world!

      By Blogger Jose Aguirre, at Tue Feb 07, 06:31:00 pm GMT-5  

    • I liked Dogma, actually, but then I'm a godless heathen.

      It certainly looks like the 90's version of the Bratpack -- with Ben Stiller, Ben Affleck, did I see Matt Damon on the list of actors too?

      Ah well.

      I'm sure my local art-house video store has a copy.

      UPDATE AS I TYPE! I just checked and one of my local BBs has a copy. I'm SO there by Thursday.

      And as far as the rest of this article, it's so full of aintwrongness that it will definitely be part of my You Ain't Wrong post for this week.

      Brilliant! Thanks, I'll thank you at top when/if you post the link.

      The Muslim world needs to grow up!

      Well, if we say it like that, they will (rightly) get very defensive.

      Instead, we (we who? Not me, probably not you, but you understand what I mean) have to appeal to the most educated elements of their society -- many of whom are religious, but urbane.

      The problem is how do we offer them the high ideals of the Enlightenment as rewards, when the other side offers them the cold steel of a blade against the neck, as a punishment?

      This is why we in the West fight so much to preserve our freedoms, even when we don't like where those freedoms take us, like the Kanye West pic above.

      (I would include some profanity between 'grow' and 'up' but, it's not my blog, and I've already done so, twice on mine).

      Heh.

      Even someone as smart as Virginia Postrel agrees with me.

      I read all your links, as usual.

      The Virginia Postrel one I liked because she mentioned Kanye West, and "hysterical, hyper-sensitive" Christians as not liking it.

      Now, though I may be insulted, because I am included in that general round-up of Christians, it is the kind of language I as a Western woman, understand.

      I understand that if you get all touchy about religion, it is you who comes off looking like the jerk -- not the perpetrators of the blasphemy.

      And that is another ESSENTIAL difference between Christianity and Islam.

      The other, radical side, does not.

      As a thought experiment, think what any of these folks would do with one of our Aircraft Carriers and its Flotilla, now compare what we've done with ours.

      Those links I need to read a little more.

      Verification Word: xwqcoky

      well I admit sometimes to being a little cocky, but really, does Blogger have to remind me of that through their verification word?


      I'm just waiting for vicbiatch one day. ;)

      Cheers,
      Victoria

      By Blogger vbspurs, at Tue Feb 07, 08:50:00 pm GMT-5  

    • First, I'd hardly call myself a world-class cinephile! My ego and my gut have a race for which has greater girth, but even I have limits!

      You're too modest, I'm certain. :)

      Yes, I have seen it; being raised Catholic, it is nice to see a non-Protestant view on the big screen, but this is Comic Book Catholicism,

      True. And by adults for adults, presumably.

      Quite a difference from all those Hayley Mills' vehicles, The Trouble with Angels, etc.

      (Which I thought both adorable, and goofy)

      and I didn't really care for it all that much... I've seen worse, much worse, but still...is there a good Catholic film? He wonders rhetorically!

      Sure there are.

      How about Audrey Hepburn's finely-tuned performance in "The Nun's Story"?

      How about "The Song of Bernadette" with Jennifer Jones?

      How about "The Cardinal" with Romy Schneider and a star-studded cast of Austrian Burgtheater actors?

      How about Bing Crosby and a boxing Ingrid Bergman in "The Bell's of St. Mary"?

      How about "Ma Nuit Chez Maud" with Jean-Louis Trintignant?

      Those are all Catholic pictures, off the top of my head.

      The one Protestant one that pops to mind, the recent Joseph Fiennes' effort in "Luther" was beyond abysmal.

      Let me know what you think of my references above though.

      Maybe I have jogged your memory. :)

      Cheers,
      Victoria

      By Blogger vbspurs, at Tue Feb 07, 08:56:00 pm GMT-5  

    • Oh, BTW, Victoria, forgive me a faux pas! This, again, was another excellent, thoughtful, throughly modern, but very respectful of religion post. I've come to take your delight-giving writing for granted, and that's wrong! So, again, a tip o' the cap to Sundries...

      These kinds of compliments are what keeps me blogging, because they're as ambrosia to my ambition to keep on writing.

      How sweet is thine nectar, Ron.

      I bet you've heard that once or twice, before. ;)

      Cheers,
      Victoria

      By Blogger vbspurs, at Tue Feb 07, 08:58:00 pm GMT-5  

    • I too was raised Roman Catholic but gradually moved away from organized religion as I became a young adult.

      With some exceptions, that is the experience I have had with men in my millieu.

      My father was, I always thought, an atheist since a young lad.

      In fact, he's agnostic. He doesn't believe in God, but he's not 100% sure.

      But then my mother told me that since he had a heart attack, he has changed radically, and now believes in God.

      But such is my WASC'y family, that HE himself can't tell me that, since we are too shy to speak of weighty personal issues to each other.

      While I also think your post is well written, I think you could have been a bit less "politically correct" when writing about the Muslims today and about the Christians throughout history.

      Perhaps it is because, unlike you, I am devout.

      I hold religion, any religion, up to a certain delicate state, which earthier, more distrusting of religions persons, do not.

      It is therefore a marriage not only of my personality, which tends towards the diplomatic, but also towards my belief that religion is good.

      It's some of its practitioners that are bad.

      A lot more Enlightenment seems to still be needed in this world!

      With that, I have no quarrel!

      However, I used strong language in my post, if you read it carefully.

      Words such as obscene, and sub-human are hardly patsy phrases.

      Because I did so in a modulated tone of voice, without insults, just stating facts as I see them, perhaps they don't have the force words we use in normal conversation, would have.

      See what I mean? :)

      Cheers,
      Victoria

      By Blogger vbspurs, at Tue Feb 07, 09:05:00 pm GMT-5  

    • Victoria, your Catholic film selections are all superb, except perhaps Der Bingle, whom I've not much like for meself...

      I'm familiar with Luther, only because a close friend, she has such a crush on Joe Fiennes...we all have our bete noir...

      I haven't many compliments for my nectar lately...ahem...but, you must be aware that I wouldn't say it if I didn't mean it...and what better compliment than that? ;-)

      By Blogger Ron, at Wed Feb 08, 12:33:00 am GMT-5  

    • Noticed today on another blog I read;
      "Chaos Manor in Perspective" http://www.jerrypournelle.com

      that the cartoon war has spawned its own blog

      http://face-of-muhammed.blogspot.com/

      Includes a rather interesting map of how this controversy and it's attendant violence has spread

      By Anonymous BrotherDarryl, at Wed Feb 08, 12:50:00 pm GMT-5  

    • Hi Victoria,
      I liked to read this story. it does not happen to often!
      But I personnaly believe that religions are the base of all our trouble and conflicts.
      On another subject, I just could not find the infamous drawing in any american media, so here they are if you havent seen them already:
      http://permanent.nouvelobs.com/medias/20060202.OBS4859.html

      As mon ami Superfrenchie puts it, it s surprising that the US media have not shown the pictures yet. the same media that are always first to praise freedom of speech and press or to attack Europe/France with words or cowards or weasel...
      "The New York Post, who called us weasels in the Iraq war run-up, does not say a peep about it. Sanctimonious lesson-giver Fox News? No pictures! "

      Where is Bill O reilly when we need him! Scared?

      http://superfrenchie.com/

      By Anonymous SHUSSBAR, at Wed Feb 08, 02:30:00 pm GMT-5  

    • Victoria, your Catholic film selections are all superb, except perhaps Der Bingle, whom I've not much like for meself...

      Yeah, in the war between Spencer Tracy v. Bing Crosby (The little known "who is the most Irish-Catholic of them all" war), I prefer Mr. Hepburn.

      And Barry Fitzgerald, obviously.

      I'm familiar with Luther, only because a close friend, she has such a crush on Joe Fiennes...we all have our bete noir...

      Oh my gosh. I have a cousin who loves both Fiennes brothers. I find both, for very separate reasons, unwatchable.

      (In related news, Ralph just announced yesterday his break up with Francesca Annis, whose daughter Charlotte, was a few forms lower than I, at "my" school. Thanks Headline News)

      BTW, I saw "The White Countess" the other day, and my opinion of Ralph Fiennes has not improved...

      I haven't many compliments for my nectar lately...ahem...but, you must be aware that I wouldn't say it if I didn't mean it...and what better compliment than that? ;-)

      Yeah, Ron. We all know you're the kiss-and-tell type. ;)

      Cheers,
      Victoria

      By Blogger vbspurs, at Wed Feb 08, 03:23:00 pm GMT-5  

    • http://face-of-muhammed.blogspot.com/

      Includes a rather interesting map of how this controversy and it's attendant violence has spread


      Hey Darryl. :)

      (BTW, RSS MLB PLUS 2006 is coming soon. You want in, by chance?)

      I saw the Blogspot one, and thought it VERY handy for all news related to the matter. I will email Luc with the news.

      Thanks!

      Cheers,
      Victoria

      By Blogger vbspurs, at Wed Feb 08, 03:25:00 pm GMT-5  

    • Hi Victoria,

      Hey Shuss!

      I liked to read this story. it does not happen to often!

      Ah yes? I'm not sure if you mean, the actual story about the cartoons, or that you usually do not like (probably you mean agree) my blogpost topics, which you call a story!

      Either way, thanks. ;)

      But I personnaly believe that religions are the base of all our trouble and conflicts.

      Yes, you said once.

      I am, as you also know, the complete opposite of that.

      For me, religion is just an excuse that humans use for strife.

      If we eradicated all religions from the world (quelle horreur), humans would still argue about:

      1- Money
      2- Beliefs/Politics
      3- Nationality/Ethnicity
      4- Races
      5- Sex
      6- Sport
      7- Gender

      I wouldn't change all the Stalinist buildings in the world, devoid of any religious symbolism, grey, depressing and crumbly just like Marxism-Leninism, for just one Chartres Cathedral.

      Or one Hagia-Sophia.

      Religion isn't the problem.

      It's certain practioners who are the problem.

      On another subject, I just could not find the infamous drawing in any american media, so here they are if you havent seen them already:
      http://permanent.nouvelobs.com/medias/20060202.OBS4859.html


      Thanks Shussy!

      Unfortunately, you are late to the party.

      The Philadelphia Inquirer already published them last week.

      The LA Times and others have too.

      As mon ami Superfrenchie puts it, it s surprising that the US media have not shown the pictures yet.

      Then your friend knows very little about how the American media works.

      First, American mainstream media follows American culture, which is very very delicate about such topics.

      Not only does this manifest itself by not showing nudity or profanity on their television, but scenes of graphic violence are either censored by pixilations, or not shown AT ALL.

      Though nudity/profanity is allowed, this same ginger attitude prevails in Britain.

      When I travelled to Peru as a kind of Peace Corps worker one summer, I was ASTONISHED to see how graphic their coverage of news was in relation to what I was used to.

      They showed blood, guts, entrails, and murders close-up.

      the same media that are always first to praise freedom of speech and press or to attack Europe/France with words or cowards or weasel...

      I'm not sure I understand.

      I wonder if your friend is more astonished that they haven't showed these cartoons yet (which I have noted is not true anymore), or that it wasn't the Americans who drew and published them, but rather, the liberal Danes.

      Because let's get one thing clear here.

      For once, it isn't the US to blame about this matter.

      But you can be sure, somehow, SOMEHOW, people will try to blame the US for it anyway.

      "The New York Post, who called us weasels in the Iraq war run-up, does not say a peep about it. Sanctimonious lesson-giver Fox News? No pictures! "

      The problem with this kind of critique is that it tends to be wrong, if they don't follow who they critique, and their coverage, carefully.

      Hannity and Colmes had them last night.

      Where is Bill O reilly when we need him! Scared?

      http://superfrenchie.com/


      BO'R has been covering this story WAY before anyone else.

      Mainstream media, which tends to look at the world through a more progressive prism, has been very loathe to bring this story to the fore, because it makes ALL Muslims look like fanatics, even though it is only a small portion who are reacting so viciously towards the Danes (and Jews).

      I'm really not sure what your point is, unless it is a gratuitous, but not a very informed slam on Bill O'Reilly (who, BTW, I do not like).

      Cheers,
      Victoria

      By Blogger vbspurs, at Wed Feb 08, 03:41:00 pm GMT-5  

    • An outstanding analysis of the difference between cultures!

      Most Americans don't have a clue as to the "group-think" characteristic of Islam, and most comments I've read show the assumption of individuality predominant in the U.S.

      The "reason will eventually prevail among Muslims" mentality doesn't take into account the factors you cite.

      Well done!

      By Blogger brylin, at Wed Feb 08, 04:23:00 pm GMT-5  

    • Now consider the demographic factors cited by Mark Steyn.

      Can you give us your recommendations as to how Western Civilization can survive?

      By Blogger brylin, at Wed Feb 08, 04:28:00 pm GMT-5  

    • An outstanding analysis of the difference between cultures!

      Thanks, Brylin!

      I have been very chuffed at the reaction to this post, which took me longer than usual to write (the topics covered are not easy to compose about, because they involve peeling layers we all know of, but we rarely verbalise).

      I even had, to my slight astonishment, an email from a prominent blogger, who kindly emailed her compliments about the post.

      Most Americans don't have a clue as to the "group-think" characteristic of Islam, and most comments I've read show the assumption of individuality predominant in the U.S.

      Group-think or collectivism is Eastern, more than religious though -- just to make that perfectly clear, although I'm sure you know of it. :)

      The "reason will eventually prevail among Muslims" mentality doesn't take into account the factors you cite.

      I'm not so sure.

      If Turkey could be picked up and taken by the scruff of the neck by Kemal Atatürk, then so can other countries.

      But where are those leaders now?

      Well done!

      Mwah!

      Cheers,
      Victoria

      By Blogger vbspurs, at Wed Feb 08, 08:38:00 pm GMT-5  

    • Brylin, I read halfway, the Steyn article.

      I didn't feel I needed to read it all, to get the gist of what he was saying.

      It was basically:

      "We Westerners are in trouble, heaps loads of trouble!"

      Frankly, we're heard that all before.

      I recall going to the Peaktalk blog a while ago, to read my colleague's dire predictions of European implosion and decay, only to turn away despondent.

      With all due respect to the doomsdayers who see this entire situation, this Clash of Civilisations, and believe we're on the losing end -- I find that ludicrous.

      If you want to know my take on Multi-Culturalism, and haven't had a time to read it in the "Best of Sundries" sidebar, please do!

      It was one of my better posts, IMNSHO.

      I am, before anything scientist/medical, a trained historian.

      My vision of the world is not about the here and now, but of the whole expanse of our human interactions which we call history.

      But even so, I despair sometimes.

      You know what I have to do, to almost instantly pick me up again?

      All I have to do, is to remember the legacy of Ronald Reagan.

      What he did, was truly revolutionary, and so elegantly simple, as to seem to some disingenuous -- that's partly why they never understood him.

      Reagan attacked challenges to the US and the West by confronting it, not by playing appeaser.

      But in doing so, he didn't talk a violent game, or do so with hatred and malice.

      He did so out of the firm conviction that everything we have accrued in the West, is worth preserving, and will prevail.

      He appealed to the best of what we are, and had sufficient confidence that if anyone challenges that our shared culture of intrepidness, of reason, of democracy, they will fail by their very lack of having those qualities, needed to prevail.

      Thus, he turned the focus not on the Soviet Union, but by re-capturing the pride of America, he set the focus on us -- not just the US, but all of us in the West.

      When I was a child, I was told by almost all my social science instructors at school, that the USSR would eventually swallow us whole, because they had a firm, stable society, without the mayhem of democracy, or the self-indulgent narcissism of the West.

      They were wrong.

      When I was a teenager, I heard from my history tutors that Japan would swallow us whole, because of the tenacity, sense of communalism, and self-abnegation that the Japanese had.

      I waited, and waited.

      They were wrong.

      When I left Oxford, the buzz had already begun about China -- China with her billions and billions, who would swallow the West whole.

      I wait.

      But I know they will be wrong again.

      There is nothing so wrong, as people who see a situation in the very worst light, because they do not trust the lessons of history.

      Cheers,
      Victoria

      By Blogger vbspurs, at Wed Feb 08, 08:58:00 pm GMT-5  

    • First of all Vicky, I must commend you for a wonderfuly written and thought out post. Bravo!

      I find it ironic that newspapers in the middle east have been depicting anti-semitic cartoons for years with full support but at the first mention of an anti-islamic cartoon they erupt. At least the plans to have an anti-holocaust cartoon competition have been scrapped.

      It's also interesting governments in places like Syria and Egypt which have not been in Muslim Cleric's good books are now fanning the flames trying to score a few points while they can.

      Of course, I don't agree with the printing of the cartoon in the first place. Vicky is quite right in that even though there is freedom of the press, it must be used reponsibly. There are community standards and the sensibilities of people that must be taken into account. No newspaper for example, prints pornographic pictures with an accompanying article about pornography.

      By Blogger Renato, at Thu Feb 09, 10:54:00 am GMT-5  

    • You should be chuffed (I love this word - its use is very uncommon in the U.S.)!

      As for my use of the term "group-think" I refer to the Wikipedia entry, noting Professor Irving Janis' "antecedent conditions" and applying them to members of Islam, and then looking at the symptoms as listed there. It makes sense to me anyway! :)

      As for your unbridled optimism in contrast to Steyn, I salute you!

      Malthus was wrong, after all.

      But after having spent a month in Europe in 5 of the last 7 years (and this Spring will be 6 of 8), and considering the undeniability of the differing group fertility rates, I wonder.

      I really enjoyed your Coretta King comment as well. You are a gifted writer and have insights beyond your (few) years. Keep up the good work!

      By Blogger brylin, at Thu Feb 09, 11:18:00 am GMT-5  

    • Ah yes? I'm not sure if you mean, the actual story about the cartoons, or that you usually do not like (probably you mean agree) my blogpost topics, which you call a story!

      I meant your story about the cartoon/religion..in your blog. it was interesting and well put together. I wish my english was better though.

      I am, as you also know, the complete opposite of that.
      For me, religion is just an excuse that humans use for strife.
      If we eradicated all religions from the world (quelle horreur), humans would still argue about:

      1- Money
      2- Beliefs/Politics
      3- Nationality/Ethnicity
      4- Races
      5- Sex
      6- Sport
      7- Gender

      MOST of them above don't create so much problem as religions do.

      I wouldn't change all the Stalinist buildings in the world, devoid of any religious symbolism, grey, depressing and crumbly just like Marxism-Leninism, for just one Chartres Cathedral.

      From an architectural point of view, sure! And between Stalinist style and religious building, we have a margin. You are talking extrems!

      Or one Hagia-Sophia.

      Sorry, not intelligent enough. What is it?

      Religion isn't the problem.
      It's certain practioners who are the problem.

      Duh! They are part of it no?.

      Unfortunately, you are late to the party.
      The Philadelphia Inquirer already published them last week.
      The LA Times and others have too.

      Only 2 ? Poor coverage for such a big country.

      As mon ami Superfrenchie puts it, it s surprising that the US media have not shown the pictures yet.

      Then your friend knows very little about how the American media works.
      First, American mainstream media follows American culture, which is very very delicate about such topics.

      You are entitled to your opinion of course, but I think he is pretty well aware of how things works.
      I am sure that you know a lot more than I do about a lot of things, but very often you have this I know it-all attitude/ lesson giver that I found annoying. May be i am jalous?


      I wonder if your friend is more astonished that they haven't showed these cartoons yet (which I have noted is not true anymore), or that it wasn't the Americans who drew and published them, but rather, the liberal Danes.

      Ask him :-)
      I think he meant that the media should show more courage and solidarity and show the cartoons.

      Because let's get one thing clear here.
      I see you are getting angry now, chill out!
      For once, it isn't the US to blame about this matter.

      Who said it was?

      But you can be sure, somehow, SOMEHOW, people will try to blame the US for it anyway.

      And you have no idea why that is?

      "The New York Post, who called us weasels in the Iraq war run-up, does not say a peep about it. Sanctimonious lesson-giver Fox News? No pictures! "

      The problem with this kind of critique is that it tends to be wrong, if they don't follow who they critique, and their coverage, carefully.

      I don t think it was wrong in this case. Fox talked about it, but keeps a very low profile

      I'm really not sure what your point is, unless it is a gratuitous, but not a very informed slam on Bill O'Reilly (who, BTW, I do not like).

      Any slam on BOR or any right winger for that matter is a good slam, gratuitous or not.
      I can t help it , sorry.

      Keep blogging, i like to read.

      By Anonymous SHUSSBAR, at Thu Feb 09, 11:57:00 am GMT-5  

    • I meant your story about the cartoon/religion..in your blog. it was interesting and well put together. I wish my english was better though.

      Without sounding patronising, your English is great!

      I could not write half as well in French, as you do in English.

      MOST of them above don't create so much problem as religions do.

      In the long history of the world, you'd be surprised how little religion has been the cause of war.

      Neither World War I nor World War II were fought because of religion.

      They were fought for honour, and for politics...

      ...both of which were Number 2 in my categories under the general heading of "beliefs".

      That's merely one of many examples I could give you.

      From an architectural point of view, sure! And between Stalinist style and religious building, we have a margin. You are talking extrems!

      It's because Stalinism is as extreme as religious-centric buildings -- they are representative of a whole culture, in and of themselves.

      Or should I have mentioned McDonald's architecture instead?

      Sorry, not intelligent enough. What is it?

      I'm sure you do. It's probably spelt differently in French.

      The Hagia Sophia is the grand mosque which is the symbol of Istanbul.

      You know, the one with the four minarets.

      Duh! They are part of it no?.

      Sure. And rape is also a part of sex.

      Not for that, would one outlaw sexual activity, just because it causes a lot of problems.

      It's not the practise which is at fault. It's the people.

      Only 2 ? Poor coverage for such a big country.

      Nono. Many have already.

      Unless you have a quibble with the timeline too.

      In other words, it's just a question of time, as editorial boards make the decision to print it or not.

      You are entitled to your opinion of course, but I think he is pretty well aware of how things works.

      I am sure that you know a lot more than I do about a lot of things, but very often you have this I know it-all attitude/ lesson giver that I found annoying. May be i am jalous?

      Maybe.

      But I don't think it's just that.

      I think there are two things at work here, to give you that impression -- although I am the first to admit, sometimes jokingly, that I have a good opinion of myself, and that comes off as arrogant to many.

      A) Not only has great time and effort been expended on my schooling, but I have applied myself very diligently to improve my knowledge almost every day of my life.

      I am certainly not the only one, nor is that knowledge infallible (of course not), but let's just say, that it's not easy to deal with a person which has such wide interests, and can talk about them, fairly fluently.

      B) There is also another factor at work, I think.

      You and I are colleagues for many years in another forum (on soccer).

      There, I think, I am the same way I am here, but a blog is a little more concentrated on one person's ideas.

      Thus when I am speaking on my own blog, it sounds very unidirectional, and therefore, conceited.

      "Why should she talk about this? She's not an expert! She's just like me! Her opinion sounds like she believes it is a fact!"

      Sometimes I feel a person can tolerate being told something better, if that person is on television, or a professor at an University, or similar.

      It's almost as if the imprimatur of legitimacy is given that person, because of that. But a blogger? Pff. They are just anyone.

      Those are the two things I believe make you feel a little annoyed at times.

      ...and also, because I am a good debater. :)

      Ask him :-)

      You! ;)

      I think he meant that the media should show more courage and solidarity and show the cartoons.

      Some do. Some don't. As you say, it's a big country, and for every little city and village here, there is a newspaper.

      It's very much a case-by-case basis.

      I see you are getting angry now, chill out!

      Nooo. :)

      When I am angry, you know it, believe me. I am not a good actress, even in writing.

      And you have no idea why that is?

      Sure. Blaming the US is why certain people breathe.

      I don t think it was wrong in this case. Fox talked about it, but keeps a very low profile

      They talk about it every day.

      They were the ones who led the charge about the story.

      I'm really not sure what they could have done more than what they have already.

      It is CNN who didn't lead with the story, and lags behind in their news programmes, not FNC...

      Any slam on BOR or any right winger for that matter is a good slam, gratuitous or not.
      I can t help it , sorry.


      I understand, and that's fine.

      But you too have to understand that "any right winger" includes me.

      And like anyone, like yourself perhaps, I do not like to have my views insulted, denigrated, or lumped together as unworthy of respect.

      This is why, though I read Daily Kos, for example, I would never post a commentary there, since I would be negative and almost insulting, in every reply.

      And that's not what I am about.

      Keep blogging, i like to read.

      I'm glad. As long as people are civilised, I don't mind responding if they and I do not see eye-to-eye on politics.

      Although this is perhaps, why I consider politics the most corrosive human element we have, more than religion.

      Politics can divide people, like nothing else can.

      And that's a shame.

      Cheers,
      Victoria

      By Blogger vbspurs, at Fri Feb 10, 04:04:00 am GMT-5  

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