I’ve commented a couple of times now on the riots in Europe and the Middle East over the Danish cartoons. I would drop the issue, but the situation keeps escalating. My first commentary actually was written before I even knew about the cartoons and the Moslem reaction. It was just a post on how Christians were picked on because they were the only safe group to ridicule. Then a week later I heard about the Danish cartoons mocking Mohammed and the resulting Moslem riots.
So later I noted that the press got what they deserved in some sense because by insulting the faith commitment of a nation and a people group, they basically incited the situation that occurred. Moslems after all, do not have “turn the other cheek” in their Quran.
I also made the comment that at least the Moslems treated “serious things seriously” in being offended at the insults to their faith. I noted that it did not excuse the Moslem riots, but at least I could understand the reason for them happening. But now 45 people have been killed, including three children and a priest. Obviously, these victims had nothing to do at all with drawing, writing, or publishing of the Danish cartoons. This was just violence for violence’s sake. It is without excuse. But I still seek to understand even if I do not offer understanding.
Though it would be easy to blame the Moslem religion, a writer for World Magazine Blog asked a question in this regard.
Reading about the death and violence that ripped through multiple countries on three continents, the result of the Danish cartoon controversy, I was struck by a contrast: With millions of Muslims living in the U.S., attending more than 1,200 mosques, why no violence here? Several U.S. bloggers posted the cartoons…The Harvard Salient, a conservative campus paper, also reprinted some of the cartoons, according to the Boston Globe. And yet no Muslims here have staged violent protests or burned down the Danish embassy. In your opinion, what accounts for the difference?
Wow. a great question! In short, if you want to blame the riots on some perceived tendency toward violence in the Moslem religion, then why aren’t Moslems universally rioting everywhere? Why has the US been excluded, especially since the US has been proclaimed “the Great Satan” by the Moslem extremists? Why has the US not become a second France?
It is not that the US is immune to riots. We had the Watts riots in the 60′s. More recently, we had the riots after the Rodney King verdict, when the police were declared not guilty of brutality. That wave of brutality lasted for several days, burned or destroyed hundreds of buildings, and cost 55 lives. So far, the death toll world wide for the Moslem riots (at this writing) has not equaled count from that caused by the Rodney King verdict, and they have lasted longer.
So what accounts for the difference? Why can it happen due to Rodney King’s mistreatment and not due to Mohammed’s? Even the more graphic photos out of Abu Ghriab, in which Americans and not the Danes are the perpetrators, have not led to riots on the part of our Moslem residents. Why haven’t these photos, showing acts that made Rodney King’s treatment appear tame, sparked mob violence in this country as they did in 1992?
As the responses to the World blog show, there are probably a variety of factors. No one factor accounts for the difference, but the cumulative effect may. I have few statistics to back me up on these assertions, but at this stage few are available. Let these remain guesses or possibilities. I think the Moslem religion is a contributing influence, but I am convinced now that it is not the only or even major factor in this case. Again, if it were, the riots would have been on US soil already.
First, there is strong evidence that the “cartoon riots’ in the other countries are arranged or at least inflamed further by the Moslem leaders themselves. As reported here, three other even more insulting cartoons were added by Moslem leaders to the ones published in the Danish newspapers. The more innocent source for one of the cartoons was even found here. So the Moslem leaders are deliberately adding fuel to the fire in this situation.
Also, the targets are not restricted to the Danish embassies or even representatives of the various newspapers that published the cartoons. But the targets do appear to be pointed. As reported here, in Nicaragua at least, the Christians are being beaten to death and murdered. These are not the random acts of passion resulting from a perceived intolerable insult; these are deliberate and targeted attacks.
Second, the extremists in the US who would be inclined to stage such violent protests are not likely to do so. Terrorist cells that tend toward violence have other goals in mind. They are not about to tip their hand or alert authorities to their presence by protesting or even burning buildings prematurely. If they strike, it will involve bigger targets and have different motives than cartooned insults. Reaction to the cartoons may sustain their hatred, but the hatred was there long before the Danes poked the stick in their direction.
Third, although there are about 3 million Moslems in this country, most are converts rather than immigrant, life-long Moslems. In other words, the majority of the Moslems were probably Christians and/or Americans before they converted. Their outlook may retain some enculturation that does not lend them to loot and destroy their own soil.
Also, unlike Watts and even LA, the Moslems are not as concentrated in specific neighborhoods as was the case for those who rioted in Watts or on behalf of Rodney King. There are no ghettos of poor Moslems in this country as there are in Europe and France. A lack of such concentration does not let the group herd mentality over-ride one’s personal instincts and limitations. Without such a concentration, things do not get as easily out of control.
The US also has a better assimilation policy than do the other countries, including France. In America, it is still at least perceived that you can advance, regardless of race, creed, or color. You can have a goal, and succeed in that goal, to become an American citizen if you so desire. This is not the case in many European countries. In America, many Moslems own stores and gasoline stations. Many are successful entrepreneurs. In Europe, the Moslems are considered, at best, day laborers and a temporary work force.
In other words, the American Moslems, even if they had the desire to riot (which I doubt) would have to count the cost more than their European relations. In Europe, many are in idle poverty that will tend toward rioting if to do nothing else than to relieve the boredom. They have little if nothing to lose if they riot. And once the riot starts, the herd instinct takes over, and no counting of the cost is possible. Even when facing death.
Therefore, I don’t think it is fear of reprisals that are limiting the riots in this country, as many in the World blog intimate. They are experiencing such retaliation in Europe. Police have shot and killed many in attempts to restore order. As of yet, the riots still appear to be continuing in those lands.
The final, and more sobering factor may be the secularizing effect of the American Culture. This tendency in our culture, sometimes subliminally, sometimes explicitly, pushes religion to the periphery of importance. It is an environment that can have its effect even when it is known and fought.
In short, the Moslems in America may not riot because they do not treat their religion as seriously as do their counterparts on Moslem soil. One apparently Moslem responder to the World Blog hints at a similar judgment on the religious sensibilities of Americans, who have replaced Democracy for Christianity (I have left the spelling intact).
Having said that we hold our religion and our prophet in high regard. And we are pretty emotional about it and have not abandoned our religion like you people have. For us Islam is a way of life just like democracy is for you. So face the facts. Democracy is not universal. Its just for you and you can keep it and try to propagate it but donot impose it on us. Our culture and way of life is vastly different from urs. PEACE TO ALL. Remember donot jump to conclusions without hearing the other side of the story. Read, Research and gather info. No man is born a terrorist.
I have a feeling he may be correct. Democracy has long since tamed Christianity into a civil religion (in both meanings of that term) and then rejected it like a businessman in search of a new “trophy wife.” If Natan Sharansky is correct, this is precisely Bush’s goals for the Islam nations. I hear the slogan often that “Democracies don’t go to war against other Democracies.” This philosophy appears to have worked in the case of the American Moslems. It may not work as well on their Middle Eastern counterparts; especially if they see it coming.