Tuesday, April 20, 2010

The threatening silence of Islam

The Western world is terrified of Islam. Take the recent Swiss ban on minarets as a case in point. Islam makes coexistence extremely difficult. Even the moderate, tolerant and patient people have a hard time with it. My own views on Islam are varied. I read news stories and my reaction is to hate it and to discredit every single Muslim with a single sweep. But then I think about how many Muslims there are in the world and I realize that they can't all be terrible people. They aren't even mostly terrible.

But here's the thing: they are worse than most other people. Why is the world afraid of Islam? They might contend that it is because they speak the truth, but it is clearly because any time anyone says anything bad about them they have a legitimate right to fear for their lives. It's difficult for me, even now, to keep a level head about this. I am tempted to push all Muslims into the trash bin again, but I have to exercise restraint.

South Park, no stranger to controversy, is the latest item to receive death threats for their comedy. Of course, the first thing that I want to do is to assume that it is only the radicals who do this, the wingnuts, the WBC of the Islam world. But the difference between between Islam and Christianity (apart from the fact that no one fears Christian retribution for blasphemous jokes in the first place) is that when a lunatic like Fred Phelps makes attention for himself, the rest of Christianity hastens to distance themselves from it. But where are the moderate Muslims in all of this? Where are the Muslims who reassure the rest of us infidels that they don't mean any harm? Where are the Muslims who are content to shop at IKEA with the rest of us? Where are the Muslims who watch South Park and laugh? Why aren't they putting out their own fires?

It is this silence that is the most unnerving to me. I feel like moderate Muslims see the insanity of their more reactionary brethren and don't think it all that insane. I fear that they agree with them. And then I think that all Muslims are complicit in a seething hatred of all things modern and all things non-Muslim. And then I think that they are just waiting to jump on the Jihad train when it is big enough. Of course this is most likely empty paranoia. But tell me, moderate American Muslims, why do I feel nervous clicking "Publish Post?"

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