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I've been engaging some Muslims on their own forum about the ongoing Cartoon War, as well as reading the accounts around the world. The following is a reworking of a comment I left elsewhere.

In the Current Cartoon War, I've noticed that the biggest demand by the offended parties is for "respect" for Islam. But just what does that mean, both to them and us?

The demands I've heard most is that we in the West must show "respect" for Islam. This is to be shown in honoring Muslim law and tradition, and enforcing it against those who violate it. And it is accompanied by threats -- tacit and explicit -- of violence if these demands are not met.

This, to me, is not true respect. To me, respect is something that must be given willingly to be of any value. Respect won at the barrel of a gun -- respected demanded with threats of force -- has another term: "fear."

And where there are demands that we understand Muslim sensitivities, there seems to be a profound lack of respect for core Western values.

One of the most cherished ones is the right to speak freely. Voltaire said it best when he said "I do not agree with what you have to say, but I'll defend to the death your right to say it." And free-speech advocates often repeat that it is not the speech that you agree with that needs defending, but that which most offends you.

That's why I will denounce asshats like Ted Rall cheerfully, call for him to be ignored and fired for gross incompetence -- but never demand he be censored. (For one, he serves a valuable purpose -- every time he publishes another scrawl or another screed, he alienates more and more people.) But if he were to actually receive death threats, I would denounce them and demand the threatening party be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

Another principle of the West (mostly in America, but largely in other nations as well) is the separation of church and state. The two entitites should never be allowed to commingle. That much spiritual and temporal power concentrated in a single entity is an invitation to tyranny. Government, in the end, is a creature of man, and man is inherently flawed. No government has any business passing laws governing blasphemy, and no church should have the power to make and enforce laws.

True respect should be a two-way street. One should show respect if one wishes to receive it. And when the Muslim world demands respect from the West -- with threats of violence -- while continuing to show the greatest disrespect for the West's ways, as carried out in the West, the West responds in the way it has handled tyrannical states in the past:

With derision and ridicule and mockery.

Because one of the hardest things for a tyrant to deal with is to be laughed at.


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Comments (20)

Agreed, Jay.So, wh... (Below threshold)

Agreed, Jay.

So, what responses are you getting?

I would agree with you not ... (Below threshold)

I would agree with you not only on the respect issue but also the separation of church and state - even though the amendment says nothing, per se, about separation of church and state. That was interpretation but that's fine with me.

I think an interesting point of view is an article in National Review by M. Zuhdi Jasser, a moderate Muslim and former Navy Lt. Commander. He was actually vilified by Muslims for his reaction to the cartoon explosion. And the Muslim group that insulted him? - CAIR in Arizona. Whose paper, by the way, http://muslimvoice.net/mv/modules.php?name=News&new_topic=2 , details a meeting they had with our friends in the ACLU to premiere that famous film denouncing the Patriot Act.

Hmmm... methinks a little respect is wanting here.

To me, respect is someth... (Below threshold)

To me, respect is something that must be given willingly to be of any value. Respect won at the barrel of a gun -- respected demanded with threats of force -- has another term: "fear."

I would add to this that respect is something that must be earned, not demanded just because you think you deserve it. In the last two or three hundred years, what has the Arab/Moslem world done that is worthy of respect? I'd say: precious little. No military conquests, no cultural achievement, no advance in science, art, technology, human rights, etc. All of these things have been the all-but-exclusive provence of the (Christian) West. If the Arabs did not happen to be sitting on billions of barrels of oil, they'd still be nomads in the desert and few would care.

I think that they know this, though. I think they are keenly aware of their civilizational inferiority to the West and it is that knowledge of their inferiority that has produced Wahabist fanaticism

So my response to the Moslems who demand my respect is: ok, do something respectable and I'll respect you. I saw CNN footage of Palestinian Arabs wildly celebrating the day after 9-11, and for this you want respect? If all you can do is riot, rape, and murder, then you're not going to get respect. I may fear you, as Jay points out, but respect? Don't make me laugh.

My attitude about this, though, would most likely guarantee that I would be a big flop on those Moslem forums Jay Tea frequents. He evidently is a lot more patient than I.

How can I have any respect ... (Below threshold)

How can I have any respect for a religion the faith of whose adherents is so delicate and fragile that they fly into a frenzy over some obscure scrawlings they've never seen in an obscure newspaper they've never read in an obscure country they've never been to? THIS is a Great Religion?

SocrateaseI'd add ... (Below threshold)


I'd add that it is a "One Great Religion" that even had its founding in conversion by the sword. Muhammed was a bloody prophet. Current Islamism (radical Islam) is an ideology pretty much indistinguishable from fascism, just cloaked in religiousity.

The "respect" Islamists demand bares more than a passing simularity to the "respect" gangbangers demand (and when they feel dissed they murder the one that dissed 'em).

yikesbares = bears... (Below threshold)


bares = bears.

not enough caffiene this morning.

How can I have any respe... (Below threshold)

How can I have any respect for a religion the faith of whose adherents is so delicate and fragile that they fly into a frenzy over some obscure scrawlings they've never seen in an obscure newspaper they've never read in an obscure country they've never been to? THIS is a Great Religion?

Similarly, how can I respect a religion that is so delicate that its place of origin (Saudi Arabia) feels the need to ban all other religions, burning any non-Islamic religious texts it finds, executing any citizen suspected of renouncing Islam, vilifies all other religions in its educational texts, and barring non-Islamic people from visiting certain cities? Is Islam so weak that it needs such protection from competition?

Dear Friend(s),Do... (Below threshold)

Dear Friend(s),

Do you think it will hurt anybody if people learnt to respect each other?

All we are asking is a little RESPECT.

We are not trying to threaten anybody; it's just something which people need to learn so that all of us can live together in peace.

Muslim Unity

Hey "Muslim Unity,"<p... (Below threshold)

Hey "Muslim Unity,"

When there's a church in Riyadh, a Christian studies department at a Saudi university, and Islamic condemnation of the daily anti-Christian and anti-Jewish cartoons in Arab media, come back and talk to us.

For now, get over yourself. They're CARTOONS.

We are not trying to thr... (Below threshold)

We are not trying to threaten anybody; it's just something which people need to learn so that all of us can live together in peace.

That statement sure sounds like an "or else" statement to me.

Muslim Unity, When Jews can... (Below threshold)

Muslim Unity, When Jews can travel freely in Muslim countries. When there is a Synogague in Mecca. When Jews are compensated for their expulsion during Israel's war for independence and WHEN ANTI SEMEITIC CARTOONS are no longer shown in Muslim newspapers then we might be able to take the next step in the road to respect. Until then take your subtle threats and go home.

I say we show Muslims the s... (Below threshold)

I say we show Muslims the same amount of respect non-Muslims are shown in Muslim countries, which is none. WE WILL NOT BE DHIMMIFIED! Let's just deport all Muslims and get it over with.

Here is an <a href="http://... (Below threshold)

Here is an interesting take on Islamic lack of tolerance, while demanding tolerance for themselves.

By it's doctrine it is an a... (Below threshold)

By it's doctrine it is an antichrist religion.
Respect? Never.

The previous posters say th... (Below threshold)
paul walker:

The previous posters say this in different words but the meaning is obvious. Respect is a two way street. If you want me to respect you you need to respect me. Treat others the way you want them to treat you. If you come to my country you can expect tolerance from me but I expect no less from you. I have no problem if you want to convert me to your religion as long as I am the one who decides to convert of my own free will but I may try to convert you to mine as well, again with your free will. We may or may not get along as friends but there is no reason we cannot respect each other as long as it cuts both ways

It's almost off-topic but i... (Below threshold)

It's almost off-topic but it's important to me:
The Separation of Church and State.

It is not in the Constitution, nor any other "government document". Jefferson did wirte those words, but in a letter to a peer. And I think he was making tbe point that to have such a separation would spell the end of a government.

But I will leave it to you, Jay, to find that fact (I just can't put the time into it, apologies...).

Otherwise, your opinions and perspective rocks!

We are not trying to thr... (Below threshold)

We are not trying to threaten anybody; it's just something which people need to learn so that all of us can live together in peace.

Please note that when a Moslem says that we need to live in peace, his definition of "peace" is not the commonly-used one. To a Moslem, especially to an agressive, evangelistic Moslem, "peace" means "the domination of Islamic law and culture". So when he says "all of us [need to] live together in peace", what he really means is "all of us need to live in a society ruled by Islamic hegemony."

Muslim Unity says that they... (Below threshold)

Muslim Unity says that they are not threatening anyone yet he has this post on his blog: We are NOT over reacting

The rest of his blog is an interesting read as well.

So much for mutual respect.

Moslem Unity is a sad examp... (Below threshold)

Moslem Unity is a sad example of disturbed and illogical thought processes that seem rampant in the Muslim World. Don't try to argue with the fellow standing on the corner shouting about demons and transistors in his rectum, and don't bother trying to reason with a Muslim paranoid. Maybe a little Mellarill in major Middle Eastern aquifiers (or in dates?) might do more for world peace than trying to reason with these folks.

The following can be found ... (Below threshold)

The following can be found in today's Dallas Morning News:

Afshin Molavi(Fellow, New America Foundation, Washington DC) Title: Saudi Renaissance (Note:
I am not paraphrasing, I am reproducing the entire article)

King Abdullah bin Addulaziz quietly ascended the throne (Saudi Arabia) in August after the death of his long ailing brother. Though his rise was expected and captured little media attention, he just may be one of the most important and little-known world leaders today.

Here'e why: Saudi Arabia remains the central bank of oil. Its role as a moderating price influence on OP{EC in an environment of price volatility is more important than ever. As home to Islam's two holiest mosques and a financier of Muslim causes around the world, Saudi Arabia also matters deeply to the future of a turbulent Muslim world.

As a result, what the world needs is a Saudi king who can beat back the terror threat at home and abroad and maintain stability by integrating the country's growing and restive middle class into the decision making process.

King Abdullah II, in his first six months in office , has shown a strong inclination to do all three. After years of drifting under the late King Fahd, the Saudi ship is quietly but firmly shifting course and the captain, King Abdullah, is fully in control. This is good news for Saudi Arabia, world oil markets, the war on terror, U.S.-Saudi relations and the Muslim world. And it might also make life easier for Prince Turki al-Faisal, Saudi Arabia's new ambassador to the United States, who was in Dallas,last week to talk about strengthening relations between the two countries.

Already, King Abdullah has released several liberal dissidents from jail, reached out to the restive Shiite minority, opened the kingdom wide to foreign investment and promised greater rights for women. He hs shined an internal light on princely corruption, tolerated a degree of press freedom unknown in Saudi history and created a new strategic framework for strained U.S.-Saudi relations.

He has also called for a muslim world renaissance to joltthe world's more than 1 billion Muslims away from what he described as an environment of "political, economic and social underdevelopment that has evolved in a major crisis" and lashed out at al-Queda, describing its followers in Islamically loaded terminology as "corrupters of the earth" a charge tantamount to blasphemy.

The king's domestic popularity will allow him to tackle some tough problems, including the reform of an entrenched Wahhabi religious establishment that continues to purvey a largely intolerant brand of Islam. Unlike Fahd, whose religious credentials were shaky because of his playboy past, Abdullah has the gravitas to face down the religious establishment as an equal: a pious man of faith interested in reform.

In on of the freat "what might have been" questions of history, Saudi Arabia squandered an extraordinary opportunity to help build a modern Muslim world. Instead it significantly contributed to what Abdullah himself calls a major crisis. From this crisis environment emerged 15 young Saudis willing to commit mass murder on American soil, seduced by the alluring call of another Saudi-Osama bin Laden.

Though the path remains long and the obstacles large, early signs are that King Abdullah and Saudi Arabia are headed in the right direction

END OF ARTICLE: can be found online at:

I am submitting this article to all of you so that you might understand that there ARE changes taking place in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Our world does not live a static existance, and does not necessarily progress in a smooth forward motion. Empires rise, and empires fall. Empires fall into darkness, and empires attempt renaissance. If you are truly interested in learning about the complexities of this issue, there is plenty of information for you to obtain. Rather than throwing stones at a target that you know little to nothing about, and least know what you are throwing your stones at.






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