Monday, February 06, 2006

Can religion have sacred cows?

Short answer: No, according to the O Most Profane Primates of the West. Indeed, nothing is sacred to the West anymore, except my freedom to have sex, to kill myself, and for that matter, anyone else we agree shouldn't live.

I love how the Western Liberal Cultural Imperialists are patting themselves on the back for their magnanimous response to the Danish Mohammed cartoon mess. All this chatter about freedom of speech and press in the global marketplace is a lot of bunk and totally fails to grasp the Muslim world, at least the part that's pissed off about the cartoons. As if mention of legitimate suppression of Neo-Nazis and child porn advocates weren't enough to reveal the double-standards, it must be noted that Western elites have totally forgotten how religion actually can be a matter of life and death to many people and that it's not "primitive" or "fundamentalist" to take religion that seriously. Sorry, Mr. West, but just because you've privatized religion into a narrow pidgeon-hole of subjective, individual taste, where religion is accorded the same reverence as my favorite flavor of ice cream, doesn't mean everyone else has to buy it. Isn't that simply what diversity, pluralism, and multiculturalism are all about? But no, we're relativists only when it's over our ability to scratch our latest sexual itches; absolutists when it comes to our contempt for serious religion that isn't at our beck and call.

Islam has never had a chance to really respond freely to modernity, much less postmodernity. And so long as the West continues to patronizingly instruct religions older than itself to "get with the program" and require that they turn their age-old beliefs into porridge, it will only further inflame the rage of "true believers." Islam is indeed responsible for its extremists, but the West has got to stop serving as the ignorant accomplice to the radicalization of Islamic orthodoxy, first by being honest about its own relationship to Christianity.

That means recognizing that religion is legitimately about the highest values and therefore it's naturally about life and death if it's worthy to be called a religion at all. By "highest," I don't mean what most moderns mean by it, ie. the ethereal, intangible, subjective, transcendentalist definition. I mean that which is most deserving of our utmost respect, deference, and reverence both publicly and privately, whether you're religious or spiritual or nothing. The West still loves talking about "spirituality" as the negation of institutional and historic religion, or the evolution beyond Christianity, or as some advancement in human progress. But that's just one "myth" about religion, about as scientifically rigorous as my love of fried potato products, about as advanced as the ancient paganisms.

So when the modernists cry foul when Muslims express public and murderous outrage over the mocking of one of their sacred prophets, the modernist has two realistic options: either treat Islam with respect and not impose its baggage over Christianity onto it, or just shut up. Maybe if we respected Islam enough as a true Other (which is not the same thing as tolerating violent extremists), Muslims would find enough space to grapple with modernity and make some workable peace with it to lay down the weapons. Satirizing religion comes after the horse.

Traditional Christianity has always distinguished between religion worth dying for and evil acts worth killing for. The repeated shaming of Islam by the West has pressured it to conflate the two. That does not justify the terrorists one iota. If you're insistent in seeking the deaths of innocent people, there's nothing in Christian faith that keeps us from seeking your destruction if that's what it takes to stop you. But Islam itself - the Quran, her most blessed prophets, her temples and sanctuaries, ie. her intrinsic sacred cows - they must be respected by the West. Forget the theories; it's simple politeness. And in my family, rudeness was a punishable offense; but you can't even suggest that to the fascist freedom-of-speech-niks.

Personally, I think the appropriate punishment for the cartoonist and his editor should be a public spanking. No blood, just a little public humiliation which always does the soul good.