Saturday, September 15, 2012

The Devil's Alliance

The film 'The Innocence of Muslims' is so laughably bad it is extraordinary that anyone should take it seriously at all (the trailer is on youtube, if you have a spare 13 minutes).  What is not, of course, remotely laughable is the reaction across several countries to this ludicrous film, which has seen a US ambassador and three of his staff killed by mobs, and riot scenes in Egypt, amongst other places.

It is difficult to know what conclusion to place upon all of this.  I certainly don't think that we should respect all other beliefs, given that there are plenty which are malicious, vile and wretched or with which we would at least have serious concerns.  Not all beliefs deserve respect, and neither do their holders, necessarily.  But I do believe in the liberal creed of tolerance and free speech.  There has been no more positive development in the relations between men than the western world's gradual acknowledgement of this creed.  The ability to think and speak freely not only releases men from a tyrannical oppression of thought but also, of course, sees the continued progression and development of ideas and inventions that bring a slow but welcome well-being and prosperity to more and more people.  It is flawed, uneven and far from perfect, but no-one would claim that a reversion to witch-hunts, or Inquisition like suppression, would be a good move for a free, liberal and progressive western world.  People are, by and large, free to hold whatever religious beliefs they wish, or none.  They are free to criticise and condemn others' beliefs if they see them as iniquitous or dangerous.  A strong and sincere belief, after all, requires no violence to withstand the criticism of others.

It looks, sadly, as if parts of the Muslim world are still a long way from this happy state of affairs.   There would be something faintly ridiculous, if it were not so murderously serious, in the ease with which bigoted anti-muslim rabble rousers in America and Europe can stir whole mobs to a death wishing fury.  The mobs that so act, and particularly their leaders, bring nothing but opprobrium on their own beliefs by the way in which they act.  They beg the question of why they are so sensitive, so apparently unsure of the foundations of their own beliefs, that they must act so disproportionately to the most pathetic of attacks - and the Innocence of Muslims film is pathetic beyond measure.

The irony is that there is much that links the makers and promoters of the film and the leaders of the vicious opposition to it.  Both groups thrive on religious inspired bigotry.  Both love nothing more than conflict and disorder.  Both bring shame and doubt upon their religious creeds.  If you were to take a spiritual view, you might suggest that the devil knows his own and doesn't care from which religious party they come before they set about doing his work!  The mob reaction to the film is a alarming expression of hysterical, seismic ignorance.  The work of men like the film's director, and the hate-filled American pastor who promoted it, is fulfilled by the reaction to it, and thus both parties feed off a conflict they will want to continue to maintain.  It is the role of the rational majority to resist both sides in the hope that liberal tolerance might yet triumph more widely.


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