January 31, 2008 1 Comment
Hit and Run links to news about a Three Little Pigs story being denied an award in the UK “as the subject matter could offend Muslims”. There is something very patronizing about a bunch of (presumably) white, (presumably) self-described ‘progressives’ sitting around and deciding what Muslims “could” be offended by.
Is there any actual evidence that any significant number of non-insane Muslims are offended by children’s stories that feature pigs as characters?
Not only is it patronizing, it’s insulting. The people who made this decision are saying, in effect, that they believe Muslims are so irrational and idiotic as to be “offended” by the mere existence of a story in which there is a pig.
The Muslim faith, like the Jewish faith, features a prohibition on eating pigs. I really don’t know where everyone gets this bizarre extrapolation that it likewise commands Muslims to pretend that pigs don’t exist. But it’s striking just how a supposedly ‘progressive’ viewpoint can have such demeaning ramifications. Let’s do a thought experiment: if someone assumes that, say, a picture of Porky Pig or Piglet or Babe will “offend Muslims”, and I don’t assume it will “offend Muslims”, who is respecting Muslims more? Who is giving the average Muslim the benefit of the doubt that, absent evidence to the contrary, they are sane and rational and tolerant and won’t fly into a homicidal rage at the existence of a cartoon pig somewhere? The answer should be pretty obvious but, ironically I suppose, ‘progressives’ keep picking the side of insult and stereotype, patronization and infantilization. Like a doting mother who declares that her 17-year-old son needs a night light because he’s afraid of the dark. Is this really showing respect, or something else?
This all comes on the heels of the British government decision to refer to Islamic terrorism as ‘anti-Islamic activity’. Again, there is something very patronizing and insulting at work here. While in this case the motives are at least decent and understandable (if wrongheaded), the problem here should be obvious to anyone who gives it a moment’s thought: Just who exactly is the government of England to declare which activities are “Islamic” and which aren’t? Has the government of England appointed itself the head of all Islam?
Suppose an Islamic terrorist is captured in the UK and charged with this, er, “anti-Islamic activity”. How does the interrogation go?
UK: “Why did you do it?”
Prisoner: “I was merely carrying out my understanding of the tenets of Islam, to fight the infidels.”
UK: “But you committed terrorism, and that’s not Islamic. Home Secretary Jacqui Smith said so.”
Prisoner: “But yes it is. I think it is.”
UK: “No, it’s not. We have decided that it’s not, and that’s that.”
Prisoner: “But you are wrong. It is.”
UK: “No, it’s not.”
Prisoner: “Yes it is.”
Who’s going to win this argument? The guy who’s actually a Muslim, believes Islam commands him to commit terrorism, and is obviously prepared to act on that belief….or the government of England with all their swell intentions?
The fact that UK Home Secretary Jacqui Smith somehow implicitly assumes she would win this argument – because she’s the UK Home Secretary and thus all Muslims are beholden to her declarations on Islam? – is, among other things, the height of arrogance and naivete. But it also illustrates how easily ‘progressive’ impulses, even decently-motivated ones, can morph into self-deception and solipsism. Jacqui Smith may think that terrorism is “anti-Islamic”, but there are plenty of young angry Muslims in the world who think otherwise – and, of course, that’s the problem. How does ignoring that problem or re-labeling it help anything?
What’s the logical endpoint of this idiocy? Will the UK find itself issuing more official declarations of what is and isn’t “Islamic”? Will the UK set up an office of ‘Royal Imam’? Will Parliament carry out votes and issue regular proclamations on what’s “Islamic”, what true Muslims should and shouldn’t do, should and shouldn’t be offended by, etc.? I don’t see what’s to stop it. In fact, logically, I don’t see how it can be avoided. They are going to have to if they are to remain consistent.