Friday, August 13, 2004

A Subtle Condescension

A thought just occurred to me: people keep insisting that an attack on the Mosque of Imam Ali in Najaf is sure to "inflame" Shiite opinion, yet when Palestinian terrorists holed up in Bethlehem's Church of the Nativity in 2002, I can't remember anyone entertaining the idea at the time that Christians worldwide would be "enraged" or "inflamed" at their actions, which were actually far more outrageous than is the current American siege of Muqtada al-Sadr's "freedom fighters" - remember that the Palestinian gunmen were Muslims who chose to desecrate the reputed birthplace of Jesus himself, urinating all over the place, smoking and drinking, smashing windows and even stealing precious relics in the course of their bit of "freedom fighting."

Why is it that Christians are able to take such grave insults to their religion in their stride, but when it comes to Muslims, we're all supposed to walk on eggshells? Isn't such a double standard really implying that Muslims are violent and hypersensitive, and given to interpreting events in the worst possible light without taking circumstances into consideration? Yet ask those who insist that we are "inflaming" Shiite opinion by our actions in Iraq, and you can be sure that they'll tell you without batting an eyelid that Islam is a religion of peace, and its practitioners exemplars of mercy and generosity.