So the headline reads on the Washington Post’s online opinion page. And I have to admit I’ve been appalled in reading about the violent backlash over a 14-minute trailer for a privately produced video that mocks the Prophet Mohammed and probably wouldn’t have seen the light of day if there hadn’t been such a reaction.
Clearly, no one enjoys having their beliefs mocked, especially when it comes to religion and politics–the two are arguably intertwined when it comes to Islam. These can be highly charged topics. But the rash of violent demonstrations, and the murders that have happened in their wake, is obviously frightening, but also confounding. It reminds me of my shock at the backlash to Salman Rushdie’s publication of “The Satanic Verses” back in 1989, when Ayatollah Khomeini, issuing a fatwa calling for his death.
The opinion piece written for the Post by a senior fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution gives the historical perspective on this overreactive response to criticism, or some would claim, the inability to take a bad joke. I read with interest as the author wrote, “There is an Arab pain and a volatility in the face of judgment by outsiders that stem from a deep and enduring sense of humiliation. A vast chasm separates the poor standing of Arabs in the world today from their history of greatness. In this context, their injured pride is easy to understand.” This stems from the powerful rise and devastating fall of their kingdom centuries ago.
While the column is a fascinating insight into this culture, and for that very reason worth reading, it also leaves me where I started–firm in my belief that this is a very complex issue that will take time and continued research for me to comprehend.