Monday, January 07, 2008

Hate Comes to Maine

Following closely on the heels of what Charles Johnson calls the dreaded Ham Steak of Hate, we now must watch in sufficient horror at the overwhelming shame and insult suffered by the Muslim community in Lewiston, Maine where an act, intended to bind the undergarments of local Muslims has borne a tightly twisted and furious fruit. As Charles might call it--the dreaded Dog Poster of Blasphemy.

LEWISTON - City and religious leaders gathered Friday to condemn what some are calling an act of hate targeting the Somali community.

On Thursday several copies of an anti-Muslim poster appeared outside a downtown Somali-owned store. The poster showed an angry Rottweiler beneath the words "Lost Dog" and "Mohammed." It said, "Mohammed is NOT GOOD with people or kids. Do not trust him." It included a phony phone number.
Just for the record, Hugh Fitzgerald isn't real sympathetic with the panty-knotted show of support being fumed by the local non-Muslims either:
"Show of support" for what? For a display of hysteria by local Muslims about the attempt (successful as it turned out) to provoke their hysterical reaction to anything they deem other than deeply respectful of Islam, when part of the achievement of the West, sometimes abused, is that aspects of various religions are mocked all the time. And when the faith in question is Islam, and there have been repeated examples of murderous Muslim reactions to such criticism -- to, for example, the Danish cartoons -- it is not only not wrong to criticize, but useful to protect, such criticism of Islam. This is true even if it is meant to test the Muslim reaction -- let that reaction be tested. If they wish to live in the West they will have to accept the legal and political institutions of that West, and that includes free speech, as defined by us, and not by them.

As for Rabbi Katzir, who "represents the Lewiston-Auburn Interfaith Clergy," one can imagine him thinking of himself as some brave Atticus-Finch (Northern Division), standing tall "with my Muslim friends" in their "time of need." But it's nonsense. It is Muslims who need to be told, or need to be shown, that this lost-dog sign, while hardly a brilliant sally of wit, is neither prosecutable as a crime nor, in the civil law, actionable. And that the hysteria that they are showing is designed of course to force everyone to go after anyone who dares to display an attitude other than one of respect, or even reverence. It is designed, that is, to force non-Muslims in a non-Muslim land to behave as circumspectly, or deferentially, toward Islam in all of its aspects, as possible. Yet when such deference and such circumspection is not demanded of us, we do not demand it of ourselves, in regard to any non-Muslim faith.
The whole article is interesting.

When kids picked on me in elementary I was told by my parents to ignore them because my torturers would most likely go away, looking instead to pick on children that would give them the response they truly desired. By middle school I was no longer a target as that lucky designation was being enjoyed by the easily outraged. I suppose they just made sportier targets.

It seems as if two things would help here.

One, we all have to understand that it will forever be impossible to legislate and dictate good taste--there will always be some chicken-shit bully to place anonymous posters around town. There always has been, there always will be. No amount of hate-crime legislation, outrage, or showing of solidarity with the victims will ever change that. It will make it worse.

Secondly, all interested parties should act a bit closer to their age rather than a gaggle of playground crybabies. Grow up. Most bullies do and so do most victims. This clinging to emotional adolescence is getting very old and it does little more than create victims in perpetuity.

Thirdly, please understand that in America there is no right not to get insulted or offended every once in a while. In fact, our Constitution pretty much guarantees that we can expect to get offended from time to time. If you don't like that, if you don't feel you can live by the laws of our land, you do not have the mettle necessary to become an American. And, if you don't want to become an American in all aspects, why are you here in the first place? Short term stays here can be justified by any number of circumstances. Long term stays--you are going to have to get back to me on that one. If you want to enjoy the American dream...bravo! Becoming an American is easy. If you want to live here indefinitely cloaked in a culture anathema to Americanism you need to face reality and move on.

Finally, we probably should learn to count to two.

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