Most Filipinos are of course thoroughly idolatrous Roman Catholics whose Religion is awash in physical representation of the supernatural and the divine: crucifixes, graven images, statuary, paintings, stained glass windows, idols of saints, sculptures, stampitas, scapulars, relics and many other things that are considered idolatrous by many Jews, Protestants and Muslims.
Conservative Jews, traditional Muslims and Protestant Christians all abhor idolatry and idolatrous practices. As of course the Roman Catholic Church does too, at least doctrinally. But the taboo on idolatry in Islam makes graphic (or even detailed descriptive) portrayals of the Prophet Muhammad, blasphemous. A backgrounder on the Prophet Muhammad and Idolatry can be found here by Sam Shamoun.
In the last two posts, I have made the basic point that the freedom to practice religion is a form of free speech and an exercise in the freedom of expression. I have thus condemned the violent reactions in the Muslim world. I have also strongly defended the right of the press to publish these editorial cartoons.
BIGOTS ON BOTH SIDES? But was it wise for those European newspapers to have published these cartoons so offensive to many Muslims? Even though the vast majority of Muslims did not and would not actually riot over them, was it not perhaps a gratuitous exercise of free speech to have portrayed Muhammad? Ralph Peters of the New York Post believes that the Danish Cartoon Wars are being fought by "bigots on both sides." :
Ralph Peters also fears America will again have to clean up Europe's mess, now that the confrontation has gone too far for either side to back down. But America may not have the luxury of the following for very long --
First, consider the Europeans. The Danish newspaper that first published the cartoons last September was not standing up courageously for freedom of expression. The editors and cartoonists were so oblivious to any reality beyond their Copenhagen coffee bars that they just thought they were pulling an attention-getting prank. They got attention, all right. As did the papers elsewhere in Europe that reprinted the offending cartoons last week. In the name of press freedom, of course. The problem is that with freedom comes responsibility, a quality to which Europe's become allergic (nothing is ever a European's fault). Breaking a well-known taboo of Islam was irresponsible. No other word for it...Of course, the blame doesn't fall solely on the Eurotrash. The over-reaction within the Muslim world is psychotic - yet another indication of the spiritual and practical collapse of the Middle East and realms beyond. Will the Europeans figure it out this time? How many corpses, cracked heads, arrests, boycotts and smoldering embassies will it take before Europe realizes that militant Islam isn't benign?
It's hard not to feel a certain amount of Schadenfreude after enduring endless lectures from Europeans about how the Middle East's problems were all made in America. It will be fascinating to watch the Europeans attempt to come to grips with fanaticism.
How long has America ever been able to just watch whenever Europe has gotten itself and everybody else into this kind of trouble?
ART ARMAGEDDON: A newspaper in Iran, whose President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad vows to wipe Israel off the face of the earth (probably with nuclear weapons), is hosting an art competition based on the "Holocaust" as a theme. Never underestimate the power of art to foment Armageddon.
By the way, I haven't seen much commentary in either the Philippine mainstream media or the blogosphere on this issue. It's all silent on the VFA front too. Must be the Wowowee Effect. Or everyone's busy worshipping their favorite IDOLS.