And yet, we must understand. Without understanding, multiculturalism just wouldn't work. Look at our great allies in America: if they had not worked hard to achieve a level of understanding between different cultures, they would never have matured enough to elect Barack Obama, a devout Sikh, president. It's a testament to the US's sensitivity and commitment that they forgave him his role in 9/11 in the first place.
And so we need to work out how we in Australia can achieve the same level of reasoned debate over religious differences that has become such a hallmark of the States.
First, let's examine the cold hard FACTS of what's been going on. There have been protests. What have the protests been about?
Well they have been mainly about the hit new film "The Innocence of Muslims", a slick docudrama which follows Muslims and the ways in which they are innocent, focused on the story of the prophet Muhammad and his early experiments in audio dubbing. The movie is an important contribution to the debate around freedom of religion, dogma, extremism, and the underfunding of tertiary screenwriting courses, and yet it seems we are destined to miss out on the robust discussion the film should have sparked, thanks to the wild vagaries of human emotion.
In a reasonable world, of course, the reaction to "Innocence" would have been a group of sensible adults sitting down for a nice cup of tea or whatever it is that Muslims drink, and having a calm, well-modulated conversation about whether Muslims really ARE innocent, what causes them to attain this state of innocence and/or not innocence, and just how we can most efficiently construct the internment camps in which they are to be imprisoned.
But we do not, alas, live in a reasonable world, and so we get protests and riots and counter-protests and counter-riots and burning embassies and angry editorials and high blood pressure and a generally rotten time.
Why is this? Why are those Muslims so angry all the time, and why is it the so-called "moderate" Muslims never seem to denounce their radical brethren?
Oh sure, they "condemn" violence, and they "abhor" extremism, and they consider militant Muslims' "behaviour" to be "unacceptable", but how hard is it to simply say, "I denounce these radical Muslims"? Not very difficult at all — you can see how easy it is by the number of times moderate Muslims say it, so god knows why all the other moderate Muslims who don't say it don't say it. And the ones who do say it always seem to be lying, don't they? Maybe it's because it's so hard to trust those Muslims who denounce extremism, given how often Muslims fail to denounce extremism. They're tricky, those Muslims.
The thing is, it all comes down to the Koran, which is the Muslims' holy book, much as Christianity's holy book is Brian Houston's "You Need More Money". A big cause of the problem is that very few non-Muslims have read the Koran, which means they can't understand where Muslims are coming from (Afghanistan mostly). Again, this is what I'm here for. I haven't read it either, but I watched the whole first series of Homeland and I listen to Cat Stevens all the time, so I have what might be called a basic working knowledge of the text.
Essentially, the Koran is an "instruction book" for Muslims — not in the sense that you need one to assemble a Muslim, but in the sense it tells you how to be a Muslim. So it covers things like causing traffic congestion by building mosques in suburban areas, forcing women to put more clothes on, cooking weird spicy food with lumps in and so forth.
But there is a more sinister side to the Koran. Several verses in the book refer explicitly to "jihad", which is an Arabic word meaning "punching policemen". There are numerous references to the concept of the "fatwa", an Islamic concept in which believers are entreated to give offensive signs to their children. And a good portion of the Koran is devoted to telling the story of Muhammad's child bride, who waged war in an attempt to remove nativity scenes from schools.
So as we can see, Muslims are not really to blame for their behaviour: it's simply a matter of the holy book that has enslaved them. And that's something everyone can identify with: we all have a book which we obey without question, whether it be the Koran, the Book of Mormon, or There's A Hippopotamus On The Roof Eating Cake. And if, tomorrow, we opened up that book of ours and suddenly noticed a passage we'd never noticed before that said we had to be big fat crybabies every time we saw a movie we didn't like, would we behave any differently to those protesters? We would not. We'd probably dress differently, but still.
In this context, we should probably count ourselves lucky that "Innocence of Muslims" only caused protests and riots and property damage and murder. If those Muslims had been following the letter of their law, it could have been a whole lot worse: just consider Chapter 16, Verse 28, Paragraph 4, Size 6, which state explicitly, "and if howsoever the fruits of the 'Tube offendeth thee, take thou thy Kalashnikovs and bringeth the infidels all the way down".
These Muslims were actually restraining themselves mightily, which is actually a good reason to despise them even more, since if someone can't even fully commit to their religious beliefs, how can you really respect them? I guess the only thing worse than a Muslim who won't condemn his fellow Muslims' violence is a Muslim who refuses to commit acts of violence, which just goes to show that religion, in general, is pretty stupid.
But that's the whole point, isn't it? We are but human, and humans are stupid. Muslim humans, Christian humans, Buddhist humans, Voodoo humans, woman humans — all of us are complete idiots, and the sooner we learn to accept that, the sooner we can all get some perspective and realise what's important: strict immigration controls and The X-Factor.
There is no need to fear our Muslim neighbours. By instead getting to know them, striving to understand them, and making them our friends, we can lose our fears, abandon our paranoia, and in peace, kinship, and harmony, quietly inform the authorities and have them removed to a secure facility.
Then we really will be one world.
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