Offense. Free speech. Sensitivities. Critique. Limits. Respect.
There is a fine line between causing offense and intentionally causing offense. This fine line is not always recognised. Partly, because the incidental offence and intentional offense can seem very different things. But this is not so in practice and in partcular in practice over time. When you have caused offense once, usually incidentally – you did not mean to though you actual did – and you become aware of it, if you then choose to reiterate your propsotion or position and it causes offense again, you are then causing offense incidentally and intentionally to some degree. Because you are committed to your position and prize that and its free expression over the feelings of another being protected, you are now knowingly offending because you have to and choose to.
The broad gap between intention and non intention narrows and the fine line is now in place. Frequently, to those who are offended it as if it is not there at all. The distinctions are of no importance. You had a chance not to offend, perhaps by remaining silent or by changing your position but you didn’t. You failed to comply with anothers needs or demands. You cause offence knowingly (intentionally) because you still hold and re-state your position (incidental effect).
And so we see this tension played out in the world today – propositions portrayed (cartoons), offense caused, and cries of foul play, disrespect, dishonour and death can follow. That trajectory is not guaranteed. Thankfully, most of the offended (in the west) just feel very hurt and outraged and hope compliance with their needs to become someone elses, even everyone elses priority. Precious few of the offended (in the west) reign death over the populace.
Reposition this last set of statements outside the west to somewhere like the middle east or generally any country where Islamic ideology and religion hold great sway and we see the hurt and outrage expressed much more potently resulting in a thousand ‘deaths’. Like a thousand cuts, each death looks different from another. Harassment, imprisonment, lashes, false or even truthful claims of blasphemy can lead to, you’ve guessed it, actual death. Be it hanging or be it beheading.
The level of moderation called for and displayed here in the west by the offended, should be applauded I guess – it certainly should not be taken for granted. It’s ironic to see the self described religion of peace calling its faithful not to be violent in the face of offense. I guess it should rebrand itself the ‘religion of peace if things are going our way’. Certainly more honest but less attractive when sloganeering. But these calls for moderation are rarely seen in the Islamic-ish world. Ish is a word we use particularly in London to say kind of. For example, I had a friend who came from a kind of Amish background, so he was in fact Amish-ish. I am using the term Islamic-ish world because I have been educated so many times by thoughtful muslims that those countries where chaos and cruelty seems to rise up so quickly and engulf, swallow and literally destroy minority non muslim people and more recently people groups are not actually Islamic – or even Islamic-ish. “That person was not acting islamic / that group was not acting islamic / that country was not being islamic”. Islam gets to play the get out of jail free card again and again and again and ……
One is always asked to trust and believe that the Islamic vision, the western born or based muslim desires and plans for, here in the UK for example, will look nothing like it looks in the muslim majority regions of the world. The non muslims here will be treated well, protected by and through Sharia; unlike the experience of non muslims in majority muslim countries. Being asked to trust this is a very big ask indeed. It seems clear that where big groups of muslim people get big power, the less powerful become the almost powerless, sometimes quickly but always certainly, over time.
What occurs in the muslim majority countries will occur here if the conditions allow it. How could it not? The primary condition is numbers. Simply numbers. Numbers and allegiance rule. Numbers and allegiance are ruling in France today – the secular free speech ideology currently reigns but what about tomorrow? Demography dictates destiny. Muslims in a very wonderful way think in spans of centuries. It matters little if the numbers in France are inadequate to influence or force sharia type compliance right now. The hope and intention for muslim leadership is that it will one day. The average muslim may not be so aware of this but it’s so obvious. All religions who draw their offspring immediately into their religion have a vested interest in ensuring the proliferation of offspring. Islam anyone? Roman Catholicism anyone?
As the numbers grow the powerful and abrasive rise and use fear, and force when fear fails, to ensure compliance – firstly within the faith community and then when the numbers are right, throughout the non-faith community.
Wherever the numbers are up, power is sought, held and used. And suffering follows. Proportionate to where one stands in relation to the ideology in power, is the harm that will befall them. Close and safe. Far and dangerous. No protection just punishment.
If you want to know what a western majority muslim country will look like for non muslims 20 years into its emergence – think Pakistan, think even Saudi. Sure it will be so different but it will be so terrible for the infidel. That’s you and me, probably. It’s supposed to be.
I am not trying to scare monger – at least not intentionally. Perhaps it’s incidental. People die everyday due to the emerging or some might say re-emerging Islamic desire to take hold, take power and takeover. Muslims are often the greatest victims in terms of numbers – for not being the right kind of muslim – the super compliant kind or the correct tribal kind. Next, it’s the non muslims – Christians and others. Particulary spiteful is the response to the most vulnerable of minorities, the apostate – the leaver – of Islam. Now a Christian or a buddhist or an atheist. Now an embarrassment, a disgrace, a dishonour and invariably a death.
When you think about Islam – remember your lovely neighbour, the lovely shopkeeper, the lovely doctor but also remember to think globally and historically. Your lovely neighbour, shopkeeper and doctor will also have to think globally and historically at some stage, whether they want to or not. Someone, a particular type of muslim, is going to make them. Actually, they are currently seeking to make them. The challenges from the world’s most contradictory and conflicted religion are coming to all of us – muslims and infidels. We may just be able to discern this, but so many of our dear muslim friends seem incapable of comprehending that this is even possible. Not with Islam. Couldn’t be. Ce n’est pas possible. Full circle.