Sunday, February 12, 2006

So where are the moderates?

Good question. Where, indeed?

The cartoon debate (there is something satisfying about that designation, isn't there?) rages and shrill voices on all sides are demanding various whatevers from others with counter-demands.

Please find a quiet place to read and hear the reasonable voice of Abbas Raza. the last few days, I have received quite a few emails from 3 Quarks readers asking me to explain what it is about Islam that makes it so intolerant and irrational. These are well-meaning individuals, hoping to figure out a way to avoid what many have come to see as the inevitable "clash of civilizations". How should they be engaging the Islamic world when it appears to them so incapable of reasoned debate and discussion? They mean no insult, but I still wonder if they wrote to their black friends during the Rodney King riots, asking them to explain why black people behave so irrationally? No, they didn't. Why didn't they? Because while they do not give sanction to criminal and violent acts of looting and vandalism, they can understand how a collection of historically oppressed people can be driven to irrational rage by repeated acts of injustice and caricature. Look, one can say, "It was wrong of Adam to slap Bob," but no one says, "I don't understand why Adam had to stand up for his mother, and slap Bob." As Edward Said said in a different context, to understand something is not to condone it.

Got that?
Now take a deep breath, prepare to read more than a soundbite, and pay attention to what the man writes.

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