The Fundamentalist’s Paradox

Recently, I posted a threepart entry. My goal was to take a look at what Revolution Muslim, the group that warned Matt Stone and Trey Parker not to show an image of the Prophet Muhammad on South Park (and implied that the duo would almost certainly be murdered if they did not heed the “warning”), had actually said. I thought that it was important not to immediately dismiss the website as being too “radical” to hold a valid opinion–to meet it on its own terms and engage in the kind of open discussion that at least one of its bloggers claims to want. I want to approach everyone, and especially those with whom I strongly disagree, on terms of mutual respect and shared humanity.

But man-oh-man, does Revolution Muslim ever make that difficult.

Revolution Muslim is down at the moment, because of hacking or heavy traffic or both, so I am unable to look up the name of the blogger to whom I was responding. But at least one person at that website, Younus Abdullah Mohammed, is a massive hypocrite, and his hypocrisy has given me the opportunity to bump up against the outermost limits of my own patience and tolerance.

In a recent Gawker interview, Mohammed said that “We already know the outcome as Muslims… Islam will take over the world,” and will triumph over “the filth and trash that is America.” He said that most Americans are “dumbed down, stupid and pathetic.” He said that “it’s very justifiable to act violently against Western aggression,” and that “we did not start the war on September the 11th 2001. You started the war.”

Since that “we” is ambiguous–does he mean Muslims generally, or just the ones who commit acts of terrorism?–I am not in a position to answer that particular claim. But I am in a position to point out that Revolution Muslim is based in New York City. As Jon Stewart observes, Revolution Muslim can only say all of this “because of how much we, in this country, value and protect even their freedom of expression.”

And indeed, I value Younus Abdullah Mohammed’s freedom of expression very highly, even when he spouts hateful, perplexing gibberish about “Darwinist faggots who are as despicable as the rest, walking around eating your Triscuits.” (I’m pretty sure that evolution happened and is happening in some form or another, and I do enjoy Triscuits, so I guess that I am just such a “faggot.” I’ve been called worse). Younus Abdullah Mohammed is absolutely allowed his homophobia, his implied disbelief in evolution, and even his ill-defined hatred of this nation’s beloved snack crackers.

But if Islam were to “take over the world,” do you think that analogous dissent would be allowed? Do you think that I could have publicly called the Taliban “trash” as a citizen of Afghanistan, circa 2001, without being imprisoned or killed?

The central irony of Revolution Muslim is that it could only exist in the kind of society that it actively seeks to undermine and overthrow. Free speech allows for tirades against free speech, but theocracy does not allow for tirades against (or even minor disagreements with) theocracy. Speaking out against free speech is something of a self-negating principle.

Incidentally, in the Gawker article that I quoted above, you will find a reproduction of the 2005 cartoon depicting the Prophet Muhammad with a bomb on his head. Have a look, and downland it and archive it, because its availability is unreliable; due to the spectacular cowardice of the Western media in general, lots of people have yet to see the image at all, and it’s worth knowing what all the fuss was about. I can certainly see why the image was and is considered offensive, but that’s all the more reason to see it for yourself and form your own opinion.

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