I like to call myself a liberal redneck. I was raised on the edge of the suburbs of Buffalo, NY, right where things got a little more spread out and a lot more conservative. I credit my experiences in college with my political slant: the late-night arguments, the exposure to people who held beliefs never heard in my home town, and the anthropology classes where I learned of whole cultures I never would have known about. Over the four years I spent there, my view of the world was totally warped, twisted apart, and put back together to show me that there are a lot of people out there who don’t live their lives at all like I do.
I’ve tried to share this with other people. I’ve come to understand, almost by accident, that my life is not at all representative of the greater global community’s; I never knew how good I’ve had it, and I wasn’t the only one. I’ve known plenty of narrow-minded, ignorant and bigoted people, and I try my best to set them straight when I hear them spewing filth against other races or nations. When I’ve heard people suggest that we nuke the Mid East to a sheet of glass, I argued harder than I’d ever argued before.
However, I’m finding this harder and harder by the day. Innocent commuters in London have died. A Koran was reported flushed, and people died. Now, some Danish cartoonist prints a few sketches, and I see reports that over forty people are dead and some cleric is offering $1 million for the head of the artist.
Shortly after the Koran-flush fiasco, I remember reading some comments about it online. Basically, the author’s point was that the Muslim world flipped shit, and America was apologizing for it. Consider, he asked, what would have happened if the report was instead about a Bible being flushed, and Christians had reacted the same way? It wouldn’t have been tolerated, and certainly no apology would have been offered. We wouldn’t stand for it from our own ranks, and yet we’re supposed to respect and tolerate those who are different from us, even (apparently) when they act like barbaric savages. Remember that artist that did the portrait of Jesus with feces? Yeah, no one died for that - not even the artist.
And now, a Danish guy prints a cartoon, and Christians in Nigeria are killed for it. If this is your reaction, you obviously missed the point of the cartoon. And if there’s something I’ve missed, some justification for your deplorable behavior, please, discuss it at the next meeting and get back to me.