Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Spreading Ignorance



Matthew Good notes on his blog that the Jyllands-Posten refused to publish Jesus cartoons. Oh no, further proof that the Jyllands-Posten is anti-Muslim! Well, er, not so much.

Had he read the whole article in the Guardian, it would have been obvious that Juan Cole (the blogger where he got the story from) was only telling part of the story:

“But the Jyllands-Posten editor in question, Mr Kaiser, said that the case was “ridiculous to bring forward now. It has nothing to do with the Muhammad cartoons.

“In the Muhammad drawings case, we asked the illustrators to do it. I did not ask for these cartoons. That’s the difference,” he said.

“The illustrator thought his cartoons were funny. I did not think so. It would offend some readers, not much but some.”


Forgive me for appearing merciless at this slip up. I just think it goes to show that us humans look for evidence, if even partial, that confirms our beliefs. As one university professor once asked me, "did you come to university to challenge or confirm what you already believed?" I took it quite seriously then, and I take it quite seriously now. Even what I have posted on this blog, no doubt, often serves what I believe. But if I post the selective truth, I still like to be called on it. ie. Good one, you got me there.

To be fair, I think Mr. Good's previous comment on the situation, that, "at its core, this entire business revolves around the corruption of faith – faith in higher powers, in sublime ideas, and in our neighbours" is bang on.

The issue is a "corruption of faith" in many respects. I would go further and say it is even broader than an issue of faith deviation. It is an issue of ideas. I think the world over has boughten into the idea of adhering to our own ideas about things and coercing others to adhere to our ideas. That was Charlemagne's Christianity; it is, perhaps, still Mohammad's Islam in many countries; and it even exists in atheist states like China or Cuba, where adherence to the state's ideas about things are supreme.

It all reminds me of Jesus and the old Grand Inquisitor in Dostoyevsky's Grand Insquisitor. Culture craves “something that all would believe in and worship." The Inquisitor says, “they (man) have set up gods and challenged one another, ‘Put away your gods and come and worship ours, or we will kill you and your gods."'

But Jesus remained a prisoner in the story. When he was let out, he kissed the G.I. Dostoyevsky writes, "The kiss glows in his heart, but the old man adheres to his idea.”

Can the answer to this clash of civilizations merely be to opt out? To kiss the enemy? What would that mean? How could you go about achieving such an end?

UPDATE: To his credit, Good has fixed his post to accurately reflect the views of the Danish newspaper.

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