On public outcry and worldview clash

Enough has already been said about a certain poorly done youtube video.  What I don’t think has been well understood has been why there has been such a massive response to this by muslims all over the world.  Now, on one level, there’s the fact some guys troll youtube just to find this stuff.  But what most people here I don’t think understand is why you don’t just get offended and walk away.  Like the rest of us might.  Or why you would go so far as to trash US embassies.

Once again, we are confronted with a conflict of worldview.  In this case, on both sides, there has been a non-understanding of western individualism versus eastern ‘community’ism (I’m not quite sure what the proper technical term is, but then, whatever).  Let’s start on the non-western side.  When any sort of affront, perceived or otherwise, occurs to their prophet, its taken as an affront on their religion and hence to their people and collective identity.  For these people, a religion can be ‘attacked’. And when the religion is attacked, it must be defended, even with force. At the same time, the perpetrators are taken as representing the whole of anglo-western nations, so that it is not just the work of one complete n00bazoid, but of the entire US of A.  They assume that this is how public discussion works, and think that the US can and actively do control it.
On the other hand, the constitutional right to free speech means any one can say and express whatever.  When people do express, much of the time, people generally only express to the level they are authorised to and in the context that requires it.  That is, the CEO of a company giving a talk at the AGM can be expected to be representing the official company position.  At the pub though, well, who knows what is actually coming out of the mouth. That is, in the Western world, we separate out the individual from the corporate or the community. An individual is only representative of more when they are acting more-or-less ‘ex cathedra’. So when your entire country is seemingly under attack because one idiot uploaded a tasteless video to Youtube, you have no idea why these people are destroying an embassy. We also don’t understand why they can’t simply ‘get over it’. See, because of free speech, etc., all ideas are open to debate. A set of ideas and propositions such as a religion are open to public discussion, critique, and even ridicule. A religion cannot be ‘attacked’. You can attack its ideas in that you debate it, but this is all about arriving at the truth via open academic discussion. So when anyone else says the usual lame idiocy about Christianity, we Christians sigh, know in our hearts that it ain’t true, and move along, knowing that the ‘battleground’ is not the streets of the city, but the forum of ideas.

Can we do anything about this? Well, it’s too late for this round. And I doubt talking is going to help much in the Islamic world. What I don’t doubt is that this is the last we’ll see of this. Just wait for the next incident wherein someone says, writes, or draws something involving Muhammed.

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