So if you don’t know what’s currently going on in the Middle East, you probably aren’t reading this blog and live under a rock. However! You can also read some of the articles I’ve posted here in the past forty-eight hours.
But I want to highlight one of the really important aspects of the current misunderstanding between the Muslim/Middle-Eastern world and the U.S. Quite simply, the U.S. has almost complete freedom of speech and the Middle-East does not at all. And also hasn’t for a REALLY long time. Maybe even for as long as they have existed as united entity (i.e. ever since their first dynasties began and they stopped being just a collection of nomads. I also cannot say that I know this for fact. I’m making an educated postulation based on what I know and have been taught about world history).
It’s also important to understand that Islam does not permit ANY depiction of the prophet Muhammed AT ALL. None. Actually, it served them greatly to their benefit in the realm of art and architecture because their artistic energies needed another non-religious mode of expression, unlike the Christians whose art tended to lag behind that of the Islamic world for several centuries and could only really be said to have “passed” it after the renaissance. ANYWAY, there are two critically important things to take away from all this: 1) these people don’t really understand freedom of speech (because they have, largely thanks to the Western world via colonialism and imperialism, had dictators who directed and limited that freedom for the past hundred years at least) and 2) The Islamic world is especially sensitive to depictions of Muhammed in ANY fashion, most especially one as offensive as the new “movie.”
We as Americans, don’t get this at all. I mean, Imma be honest. We don’t. I don’t think Americans understand the extent to which they don’t understand because I didn’t until I came to France. Oh yeah, didn’t tell you yet did I? France doesn’t have the level of Freedom of Speech that you find in America. Nor does England for that matter.
Even some of our closest allies don’t have what America does. In France you can be prosecuted for printing statements of racial discrimination or things along those lines. You also can’t for solidarity groups on the basis of “race.” It’s literally (and legally) not allowed.
Chew on that for a minute.