Monday, March 31, 2008

Danish Cartoons and Dutch Films

Following up my previous post about the intolerance of many Islamic sects: to summarize, American atheists are often hesitant about criticism of hard-line Islam because so often it's just veiled endorsement of Christianization by Religious-Right politicians. So we hold back; we feel that we're being intolerant; and we don't decry the institutionalized oppression and violence that is plainly going on every day in the Muslim world - particularly of women and religious minorities.

In fact, we atheists are the ideal critics of state religions precisely because we're serving no secret religious agenda. When we see examples of another politically aggressive religion that's making in-roads in global politics, it's our duty to speak up.

Western Europe is currently struggling to reconcile its Enlightenment, post-Christian values of openness with an incursion of uncompromising religious zealotry, particularly in France, the U.K., and the Netherlands. The struggle has had several especially poignant moments in the Netherlands in the last few years; most dramatic was the murder of Theo van Gogh.
over his profoundly moving film. This is not the kind of tolerance any of us are interested in. So why the hesitance to condemn such vile religiously-motivated behavior, Christian or otherwise?

Now, in a misguided attempt at cultural appeasement, the Dutch government is receiving ambassadors to discuss a movie that hurt their feelings. Message to ambassadors - and to all Muslims - it's the twenty-first century, and thanks to secular governments, free speech exists. The rest of us hear criticism of our worldviews every day, and now you will too. You'll be seeing more films and cartoons. Get over it.

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