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Friday, September 14, 2012

Hillary Clinton on Middle East Riots

Unless you've been in hiding, you're probably aware of the riots that have broken out and the embassies that were stormed all over the Middle East and across North Africa ("Embassies targeted as anti-film protests spread") in response to an anti-Muslim film produced by a Coptic Christian living in California. So far, the riots have led to the deaths of four people, but I wouldn't be surprised if there are more.

In response to the violence I was glad to learn that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton not only criticized the film but argued that religious insults and denigration shouldn't be an excuse for violence ("Secretary Clinton Delivers Powerful Religion Speech After Middle East Embassy Attacks"):
When Christians are subject to insults to their faith, and that certainly happens, we expect them not to resort to violence. When Hindus or Buddhists are subjected to insults to their faiths, and that also certainly happens, we expect them not to resort to violence. The same goes for all faiths, including Islam... I so strongly believe that the great religions of the world are stronger than any insults. They have withstood offense for centuries. Refraining from violence, then, is not a sign of weakness in one's faith; it is absolutely the opposite, a sign that one's faith is unshakable... We can pledge that whenever one person speaks out in ignorance and bigotry, ten voices will answer. They will answer resoundingly against the offense and the insult; answering ignorance with enlightenment; answering hatred with understanding; answering darkness with light.
Clinton's absolutely right. All religions, at one time or another, will be mocked and subject to ridicule, the Tony Award winning Broadway play, "The Book of Mormon," being a recent example of this. However, that doesn't give religionists the right to strike back with violence. I think it's instructive that after "The Book of Mormon" began its run on Broadway, the Mormon Church responded not by rioting but with its "I'm a Mormon" campaign (note: this wasn't only in response to the Broadway play). Too bad, the radical Salafists that are evidently lying behind the riots couldn't respond similarly. In fact, I can't help but wonder what would have happened if the South Park creators who produced "The Book of Mormon" had instead focused their penetrating (but often offensive) wit on Islam and produced a play called "The Book of Muhammad" instead ("Broadway, Memphis (the Musical), and The Book of Mormon (the Musical)").

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