Combinations of illiteracy, ignorance and social immaturity all add up to Islam's position writ large, as a culturally inferior demographic. That's not to say that all Muslims are inferior...some have defied the odds and entered the 21st century, while many others have refused. As Daniel posits below, the paradigm shift that will bring them into an interactive and interdependent community of peoples, is exactly the paradigm shift that they are rebuking: notions of secular governance, science, principles of liberty and individual freedom, and the sovereignty of self. These are not incompatible with religion, but can quite provably coexist, to the betterment of the social structure. Christianity moved out of it's dark history of tyranny, and Islam can too.... eventually. But the events of the last week [and many others preceding] show that they're not ready for prime time.
Congratulations, Islam! You've won this year's award for Worst Religion in the World. Christians were trying for it with the whole Chick-Fil-A thing, but you really clinched it when your followers rioted and murdered people because they felt offended by a really bad film.
You know, every other religion in the world has pretty much chilled the fuck out about this kind of thing. Buddhists don't rampage in 20 countries when their religion is challenged. Hindus — okay, admit it, Hindus, you've had your moments, but nothing like this. Christians cop it all the time on the blasphemy front, and they don't storm embassies. Hell, they've invited me to debates in their own churches, where I've challenged their religion, and even told them that their god must be kind of dumb. And then they invite me back. Do you know what does? It shows people that their faith is robust. Your rioting shows the world that your god is so weak that he can't protect himself, and needs his butthurt followers to enact violence on his behalf.
Let's not let Christianity off the hook entirely. They acted like homicidal loons when they could get away with it. In the early American colonies as recently as the 1600s, you could be punished or put to death for blasphemy. It's just one of the things religion in general is so good at: creating these non-negotiable zones where certain beliefs or values are held as holy, and setting people up for needless conflict.
How did Christianity calm down? Christianity didn't move from Inquisitions to PR departments by themselves. They were pushed by an emerging tradition of secularism in Western countries since the Enlightenment. Secularism tamed Christianity, and needs to continue. But Islam — you need to catch up.
I don't know if this is a real Arabic proverb or not — it was marked as such when I first heard it — but it's worthy of consideration anyway:
He who takes offence when offence is not intended is a fool.
He who takes offence when offence is intended is a fool.Good Reason