For his part, Obama, from the very start of his presidency, had set out to douse the fires of the "clash of civilizations", then still raging courtesy of Messrs Bush and Bin Laden, among others.
An editorial in the New York Times commenting on Obama's famous address to the Muslim world from Cairo University, lauded him for having "steered away from the poisonous post-9/11 clash of civilizations mythology that drove so much of President George W. Bush’s rhetoric and disastrous policy."
To reignite "the clash" in some form serves to bolster the American Right as a whole, the American Christian Right (which is a mainstay of the Republican Party) in particular, while at the same time undermining Obama, who at best had acted to bring this clash to an end, and at worst is "a bloody Muslim" himself.
I came upon this piece via Balloon Juice and thought I would share it with you all. I have more questions than answers regarding the deadly mayhem that erupted in Libya, Egypt, and elsewhere after the release of a video that was understood by many as disrespectful towards Islam and Muhammad. Hani Shukrallah does some great work here locating the recent violence in the region within a broader framework. The clash of civilizations narrative is deep and old; The Right will use it to undercut Obama; And while little discussed in the American corporate media, Islamicists and Neo-con culture warriors do have no small tendencies of character, ideology, and behavior in common.
I do not believe that any religion is due "respect" a priori: people earn respect by their deeds, faith and religion is a means (ostensibly) to that end and should be judged by that standard. If one wants to suggest that Christianity is due some respect, show me the deeds of Christians so that we can make a judgement. If some want to argue that Islam is worthy of respect, let us evaluate the acts and deeds of those called Muslim. If Judaism should be respected, we must examine the behavior of those called Jews. The calculus is deceptively simple.
Religious mythologies that some people take to be factual descriptions of reality are not granted immediate elevation in a society where church and state are separate, and where faith ought to be a personal and private matter. Moreover, that people of any religion would kill, riot, murder, rampage, and commit acts of wanton violence because their god was "offended"--how does anyone actually know the mind of god?--or a book, a bunch of paper with a binding was "defaced," is outside of my personality type and worldview. I am not religiously minded; I cannot understand such matters. As I often wonder, if your god is so great, and your faith so deep, how can such petty acts even move you?
However, this does not mean that Nations are as free as I am, a private citizen, to ignore how religion and faith are important to certain publics and countries around the world. Here, the violence in the Middle East surrounding this most recent "offense" against Islam is a symptom of other social dysfunctions.