Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Dear Holy Father, Stop Feeding the Bears

Bo Register, someone I know on the Internet (which is to say rather well, intellectually) in trying to understand what I have been mumbling about The Pope's speech, just responded with some simple words that capture the same thing with an elegance that is only possible when we one does away with the academic language, and the anguished long discussions, and so on. His translation of my words was, simply, that I:
"...really, really wish y'all would stop feeding the bears...."
Now, them's words most North Americans should understand, so to speak.

Here's how it came about. I was saying, on a mailing list, that personally, I think the Pope owes me an apology--and people like me who would like, and work for, trying to help sanity prevail in the Muslim world/communities. What he's done is a gift to the people who'd like Muslims to follow their extremist, fanatic attitude. And as I was saying here in the last few days whether he did it out of naivete, ill-advisedness ("stupidity" seems inappropriate for such a respected person), or malice, I know not. Though Karen Armstrong's op-ed in The Guardian yesterday makes the case that it is a mixture of all three.

To this, Bo said, "I'd think the apology should come from those who are calling for the pope's head in the name of the 'religion of peace'. They are the ones that make life difficult for those who try to act on the principles of Islam that lead to the great civilizations of the Caliphates, not the Pope. "

And I replied, "I am not asking for the pope's head in the name of the religion of peace. I am asking for it in the name of sanity and not doing stupid things. Like saying things you know will play into the hands of evil people," and make all talk to sanity and moderaton even more difficult to get through.

Bo then asked, "Are you then asking for the head of the Imams in Somalia as well? Of all those that threaten violence over a quote?"

And I replied, "That is a fight we fight in the Muslim world and communities. And have been for 3 generations now. And for a LOT of that period, the people you might support in government and leadership (both the US government and the Pakistan government, and the colonial British one, and even Gandhi) were supporting the other side. If you want to be adversarial, I'd like to say that y'all be the newcomers to the party. Stay a while this time, will ya?"

And Bo concluded, "I'll take that as a "Yes", I am and I have been, and really, really wish y'all would stop feeding the bears...."

To quote George W. Bush, 43rd President of the United States: "Touche."

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