This time, the pope got himself in trouble by quoting an ancient text–which he claims does not represent his personal views–harshly critical of Islam. The Islamic world was outraged. The pope apologized, possibly going to unprecedented lengths to do so.
It still isn’t enough. Some Muslims are molified, but others are not.
I have been critical of Muslims in the past who have not had the grace to allow others a bit of humor–even when in truly bad taste–or a divergence of view. Yet this is clearly inadequate as I have also criticized “hate speech” as an incitement to violence. And it is inadequate because Muslims have been under attack from the West almost as long as their religion has existed, through means as diverse as the Crusades to the imposition of the state of Israel. A series of western imperial powers have colonized and carved up territory throughout what we now call “developing nations,” including Islamic lands over a period of centuries.
It seems a little unfair to expect of Muslims the same grace we would expect of their conquerors. And it is hardly fair to expect of Muslims any tolerance for western arrogance while Palestinian civilians face daily terror from the Israelis, Iraqi civilians die by the tens of thousands, and the United States threatens Iran while simultaneously pursuing the Taliban in Afghanistan.
So this time, I will restrain my criticism of Muslims for their intolerance. Yet I must comment that this problem is not just about the Pope; it is far larger and involves many more players, of which the United States is hardly the least, and hardly the least threatening.