There’s been a lot of discussion this past week about Muslims getting upset about the cartoons published in the Danish newspapers. People have noted that it is absolutely horrible to threaten violence on other human beings simply because a non-living symbol that you hold very dear is insulted. And of course it is, but I don’t think that many of the people who criticize the Muslims realize that they are guilty of the very same sort of behavior themselves.
And no, I’m not talking about other theists, but the characteristics are very similar to a religion. I’m talking about patriotism. Patriotism of one’s country will allow a normally sane person to support their country even while it does harm to others. Patriotism invites an “us” vs “them” mentality that usually resorts to “us” being superior in at least a moral sense. Patriotism allows one to believe that the occupation of another’s country is for their own good. These things are all very similar to the beliefs that Christians would have.
I feel like I have a good understanding of the similarities between religion and patriotism because I used to be an extremely hard-core patriot. And I mean fucking hard-core. Even when I knew of US involvement in propping up dictators in foreign countries which subsequently massacred their people, my faith in the country didn’t waver. I felt that while the events were unfortunate, it was necessary for us to secure countries which we had strategic interests in because we were the country that was going to spread freedom over the globe (“Spread the Word”, so to speak). I found the national anthem to be amazing, and sometimes I would feel so moved my skin would tingle (“I could feel Jesus”). When I was young I looked forward to the day when I would be wealthy and could give more than my fair share of taxes to support the country that I love. And I bought the Desert Storm trading cards and supported our military like it was a sports team.
But back to the issue at hand. Outrage at the mocking of a religious symbol. Threatening or committing violence against those who do. In some way this is similar to those who wish to ban the burning of the American flag. It’s a revered item for many people and they think that protecting it is worth the infringement on freedom of expression and free speech. But this similarity isn’t that big of a deal, definitely not worth me making a post about, but it was when I saw this. A Republican representative from Missouri has introduced a bill which would authorize the use of force against someone who was about to desecrate the flag. And no, I’m not talking about the use of force by a police officer, but by anyone who suspects that someone is about to dishonor the flag. The person committing the violence could also not be charged with assault or theft as a result of them defending the flag. But don’t worry, the bill won’t allow the use of deadly force to stop the burning of the flag, but I bet you could argue it as an act of self-defense after the fight got underway.
Anyone who would support this or even the banning of burning the American flag has no business criticizing Muslims for their anger over the cartoons of their beloved "prophet".