This morning, I read an article about Charlie Hebdo that I'll comment on briefly, but there are so many levels to this story, so many ways you can slice it, I'll confine myself to a brief comment on the specific news item I read today.
Nihad Awad, founder of CAIR -- or the Council on American-Islamic Relations -- said Muslims largely reject any image, whether it be positive or negative, of the Prophet Muhammad.
“Many voices in the Muslim world expressed the feeling that they have been offended by the republishing of that mag -- that is a healthy and rightful position to take,” he said.
Well, no, there's nothing intrinsically healthy or rightful about that sense of offense.
There are several ways to understand the underlying psychological mechanisms that attract an individual to religious fundamentalism, but it is the relative brittleness of fundamentalist belief that makes challenges to those beliefs so psychologically threatening. And those who are most troubled by underlying doubts about their own belief system tend to be the most offended by anything that resonates with that doubt.
So Mr. Awad has squandered an opportunity to say something helpful to offended Muslims. Better if he were to tell the offended that their sense of outrage reflects their own difficulty with doubt. Would they readily accept that interpretation? No. But they don't need encouragement of their self-deception. They need to hear the truth spoken plainly and without malice, by an ally, again and again.