Thursday, April 03, 2008

The Violence of Double Standards

Joseph Bottum at First Things brings to the fore the raison d'être of Chronicles of Atlantis: Truth, Goodness, and Beauty - Some Things are Worthy Fighting For.
It’s old news that we have a double standard these days: People who attack and insult Christianity are brave—oh, so brave—transgressive artists, while people who attack and insult Islam are insensitive and bigoted. The legal blogger Eugene Volokh had an interesting note a while back, comparing editorials in the Boston Globe—the editorials the newspaper had run denouncing the Danish cartoons and the editorials it had run praising Piss Christ and the elephant-dung portrait of Mary. A more recent example comes from the comic writer Ben Elton, who this week denounced British television for censoring his scripts. “There is no doubt about it,” he told the Daily Telegraph, “the BBC will let vicar gags pass but they would not let imam gags pass.”

For a long time, I attributed all this to a weird kind of disbelief in the actual reality of Islam—or, at least, to the possibility of its achieving any significant success. A certain line of modernity has always aimed, as one of its fundamental projects, at the undoing of Christianity. And for that project, any stick is a good one, even an Islamic one.

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It’s easy to mock Christianity, because the people who do it know that the rioters aren’t actually going to come after them. They’re too Christian, and the Poor Clares aren’t actually going to start their commando training. But can we at least stop hearing about how brave people are when they insult Christianity and carefully—oh, so carefully—leave out Islam?

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