This has been a particularly rich vein for the usual neoclown pundits to ply their trade and preach to their choir. It's easy pickins, and in their habitual sophistry they can double-dip with Muslim-baiting and lib-baiting. Apparently we are now required to issue pro forma declarations in every instance of official and semi-official Muslim radicalism, as if "liberals" (which, recalling Goldberg's creative redefinition of the term, are down with the fascism) have more patience with riots over cartoons than they do with the gibbering retards of Jesus Camp.
I do think that Islam is in danger of allowing itself to be defined by its most vocal and radical spokesmen, if moderate Muslims do not step up. But where are they supposed to step? Islam is too diffuse and too decentralized, and in its home countries it is too inextricably entwined with social culture and canonical law. Islam needs its own Reformation and Enlightenment, but that is much harder to accomplish without a centralized hierarchy. Even if an Islamic Martin Luther is waiting to be heard, where exactly does he nail his theses?
So I'm not sure exactly what Goldberg and his intemellectual peers wish to do about all that, but then neither are they. The European governments are treading lightly because they want the immigrants to assimilate, which is hard to do if an inflammatory issue is stoked. The Islamic governments are taking the opposite tack and making an issue out of the movie's propriety because religion is a mode of social control. This is not exactly a secret, but people like Goldberg make entire careers, secure contracts to write unreadable books with untenable premises, by regurgitating exactly such canards. People believe what they want to believe.
Which brings us to Goldberg's main point, after a useless diversion into a anecdote about drinking in Turkey that amazingly doesn't end in some lurid Midnight Express scenario.
Here's Goldberg's entire basis for taking offense -- it seems as if Jesus fish are outnumbered by Darwin fish. This is at least as rigorous an intellectual standard as can be found in anything else he's ever written, I suppose. It's practically a tic with him at this point, he's been doing it long enough.
But it takes a complete and utter moron to baldly assert that, in this particular dilemma, it's the people who profess not to guide their thoughts, actions, and emotions by superstition, who do not proselytize to hapless strangers, who are "smug", smug to the point where our boy actually takes offense.
Listen up, Lunchbox -- nearly all of human history has been written in blood drawn by smug motherfuckers who each thought they had a direct pipeline to the omniscient superdude in the sky. It is only in the past 150 years that the semblance of rational thought and reason-based deduction has begun to crawl out from under the holy thumb various breeds of god-botherers have kept everyone under for the previous millennia. Isn't that offensive?
I couldn't care less about the Jesus fish or the Darwin fish; I am indifferent to what people choose to broadcast on the bumpers, tailgates and windows of their rolling shitboxes. The Calvin praying window sticker means about as much to me as the Calvin-pissing-on-a-football-team-logo window sticker. Both are just cheap, pirated expressions of id and poor impulse control. But all that is another matter from the constant smug assertions from the religious that they are inherently more moral, that they would rather vote for a crook who talks a good Jesus game than an upstanding atheist. There are plenty more openly gay politicians than there are atheist ones, if one wishes to make thumbnail comparisons of stereotypically reviled minorities.
But he's all butt-hurt that a few people tweak these sacred cultural signifiers, cheap adhesive totems slapped on hickmobiles far and (especially) wide. Awwwww. Yeah, that's far more offensive than squads of goobers infesting the government at every level from the DoJ to red-state school boards with their anti-intellectual inbreeding, fools poisoning the well of science to tell people with a straight face that the Grand Canyon was created 6,000 years ago by the Noah's Ark flood. With priorities like that, it's no wonder we're falling behind.
Again with the false equivalencies, especially since Jews don't actively proselytize like that (not to mention the revolting idea that lobbing a "usurer" slur at a Jewish person is comparable to having the nerve to separate science from religious dogma). Goldberg presumes that the Jesus fish is nothing but a cultural signifier, a secret handshake to be experienced on the highways, or something. Fine, but spare us this incessant whinging every time the bubble gets poked just a little. It's expected that religion can intrude on a great many aspects of public life, but a cheap plastic sentiment making fun of another cheap plastic sentiment sends the squeamish into perpetually high dudgeon.
Religious people like to tell themselves, each other, anyone who'll listen that the godless secular heathens are picking on them, persecuting them for their belief. I hate to spoil the fun for them, but here's the secret -- we don't care enough to persecute you. Really, we don't give a shit. Go to your megachurch and clap to white-guy rhythm; festoon your car in Jesus fish and praying Calvins and Virgin Mary tire carrier covers. Knock yourselves out. Just leave the rest of us alone, and quit acting like the future of the universe depends on the Pledge of Allegiance having "under God" in it, or political speeches ending with "God bless America".
The same is true for Islamic fundamentalists -- when movies and cartoons get significant subsets of your culture violently upset, their conduct should be repudiatd. They need to grow the hell up. All the Abrahamic religions point to God as being the judge of these matters; it would be nice if they'd just leave it to Him, and get on about their lives.