When I first started this blog in December 2005, one of my goals was to point out some of the wacky cultural differences between the U.S. and Germany. However, the news headlines in Germany reminded me that that the U.S. and Germany are not that different. In fact, I am not sure I really know the meaning of culture clash.
You may have heard about the ragging protests in the middle east regarding the publication of some cartoons of the prophet Mohammad. If not, you can read an up-date here. In September 2005 a Danish newspaper published a cartoon of the prophet Mohammad and in his turban was a ticking time bomb. The images have made their way to the middle east and have pissed a lot of people off. In Islam, pictures of Mohammad are considered idolatry. So, there are many reasons that the cartoons are upsetting.
Unfortunately, this anger has led to violence, including the destruction of many European embassies. The Danish prime minister has said that he does not condone derogatory religious images, but he cannot apologize for the actions of a free press. Now THAT is culture clash. Two German newspapers published the images as well in order to demonstrate the importance of a free press, and as a result have now made German embassies a target.
I am so torn. I understand how upsetting these images could be. On the other hand, I am such a product of my Western culture, that I could not imagine banning the images. I thought to myself, "How would you feel if someone made a cartoon mocking and degrading the things you find most important?" Wait, I think someone has! But I accept these things because in my mind, freedom of speech and the press are two things that I hold most dear.
So the question is, can you promote religious tolerance and acceptance AND have a free press which may sometimes go again these values? Something to think about over your morning coffee.
I did a quick scan of U.S. headlines today. I was wondering if any of my American friends and family were contemplating these things. There was not much reporting of the matter. A lot about the Bush budget and the Super Bowl, though.
I went from contemplating freedom of speech to the Bush budget. Cut taxes and spend money. Good job, George. If my bank account looked like George´s budget, the bank would cut me off. In order to spend money, you have to make money. You cannot have one without the other. At least, that is how my checkbook works. Does anyone remember the catch-phrase "fuzzy math." Fuzzy indeed.
Well, I have to go to work . . . So that I can make some money . . . So that I can spend it.