So it was cartoons that finally did it. The elephant that's been in the room since the invasion of iraq ( and back to the first crusades) has finally materialised in the conciousness of the west. Muslims have known it for millenia and we knew it once too.
What is this pachyderm squatting amongst us? It's the huge schism, the gulf that can never be bridged, the gap between the west with christianity that has been through the reformation and now takes a back seat in most of our lives ( i'll exclude the american christian taliban for now ) and the muslim world. Unreformed, dogmatic and inflexible. There can be no easy point of contact between the two, period.
What we are seeing now is the birth of the problem that will shape the next century. Islamic dogma versus a christian america and a largly secular (with christian undertones) "rest of the west". This has to be the end of the, largely british, multicultural experiment. The battlelines are being drawn as I type this sentence. Plackards in London saying "Behead Those That Insult Islam" and white, anglo saxons on the news pinning their colours to the mast of free speech.
The mere fact that theology is the study of fiction. That perhaps 99% of both side just want a quiet life and the hurt and insult are pure societal and political constructs means little. These cartoons will be used as the kernel to unite the muslim world like the invasion of a secular Iraq never did. The terrorist groups must be rubbing their hands together in glee. As is the British National Party here in the UK. Expect racism, expect hatred and most of all, expect violence.
The embarrassing platitudes of the british government, trying desperatley to keep the lid on the tinderbox of UK inner cities, seem to me to be trying to keep feet in both camps. It's time to pull back from both entrenched positions and come out against religion. The real enemy of the piece. All this death, pain, insult and dogma stem from religion. It's time to treat the religious as bad, mad or guilty of using religion for their own personal or political ends. This applies to all side, all religions. It's time we left our childish creation myths behind and treated people who think they are in touch with the thoughts of a mythical being as the lunatics they truly are.
I don't hold out a whole lot of hope though. Keep your heads down folks. The lurch towards controlling faschism in the west of the 1984 ilk, to the fanatical islamic jihad in the east. It's going to get a whole lot worse before it gets better. And the schism will deepen, and people, and hope, will die.