The difference in leadership in American cities can be quite telling. Did you see the mayor of Biloxi, Mississippi, Mr. Holloway, this weekend on C-Span? Brian Lamb, my hero, did an hour long interview with him.
I am proud to say that I was born in Biloxi fifty years ago. Our home was on the beach directly across from the Gulf of Mexico in Ocean Springs. Back then, not much was in Ocean Springs so for medical care a person was required to go across the draw bridge to Biloxi.
The mayor did a fine job in his interview. The citizens of Biloxi must be proud. Mayor Holloway had a recurring theme in the interview - the people of Biloxi are doing it for themselves when it comes to recovering from the Hurricane Katrina disaster to the Gulf coast. He said he knows President Bush is doing all he can to help. He said it is silly to think the bureauocracy that is the federal government can do anything quickly or without following rules and paperwork. What a fool he makes Ray Naquin look like.
About those cartoons so offensive to Arab Muslims - the Houston Chronicle published an interesting interview with a local Muslim, Dr. Javed Aslam, a retired physician and native of Pakistan. Dr. Aslam has lived in the U.S. for 43 years. He often speaks at local mosques as a member of the Islamic Society of Greater Houston. The article appeared in yesterday's Sunday edition.
Dr. Aslam was asked about the feelings of Houston Muslims toward the Danish cartoons. He said the community is upset and hurt. It was a major topic of conversation but now he said everyone is saying Muslims protesting should go home. He said they have protested and there is no reason to keep on burning and other destruction. Moderate Muslims feel a different kind of hurt, he said that distinguishes them from the radical Muslims. He said those showing Muhammad as violent is hurtful to their cause. The people rioting and the like are ignorant people and Houston Muslims dislike what they are saying, he said.
Dr. Aslam's point is "who is insulting the prophet now? We are because we are behaving in a way that he would never approve." He said by getting emotional they are doing the wrong thing. " The Quran says that we are not supposed to lose our balance no matter how angry or distressed we are...If I am in the grocery store and I see a Danish product and don't want to buy it, that's ok. But to destroy property or to kill, that is wrong."
He was asked it the cartoon controversy is an East-West problem or a problem within Islam. He said there is misunderstanding between Muslim and Western communities . He said the two are talking on two completely different aspects. "In the West, people are talking about freedom of speech issues. But we feel it transcends the freedom of speech issue because it enters into an area where a person is using that freedom to insult and inflict injury on others. If someone did a cartoon like that about Martin Luther King Jr, in this time when Coretta Scott King has just passed away or of the late pope, I would be offended".
What he doesn't mention, however, is that of course cartoons lampooning the Kings and the late pope have been published all over the world. And more than once. Our own American government has sponsored "art" thru the NEA that depicts the Christian holy symbol, the cross, in urine. That's just one example. I didn't see offended Christians blowing up embassies or burning other nation's flags or murdering innocent people.
So, while I think Dr. Aslam is going in the right direction concerning religious differences and the fact that free speech in democratic societies must win out, I don't think he is quite there yet. If it is acceptable for one religion to be offended then it is acceptable for other religions to be offended when it comes to depiction through free speech. Denmark is a free society. I am glad they have not been cowed by radical Islamic threats.
Our own media could take a lesson.
"The first duty of love - is to listen." - Paul Tillich