I started out writing a Lite News column today, but the more that I wrote, the more the stark differences between islam and Christianity peered back at me from the text. So I started over again.

In the latest ridiculous tit-for-tat offering from the muslim world, an Azerbaijani weekly publication has published cartoons that include Jesus and Mary. I am glad that they did this, and I hope that many more follow suit, because it is a stark illustration as to why I now fully agree with any form of press that publishes the cartoons of mohammed that many have found to be offensive.

While many would cry that this is not a time to inflame the sensitivities of muslims, I would disagree. Many more still will state that we should respect people of other faiths. With that, I will also disagree. Keep reading, and perhaps by the time you get to the end of this column, you will understand my point.

Yesterday in Pakistan, a large group made up mainly of easily persuadable youth stormed into a secured area of Pakistan and proceeded to destroy icons of western civilization, including the complete gutting of a McDonald’s restaurant. Other targets included a Citibank and a Kentucky Fried Chicken. Three more people, including a child, lost their lives in the senseless violence that some in the muslim community feel the need to encourage.

I stated that I hope that many more muslim countries print what they deem offensive comics aimed at the West. I believe that these acts highlight a few points much better than any western writer could. For one, it shows the complete hypocrisy of those publishers, who, on a normal day, will call themselves muslims. You see, for the last two weeks, we have been told that the real issue here is the West’s intolerance and disrespect for islam. We have been accused of publishing and republishing the cartoons of mohammed (small ‘m’ on purpose) to intentionally slight those of the islamic faith.

As part of their outrage, muslims have stated that any depiction of the prophets of their faith is blasphemy. We are also told that they consider Jesus a prophet. How then is it that a muslim publisher can publish images of Jesus? Is there no one who will point out this blatant act of blasphemy back to this bunch?

I don’t know what response those who published the cartoons is expecting, but I can guarantee a few things. Westerners will not throttle muslims in response. We will not burn down the Azerbaijani embassy. We will not run out and burn our neighbors’ cars. Do you know why? Because our nation follows a different code of ethics. Our nations are based on the Scripture of the Hebrew prophets, whose underlying message was love and hope, not despair and hate.

That is the starkest difference yet between the Middle East and the West. Muslims seem bent on our destruction and ultimately that of their own. Our goals? For the most part, westerners, people like you and me, have always strived to help those who had less, but it is becoming more and more apparent that this is a futile act.

The West has become one of the greatest civilizations to ever live on this planet, and it isn’t because we are mighty. It is because of our religious foundation. Christianity preaches love, forgiveness, and tolerance; and our religious leaders, for the most part, preach the same. I have never heard a pastor suggest that his followers resort to violence. I have never heard a Christian leader suggest that believers in Christ should dole out violence to those of other faiths. In fact, we are commanded to reach out and pray for those people.

There have been infamous Christian characters through the ages, but Christians aren’t cowered by them. Instead, we stand up and point them out. We separate ourselves from them and label them as false prophets.

On the flip side, muslims constantly chant “Death to the West” and “Death to America.” Their imams are heard in fervent tirades commanding their followers to kill westerners and to help destroy the great Satan. For the most part, muslims are too scared and unable to disassociate those leaders, or are simply unwilling to. How else could one explain a ‘peaceful’ islam tolerating those who call for evil?

It is no wonder most of the middle east is embroiled in conflict and that most of their peoples live in poverty. They are backwards nations who wade through the currents of hate on a daily basis. They seek to divide and conquer instead of coming together to excel.

On the issue of free speech, I am with the majority, that being that freedoms must be used wisely and not simply exercised because they are there. This issue, however, is bigger than that and also involves freedom of religion.

For the most part, the founders of western civilization were fleeing religious persecution. They were tired of being told what to believe. They had their own beliefs and faith, a faith that was undeniable and one that stood out. One that was real enough to convince them to get on a boat, travel for weeks in rough seas, and to go to a land with nothing waiting for them once they arrived. No stores, no support, no civilization, no Wal-Mart, and no mercy.

Why? Because they wanted religious freedom. Freedom from being told what to believe, and from being told what was acceptable to dispute. Many gave their lives to stand up to what they believed were false religions and false practices.

Now, once again, we have a religious sect, radical islam, telling us what we can and cannot say, what we can and cannot do. They are telling this to us in our own land. I say that we must resist these restrictions that some wish to impose on us with the threat of violence. We must stand up and unequivocally restate our freedom of speech and religion. We have done it before and we must do it again.

We must stop confusing tolerance and appeasement. We must stop apologizing for the fact that we have a different set of beliefs. We must stop trying to be everything to everyone. We must once again stand up and state that islam is not our choice, nor are we constrained by its commandments.

We have rejected it and chosen another path, a path that has led us to the wonderful life that we now enjoy. Simply look at the difference between us and them. Success vs failure. Greatness vs mediocrity. Much vs nothing. Health vs sickness. Freedom vs tyranny. Happiness vs bitterness.

There is no greater contrast than Love vs Hate. It speaks on its own.

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