Saturday, September 16, 2006

Solution to the Offended Muslim Problem

I think I've found an approach to defuse the offence taken by so many Muslims.

First we must understand that we are dealing with people who are told when to be offended. The pope is German, and he was speaking at a German university. I'm guessing he wasn't speaking in Arabic. Yet all over the Muslim world people seem to have taken offence. Perhaps they all downloaded the pdf of a translation of the Pope's lecture and independently arrived at the same level of wounded offence. But I'm guessing that one or two of the mob who burned down the Anglican church didn't fully study the text of the Pope's address for themselves.

Second, we learn from nature that often the antidote is surprisingly close to the toxin. The pope's comments may in fact be close, and with a little adjustment may calm the situation down.

Now here is a technique I use with my kids when they are being entirely unreasonable and unresponsive to the parenting book strategies - cunning. I've used it with work colleagues and it works a treat.

Consider my colleague who is always right. I finally sent a reply-to-all email closing with the line, "please prove that you always need to have the last word by replying to this email." You see, he couldn't respond without proving me right!

The Pope needs to say something like, "Muslims seem to react with outrage and violence rather than reasoned dialogue whenever they take offence." Then what can they do? If they react with outrage and violence, they prove the statement correct. Surely the Muslim leaders who tell people when to be offended to outrage and violence would see the unfortunate irony.

So we will surely have a response of reasoned discussion. Then we will have calm and progress.

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