There's a thing that is fairly common in abusive relationships where the abuser just tears viciously into the abused, over and over again, breaking them down and destroying their sense of self and agency and safety. Then when they're out in public, maybe with family or friends, the abuser will make one tiny comment or joke, nothing big, and the abused has an explosive, visceral reaction, not to that one comment, but to the sum total of everything that they've been enduring in private. Now all the abuser has to do is set back and let people draw their own conclusions. Look how CRAZY the abused partner is! Look how wildly out of control of their emotions they are! How fucking saintly the abuser is for restraining themselves in the face of such unwarranted hostility and unbridled insanity!
What I would like is for the people in my News Feed and Twitter stream, my friends, to consider this the next time that they decide to post another "those wacky Muslims" update about the recent unrest in Benghazi, Cairo, Sana'a and Tripoli. I'd like for people to stop pretending that these riots are happening in a vacuum, that they're just about a harmless movie or comic drawing, and not taking place during a period in which the most powerful military in the history of the world has spent the last decade invading and destroying nations simply because they are Muslim. I'd like my friends to weigh the possibility that maybe this sudden outpouring of anger has something to do with the hundreds of thousands of Muslims who have died (I am being ridiculously conservative in my estimate of Muslim dead here, because I don't want responses to this note to derail into arguments about JUST HOW MANY people have died) in the last decade as a direct result of American military adventurism throughout the Islamic world. That this outpouring of rage might possibly be related to the American bombs that have fallen not merely in Iraq and Afghanistan, but also Libya, Pakistan and Yemen. I'd like for my friends, who I'm fairly confident are well aware that the United States of America has been involved in the torture and killing of Muslims for some time now, to consider that all of this is taking place while the United States government is making an effort to drum up support for military action in Syria, and that it's just possible that the international Islamic community is well aware of that.
I'm not a Muslim, and I have serious misgivings about some of the ways that Islam is practiced around the world. I do think that the world would be a better place if certain facets of Islam changed, but I'm pretty sure that the way that the United States has acted over the past ten years is not the best way to make those changes, and as the faces of the United States internationally, American embassies are going to have to deal with the fallout of America's treatment of Muslim nations.
So, yeah, that Onion image was funny, and I laughed at it. Yeah, Richard Dawkins can be witty, although I'd probably find his snide tweets a lot more humorous if I hadn't witnessed the outcome of the war that his friend Christopher Hitchens similarly championed. And, yes, you totally have the right to say whatever you want, and you certainly don't need my permission to be an asshole on the internet, but please consider that first paragraph. Consider that maybe this situation has an abuser and the abused. Consider, if that is indeed the case, whose side you want to support.