Inexperience and indiscretion are problems that are not exclusive to youth. However, youth is a Petri dish where both tend to thrive. And when those three do intersect, forgiveness is usually the end result, depending upon the severity of the infraction.
Early Friday morning, I had seen a headline for an article on Billboard’s web site that included the following words: “Selena Gomez,” “ankle,” and “mosque.” Before reading about the action that reinforces a stereotype about some celebrities’ flippant attitudes toward religion, I wondered if Ms. Gomez is aware of the rigid perimeters that surround Islam, and the inhuman penalty that Muslim women face if they fail to adhere to a strict dress code.
As an unwritten rule, people who look for attention the easy way tend to target Judaism, Christianity, and as a whole, the United States. In other words, they look for the benign targets who retaliate with forgiveness. Was Ms. Gomez naïve to the extent that Islam stresses that women cover themselves, or did she choose to ridicule that custom? Judging by the poses in the photographs that she had removed from her Instagram account, she and her gaggle of sidekicks had knowingly ridiculed the customs of their hosts.
Either way, she chose to ignore her better judgment, if such a creature exists.
The actions that have made many enemies for the people in those pictures are a symptom of a much bigger problem: lack of respect for religious and cultural traditions and structures, as well as ignorance of history.
On a personal level, I had not realized the importance of history until I realized that history is a product of the present. Everything around us – from the fighting in the Middle East, to that dysfunctional train wreck that we call “Washington D.C.” – is full of yet-to-happen stories that historians will talk about generations from now.
And our present-day, “future history” stories have roots in events that have happened generations before our present-day; they are a product of our ancestors’ “present-day.”
The supposed purpose of Ms. Gomez’ visit to Abu Dhabi’s Grand Mosque was to learn about Islam. If this were true, then those pictures, and everything that has been captured by those pictures, never would have happened.
Or, perhaps those photographs are a response to learning about Islam. Obviously, respect and personal security were left out of the decision-making process.
Yes, as humans, we are illogical creatures who are susceptible to mistakes. And, some mistakes are much bigger than others. Ridiculing a religion, though, is not seen by many as a mistake, but as an intentional insult aimed at that religion and those who practice it; Jews and Christians are familiar with being at the receiving end of ridicule and insults.
If someone wants attention, the best route is to earn it in a positive light, such as exercising talent. This method guarantees admiration from those who appreciate such talent, and scorn from those who are jealous due to their own intentional refusal to better themselves.
As for the combination of youthful indiscretion and ridicule of a religion where humor is void, Selena Gomez, for lack of a better term, really screwed the pooch.