When Arab chronicler Ibn Fadlan cursed the Vikings as “the filthiest of God’s creatures,” he meant it as an observation, not an insult. But it took the Swedes more than 700 years to outrun that curse. Now, if you drop a gum wrapper in Goteborg, your peer-molded conscience will drive you back in the dark of night to retrieve it. Even Norwegians have running water and bathe at least once a week.
But outrunning a prophecy is more problematic. Chronicled by Moses himself, God says the descendants of Ishmael “Will (also) become a great nation” (Genesis 17:20). That’s the good part. It’s the other part that presents the problem: “He shall be a wild ass of a man; his hand will be against every man, and every man’s hand against him” (Genesis 16:12).
Intractable, wild, undomesticated. (I’d add iconoclastic to the mix, a trait found in my own tribe, the Norse.) But millions of Arabs have outrun this prophecy. How they’ve managed that is plain enough. So what if one of them made a bad movie trailer? His sense of justice was violated in his home country and by his own people. Hath not an Arab eyes?