John has already commented on the amazing firestorm that has erupted around a set of cartoons published in a Danish newspaper. Since then Paris newspapers have reprinted the cartoons, America has formally come out in opposition to them and rioters have reacted by attacking European embassies in various middle eastern countries.
The least interesting question is whether I approve of the cartoons, or the rioters. Yes and no respectively, for what it’s worth. I will always support the right of a free press and I have no patience for fundamentalist religion of any sort. The religious have a right to discipline themselves and (debatably) sworn members of their own sect when it comes to matters of faith, and nobody else. If I insult Islam and a Muslim insults me (being Jewish that happens fairly often) then both of us simply have to have faith that whatever God there is will settle scores as He sees fit. If I don’t have that faith then for obvious reasons it more or less negates my claim to religiosity.
The more interesting question is what is going on and why. Why, for example, did the Danish invite this trouble in the first place? They knew what kind of shit they were stepping in. Why, even after the violence had started, did French editors pick up the story and why did America take the opposite stand? I’ll tell the story as I see it, and you all are welcome to agree, disagree or correct me below.
The simple answer to the first question is that not only did the Danish editors know full well what they were stepping in, that was more or less the point. For reasons that are at least partially their own fault (see here and here) many European countries have become increasingly burdened with a breed of fundamentalist Islam that, like most extreme fundamentalism, sets out to impose its particular rules and taboos on everybody (that, by the way, is the basis for John’s American Taliban comment – the subset of fundamentalists who want to impose their mores on others involuntarily, by violence if necessary. The relative degree of violence does not change the larger point). Radical fundamentalism inevitably runs up against a western tradition in which nothing is considered immune to scrutiny and humor. Salman Rushdie, Theo Van Gogh and countless others who have recieved beatings and death threats over the last ten years testify to that.
So, the cartoons. The Danish knew what would happen because they’d gone through it before. The Van Gogh was Dutch (ok, not the same thing. self-correcting blogosphere and all that…). They and Europeans in general don’t need lecturing about the danger of terrorism; the European continent dealt with terrorism for decades before it became a serious issue on our shores. Europeans have accomodated to a way of life that generally entails more surveillance and fewer civil liberties than those to which we are accustomed. You can hardly call them naive to the threat. Contrariwise, I think that they see what they are doing as a sort of shock therapy. This also explains why the French picked up the cartoons, and why I predict that we’ll see more like them, and more books like the Satanic Verses. I think that the Europeans, having decisively rejected the yoke of intolerant Catholic feudalism two or more centuries ago, are sick of hearing an intolerant religious minority tell them what to do and they’ll keep on provoking the Islamists until they either accept that Europe isn’t Iran or simply go insane with rage. The more European countries join the Dutch, the more clearly this becomes a battle between western progressivism and medieval religious intolerance. In other words, the perfect embodiment of the ‘final conflict’ scenario that the right has been selling for so long.
You can read an excellent roundup of responses around the globe here.
About the Americans. Why did we capitulate to what in my opinion is the wrong side of this debate? The easy answer is that we’re occupying Iraq. If we absolutely have to respond to this controversy, and I get the impression that we’d rather not, then we might as well do it in a way that doesn’t get more Americans killed. But I think that there’s a bit more to the story than that. Unlike most ofthe west America doesn’t have much of a problem with fundamentalist religion. We’re the only country in the western world in which the “question” of creationism has any significant support, and it’s not just a little support. If we held a popular vote creation would win. We’re among the least comfortable with contraception and sex ed. Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell have real political constituencies; these guys can pick up the phone any day of the week and somebody with a letter and their home state after their name will answer. In Europe that’s not just unlikely, it’s anathema.
More than that, the further you go up the hierarchy in our ruling party the more comfortable you get with fundamentalist religion. This is the government where NASA appointees feel free to promote astronomical creationism, where service academies can become thinly-disguised evangelical recruiting stations and where a General and Undersecretary of Defense feels free to paint our current war as an intramural conflict between two types of fundamentalism – a right one and a wrong one. When an intolerant religious group claims that its taboos are being stepped on, we can appreciate that.
Umm, the cartoons were first printed in a Danish newspaper.
Danish newspapers, not Dutch.
In fact, Tim, the British were horrified to learn in late December that they, too, had a minority belief in evolution.
Jeesh, I don’t know why I wrote that. I can hardly claim to know much about Europe and get those two mixed up practically every time I talk about them, which I do.
MAX HATS beat me to it, otherwise I’d say you post pretty much sums it up.
By the way, does anybody know why the Norwegians are also targets of Violence?
Those zany Scandinavians….
Bob In Pacifica
Sometimes I write one rather than the other though I’ve been to both. They should call those of people of Holland or the Netherlands (you see,it’s already confusing, two names for the same count that isn’t Dutch) Nethers or Hollandaise, like the sauce.
I don’t think one can “approve” of the cartoons, given that in Moslem eyes it is the equivalent of the gay guys peeing on the altar of St. Patrick’s in NYC a decade ago. Hold it—make that the equivalent of defecating in the Church of the Nativity on Xmas eve.
As Edward T. Hall wrote (badly) 40 years ago, cultures are forever committing barbarisms in the eyes of other cultures. That, to a degree, is unvoidable. Causing grave offense is another matter ; wars have been waged over less.
Are we really reduced to arguing that causing grave offense to a billion people is a proud celebration of free speech? If so, David Duke has a few choice phrases like jigaboo and burrhead we might want to return to currency.
I have a “right” to do many reprehensible things that my sense of civilized behavior precludes my doing. Let’s not allow the rabble burning embassies to absolve the papers from the charge of massive stupidity.
Christian dogma holds that a fellow who pisses on an altar and never repents for it will go to hell. That seems like punishment enough. If he owns the altar and sterilizes it before he asks anybody else to touch it, I don’t see the problem.
Bob In Pacifica
But to your point, I’ve just started reading Sam Harris’ THE END OF FAITH, which is pretty much an atheist’s warning about the dangers of religion(s). As Richard Dawkins says, everyone is an atheist to all religions except the one he believes in. Harris, in the sliver I’ve read, points out the dangers of belief in the afterlife and an Entity that demands you follow a certain belief system and whack those who don’t follow you.
Suicide is against the Koran, so how come Muslims are blowing themselves up all over the place? It’s a liberal reading of the Koran. Instead of the families feeling shame for a member commiting suicide, they rejoice because someone who is martyred for the faith gets to bring along bunches of people into heaven. So strapping up a bomb on the retard in the house who won’t amount to much will get the whole family a free pass into heaven. Wotta deal! Hey, and you don’t have to be retarded. There are plenty of people with college degrees ready to make themselves hamburger.
Then again, the whole concept of suicide bombing got started in Sri Lanka, in a battle between two other religious groups.
And that’s what scares me right now. I do agree that the media of any nation should not be muffled because of the hot tempers of certain fundamentalist religious groups. By the same token, though…it just seems like they’re deliberately poking a beehive, to use an analogy. And while I can see the point of your “shock therapy” argument, I can’t help but think that poking a beehive over and over is not going to eventually get the bees to quiet down — it’s just going to make them pissed off to the point where you won’t even be able to approach them.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for free speech. But I’m also for tact and diplomacy. And if I walked down the street calling everybody a sonofabitch, I’d have to expect that I’d eventually get punched in the face. I just think that if the Danish cartoonist had a message to impart, he could have done so just as effectively without taking that beehive out and drop-kicking it.
The original complaint the Europeans had regarding the Muhammad (sp?) cartoons was that they were getting flak for ANY kind of illustration of the Prophet. Someone wrote about how hard it was to get artists to draw the guy, and then the newspaper went and added editorial cartoons along to it to try and highlight the issue. Oh boy, did they highlight the issue. While the Muhammad = Bomb carrier images are indeed provocative (akin to drawing the Pope as a Nazi Youth, oooh I’m burning in Hell for that one), the original intent was to show that even positive imagery of the Prophet gets Muslims in an uproar.
The problem is both sides escalated the debate. Muslims overreacted with threats of violence and acts of actual violence. Other nations showed support for Free Speech by not only reprinting the original images but drawing up newer and equally provocative images to add to them. It’s now gotten to the point that if either side backs down it’ll look like capitulation: the Muslims can’t because they feel they are defending their belief; the Europeans/Free Speechers can’t because they worry it will make all fundamentalists (not just Islamic but also Christian / Jewish / Hindu / any extremist group) believe that any violent outrage can lead to victory over civil liberty issues.
I can’t see any solution to this that will satisfy anyone, do you…?
Maybe it’s game day jitters, but the cynic in me has imposed a certain distance from the scandal over the cartoons. So while picking up after my dog an hour ago, a thought occurred to me:
“Who benefits from this little tempest over cartoons?”
Not the Europeans who’ve been urging the USA to back off on the Clash of Civilizations! policies. That’s for sure. It’s almost as if the cartoons and the riots were designed to wake up Europeans and validate a certain set of controversial policies by a certain non-European power which will remain nameless.
We already know that the riots are taking place in places where the winds of liberty have been pretty stagnant. So there must be some government collusion — at the least — in Egypt, or Syria, or even Lebanon.
Is it impossible to imagine that some other government which might have the means to foment
black opstruth maintenance measures in multiple countries at once, could just possibly have a hand in this? Follow that little thought exercise to its logical conclusion and see where you are.
“I think that the Europeans, having decisively rejected the yoke of intolerant Catholic feudalism two or more centuries ago, are sick of hearing an intolerant religious minority tell them what to do and they’ll keep on provoking the Islamists until they either accept that Europe isn’t Iran or simply go insane with rage.”
Sorry, Tm, but this is nothing but crap. There is no orchestrated action, the players have their own motives, they don’t share a common goal. For instance the Jyllands Posten is described as a right wing newspaper in a country where the trend goes right wing and against immingrants. The editor says that he chose to publish the cartoons because he noticed that an author couldn’t get anyone to create cartoons of Mohamad for his book and he wanted to make a point for the right for free speech. It’s a safe bet that the editor was fully aware that his action would spark furious protests from the muslims, which would further alienate his readers against this minority. This seems to have been his plan and it worked.
But there is no evidence that there is a larger plan with other newspaperrs or politicians involved. Quite to the contrary, the differing views stated in the european press and by politicians show that there is no common european point of view on the controvery. Pls don’t engage in conspiracy theories.
And you shouldn’t engage in holding the secular view in higher regard than the religious side. Tolerance shouldn’t be there for secular people only and the right for free speech doesn’t mean that you should support or even republish hate speech. Like Atrios said:
“There’s no point other than “I’m doing this to see who I can piss off.” I certainly defend the right to piss people off, though not always the decision to do so.”
Solution that would satisfy me is that the shock therapy works and the fairly small subset of Muslims who are driving the outrage give up. There are a lot of Muslims who are more upset with their fellow (violent) religionists than they are with the cartoons.
On the other hand, I’m not reprinting the cartoons because I’m not into poking at taboos that do me no harm (Islam’s taboo about images of the “prophet” does me no harm at all.)Anymore than I’d post a cartoon of a Sikh getting a haircut…
On the other hand, I’d have no trouble doing a drawing of Mohammed Atta in all sorts of atrociously obscene and degrading poses (if, of course, I could draw).
Holy crap! The Argentinians?!?!?!
Actually, the people who would think they’d benefit most are the Islamist theocrat types who really do want this to be a war involving all Muslims.
I don’t imagine the US would want to do something like that at this point; it could make things much more difficult for us.
t. jasper parnell
Defining this as “poking the beehive” grants to religious or other offended individuals and groups a special right of irrational responses to insult, invective, or imprecation. An economic responce, i.e., boycotting Danish goods, is totally justified as is any rhetorical condemnation of the Danes; however, the riots etc are beyond the pale and need to be condemned by all reasonable people, regardless of confessional affiliation.
Relatedly, I would suggest that engaging in violence is not amping up a debate but rather is an attempt to foreclose it. Violent activity is not rhetoric by other means it is violence and needs to be condemned.
This latest round of religiously-based violence must be condemened and unequivicably so.
Just another point on the quote above:
Check History books about the 30 year war. It involved most of Europes developed nations, killed a large percentage of the population, impoverished the nations involved and devastated huge parts of Germany and many cities. There is one thing europeans have learned from this massacre: Tolerance. And this means tolerance for small minorities, too, and certainly not provoking people of other faith. We europeans know where this will lead.
In my opinion as a german citizen, the problem with islamic immigrants in europe isn’t their religion in the first place (religion is a very private thing in our society), but cultural differences, for instance the inherited way of defining the male role in society. Compare a christian lebanese and a muslim lebanese, they won’t differ much in their views on this. Stop seeing religion as the cause of all evil.
But the RW has been assiduous in calling the WoT a Clash of Civilizations; and some wingers go further, advocating an all-out war with Islam in general and Wahabism in particular.
Note that I’m not, not, not saying the US or any of its agents is behind this – the outcome being much too subtle and uncertain for a plot. What I’m saying is there are movers and shakers on both sides who really, really want the Mess O’Potamia to become a larger, possibly global, war. And stuff like the firestorm over the cartoons is certainly playing to that audience.
For all of you who want to engage in conspiracy theories:
This article says the Saudis added fuel to the fire to divert attention from their failure to prevent hundreds of deaths during the last hajj. Maybe that’s true and part of the story, but it doesn’t give us any clues how to overcome differences between the western and the islamic world. And imho this is the real question.
This may well be the first of Tim’s posts in which I have a fair amount of agreement, aside from his Friday beer posts which I ALWAYS endorse. One quibble, however; I think the US State Department’s position on all this has been largely misreported. Virtually all of the reporting overlooked the Department’s attempt to both condemn the vulgar nature of some of the cartoons while vigorously defending the right to free expression. I agree, however, that they could have structured their paper better…but we are after all dealing with the kind of people that love to see pins dancing on the heads of needles.
t. jasper parnell
It is true that the 30 Years’ War was a disaster for the Empire, or much of it like Magdeburg and Simplissimus’ farmstead, but consider what the French learned from TYW: political realism, understood as the divorce of “reasons of state” from all moral considerations, i.e., the rise of the Politiques.
It is not the case, however, that European society, or even German, learned “toleration” as a result of the TYW. For example, Brandenburg-Prussia, first under the Great Elector and later under Freddy the Better than Most, linked their foreign policy to “Protestantisme,” or the use of military power to protect fellow co-religionists. When Freddy the better than most invaded Silesia, he and B-P’s propgandists used the decades-long complaints from Protestants concerning the Hapsburgs’ mistreatment of their co-religionists their. Indeed, Freddy the better than most’s international image was greatly enhanced, at least among Protestants because of the invasion. Toleration, such as it was, is as late-coming to the lands of the earstwhile Empire as it was for most of the rest of the world, and even now it is incomplete, viz kinder statt inder.
1) Saudi Arabia – you want to editorialize about the Haj stampede and call us pushers? The sound you hear is us b*tch-slapping you.
2) Iran – we can’t afford to give them any ammunition in Iraq or with other ME nations now. Bolton cares more about votes than values anyday.
hehe, “Freddy the Better than Most”! Sry Mr. Jasper, I’m getting ready for superbowl, will write more tomorrow
“Why did we capitulate to what in my opinion is the wrong side of this debate”
But this isn’t a parlor “debate” about 1st amendment rights. The right in question is the right to subject 1.2 billion people’s faith to public ridicule and sacrilege. Of course we have that “right” technically, but what kind of idiot exercises such a right?
When the Taliban set to destroy some hillside Buddahs the western press was outraged, but that was a far less narrow, less provocative act than doing an offensive representation of Mohammed in a cartoon.
The arsonists, after all, are mostly street urchins; the newspapers are instruments of “enlightenment.”
As a jigaboo, the answer is yes.
When was the last time you saw Amos and Andy on broadcast television? While there are the few who might want to burn down the station, the majority would boycott the shit out of whoever is selling it.
And offense is relative. I think the Grand Theft Auto ormotoes the worst thug life stereotypes, but do I want Joe Liberman banning it? Hell no.
It the difference between night and day of a representative of the US governement disrespecting the Koran in a prison and Ted Rall doing something equally offensive in a cartoon.
One has the authority and weight of government sanction and may thus be an act of war. The other is juts plain tought shit.
The irony of having the most theologically obtuse people running the US governement at the time this blowing up is pretty large. Our own theocrats and generals and yammering on about this offense or that and it is us liberals who are saying piss off with the ACLU to back them.
Speaking of piss, I thought Piss Christ was a cool pictrue but an blasphemous piece or work. Somehoe we managed to live withit and everything else in this country because some of us know religion’s power stops at the church door. Or at least it should.
Yes, that does tilt toward conspiracy theory, but there is one important fact to remember:
The cartoons were printed on September 30, 2005 in Meninger Jyllands-Posten.
I hate to say it, but five months passed without a peep and suddenly, months after publication, this becomes and issue.
It is food for thought as to why now and not on, say, October 1, 2005.
As long as it’s private citzens doing it. Fuck them.
t. jasper parnell
1)the kind of idiot who thinks the prohibition wrong-headed
2)a image expressive of an idea/argument no matter how horrific is not the same as a destructive action
3)newspapers then as now are vehicles for the attitudes of those writing for them; in and off themselves they are vehicles for nothing
4) street urchins seems an odd characterization
You mean the US Government might want to show that fanatic Muslim ideology is dangerous and this is a way to make that point.
If so, good for them. They finally did something right. Even a stopped analog clock is right twice a day (digital, only once).
Don’t lie to me about WMD, or fabrictae ties to Al Queada. Want to get me riled up, show me that my free speech rights are in danger.
No one expects the Spanish Inquisition!
I think that’s about right. I’d just add this reminds me of the issue over a “flag burning” amendment. That’s another area where many Americans feel free speech ought to be curtailed to protect the sensibilities of the larger population. In fact, the stigma against burning the American flag and creating caricatures of the prophet seem remarkable similar to me.
Also interesting how this issue jumbles up the right and left ends of the political sphere.
I was originally thinking Langley.
But on further reflection, I realize the probable culprits live in Salt Lake City.
What’s really interesting about the current furor is that the same Moslems who attack the cartoons for depicting Islam as violent toward non-Moslems are frequently responding by being…violent toward non-Moslems.
Another interesting point, though: one right-wing blogger (“Gateway Pundit”, since I seem unable to print URLs in my comments here without blowing up the whole site) claims that an Islamist group in Denmark which has played a central role in whipping up the furor since last September deliberately added three particularly insulting anti-Moslem cartoons to the original set — including one portraying Mohammed as a pedophile — and refuse to say where they came from.
Religion is the problem in at least one sense — it gives the shit heads a shield to hide behind. If the shit heads who respond to perceived insult with violence just identified themselves as the SHWRTPIWV, nobody would care what their excuse was for committing violence, they’d just shoot them or lock ’em up and be done with it.
It’s the fact that the SHWRTPIWV blend with their religious groups that gives them power. The people who share religious beliefs with these people should make a concerted effort to marginalize and extricate the SHWRTPIWV from their midst so that their religion is not tainted by shitheadedness.
If that’s so, I guess certain genocidal events that took place across Europe and into the Soviet Union from the mid-1930s through the mid-1940s must represent the most spectacular incident of shared and sustained amnesia in history.
That would still leave unexplained the “ethnic cleansing” unpleasantness in Central Europe in the 1990s.
No, on second thought that whole tolerance thesis is pure nonsense.
Unfortunately, you’re probably right about a vote going to Biblical creationism over evolution science. But I doubt that means that a majority of Americans harbor fundamentalist beliefs. It is really a failure of education and information. When we run up against something we don’t understand, we’re likely to fall back on the most familiar and least complex explanation. Large numbers of Americans would likely say that they also believe in ghosts and alien visitation. That’s a whole lot easier (and more exciting in some ways) than doing the hard, investigative work that explains crop circles and houses with cold spots. We haven’t done a very good job of educating people about evolution. The omnipotent magician of Genesis is a lot easier to understand.
Tim- I love you-John-I love you- Steelers Win!!
Tim, that argument is crap. I’ve seen it before.
“Why did the girl wear the short skirt and go to that bar? Wasn’t she just asking to be raped?”
If the victim is doing something lawful, it isn’t asking to be victimized. To say that the Danish press was asking for for trouble, is to either sanction the Muslim rioting, or to hold Muslims to a lower standard of behavior than we hold ourselves.
“Why did we capitulate to what in my opinion is the wrong side of this debate?”
If anyone is interested, the full text of the State Department statement on the controversy can be found here.
In it, they put the US foursquare on the side of freedom of speech and the press while condemning the cartoons. How Tim managed to place the US government “on the opposite side” of free speech is a mystery to me – unless, of course, the truth would have damaged his cuckoo contention that since our government doesn’t mind fundamentalist religions so much, we actually like the religious nuts who are burning embassies and torching flags in the Middle East.
I don’t quite know how to respond to this kind of idiocy except to say that if the gimlet-eyed bureaucrats at State have succumbed to the siren song of Christian fundamentalism, we are in deep s**t.
It’s not crap. (Actually, I think Tim could be wrong for the reason Gray brought up, that it’s not an orchestrated effort but was done by individuals with their own goals. But he’s not necessarily wrong, and your analogy is inaccurate.)
The reason “she must have been asking for it” is so offensive and wrong-headed is not just because of the words themselves, but mostly because they are almost always accompanied by the assumption that the rape was deserved or even desired. But that doesn’t mean you can never, ever ask if someone intentionally caused an apparent negative. And just because one “why did they do it” question carries the assumption that the bad thing was deserved, doesn’t mean that every such question throughout history has. If you’re watching a brewing bar fight and the little guy is clearly being a wiseass and trying to provoke the other, you don’t have to excuse the big guy’s reaction to ask why the little guy was doing it.
Put it another way. If there had been no violent reaction to the cartoon but it had still earned the paper international press – in more general terms, if the result was obviously positive – would it still be crap to ask if they did it as a publicity stunt? Of course not.
As was pointed out, the paper knew how hard it was to get someone to draw such a picture. They went out of their way to do it. There’s nothing wrong with wondering why. We could use a little more introspection and curiosity in this area, I think…
“To say that the Danish press was asking for for trouble, is to either sanction the Muslim rioting, or to hold Muslims to a lower standard of behavior than we hold ourselves.”
Pure sophistry. No one is “sanctioning” rioting. nor is anyone is “holding Muslims to a lower standard.”
Rather we seek to understand the cause of the rioting, recognizing the reality that our perceptions of the gravity of the offense might differ.
If young yahoos torching buildings offends your prim western sensibilties, I suggest you also mull over what we might be doing that offends the sensibilties of much of the world. The least of which, under this administration, is playing international cop and world finger-wagger. Whatever happened to the quaint conservative notion of minding our own goddamn business!
As to the question about offending a billion Muslims…
A better question is whether the tenets of Islam apply to those of us who are unbelieving infidels.
It’s a sacrilege to depict Mohammed if you’re a Muslim. In fact, Islam has prohibitions on depicting humans and animals, period – which is why Islamic artists concentrate on calligraphy, geometric forms, etc.
But I’m not Islamic. So the Koranic prohibitions don’t apply to me, or to the thousands of Western artists who paint people and animals. However, the Muslim fnantics seem to think they do.
It’s been written (all over the place) that the problem may be that “Islam missed the Enlightenment.” I differ with that – I don’t think the Islamic Enlightenment has happened yet. 500 years ago Christianity was going through a period of bloody warfare all its own. Islam is a younger religion than Christianity, by about 600 years. So it’s likely that the Islamic Enlightenment (and a consequent settling-down) has yet to occur.
ATS says, in part: “No one is ‘sanctioning’ rioting.”
In the very next paragraph he basically does just that when he offers up the usual mindless crap about “understanding:” “Rather we seek to understand the cause of the rioting, recognizing the reality that our perceptions of the gravity of the offense might differ.”
This was hardly wearing a short skirt to a biker bar. This was more like walking up to the biggest, burliest biker in a bar and pissing on his chair. True, what you’ve done may still fall under freedom of expression, but if the guy in the chair decks you for your expressed opinion, you can’t honestly be surprised.
I think Tim’s got at least a semi-balance of the right idea. Either the Danish newspapers just haven’t been in enough rough bars or they’re deliberately poking a bear with a stick. The religious right in this country has generally become desensatized to people pranking religion. The Book of Danial provoked some harsh criticism and the South Park Jesus inevitably brings forth a call for censorship from less mainstream America, but no one has ever torched a TV station in the US over content of programming (at least to my knowledge).
The Muslim world has, at long last, entered the global community. For a country that’s never had telephones, much less public television, to suddenly be blindsided by cable-by-satallite and the world wide web is most likely very shocking. Blasphemy takes on a whole new definition when you’re not cutting off a tongue for taking the Lord’s name in vain, but watching your most beloved Prophet turned into a comical stab at Mid-Eastern politics. Eventually, Syria, Saudi-Arabia, and the rest will have to either live with these stabs or go Amish. They can’t keep up this level of intensity for every satirical poke they receive or they’ll find themselves rioting 24/7.
t. jasper parnell
“young yahoos” calls to mind the disco riot during the White Sox’s game, burning down a counsulate is a far cry from Yahooism. It is the use of violence to enforce, as was just mentioned, specific religious rules through force on those who do not accept the legitimacy of the religiously-based prohibition. If it makes you feel better, by all means castigate the newspapers that dared to ignore someone’s religious sensibilities. But it is, to my mind, the height of foolishness to argue that the newspapers’ publication of cartoons justifies violence.
Furthermore, the riots and tulmults assume, incorrectly, that the Danish state is or ought to be able to restrict the contents of newspapers published in Denmark. Those who engaged in these actions are the individuals who require an increased understanding of the “Other.”
I understand that specific religious sensibilites were “offended” by the cartoons; I don’t care and I don’t think that focusing our “understanding” on this materially alters the fact that resorting riot and mayhem in response to cartoons needs to be condemened without reservation. If the Danes had led some kind of a military mission to the Middle East in order to compel the use of imagary repugnant to Muslims, then by all means meet force with force.
When when maniacs murder doctors, burn books, or execute film directors in the name of Islamic or Christian religious convictions these acts are repugnant and need to be condemened.
Y’know, Cyrus and Zifnab, how can you say it’s deserved to have your embassy burned, to have calls for your beheading, vague threats of some violent genocidal revolution, and so forth? Is that kind of “protest” really within the ambit of free speech? If so, can I burn your houses and threaten to behead you, for insulting Christianity? Hey, just exercising my First Amendment rights…
The Other Steve
The unemployment rate is pretty high in many of these countries. This may be the only job they can get.
For what it’s worth, the noun is “Dane;” the adjective is “Danish.” So, people from Denmark are “Danes” or “Danish people.” Just a little pet peeve…
“When when maniacs murder doctors, burn books, or execute film directors in the name of Islamic or Christian religious convictions these acts are repugnant and need to be condemned.”
I agree completely, but when this many people get involved, simply attributing it to a primitive mentality is what used to be called a “blood libel.”
The wise course is to seek to diminish the fury that lies behind the violence. That points to more complex solutions than jingoist bluster about “Islamofascism” (a stupid coinage).
The Other Steve
It appears the areas of this issue highlight the overwhelming complexity of the situation.
You have the American Taliban coming out in support of the Muslim rioters, because they are in favor of banning Christian blasphemy.
You have Conservatives coming out telling us we need to promote better understanding and tolerance, because they’re afraid this is going to just further destabilize that shithole called Iraq.
You have Europeans screaming for support of Free Speech, while at the same time displaying their closeted hatred towards Islam. Some may not appreciate it, but Europe is still very much a series of very Christian nations. They may hide it, but it is there, as anyone who has actually been to Europe may attest.
Frankly, I am in support of the Danes. While I understand that the cartoons may have been somewhat inappropriate, you don’t get a whole lot of sympathy when complaining about a cartoon calling you violent extremists, by burning stuff. I think the real issue here is the Islamic world waking up to the reality of tolerance. That is, tolerating the fact that not everybody agrees with them or feels they must abide by Sharia law.
It’s just interesting. I too am saddened that the US has capitulated on this rather than showing leadership in support for Freedom of Speech.
t. jasper parnell
You are mistaken. The “blood libel” refers to the belief that Jews needed Christian blood for religious rituals. Helmut Walser Smith wrote a very assessable account of the Libel’s history encased in a detailed exploration of a alleged Jewish ritual murder in a small east Prussian town in 1900.
The key difference between the current idiocy and the blood libel is that the cause of the organized attack on the “Other” results not from a misinterpretation of an event (no Jew ever killed a Christian because of a need for his or her blood) in this case the the most fanatcial and unruly members of the Muslim world are angry because of something that actually happened: cartoons that violated their deeply held beliefs. It is the belief of the rioters, at least if we are to judge by actions, that offending against these fundamental tenets of Islam properly requires violent responce.
One could disagree with my conviction that the events require automatic and unequivicable condemnation; however, I am not engaged in a blood libel. I have not nor would I make some claim that the violence results from some onto-genetic something or other. Rather, as I hope my posts have made clear, I find the events currently unfolding to be evidence of the dangers of religous fanaticism, which is ultimately a form of ideology. Understanding this causal nexus, I suggested, will not obviate religiously-based violence in the future but rather will lead to timidity by those ascared of the recurrence of violence.
I hope was well that it is clear that I do not associated the violent nonsense with Muslims only but rather with all those who think that their religious convictions grant them a right to act in ways that are demonstrably wrong.
The Other Steve
The wise course is to print up about a billion copies of the writings of Ghandi translated into Arabic.
What are you talking about? Did you even read my post? I rechecked it just to be sure, and no, I really didn’t say that the Danes deserved what they got. Quote where I said so or admit you were just making shit up as you went along. Normally you’re one of the smarter posters around here, or at least one of the more careful, but this is type of “argument” I’d expect from scs.
I’d just like to call that the quote of the day.
First off, my comment was more directed at Zifnab. Sorry if I didn’t make that clear. But I read the blockquote portion above as something similar to Tim’s “they were asking for it.”
I don’t think that was the calculated effect. The paper originally printing the cartoons did so in a pretty even-handed, expositive manner. (The follow-on publications, not so much so… but still). Even if it was calculated as a publicity stunt, do you really think that Danes everywhere deserve to be under the gun for it?
The comment by Zifnab that set me off was:
Now, I drink in biker bars quite a bit less than I used to, but I assume the same rules still apply. The implication of this argument is “Don’t make even mild fun of Islam, because those wacky muslims will kick your ass.” Um, since when is that acceptable? When you’re speaking about oppressive regimes, I don’t think Nazi comparisons are inapt; Zifnab’s statement is akin to “don’t pick on those crazy brownshirts… they might kick your ass.” Or if it makes you feel better, “don’t pick on that wacky Pinochet… his death squads will get you, and face it, you wave that picket sign around, and you are asking for it.” Cyrus, I read your comments as a much milder version of Zifnab’s, but in the same vein.
It ain’t about winning the War in Iraq, it’s about a bigger war inside Islam, about whether Islam is going to fit into the rest of the big wide, more or less tolerant world. Holding the embassy-burners and the people calling for mass beheadings to a lesser standard sanctions their behavior.
In the end, it doesn’t really matter what the Danes do. I noted with interest this morning the news coverage featured Muslims from around the globe chanting “Death to the USA,” spurred on no doubt by their governments and their local state owned media, but chanting it all the same.
Once again Tim proves he’s more interested in reality than in partisanship. Why do you hate America, Tim?
For what it’s worth, I agree that the major reason why Islamic fundamentalism has soared in Europe and not in the United States is because of the fundamentally different attitude of Europeans towards those who are, let us say, suspiciously dusky. There are people who were born in France, or Germany, or the Netherlands, who have lived there for all their lives, who will never be able to attain the same legal standing and rights as their cohorts who are “really” French or German or Dutch. They will always be “Arabs” or “Turks” or “Pakis”, never French or German or Dutch. European nations have proven incapable of differentiating between racial identity and nationality, thus the issues in the Balkans where every racial sub-group insists on having its own nation or else, as vs. in America where you are an American regardless of ethnicity or country your forefathers came from. Even where not discriminated against under law, it’s perfectly legal in most European nations to discriminate against people based on appearance or name or even age. That’s the main reason why it is the cultural norm in most European countries to attach a photograph of yourself to your resume’. If you don’t, it’s assumed that you are too old or too dusky or too something or another and your resume’ is discarded.
When you take a sizable minority like that, and turn them into second-class citizens, you almost *guarantee* the rise of extremism. Because people who have been locked out of the political process, who have been locked out of the economic system except at the very lowest rung of day-laborers and transient labor, will always be looking for someone with an answer to their problems. And the Islamic extremists are providing that for far too many European Muslim youth.
Of course, us talking about this here in the United States is sort of like the pot calling the kettle black. Except our disenfranchised brown population speaks Spanish rather than Turkish or Arabic, and thus far has not proven particularly violent. Furthermore, while the first generation is discriminated against legally (due to lack of legal status), the second and further generations are legal U.S. citizens with full legal rights, which tends to take the wind out of any tendencies towards violence… people tend not to become violent if they believe that being non-violent means that their children will have more and better opportunities.
BTW, I do agree with this sentiment: “While I understand that the cartoons may have been somewhat inappropriate, you don’t get a whole lot of sympathy when complaining about a cartoon calling you violent extremists, by burning stuff.”
But I forgot that I’m supposed to then say “See, this proves that all Muslims are scum and should be converted to Christianity or exterminated!”, at least, that’s the impression I get reading LGF and Free Republic. Oh well, penguins never were good at taking dictation!
– Badtux the Geopolitical Penguin
The Other Steve
My girlfriend said in Russia there are Russians, and then a bunch of other people who are not Russians even though they have passports which say Russia on them.
I would never suggest that the behaviors of the peoples in the Middle East was acceptable or appropriate. Nor would I suggest that the articles shouldn’t be published. I merely stress that we should be aware of cause and effect. If you “pick on those crazy brownshirts…” don’t be shocked when they try to kick your ass. When you “pick on that wacky Pinochet…” and “wave that picket sign around” do so while wearing a bullet-proof vest because you should know he’s going to start shooting at you.
The Danes took a calculated risk and were deliberately confrontational. That risk produced a result that many people could have predicted. The Danes did not make an error in exercising freedom of speech, but they did make an error in prepping for backlash. If you’re going to poke the anthill, get ready to get bitten. Know that you’re picking a fight and be ready to come out swinging or at least dodging and weaving.
Al Maviva, if you read the rest of the post you’ll note how I state that the Muslims, not the Danes, need to change. Either the Middle East can close their eyes, cover their ears, and pretend Danish newspapers don’t exist like they’ve been doing for the past 500 years. Or they can accept that a global community does not always print the things you want to read. But, while the Danes should not be blamed for the backlash, they should be prepared for it.
t. jasper parnell
Zifnab argues that
The “Danes” took no calculated risk, any more than all Muslims responded in some predicatable manner. A newspapwer published in Denmark published cartoons critical of violent extremist acting in religion’s name. Violent extremeist acting in religion’s name burned, shot at and otherwise behaved in a decidedly uncivil manner toward all Danes. In so doing, they, like Zifnab, failed to distinquish between between state and private between legitimate and illegitimate responses to churlish cartoons. Are you then suggesting, that any time a private enterprise or person behaves in a manner unacceptable to violent nutcases that the stateof which that person is a part gird its loins for war?
The State department capitulated. Not the churches(vy that I mean fundamentalists,’American Taliban types as well as most Christian denominations), not the people.
Blogs are doing what the MSM refuses to do(though I think Fox showed the cartoons). They are printing them, adding to them, showcasing Muslim hypocracy–not only with Muslims’s anti-Jewish and anti-Christian cartoons, but with Muslim depictions of Mohammed that date from earliest times to the present(both sources, incidently, violate the supposed ban on representational art).
A schism between the people of the West and teir governments is being highlighted. The vast majority of ‘the people’ do not want to surrender their right to theocratics maniacs intent on conquering the world–while the politicians still believe that mealy-mouthing might buy them a bit more ‘status quo’ time.
Additiomally, the ‘Creation science’ poll is a bit misleading, the options given are far too few to get a good idea of actual belief trends. Many people believe in some sort of hazy ‘creator’ that got the universe going who do not believe in any faiths dogma. The biblical/guided evolution ideas are te only options open to those people–making it appear far more ignorant that it actually is.
Also, ‘education’ cannot help as of yet in this fight. I laugh uproariously at purportedly ‘educated’ atheists espousing their notion that there absolutely, positively is no god. They believe this as utter fact without any proof–and yet deny that they have a faith.
There is only one truly, scientifically, logical stance on the question of the existence of any gods–we don’t know. To err on either side of that logical point is to be delving into faith.
To highlight that the capitulation might have been standard State department idiocy–this, from Reuters–
U.S. President George W. Bush called Denmark’s prime minister on Tuesday to voice support for the Nordic country, whose embassies are the target of violent protests over cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad.
“I am happy to inform you that just a few minutes ago, President Bush called me to express support and solidarity with Denmark in the light of the violence against Danish and other diplomatic missions,” said Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen.
“The Danes took a calculated risk and were deliberately confrontational.”
Actually, a single Dane took a VERY calculated risk, And that Dane, Flemming Rose, an admired of Daniel Pipes of Campus Watch, is obviously no friend of free speech in the first place.
What Rose wants is what, ironically, Al Qaeda wants– a class of civilizations.