February 5, 2006

The ridiculous fear of ridicule.

CNN reports:
Islamic anger over newspaper depictions of the Prophet Mohammed is boiling over into violence around the world, with protesters targeting the embassies of countries where the cartoons were published.

Smoke billowed Sunday from the Danish consulate in central Beirut, where hundreds of demonstrators thronged streets around the building to protest a Danish newspaper's publication of cartoons depicting Islam's revered prophet....

"We do not accept any act that effects the security of others," said Prime Minister Fouad Siniora. "These groups include people who intended to [destroy] properties on purpose, giving a bad example of Islam.

"Islam has nothing to do with any of this, no matter how others disrespected the prophets, about whom God says, we have protected you from those who ridicule."
Does it show the strength of your religious faith to react with violence to those who ridicule it? To act righteous in commiting acts of violence is to claim the response is proportional to the offense, so you are assigning great weight to the ridicule. If your faith is so strong, why do you perceive such power in the ridicule? Some crude little drawings and jokes threaten you? Your fear of ridicule ridicules your faith more than the ridicule you fear.

IN THE COMMENTS: Alaska Jack poses a hypothetical:
Suppose at a large dinner party one of the guests relates how his sick child's health is failing and that his wife has just been diagnosed with cancer. Upon hearing this, another guest, a cartoonist, whips out his pen and draws a series of cartoons ridiculing and making fun of the condition of the child and wife and passes them around the table. Do all the zealots agree this is a great example of freedom of expression and should be celebrated? And if the first guest gets angry, is the correct response for all the other guests to draw their own insulting cartoons so as not to chill freedom of expresson? Or is our cartoonist guest just a jerk?

Much discussion follows, not answering the hypothetical -- the answer to this hypothetical is obvious -- but posing alternate hypotheticals and claiming them to be better analogies.

111 comments:

elliot said...

The Islamic (and in some cases sympathetic Christian) responses to those cartoons don't even fit into the precepts of their own religions.

Akiva said...

That makes sense in a Western context and mindset. But their religion specifically states the insulter must be killed and the infidel subjegated, and their cultural context supports it.

It's not a matter of fear, it's righteous indignation and zealotry, something with which most of the U.S. is no longer familiar. It's so far out of the Western cultural context that even when it's repeatedly seen, it's ignored for what it is.

It's not the majority, but that 5-20% runs their society, or at least is a major driver.

They'll kill you for the insult and not be concerned with their own lives in the process. Hard to grasp, isn't it?

Gerry said...

Logic does not work in this case. As Mark Steyn notes, when one points out their intolerance, and they respond by threatening to kill that person, it sort of makes the whole thing moot.

Perhaps radical Islamists fear ridicule. But no matter how bad we make them feel about their own insecurities, or how good we make them feel about them, they are still going to want to kill us.

Sloanasaurus said...

The truly revealing fact about this issue is that no one seems to be showing the "offensive cartoons." There is no link in any of the stories.

I finally saw one posted at http://powerlineblog.com/archives/013031.php

Powerline says that this is the worst of the photos.

Its pathetic

Ann Althouse said...

Akiva, Gerry: You are lumping a lot of people together, including the Prime Minister of Lebanon, whom I quoted and base my comment on. Nearly, everyone has the capacity for reason, which includes seeing beyond the limitations of one's place and time. You're also assuming that their culture does not contain sound ideas and a tradition of reasoning (as Elliot notes).

Our culture too contains threads of reason and unreason. Now is not the time to look for more ways to say people are irreconcilably different. That is a dark, hopeless vision. What do you hope to accomplish with it? Why are you so sure you're being reasonable?

Gerry said...

"You are lumping a lot of people together, including the Prime Minister of Lebanon, whom I quoted and base my comment on."

Yes, I was lumping a lot of people together, but not as many as I suspect you think I was, based on the example of the Prime Minister.

I included the word "radical" for a reason. I think that by his words and actions, Siniora is showing that descriptor probably exempts him.

However, it is not clear to me that in the Middle East, Siniora's view of the role of violence is the majoritarian one. Is it clear to you?

I fear we are in a situation where there are strains of Islam which are non-virulent (and on these, we do not need to convince them to be rational, since they already are) and strains which are virulent (and on these, convincing is not possible). I also fear that the latter has more backing than the former in the Middle East.

SippicanCottage said...

"He made me look ridiculous! And a man in my position cannot afford to look ridiculous! And if your boss decides to try any of that rough stuff, tell him: "I aint no bandleader." Yeah, I heard that story."

Time for a horse's head?

SippicanCottage said...

Speaking of ridiculous, can we look forward to a visit from additional present and former republican presidents today, describing their bowel movements and trying desperately to marshal their college educated/whole english intellectual resources to spell a reference to autoerotic stimulation properly? Who will we get today? Warren G. Harding? Taft?

Gerry said...

Should have continued:

"Our culture too contains threads of reason and unreason. Now is not the time to look for more ways to say people are irreconcilably different. That is a dark, hopeless vision. What do you hope to accomplish with it? Why are you so sure you're being reasonable?"

That it is better to look for ways to reconcile differences does not mean that it is always possible. And developing a blind spot is generally a bad idea.

Is it a dark, hopeless vision to think that there is probably no way to come to a peaceful accord with radical Islam? Perhaps. But Godwin's law says that the longer a discussion goes on, the probability of a Nazi reference goes to one, and while I usually avoid them, I think it is time for one here. Would it have been a dark, hopeless vision pre-WWII to be saying that the Nazi vision is incompatible with civilization, and that trying to come to accord with it is both an exercise in futility and morally questionable? Perhaps. Sometimes, a dark and hopeless vision is the correct one. And hopeless is often too easily applied. There is always hope, even if there may be tremendous storms to weather in the meantime.

Ann Althouse said...

Sloan: I don't see the reason for reprinting the cartoons. If there was a controversy over a blatantly sexual or racist cartoon and free speech, you wouldn't say we were supposed to show it. These are crudely drawn cartoons that offend some people. You can support free speech rights for offensive speech without having to repeat the offense.

Ann Althouse said...

Gerry: You keep throwing in "radical" to make your argument work. I never said I hoped to reason with the extreme elements. I am making the argument, which Siniora also made, that reaches out to the people who have to choose which side to take. It's important to argue why those promoting violence as a demonstration of religion are wrong, even as proponents of religion.

Gerry said...

"You keep throwing in "radical" to make your argument work."

No, I keep throwing in radical to make a different point than you are making. One that might or might not be contradictory to your point, depending.

"I never said I hoped to reason with the extreme elements."

I inferred incorrectly then, particularly from your comment about it being a dark and hopeless vision. If you agree that there are elements with which no discourse can succeed, we are in accord-- although perhaps not on the scope of the problem.

"I am making the argument, which Siniora also made, that reaches out to the people who have to choose which side to take. It's important to argue why those promoting violence as a demonstration of religion are wrong, even as proponents of religion."

I am completely on board with that. It *is* important. It is a time for choosing-- in part because the fight has been brought to us, and in part so that we can find out just what is the scope of the problem we face.

Sloanasaurus said...

Althouse, my point is that these cartoons are not that offensive.

People need to realize how outrageous these protests are and they will realize when they see how not outrageous the cartoons are.

I know why people are not publishing them.... Fear.

Ann Althouse said...

Sloan: Unfortunately, the threats of violence create the inference that fear is the reason. This excludes the possibility of demonstrating respect for religious people who are offended and are susceptible to argument. I think it's important to reach out to them. You're saying you can't without caving to the threats. What a terrible dilemma! I'm taking the side of reaching out to the people who should reject violence. I think I'm on the better side here. What are you hoping to achieve?

Ann Althouse said...

I think my position is the better way to convince people that the violence is outrageous. Put together an argument that explains why being in your face and offensive is better. I think people need to calm down and demonstrate reason, not yell at each other.

Ricardo said...

You're taking this too lightly, and looking for simple and rational answers to a much more complex situation. What we're seeing is "the straw that broke the camel's back" after a millennium of perceived insults. This goes back to the crusades, and the West claiming that only it knows the real God. While the West talks a good Christian game, it seldom even acts in accordance with the real principles of Christ, much less ever shows tolerance or appreciation for other cultures. These waters have been simmering just below the boiling point for centuries, and are now boiling over. Telling Muslims that "you are not being rational" is not the way to calm these waters. Nor is invading their lands, or appropriating their oil. Bandaid fixes may calm this momentarily, but a much more engaged and thoughtful response is needed if we really want to live in peace with the Muslims. But, is that what we really want?

Pogo said...

While I too would like both sides to agree to reject violence, and do not condone that adolescent Western impulse to mock everything and everybody, the problem here is that the demands for respect of Islam will be relentless and progressive, and backed by threats and violent actions.

We will self-censor, but only those items which might offend Islamists. As a result, in the end there will be little difference between Sensitive Multicural Repect and Sharia law. It's the essence of dhimmitude, and the West seems quite ready to accept it (see Ricardo's typical blame-the-West post), rather than face the violence that underpins the Islamist's view.

So fear, indeed, is behind the response. You must remember, as the islamists have themselves stated, they do not want anything from us, they want us dead.

Eugene said...

Perhaps the Syrian government (for one) is simply taking China's lead. This business of an outraged citizenry attacking foreign embassies in righteous indignation sounds awfully familiar (full interview here):

Q: Why do Koizumi’s visits to Yasukuni Shrine provoke such strong reactions among Chinese people, Koreans and other people in Asia?

A: It allows people to indulge their emotions. The Chinese public certainly has no other outlet for political expression. Also, it’s more satisfying than watching cheap television dramas because the element of nationalism gives them a sense of belonging to something greater than their everyday lives. So much of what passes for public opinion everywhere in the world is just emotionalism in disguise.

Q: It has often been reported in the Japanese media that the anti-Japanese riots that occurred in China in spring 2005 were orchestrated by the Communist Party, in order to allow frustrated Chinese people to blow off steam. In your opinion, how much of this is true?

A: Well, no one knows the extent of CP involvement except the people involved in China. There doesn’t seem to be any question that the Chinese government provided support to the demonstrators and encouraged them up to a point. They couldn’t have held the demonstrations without government acquiescence. . . .

Prime Minister Nakasone paid an official visit to Yasukuni in the 1980s [and the aforementioned political cartoons were first published back in September]. The Japanese revise their textbooks periodically. Yet the Chinese displeasure with Japan’s actions grew more pronounced only after they started to receive smaller amounts of ODA and internal Chinese dissent grew. Perhaps this was not a coincidence.

Also, the Chinese and Korean pressure on Japan regarding events that ended more than 60 years ago is partly an effort to keep the Japanese in a position of continuously apologizing. This provides them with a means to try to gain the upper hand in bilateral relations.

Mark said...

I also think Ms. Althouse is taking this too calmly. If I undertand her position, it's that we need to be calm and appeal to the religious muslims, which in part requires us not to offend them with cartoons or other things they'd find offensive.

I believe the upshot of that would be that Westerners would have to refrain from making drawings of Mohammed. They find that offensive. Therefore we are limiting our freedom of expression because there is a group somewhere that gets really angry when we express ourselves in certain ways. That establishes the principle then, that we will only be free to express ourselves as long as it doesn't make violent people unhappy - which, honestly, is not freedom of expression. It is caving to threats of violence. All any group that wants to muzzle a certain type of speech will have to do is threaten to be really violent, and according to Ms. Althouse's principle, it would be the reasonable thing then for us to not engage in that kind of speech anymore.

In my opinion, this is the time when we should all stand up and say "you are responsible for your feelings of outrage. If you don't like the cartoons, don't look at them. But you will not decide for us what we will publish in our countries." Every media outlet should be standing up together, publishing the cartoons - and every cartoonist and illustrator should be drawing more "offensive" cartoons so that there are so many millions of us standing up to these bullies that no one person has to be particularly brave. As it is, currently it is those 12 cartoonists in Denmark which are carrying the burden of Western free expression on their shoulders almost alone.

Sloanasaurus said...

"...I think it's important to reach out to them..."

Althouse, these are not the average Muslims protesting. these are the fanatics doing this to get us to appease them. They are not offended. They are doing this as a pretext to ferment violence. We should not stoop to this.

Ann Althouse said...

Mark: "Therefore we are limiting our freedom of expression because there is a group somewhere that gets really angry when we express ourselves in certain ways."

We need to restrain ourselves not because of their violence but in spite of it. We have our freedom of expression, because there is no censorship. The question is what we DO with our freedom. I am free to give the finger to everyone I see on the street today, however, I'm not going to do it. Sloan might say I'm just chicken.

We don't do everything we're free to do! We should set a good example. We should be more respectful than the law requires. Doing better than the law requires, especially toward those who are not returning the kindness, is a fundamental part of Christianity, which should be an important consideration for some of us.

But quite aside from aspiring to moral perfection, what is practical about this love of confrontation? Do you want a world war?

If you think it's not right to single out one religion to respect, the better solution is to respect all religions. Of course, I exclude the ideologies that purport to be religions that are destructively evil.

ShadyCharacter said...

Ricardo,

You do understand that the Crusades were a defensive war on the part of Christian Europe, right?

If you're unsure about this, I'd suggest a little research on your part. It kind of undermines your point...

bearbee said...

Ann: "You can support free speech rights for offensive speech without having to repeat the offense"

Does not repeating the offense mean to not reprint the cartoons or to never again publish any cartoon on the subject?

Ricardo: "....and the West claiming that only it knows the real God."

I thought the Koran states that Islam is the true religion of God.

Christians are not building churches in Saudi Arabia however mosques are being built in the West including in Britain and the US.

Palladian said...

Ricardo:

"While the West talks a good Christian game, it seldom even acts in accordance with the real principles of Christ, much less ever shows tolerance or appreciation for other cultures."

Ah, Christ as the kind hippie. While I admit that it's an attractive image, it's not an entirely accurate one. Christ did not wish for his followers to show tolerance or appreciation for "other cultures". He wanted them to accept him as the Son of God and spread that belief as quickly and broadly as possible, the beliefs and sensitivities of other cultures (including his own) be (literally) damned. The first duty of a Christian was and is to Christ and to God, not to promote trans-national cuddly fuzziness.

And I'm still waiting for that cheap, appropriated oil.

One of the great problems in this episode is that the Muslim world is an entirely male one, founded on violent, conquering principles and still ruled by them. When you look at images of riots and protests in Gaza and Syria and other parts of the Muslim world, you will see a vast crowd of men. If there are women present, they will be safely wrapped in their shrouds at the sidelines. Cultures so heavily imbalanced toward men following a male philosophical system based on conquest and honor/shame, who have no Enlightenment and no Reformation behind them will react in a primitive male manner to perceived insults and threats to their tenuous dominance. People guided by such a system would rather be killed (or kill) than be humiliated.

Gahrie said...

1) The islamic civilization does not place nearly as much importance on "reason" as we do in the West. Emotion, honor and revenge all trump reason in their culture.
2) There is no reward for moderation in the Islamic civilization. Instead power, wealth and influence resides in the extremists.

3) Islamic religious leaders fear Western liberal (in the classical sense) thought. They have seen the resulting loss of power of the church in the West, and they are not stupid.

I have common to the unfortunate conclusion that our two civilizations (a modern Western liberal one and a medeval Eastern Islamic one) cannot co-exist.

XWL said...

Well I'm an unapologetic non-practicing Heathen and I'm not above murderous thoughts against those who wish to murder me.

If this devolves into a 'clash of civilizations' only one of the parties in this fight really is qualified for the application of the term.

If they want a return to an 8th Century paradise, at some point we (at least the U.S., Europe, not so sure) will oblige them.

Muslims must fight the extremists in their midst, it's their ultimate survival, not ours, that's at stake.

If they refuse to see that then this century will be even bloodier than the last.

If reason prevails then their faith will flourish and they'll reap the benefits that technology, freedom, and the judicious combination of faith and reason provides.

I believe more will seek a 21st Century paradise than an 8th Century paradise and these conflagrations will burn themselves out without touching off a holocaust (the older meaning of the word applies here).

Marghlar said...

From reading these comments, it would seem that the response to extremism is just more extremism.

It is possible to both reject the violent rhetoric and action that a small number of muslims have chosen to adopt as a response to this incident, while also realizing that it was not a great idea to publish this cartoon in the first place. Many, many muslims find it very offensive to publish a depiction of Muhammed. At all. So they are responding, not to the ideology of these cartoons, but simply to the mode of delivery.

Similarly, when some artists wished to express their intended messages by such media as immersing crucifixes in bodily fluids, that was offensive to many Christians who viewed such symbols as being descecrated by such treatment.

The point is, there are many ways to communicate messages, and sometimes it is prudent to send the same message without insulting someone else's faith. That's not to say you don't criticize violence and intolerance -- just maybe you do so in a way less calculated to produce more of the same.

Obviously a balancing act is involved when you are coming up against a culture that has different values regarding expression than one's own. There are some accommodations that Western socieites probably shouldn't make to Muslim values. But the inability to realize that it was offensive to repeatedly publish these sort of cartoons, even after receiving reader feedback that this was a very offensive practice to many Muslims, diminishes us.

Ann: in response to your initial query about violent response -- yes, violence weakens one's position relative to tolerant communities, but strengthens that position within an intolerant one. In such situations (and I think some are present in parts of our own country), a religious offense is a huge deal, and deserves a huge response. They would say, this is not ridicule, it is blasphemy. In the same way that if I were to go into a very conservative Christian community and hang up pictures of Jesus being sodomized, there are decent odds that in many places I would receive a violent response. Intolerance is fundamentally about exclusion, and violence is often a very effective method of exluding those people and beliefs that one rejects.

Ricardo said...

ShadyCharacter: I do understand that the excuse for the Crusades was defensive, much like the excuse for Iraq was defensive.

Palladian: I actually agree with much of what you're saying. I think your characterization of a male dominated system is accurate, and has application beyond the narrow scope you're using it here. Where we may disagree is on your characterization of Christ, which seems tinged with Christianity's later reinterpretation of Christ's life for its own purposes, rather than the simplicity of Christ's message. But overall, you and I would agree on a lot, and I'm not nearly as much of a hippie peacenik as it might seem. There's a time for strength and force.

bearbee: Speaking hypothetically ... and not directing this to the extremists who are destroying embassies for a variety of political agendas ... the Koran is more tolerant of other religions such as Christianity, than Christianity (the institution) has been of other religions. But we could go around on this for hours. It depends on whether we're talking "pure theory", or how the various peoples and institutions like to interpret the pure theory. There's enough blame to go around, but blaming seldom really gets anyone to a real solution. As Dr. Phil likes to say (I can't believe I'm using him as a source): "Do you want to be right, or do you want to be happy?" Being right doesn't always get you to the best place. Not in marriages, not in international relations.

paulfrommpls said...

Ann -

What people might hope to accomplish by publishing them here is exactly what the newspapers in Europe are hoping to accomplish: saying to (radical?) Islam: back off, assholes, we actually do have some backbone about a few things.

Mark Steyn's column in the Sun-Times today that Gerry references makes a lot of interesting points, including soem examples we all have heard about tending to support the idea that this is not a one-off demand for needed sensitivity. There do seem to be signs that the demands keep coming - I love the one where Burger King Europe has taken cones off the menu because the swirly-tops look like the word "Allah" in Arabic script. (Assuming it's true.) And with the radical crew, it seems almost anything can become a cause celebre.

He also says - again, don't know if it's true or how true - that the orginal Danish editors were not simply trying to be brattily provacative:

"Jyllands-Posten wasn't being offensive for the sake of it. They had a serious point... the cartoons accompanied a piece about the dangers of "self-censorship" -- i.e., a climate in which there's no explicit law forbidding you from addressing the more, er, lively aspects of Islam but nonetheless everyone feels it's better not to."

I contacted the Strib asking if anyone down there was promoting the idea of publishing them; no, they're covering the story as a news story about this odd tension in Europe. They couldn't quite see how publishing the cartoons would add anything to the coverage; and the reader rep didn't directly respond to the possibility that perhaps someone down there might be promoting the idea of joining the press movement in Europe.

And of course today there's a guest editorial castigating the newspapers for doing something so needlessly provocative.

So thus far, here in the US, the press response is unanimous: do not print them; if possible find a way to condemn the morality of those who do; and then return to their accustomed brand of courage, whacking away at the neo-fascist Bush and crew.

By the way, here's what would happen if hell froze over and the Strib did step out and publish them: the local Islamic community would pronounce loudly about being insulted; there would be many letters condemning the decision; Women Against Military Madness would march with them in front of the Strib in defense of our Islamic neighbors; and I would think to myself that if we're lucky all this show of courageous solidarity might stave off a violent reaction.

And I for the first time would be fearful - literally - about writing a public letter in response, offering the Steynish view.

It's that last thing I'm most sure about, and in actualty is the strongest argument for every newspaper in the country publishing them simultaneously.

The nature of the cartoons themselves is totally beside the point, and has been almost from the beginning, especially since almost none of them can in any way be equated to the most vulgar past representatioon of "niggers" or something. I mean come on. Muhammed with a bomb in his turban - wow, where the heck does that concept come from? That's sure outta left field!

paulfrommpls said...

Ricardo -

Yes, being right doesn't necessarily get you to the happy place. Being honest in the largest sense however is a necessary component of getting there.

Focusing on the printing of the cartoons as the primary thing worth castigatng - as I believe Bil Clinton has done - is moral dishonesty . (Although in Clinton's defesne, he's probaly operating on the same subconscious level as a lot of us: it does no good to condemn thoe who most deserve it, so why even try?)

Speaking of honesty, in the European context, anyway, I do not accept that it is a tiny radical fringe of Islam that believes a violent resopnse is justified. And I also believe and have read that moderate Muslims in any Western context are given courage when they see the host country's government being willing to stand with them against the bullshit, instead of sensitively finding ways to be sensitive, rather than facing the elephant in the room.

To reiterate: the bullshit response is the Only Issue here. Especially if it's true, as I say, that only wishful thinking will pin this on a tiny radical fringe of Islam.

The West should stand as one here and say: No.

Akiva said...

Ann: I also did not say a majority, but clearly the extremist minority has the podium. There is practically no countering Muslim liberal or progressive groups. Do such groups exist, yes (though exclusively in Western countries). Do they have any voice, are they willing to stand up at all? Clearly no.

So again, the extreme minority, depending on country from 5-20%, is steering the ship.

Hear any Muslim voice standing up against suicide attacks? Standing for freedom of speech? (Note they have no problem using similar cartoons to frequently demonize Jews and, now also, the U.S.)

Notice the protest signs, stating murder, mayhem, terror, in response to a cartoon and insult.

Ok, they're upset, it's not my place to judge what's appropriate for them to be upset by. They want to hold rallies shouting about it, burning a flag and burning cartoonists in effigy. Expressing their feelings loudly, showing their anger at the insult. No problem.

But, when a culture which currently has a reputation, deserved and earned, for extreme members doing extreme things (murder, mayhem, destructiveness) on a somewhat regular basis, goes out threatening mass amounts of more of the same, I'm not going to pretend they might not be serious. Clearly they have significant numbers who are very serious in fulfilling those threats.

If this was the 13th century and the Bishop came and announced he was going to have the town burned down for heresy, I'd take him deadly seriously as well.

paulfrommpls said...

Ricardo -

"the Koran is more tolerant of other religions such as Christianity, than Christianity (the institution) has been of other religions.."

You're choosing your words carefully.. "The Koran" rather an "Muslims" or "modern Muslims;" "Christianity...has been" rather than choosing to look at actual reality in, say, the so-very-radically-Christian US today:

Where metropolitan area are dotted with mosques, enjoying the exact same tax-exempt status as any other religion, where Islamic leaders are welcomed fervently into the ecumenical organizations, where the opening of a mosque is greeded with high praise in newspapers...

All of which is fine. But as I read about the attitudes toward minority religions in so many especially Arab Muslim nations, the notion that "there's enough blame to go around" on this specific score seems deeply, um, obtuse.

Pogo said...

The West has in the past followed abide by Voltaire's sentiment that "I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it."

In contrast, Islamists say, "You can't say that, on penalty of death." Whether it meshes with our new-found sensitivities matters not a whit. They themselves will not be so tolerant to Jews or Christians or Buddhists or Any other religion. "Submit or die" is their only message.

Islamists could not be more clear in their demand. Why this is not understood is a mystery to me.

Pogo said...

P.S. There is no moderate position in "Submit or die."

Ann Althouse said...

Sloan: "These are not the average Muslims protesting. these are the fanatics doing this to get us to appease them. They are not offended. They are doing this as a pretext to ferment violence. We should not stoop to this."

These, they, etc. ... you are talking about a different subgroup. I agree that there are a lot of people who have descended into unreason. You forget that there are many others looking on -- a billion Muslims in the world. These people are watching and forming judgments. I assume many of them (and many others) are impressed by the way Americans after 9/11 did not make broad, hostile statements about Muslims (though we were free to!). It is important to maintain this restraint.

Paul: "What people might hope to accomplish by publishing them here is exactly what the newspapers in Europe are hoping to accomplish: saying to (radical?) Islam: back off, assholes, we actually do have some backbone about a few things."

Yeah, but it's not just the "assholes" who hear and feel this hostility. How does that help? Get some backbone doesn't mean just do any damn thing. That's the same reasoning the rioters follow. How about having an intelligent response to the whole set of problems, inside of a stupid face off over some bad cartoons. What an idiotic descent into hostility!

PatCA said...

"The ridiculous fear of ridicule."

Oh, I thought you were talking about CNN, which ends each story now with the disclaimer that "CNN has chosen not to show the cartoons out of respect for Islam." I won't go into their depictions of Piss Christ and Dung Virgin Mary yet again.

Most people are still talking as if this is spontaneous. I don't buy that. Check out the fake cartoons the Danish imam brought to the ME in order to incite this riot: http://gatewaypundit.blogspot.com/

Jen Bradford said...

I was pretty astonished and disappointed, listening to Karzai on CNN today. His position was, "Okay, we'll accept that it's not the government's fault, and that you have a free press, and have apologized... but now that you realize what you've done "it must never happen again".

But obviously it will happen again, and people will be threatened or killed over it. A great many Muslim demonstrators believe that people like Theo Van Gogh deserve to die, and it's the responsibility of the free world to reject this. That's the primary issue, as I see it.

Turning this into a mild chat about how the western media can be more solicitous of the people who are threatening to firebomb them is suicidal.

Pat - absolutely. It looked like all the London signs were created by the same hand. Another op ed asked how so many Danish flags came to hand so readily for this "spontaneous" demonstration.

Jen Bradford said...

Ann, why is it "idiotic" to be hostile to people who are threatening violence for being depicted as violent?

Pogo said...

I wish I could recall a nice reasonable discussion with a tolerant representative of moderate Islam chastising both the West for disrespect and Islamists for vowing to kill those who resist them, but its been 4 years since 9/11, and I am still waiting for the religion of peace to do anything but advance their agenda for a united Middle East and Eurabia.

I will tolerate this no longer. When it happens in my street, believe me, I'll be ready.

Charles Chapman said...

Man Convicted of Masterminding U.S.S. Cole Attack Escapes Jail
http://www.nytimes.com/2006/02/05/international/middleeast/05cnd-yemen.html?hp&ex=1139202000&en=c4480afd0414f3db&ei=5094&partner=homepage
Of course, this is just a coincidence. I mean, it is highly unlikely that the mastermind of the Cole attack, and 22 other prisoners, had inside help when they escaped a Yemeni jail through a tunnel. It is not like anyone looked away.

No, the Muslims in the Middle East who support terrorists are clearly in the minority. Nothing to see here. Move along.

Ricardo said...

Paul:

"You're choosing your words carefully ..."

I'm trying to. We're mixing so many apples with oranges in these responses, that it's difficult to keep track of what people are really upset about. My bottom line is very similar to where Ann seems to be, that hostility is not a measured, nor effective, response to hostility. Although I believe that force (and sometimes overwhelming force) is required in certain situations, it's not a smart "going in position". Right now, the majority of posts here seem to favor continuing (and even escalating) a Hatfield and McCoy type situation. I don't believe that will get us where we want to go.

Charles Chapman said...

Ann, may I ask, have you ever dealt with a bully? A true, pure, physical bully?

There are people in this world who respect only strength, and respond only to strength. Period. They do not respond to "reason" or to compromise.

Quite frankly, the assymetry of the situation, and those who continue to make excuses for it, drives me nuts. I've attended services in various Mosques in Los Angeles, read the Koran, been proselytized, etc. It was very interesting, and I'm very glad I did. Muslims freely practice their religion in the U.S., and even after 9/11 and the Cole incident (see above) the primary concern of many Americans is that we not hurt their feelings, that we be senstive, that we be understanding.

But let me try to attend a Christian church in Saudi Arabia. Let me try to proselytize in Egypt.

Balfegor said...

Q: Why do Koizumi’s visits to Yasukuni Shrine provoke such strong reactions among Chinese people, Koreans and other people in Asia?

A: It allows people to indulge their emotions. The Chinese public certainly has no other outlet for political expression. Also, it’s more satisfying than watching cheap television dramas because the element of nationalism gives them a sense of belonging to something greater than their everyday lives. So much of what passes for public opinion everywhere in the world is just emotionalism in disguise.


Well, that may explain China, because the Chinese live in a repressive police state and their homegrown dramas are boring with low production values, but not South Korea, which lives in moderately open state (now), and whose dramas are fantastic. In South Korea, they hate Japan, and hate when Koizumi visits the Yasukuni because they feel they are being insulted. Because their national honour is being tarnished. Because they are not being given proper respect. That, and probably a fair number of them just hate the Japanese.

But really, it comes down to disrespect. Saying:

Does it show the strength of your religious faith to react with violence to those who ridicule it?

seems to me an extremely modern response. Does it show the strength of your religious faith to react with violence to those who ridicule it? Why . . . yes, actually, I think it does. Why wouldn't it? It clearly demonstrates your passion for your faith, at least. Not quite to the level of Abraham sacrificing Isaac, perhaps, but it's up there. It demonstrates a willingness to do terrible things for your faith.

To act righteous in commiting acts of violence is to claim the response is proportional to the offense, so you are assigning great weight to the ridicule.

That seems entirely sensible. Yes, clearly, they do assign great weight to the ridicule. They're calling for executions, after all. The cartoons are blasphemous.

If your faith is so strong, why do you perceive such power in the ridicule? Some crude little drawings and jokes threaten you?

I wonder if this is a meaningful way to frame the protesters' perspective. First off, "threaten you?" I don't think they care about threats to themselves personally -- they care about an insult to their God (and his prophet). It is not that there is "power," as we usually mean it, in the ridicule -- I don't think they're balancing some sort of equation in their heads whereby threats (personal threats!) are met with counterthreats and a bunch of drawings enter in with some mystical power. I can't see why they would think of it in such terms. Those are just our terms.

I mean, compare it with flag burning. Does a flag burning threaten anyone personally? No. Does it command a power to threaten the nation? No. But do people feel strongly about it anyhow, so much so that they'd be willing to pop someone in the eye for doing so, or even try and pass a Constitutional amendment so flag-burners can be clapped in irons? Why, yes, they do. They venerate the flag as symbol of something very dear to them (their country), and to see it disrespected is a deep, deep insult.

The flip side, of course, is that people know it hurts when these dear symbols are disrespected, which is why every ragtag rabble in the world seems to have a supply of American flags ready for burning. And perhaps why, in the Middle East today, they're burning Danish flags. A futile effort to give us back a little of the hurt we give them.

----

In some sense, I think these protesters must be terribly frustrated. They look at Westerners, who seem to care for absolutely nothing but their own skins -- they don't care if you burn their flags or disrespect their gods or spit on their women or show any sign of caring about anything in the world at all save their grubbing material well-being -- and try to find some way they can strike back. Against such a soulless, selfish people, what's the only thing one can do? Threaten them with the only thing they care about, which is death.

I think this is almost the flip side of the suicide bomber problem -- we deter people with, ultimately, the threat of death, but the suicide bomber doesn't really care about that. (And the things he does care about -- shame, humiliation, and blaspheme -- are things which we, formally or informally, have taken off the table. So we are at a loss.)

---

Now, the issue you seem to be getting at in your post appears (to me) to be the question of what value (so to speak) is injured by allowing disrespectful doodles, and what value is served by deterring such doodles. But isn't the value really just "face?"

Balfegor said...

Right now, the majority of posts here seem to favor continuing (and even escalating) a Hatfield and McCoy type situation. I don't believe that will get us where we want to go.

I don't know. It will certainly get us someplace we'd rather not be, but it's not like escalation doesn't work out to our advantage in a big, big way.

Balfegor said...

And responding to a later comment by the good Professor:

We don't do everything we're free to do! We should set a good example. We should be more respectful than the law requires.

This is certainly true. And we should, of course, be respectful of other religions, whether Islam or Christianity or whatever. But the entire problem here is that the protesters are protesting the fact that people are not being punished for exercising their freedom of speech.

It's all very well to say we should control ourselves and be polite. We shouldn't go out in public and start giving the Sieg Heil, for example, or use the N-word or whatever. But the protesters are protesting the Governments, burning their flags and invading their embassies because they did not punish people for blaspheme.

This is a long, long way from exercising self-restraint. The protesters want us to exercise restraint of other people.

EddieP said...

Sorry Ann, folks keep postulating positions that might be helpful when dealing with a rational enemy. The Religion of Offense is no such animal. This war is unavoidable, they want this war, they live for this war, they pray for this war. THEY WILL HAVE THEIR WAR whether we want it or not. I say flood the world with cartoons that may be offensive to Mo'. So what? Armageddon over that? Call them on it. Are they going to unleash even more bombers and beheaders than already exist in the world today? Let them toss around a couple of nukes while they're at it. Nothing like a response from a Trident full of MIRV'ed missles launching at Mecca and Tehran. It's their choice, no more PC nonsense or pussyfooting around with them. I'm cheering on the Europeans and love my new Danish pastries and Tuborg beer. Regards

ShadyCharacter said...

Ricardo, it's apparent that you are satisfied with your current level of ignorance re the crusades. Please don't bother to study history, you'll surely get nothing out of it that you want.

In case you do decide to alleviate your ignorance, I'd suggest googling "gates of Vienna" [that's a city in the heart of Europe] or Charles Martel [he fought some battle in the middle of France - you'll be surprised at who he was fighting against, but I won't give it away!], maybe you could try to figure out what happened to all those Christians in North Africa...

But we know for a fact that you couldn't care less about historical fact. You wish only to advance your objectively pro-muslim terrorist agenda (I'm not saying you necessarily approve of each terrorist atrocity - it's an Orwell thing, look it up)...

XWL said...

EddieP, Infidel!!

If you are going to drink Danish Beer, Carlsberg or nothing.

A new round of sectarian violence over beer choice will surely follow.

(why not levity in this thread?)

EddieP said...

XWL

I live in Georgia and the Baptists won't let me drink Carlsberg. Maybe they've issued a fatwa. Now I'm offended too! Thin skin I guess.

And thanks for the Infidel Tag, I wear it proudly. Regards

paulfrommpls said...

The violence or threats or thinly veiled threats of the response is what guides this whole affair.
Any backing down, any apology on the part of papers can easily be seen as backing down in the face of threats. Be seen, that is, by the people issuing the threats; people who show sings of having a very large well of sensibilities.

The European papers are not insisting that they will print whatever they want, sensibilities be damned; they are insisting they will never be pushed away from printing something in the face of threats.

That's a necessary and noble thing. This is what I mean when I say the Islamic response to the original "insult" is the only issue here; and because of the response, an unavoidable one.

Balfegor said...

Re: "I assume many of them (and many others) are impressed by the way Americans after 9/11 did not make broad, hostile statements about Muslims (though we were free to!)."

I'm curious to know whether there's been any indication that this assumption is correct. I'm not aware of anything that would support it.

Admittedly, since I don't speak Arabic or any of the other languages in wide use in the Muslim world, I don't actually have any first hand knowledge of what Muslims around the world have been saying. For all I know, they may have been quite appreciative repeatedly. They may even have done in English, and I just didn't catch it.

But overall, it seems to me that expressions of appreciation that we haven't spent the past five years having a belly laugh at Islam's expense, or even any indications that the Muslim world noticed our glorious self-restraint have been next to nonexistant. All we ever hear about in the English language press is CAIR complaining about those very "broad, hostile statements" that we have studiously not been making.

hygate said...

Ricardo said
"This goes back to the crusades, and the West claiming that only it knows the real God."

If I was this ignorant I think I would try to conceal it.

1) Ever hear the phrase "There is only one god and his name is Allah"? Sound like something from the new testament?

2) It's accepted Muslim doctrine that Christians and Jews believe in the same God. We just don't understand that Mohammed was his last and greatest prophet.

3) Muslim armies made it most of the way to Vienna twice in the last few centuries.

4) Ever heard of the Ottoman empire?

Kirk Parker said...

Ricardo,

"We're mixing so many apples with oranges in these responses"

No one more so than you, who attempted to contrast "the Koran" with "Christianity (the institution)" instead of with, oh, I don't know, maybe, say, the "New Testament".

reader_iam said...

"... But the entire problem here is that the protesters are protesting the fact that people are not being punished for exercising their freedom of speech. ...

But the protesters are protesting the Governments, burning their flags and invading their embassies because they did not punish people for blaspheme.

This is a long, long way from exercising self-restraint. The protesters want us to exercise restraint of other people.


I think this may the most important missing part of how this whole debate (not here, specifically, but generally).

And it's exactly right.

It's not so much the "not showing the cartoons part," but the "making sure they're not shown" part.

I just don't see any way for those of us with generally more moderate stances to dance away from that central reality and its implications.

Which, with the best of intentions, no doubt, is what I think we're doing.

hygate said...

Ricardo said

"Similarly, when some artists wished to express their intended messages by such media as immersing crucifixes in bodily fluids, that was offensive to many Christians who viewed such symbols as being descecrated by such treatment."

Yes I remember the riots, burning buildings, demonstrations demanding the beheading of the artists,NYT editorials denouncing the insensitivity of it, etc. No, wait a minute, that was in the alternate universe you inhabit. What actually happened was a few Christians peacefully demonstrated and tried to get the government to quit funding art that was offensive to their faith using their tax dollars and failed to get even that much.

Ricardo said...

I never said anything like that. Check above.

knoxgirl said...

I don't understand.... where do we draw the line?

Should journalists, who are supposed to tell us what's happening in the world, leave anything out of their stories that might possibly offend Muslims?

Should artists, many of whom relish in controversial content, avoid anything they suspect might offend Muslims?

Should political cartoonists lampoon everything.... except Islam-related topics?

Should Theo Van Gogh's movie never have been produced?


I had no idea until this happened that it was some sort of sin or whatever to show an image of Mohammed. How am I even supposed to self-censor if I don't know this? Am I supposed to go study Islam and lead my life accordingly-- even though I'm not Muslim?

Whatever. I have no interest in convincing anyone of any religion that I'm "Sensitive" to their needs. Nor should it be somehow required of me. This is the 21st century.

The people threatening violence are the problem. They are the ones who need to modify their behavior and learn to "play nice with others." Not us.

bearbee said...

Mohammed Image Archive

Jen Bradford said...

I read Ann's pleas for a measured and considerate reaction from us to be a kind of wishful thinking. I don't think abject apologies and efforts not to reprint the cartoons (or represent Mohammed in the future) would have any impact at all on those who believe sharia law must trump the laws of any nation.

Once you go into the alternate universe where symbol and reality are given the same value, the medieval torch-wielding is about as thoughtful a reaction as your liable to get.

Meade said...

knoxgirl said...
I don't understand.... where do we draw the line?

If I understand Ann correctly, we ought to draw a line of self censorship on this side of deliberate insult, intentional offense, and willful attack of other people's sacred beliefs. It's the Golden Rule: Don't like being insulted? Then don't insult others.

I know - it isn't always easy to not be dragged down into the fetid hole your opponent may be stuck in.

Maybe try a little rope-a-dope.

Balfegor said...

Don't like being insulted? Then don't insult others.

Mm. Really. Does that apply here? I mean, on the one hand, we have "insulting doodles of the Prophet," and on the other, we have "set fire to your embassy and field large mobs hankering after executions." It's not that we're being insulted here.

And likewise, it's not like we aren't regularly insulted in the Muslim press anyhow. I mean, they have all those extraordinarily offensive caricatures of Jews, after all.

The golden rule is fine and dandy, if the other side acknowledges it as a valid neutral principal mediating between both sides. As always, in my ignorance, I may be wrong, but that does not seem to be the case here.

knoxgirl said...

Meade,

Certainly I can agree that we should all strive to not insult each other. You and I, all of us, in our day-to-day lives, should be respectful of each other, regardless of race, creed, gender, etc.

My point is, the cause of all this is political cartoons. The very nature of political cartoons is to be provocative. and to launch "willful attacks".... this is the arena where "intentional offense" is the status quo!

So do cartoonists avoid all things Islam?

Or do we apologize for them when they do?

I'm not trying to be a smartass, I really want to know.

astrolabe said...

With the burning of embassies in Syria and Lebanon, the protests have escalated to whole new level. Host governments have a responsibility to protect embassies and this is a tradition that is anchored in law and is centuries old. Destroying embassies is a far greater offense and provocation than is the publication of insulting cartoons. This is something that should be, and probably is, appreciated even in Islamic countries. I would hope to see the protestors brought under control (the authorities almost certainly have the ability to do that) and official apologies extended to Denmark and Norway. But I’m not holding my breath.

John(classic) said...

Ricardo says:
"This goes back to the crusades, and the West claiming that only it knows the real God."

This seems a bit ironic since 10 times a day every person in a Moslem town or city hears a muadhinn cry out:

Ash'hadu an laa ilaaha illallaah ("I bear witness that there is no god but Allah").

Robert said...

But quite aside from aspiring to moral perfection, what is practical about this love of confrontation? Do you want a world war?

No. But if we're going to have one - and I suspect that we are - let's provoke it now, while the balance of force is maximally in our favor.

There is no point in, for the sake of peace, pretending to be tolerant of a thuggish substrain of Islam, when we are not in fact tolerant of that substrain, and when that substrain is already committed to war.

Pogo said...

The reassertion of militant Islam in the latter half of the 20th century has culminated in the recent blatant attacks on symbols of Western superiority. The increasing intransigence of what is, at its core, a simple theocratic fascism, should be more than alarming to the press and much of the Western world.

Before World War 2, Churchill was castigated for his repeated warnings about Hitler's true designs. We are in such a state today. England sleeps. America, or half of it, wants just to roll over, push the snooze button, and resume that wonderful dream, the one about the end of history.

At least until human voices wake us, and we drown.

Johnny Nucleo said...

Of course no one wants world war. War is bad and world war is even badder. But think of all the cool future documentaries!

I sympathize with those who believe we are already in a world war. Time will tell.

But come on. Do you really think Ann doesn't "get it" or is soft on Islamofascism? Tell that to quxxo (Hey buddy!)

What about Hugh Hewitt? Is he soft? (Get your filthy minds out of the gutter.)

We must keep cool. We must use strategery.

P. Froward said...

What I find really irritating here is the characterization of the cartoons as "crudely drawn" and so on. Have you seen them? They are perfectly competent professional work. Some are in the style of political cartoons, others are coventional illustrations. Both are fine examples of their type. Only one or two out of the dozen might be considered "crudely draw", but even those look like they're supposed to be "artsy" or something. (There are also three fake images added by some knucklehead imam to get a rise out of the faithful; those really are crude, but you can't blame Jyllands-Posten for them (and in defense of the morons rioting, the issue didn't explode until those fakes were thrown into the pot — more people should be noting this)).

Sneering at the drawings themselves looks to me like an attempt to minimize the enormity of your own position: "Well, it's not like they're worth defending anyway!", seems to be the implication there. But that's irrelevant to the principle at issue here (analagously, should a jury convict on murder charges because they don't like your haircut?) — quite aside from the fact that it's just not factually accurate.

Furthermore, some of them simple illustrations with no critical content at all. The ones that are "critical" of Islam simply call attention to common knowledge: Yes, Islam is associated with a good deal of violence. For example, orthodox Islamic law says they're supposed to kill you if you insult Muhammad, whether you're a believer or not. Yes, Islam in the real world is associated with subjugation of women.

Are you, Ann, and this Ricardo cartoon, seriously claiming that we should not say these things out loud? Why not, exactly? Because they don't really matter?

No, because Muslims will kill somebody if we say them.

Imagine for a moment if the Ku Klux Klan threatened to kill people if we made fun of Nathan Bedford Forrest. Would you see it quite the same way?

We have freedom of expression in the West. People died for it. It's worth dying for. If you don't want to die for it, or suffer for it, or be momentarily inconvenienced for it, or even be made to think unpleasant thoughts for it, that's your right. But if everybody had had your attitude all along, you'd have no rights at all.

So you always and forever give up every inch demanded of you without a fight, on the grounds that it's really just a little thing, and you'll get out in front of the TV and stand upright some other day, when it's a big thing. But little things add up.

You're asking "Why me? Why now? I don't have time for this! American Idol is on!" The answer is "because you just won the statistical booby prize". Be thankful you didn't win some other prize, like Cambodian citizenship in the disco era.

There's no room for negotiation or compromise here. We don't take orders from Hamas, and that's that.

Besides, what do you care if some illustrator in Denmark gets his head cut off? It's not your head. It's not your problem. Go watch American Idol.

miklos rosza said...

I'm sorry to say this, Ann, but I'm not sure you've thought through all the consequences and ramifications of this affair. To begin with, the cartoons were originally generated out of the fact that the author of a children's book about Mohammed could find no artist willing to illustrate it, because they all feared being killed.

I once said here Why no bio-pic aboout Theo Van Gogh when there are biopics of Johnny Cash, Larry Flynt and Truman Capote? No one was even willing to entertain the notion that one reason might be fear.

Muslims don't like bikinis (this contributed to riots and fights in Australia) or short skirts (one was even found "innocent" of rape in Norway because the judge said that his cultural background led him to be easily inflamed), alcohol or pork (some stores in France have taken these items off their shelves).

The "good Muslims" may privately deplore such developments, but then they're powerless, aren't they?

In France, the Muslim youth travel in packs and simply take pleasure in being feared. Much of their rap music is about "jihad."

At a certain point, one must group in those who are not so bad with those who are blatantly evil. There were reasonable, civilized Germans who disliked and were embarrassed by Adolf Hitler yet served under his flag.

Likewise, we reasonable ones may find ourselves in alliance with those we might find distasteful in ordinary times.

No conference is going to settle what rapidly looms.

AlaskaJack said...

My,my, there seem to be a lot of freedom of expression zealots out there who think that Western culture's great contribution to civilization is the sport of ridiculing and insulting the deeply held beliefs of other people. Lets see how consistent they are.

Suppose at a large dinner party one of the guests relates how his sick child's health is failing and that his wife has just been diagnosed with cancer. Upon hearing this, another guest, a cartoonist, whips out his pen and draws a series of cartoons ridiculing and making fun of the condition of the child and wife and passes them around the table. Do all the zealots agree this is a great example of freedom of expression and should be celebrated? And if the first guest gets angry, is the correct response for all the other guests to draw their own insulting cartoons so as not to chill freedom of expresson? Or is our cartoonist guest just a jerk?

Johnny Nucleo said...

Alaskajack,

A more apt analogy would be:

You're invited to a live with a guy that makes fun of sick wives and children. You have a sick wife and child.

The guy makes fun of your sick wife and child.

You kill the guy.

The Drill SGT said...

My understanding of the historical fact set includes:

1. The Prophet Mohammed ,according to the Koran as the LAST Prophet and received the distilled word of God, and documented it in the Koran.

2. That message is final and immutable. Islam does not want and can not change according to its underlying belief structure. To change would be to deny God's message.

3. Ultimately all peoples will convert to Islam or perish via the Sword of the Righteous.

4. The Mid East and North Africa was (pre-7th century) Christian. Islam forcibly converted all those lands and conquered Spain, southern France, the Balkans, right up to the gates of Vienna (circa Mid 1600's)

5. Islam has this nice ratchet rule, like a fine timepiece. Once a land or a person has converted, the decision can not be un-done. The penalty is death. So Islam only moves forward occupying more land. Any attempts at reclaiming lands from Islam are Crusader invasions.

6. Islamists want an asymmetrical tolerance. We must tolerate and accept the true faith. They can be intolerant of even the most benign things on pain of death. Once we accept a tenet of this accommodation, we can never withdraw the tolerance on our part. (see rule 5 above). Ultimately Ann, your grand daughters will be in black robes if these folks have their way.

8. When these people say they want to kill us and establish Sharia law, first across Andalusia, then the rest of Europe, then the US, you really have to believe they mean what they say. Hitler, and Mao, and Pol Pot all described their governing philosophies well in advance of their ascent to power. Islamists did the same in the 7th century, their blueprint is the Koran. It describes how Islam will conquer and rule the world. It's just a matter of timing from their perspective.

9. Ultimately, the only difference between radical Islamists and Moderates is timing and method. A moderate thinks the world will all convert peaceably and slowly. The Radical thinks the sword will be needed and it will happen faster. Any means toward that end are acceptable. After all, they are doing God's work.

It's just a matter of timing from their perspective.

alsojsr said...

I recently saw an interview with a holocaust survivor, who was asked what lesson they had learned from the experience. The response was "When somebody says they want to kill you, believe them."

Aspasia M. said...

Well.....I think the funniest comment was when someone accused Ricardo of supporting terrorists.

Lots of historical misunderstandings here. For example, people today do not have the same historical motivations as those living in the 7th century.

Juan Cole, Prof. of Middle Eastern History at Michigan, has an informative post about the reaction to the comics.

P. Froward said...

AlaskaJack:

Your cartoonist guest is a jerk, but he's within his rights under the law. If the guy with the sick kid lights the house on fire over it, he's a psychopath. If he kills the cartoonist, he's a psychopath. If people with sick kids start killing anybody who makes fun of sick kids, the killers have a problem. Remember the anti-Bush flyer from the last election, depecting Bush as a competitor in the Special Olympics? Moronic it may have been, but would the parent of a retarded kid have been justified in killing the idiot who made the poster? If so, why? If parents of retarded kids in general started killing anybody who made fun of retarded kids, would that be reasonable?

You say you're comfortable with a small group of psychopaths dictating what you can say. Why is that? Why do you feel they should have that right? Would any small group of psychopaths be qualified to give you orders in that respect? How about the Ku Klux Klan? Christian Identity? Would you be comfortable refraining from any disparaging comments about white people, if the KKK explained that they'd kill you for it? Is there any instrument known to modern science with resolution sufficiently fine to detect your testicles?

The thing is, you see, we're not talking about somebody "getting angry". We're talking about killing people. That is the issue on the table here. The problem with these Muslims is not that they get angry — we all do that — the problem is that they kill people who anger them. You may approve; I don't. There is a small but subtle difference between writing an outraged lettor to an editor, and killing the editor. Can you guess what the difference is? Take all the time you need. Ask for hints if you need 'em; I'm here to help.


geoduck2:

Heh. Thanks, I laughed out loud. But seriously, nobody needs to read Cole. We already know what he'll say: The saintly victimized Muslims are innocent, because they have no will of their own. They just can't help themselves! It was the bad bad very bad white people who made them do all those terrible things. He'll do as he likes with fact and logic to get there, because his customers aren't exactly looking for flaws in the product.

ShadyCharacter said...

Two swings and two misses. You're on a roll geoduck! One more strike and you're out!

You write: "Well.....I think the funniest comment was when someone accused Ricardo of supporting terrorists." That was me. To avoid confusing the slightly befuddled Ricardo, I even pointed out the provenance of my statement. That he was "objectively pro-terrorist" in the same way Orwell identified the peacenik dupes in the 30s excusing and apologizing for fascist rhetoric and actions as "objectively pro-fascist". I should have allowed for the even greater potential befuddlement of the geoduck! In Orwell's words: "Pacifism is objectively pro-fascist. This is elementary common sense. If you hamper the war effort of one side, you automatically help out that of the other." To head off additional confusion on your part, I was analogizing Ricardo's Muslim extremist apologetics to the 30s pacifists' fascist apologetics, so don't bother pointing out how Ricardo is in some ways different from a given 30s era pacifist =) [Past experience shows that many people are unable to grasp the nature of analogies in a debate. I'll write "a duck is like a chunk of wood in that both float" and some Einstein will retort - "Some ducks aren't made of wood, so your analogy is inapt!" (I personalized it for you using ducks!) Hopefully you're the rare exception, but having misread the initial post, I doubt it.]

You further claim: "Lots of historical misunderstandings here. For example, people today do not have the same historical motivations as those living in the 7th century."

First of all, you completely miss the context of the historical discussion taking place, which is largely in response to Ricardo's ridiculous implication that Islam is all puppies and lolipops compared to the vicious Christians - after all, just look at the Crusades!!!

If you do wish to shift the debate to "motivations" of the current parties to the conflict, please extend Osama and the terrorists the curtesy of listening to their stated motivations. First google hit for "osama and andalusia" I get is a Slate article that points out Osama started one of his video presentations with the following: "Let the whole world know that we shall never accept that the tragedy of Andalusia would be repeated in Palestine. We cannot accept that Palestine will become Jewish." As the article points out, "The "tragedy of Andalusia" refers to the conquering in 1492 of the Muslim Kingdom of Granada by the Catholic monarchs Ferdinand and Isabella."

As an LA Times article from January 22 puts it "It's bizarre to hear Bin Laden talk of a truce if the United States pulls out of Iraq and Afghanistan, considering that his previous grievances stretched back half a millennium to the "tragedy of Andalusia," referring to the Spanish crown's expulsion of the Moors in 1492. That was one of the injustices Bin Laden pointed to in his first rambling post-9/11 video, when the United States was in neither Afghanistan nor Iraq."

How can you claim to be an informed commentator on the current situation if you evidence such a profound ignorance of the explicit motivations of our (?) enemy? Question asked and answered - you're basing your opinions on Juan Cole. Enough said, the tokyo rose of the GWOT!

This leaves only one question: why, given your paltry acquaintance with the most basic facts of the current situation, do you spout off and exhibit to the world your confusion?

Meade said...

Working with Althousefan's analogy:

You're a guy who makes fun of sick wives and children. You invite a guy with a sick wife and children to be guests in your home. Surprising to you, the guy becomes mentally deranged whenever anyone makes fun of his sick wife and children.

One day, you come home to discover your guest standing in front of you menacingly waving a sword dripping with the blood of your beloved great dane Ferdinand. In his other hand he holds a copy of a blog comment you posted last week making fun of his sick wife and children. You have almost no time to think.

Putting aside legalities, you decide to either kill or evict him. But before you do, you make fun of his sick wife and children one last time.

Why? Why not? It isn't against the law and besides, after what he did to Ferdinand, you figure, before killing or evicting him, it might make you feel better to laugh again at his sick wife and children.

Question: Did you use your entire noodle?

Curt Dalaba said...

Although many non-Muslims, like myself, including our State Department, find that publishing the Mohammed cartoons in the Jyllands-Posten and republishing the cartoons in other European papers is certainly in poor taste, the extreme overreaction of those offended could make their response bigger news than the original offense, and thus, causing a shift of sympathies. They should register their protest and calm down.

hygate said...

I said

"Yes I remember the riots, burning buildings, demonstrations demanding the beheading of the artists,NYT editorials denouncing the insensitivity of it, etc. No, wait a minute, that was in the alternate universe you inhabit. What actually happened was a few Christians peacefully demonstrated and tried to get the government to quit funding art that was offensive to their faith using their tax dollars and failed to get even that much.

To which Ricardo replied

3:52 PM, February 05, 2006
Ricardo said...
I never said anything like that. Check above.

No, you just claimed the reactions between of the two groups, Christians and Muslims, were equivalent because they were both offended. The problem with your analogy is that I don't have any problems with the fact Muslims are offended. What I have a problem with is the attempt to silence free speech using violence and the threat of violence. What's more, I feel that anyone who talks about the need to self-censor in order to spare their feelings is either giving into the fear they are trying to spread or speaking code for "don't upset the brown people, they can't be expected to control themselves" - whether they realize it or not.

Balfegor said...

You invite a guy with a sick wife and children to be guests in your home. Surprising to you, the guy becomes mentally deranged whenever anyone makes fun of his sick wife and children.

One day, you come home to discover your guest standing in front of you menacingly waving a sword dripping with the blood of your beloved great dane Ferdinand.


Wait wait wait . . . to capture the full dimensions of the situation, don't we need to have another guest be the one who's insulted his sick wife and children? And him killing your beloved great dane Ferdinand because the other guy made a passing rude remark about his sick wife and children, and then the guy's friend went over and lied that the other guy had said much worse things than he actually had done?

That would cover the fact that:

a) The protesters want us to shut other people up, and

b) The protesters are fired up not just by the real cartoons, but by three considerably more offensive forged cartoons that were circulated by some sort of activist.

I mean, one reason we seem to get no credit for our restraint in these matters is almost certainly that quite regardless of whether we do bad things or not, there are people going about lying about it, and saying that we are. And sure, we can deny these things, and try to prove that no, the vast majority of us haven't done anything of the sort . . . but it's really a "so, have you stopped beating your wife?" situation. The very fact that we protest just looks like a clumsy cover-up.

Pogo said...

The "dinner party" metaphors don't quite work. Because lost among them is the repeated eurocentric bias to judge the murderous Islamofascist rabble by Western notions of justice, reason, and tolerance.

These are decidedly unwestern peoples. They are not inhuman or subhuman, but they are decidedly not adherents to our Greco-Roman and JudeoChristian heritage. In fact, they reject it all. To judge them by these standards is to misunderstand them completely.

It's really just the same old battle, fought over and over again in history: civilization versus barbarism. How many times do these barbarians have to remind you that their aim is to eliminate you before you'll believe them? "Death to the West" is not a metaphor.

And I've had enough of their threats.

Gaius Arbo said...

Just a couple of points to ponder.

Let's say that for some reason, you decide you have to protest something that happened in Yemen. You decide to burn one of their flags. You live here in the US, the consumer paradise. Where would you get the flag? Where would you even look?

About timing: Iran is restarting it's enrichment program. The world press is actually starting to notice. Suddenly, spontaneous violent demonstrations break out all through the Muslim world. The worst violence is in countries with strong ties to Iran and it's client terrorists.

Danish flags are available throughout the world for burning whenever needed.

mrbungle2103 said...

So Muhammad doesn't like people making pictures of himself. What is he, Barbara Streisand?

ACtually no, Mo couldn't care less. My good friend Sherdin - a Muslim of moderate persuasion- tells me the Quran makes no laws against depicting Muhammad. Regardless, this is nothing more than a case of believe what I believe or I will inflict pain upon you (and other random people as well.) Some people I've spoken too have reffered to the fact that Imam Akhmad Akkari has been intentionally trying to incite anger towards the West by touring the Middle East months after the fact. And with depictions of Muhammad/Muslims not actually shown originally in Jyllands-Posten - those being Muhammad with a snout, as a paedophile demon, and a muslim in prayer being raped by a dog. And all of which it would appear his organization came up with themselves - oh the irony. Clearly the man is desperate to whip up a storm. And he has.

But while I don't entirely understand the point of the rub-their-noses-in-it reprinting of the cartoon in various newspapers across Europe, I refuse to allow a group of people to try and intimidate others into their way of thinking simply because they burn flags and promise to wage a terrorist campaign. And I certainly won't be swayed by the condemnation of theocratic states such as Syria and Saudi Arabia, neither of which have free-speech laws in place, nor afford the right to their citizens to march in such a manner threatening a war against the state.

But we should also remember, paraphrasing Christopher Hitchens , that the first lynch mob on the scene is not the genuine voice of the people. These idiots who charge through European capitals are not indicative of Muslims, and certainly not any that I know. And using perspective, a thirty-man strong mob in Jakarta storming an embassy, is still just 30 people in a city of 13 million.

I reserve the right to offend you in any manner I see fit. If I slander you then there are legal institutions which will decry publically that I am a lying bastard. I even respect the right for you to say whatever you like about whomever you like without repurcussion. But if you demand that I agree with you? Well then we have a problem.

Bruce Hayden said...

I don't think that we have seen anything yet as to cartoons rediculing Islam, simply because the situation in Europe is going to go from moderately bad to extremely horrible in the next generation or two. The Moslems have demographics on their side, and I frankly expect to seee most of western Europe fall to Islam in the next 50 years, and I don't see much that can be done to prevent it.

Mass migrations of peoples have been going on for the extent of our recorded history. Indeed, much of our history is a direct result of such. The problem is that the Europeans have left themselves open to this through lack of fecundity, and maybe, lack of will.

On the other hand, over here in the U.S., our fertility problem is being taken care of primarily by Hispanics, who are much more assimilatable, given their Christianity (though, of course, this is not without problems).

So, what I expect to see by mid-century is a world split into essentially four blocks, Christain, Moslem, Chinese, and Indian, with the Moslems controlling much of western Europe.

As a result though of finding ourselves at odds with much of the Moslem world, I expect that the cartoons here in the U.S. depicting them, etc. to get progressively worse over that time. Remember all those Hitler and Japanese cartoons of WWII? I expect just as bad here depicting Mohammed, et al. Why? Primarily to rally the people.

Bruce Hayden said...

For those who question the value of humor, "Freakonomics" had a great example of its effectiveness in essentially destroying the KKK through redicule.

Apparently, what happened was that to some extent, the Klan was infiltrated. Then, a lot of its secrets were fed to the Superman writers, who had Superman fight the Klan for six weeks or so. While he was doing it on TV every day, he revealed a lot of their secrets, including their rituals, exposing them to ridicule for the absurdity of such. The result is that the Klan never recovered.

Bruce Hayden said...

A recent poster pointed out something, that the Moslem fanatics overreacted to the cartoons. I think this significant as it exposes a major weakness in them.

I tell friends who are over-sensistive to being teased that if you let everyone know that you are over-sensistive, the teasing is going to just get worse, and worse, and worse.

I see this happening here. If cartoons ridiculing Mohammed and Islam so easily incite them, I expect to see much more of such, since this weakness has been exposed.

Jen Bradford said...

Ann, do you think Alaska Jack's "analogy" bears any resemblance to the situation at hand? If so, a great many of us are not addressing the same topic at all.

It's completely irrelevant to me whether the author of the cartoons was a "jerk". Theo Van Gogh was pretty obviously a jerk on a regular basis. The point is that the penalty for being a jerk (or gratuitous insults, or blasphemy) is not government censorship or a knife in the chest. A great many Muslims disagree. The Danish government was forced to explain the concept of a free press on several occasions, after Arab leaders demanded he "punish" the newspaper.

I read a great piece by an Iranian woman who was disgusted to find that even after emigrating to France, she was being made to feel the power of the mullahs. She felt especially betrayed by people like yourself who act as if it's a question of etiquette and "understanding", versus basic liberty and safety. I wish you weren't quite so vague about your views. Some people have been reading you longer and think they know where you stand. I have no idea.

Meade said...

Bruce Hayden said...
... I tell friends who are over-sensistive to being teased that if you let everyone know that you are over-sensistive, the teasing is going to just get worse, and worse, and worse...

And how do your overly sensitive friends respond to such advice? Do they resolve to toughen up and become less sensitive? Do they learn to hide better their sensitivities.

Or do they tell you to mind your own business while quietly planning, in their own overly sensitive way, to kill you?

Do you ever give advice to the teasers?

Dixie Flatline said...

Let's say that for some reason, you decide you have to protest something that happened in Yemen. You decide to burn one of their flags. You live here in the US, the consumer paradise. Where would you get the flag? Where would you even look?

I'm not entirely sure what the point is that's being made here. Especially since after reading this, I went (for lack of better ideas) to www.flags.com, clicked on "International", clicked on "Country Flags", clicked on "Yemen", and was presented with a choice of four different sizes in which I could order the flag of Yemen shipped directly to my home. So if I ever do get horribly upset at the government of Yemen and feel the need to burn their flag (or anyone else's), I don't think I'd have any trouble laying hands on one here in the consumer paradise...

ShadyCharacter said...

Dixie, the point about Yemeni's having hundreds of Danish flags on hand for a demonstration (along with the identical hand lettering on the "cut the heads off heathens" signs in the London protest) is that these demonstrations might not be all that "spontaneous". Think of the show demonstrations in Cuba or the old Eastern Bloc countries - signs and banners and whatnot magically appeared just in time for the spontaneous rally-of-the-day...

This supports the notion that what we are seeing is being manufactured by those in power in the Islamic world and may not be an accurate reflection of the average muslim in these places. That's a comforting thought, even if the evidence for it is a little tenuous.

knoxgirl said...

We're not talking about refraining from offensive jokes at a dinner party. We're talking about people whose JOB it is to be provocative (political cartoonists) being attacked for it. Or their embassies firebombed, as the case may be. Any suggestion that it's the cartoonists "fault" is bizarre to me.

Meade, are you saying that moderate Muslims need to be somehow convinced that "we" (the West, for lack of a better term)--who published some cartoons--are better than some radical fascists who scream for murder and bloodshed? If they actually NEED convincing of this, I am skeptical that anything we say or do can possibly placate them.

And even if we could mollify them, we would then constantly be trying to live up to some ideal behavioral model dictated to us by the Koran! This ideal would involve artists, journalists, and yes, political cartoonists censoring themselves out of fear.

I can't believe anyone, in this country, in this century, is suggesting that these people self-censor!

To say, "We all need to be thoughtful and sensitive" is correct, but it has nothing to do with the context in which this current violence and turmoil is occuring.

Johnny Nucleo said...

"Do you ever give advice to the teasers?"

True story: In high school people used to make fun of me because of my enormous (censored). They used to say, Hey, look at Althousefan! He has an enormous (censored)! Ha Ha!

So I killed them.

They were surprised!

Jen Bradford said...

I wish someone could tell me how to post a link. Oliver Kamm's latest is very good:

Seventeen years ago, when Salman Rushdie was under sentence of death from a foreign power for the crime of writing a novel, the US and UK governments responded feebly and grudgingly while continental Europe showed, in general, greater mettle. The same is true now. The Danish Prime Minister, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, rightly observes, of those cartoons: "We are talking about an issue with fundamental significance to how democracies work." The British Foreign Secretary lamentably sees the fault instead in the actions of the press: "I believe that the republication of these cartoons has been insulting, it has been insensitive, it has been disrespectful and it has been wrong."

In 1990, a year after Ayatollah Khomeini's fatwa, Rushdie wrote: "I feel as if I have been plunged, like Alice, into a world beyond the looking glass, where nonsense is the only available sense. And I wonder if I'll ever be able to climb back through." What was most extraordinary about the episode was the nonsense - epistemological as well as political - spoken by statesmen and commentators. The first President Bush ventured boldly, a week after the fatwa was issued, that the threat of assassination was "deeply offensive". The Japanese government thought hard and declared: "Mentioning and encouraging murder is not something to be praised." The Chief Rabbi of Great Britain, Dr Immanuel Jakobovitz, remarked with callous stupidity: "Both Mr Rushdie and the Ayatollah have abused freedom of speech."

Surveying these judgements, the writer Jonathan Rauch, in a fine book (from which I have taken the quotations in the preceding paragraph) called Kindly Inquisitors, identified a tendency among Western intellectuals that would repudiate the sentence but not the notion that Rushdie had committed a crime.


http://oliverkamm.typepad.com/blog/2006/02/the_cartoons_an.html

knoxgirl said...

And I'll answer the "hypothetical" posted by AlaskaJ:

No, they might not be "great" examples of freedom of expression, if by "great" you mean polite or inoffensive, but so what. It's the most unpopular speech that needs defending, not speech about butterfies and roses.

Dixie Flatline said...

ShadyCharacter, you're quite right -- on rereading Gaius Arbo's post, I realized what he was getting at, but the example still strikes me as a poorly-chosen one.

It's interesting, though, to compare the logistical support available to this batch of protestors versus the catch-as-catch-can protests that gave us Evil Bert on pro-OBL protest signs, back in the day...

Aspasia M. said...

re: religious war

Just a few things. If commenters enjoy arguing about the Crusades, go right ahead. But remember that you are not El Cid riding into Seville.

Some people seem to want to turn this into a religious war that is the continuation of the Crusades.

I wish people would remember that the past is a foriegn country. The events unfolding at the present time are specific to time and place. They are even specific to the various locals in which people are responding.

The events of today are specific to the 21st century. It is a historical anachronism to imput the motivations of the Middle Ages to anyone living today.

Ann Althouse said...

I've said it before, but some comments make me feel that I have to say it again: I have NO tolerance for those who are being violent or threatening violence. What I care about is that decent Muslims not side with them. We should not descend into ugly hostile expressions that alienate these people who should naturally ally with us and not with the forces of chaos and oppression.

Jen Bradford said...

Why are you assigning responsibility to Westerners when Muslims choose to join with "the forces of chaos and oppression"?

Sorry, but I think that's such a clunker. If they aren't already more alienated by the hardliners than by a Dane who insists upon a free press, it's not a natural alliance at all.

Pogo said...

This piece at Dr. Sanity on shame versus guilt goes a long way toward explaining why some posts seems to be talking past each another.

In the Western our guilt culture, tolerance has evolved because "we obsess about how we might have hurt their feelings and some of us actually desire to make amends and apologize."

In contrast, it is more common in Islamic culture that the avoidance of shame is paramount. Ensuring one's "honor" permits all manner of behaviors the West finds abhorent, especially the subjugation of women

"For most shame societies, even the mildest insult must be avenged with death, because now everyone knows that you have been insulted, and without the death (or blood) to wipe it out, honor cannot be restored."

Appealing to reason, then, is considered weak, not laudable; shameful, not honorable.

ShadyCharacter said...

geoduck, maybe it's me, but I'm just not seeing your point. You write: "It is a historical anachronism to imput the motivations of the Middle Ages to anyone living today."

It is not a "historical anachronism" to do so if one side is explicitly saying "we are fighting this war in part with the goal of recapturing territory lost to Islam in the middle ages."

I've already pointed out how Osama and terrorist spokesmen today use the loss of lands 500 years ago that Islam itself had captured from Christians centuries earlier as a primary justification for their current efforts. Even more mainstream Muslims embrace the notion of Dar Al Islam. That is, land once under Sharia or Islamic control is forever more an Islamic territory, with the world divided between the "house of Islam" and the "house of war" to be conquered for Islam. The difference between moderate Muslims and the Osamas of the world is to what degree the "war" is a literal versus a figurative war.

From the Toronto Star: "At the Jamal Islamiya mosque in this seaside town, a Muslim lament of historic proportions is proclaimed in large letters on a framed poster: "In 1492, we lost everything."
For the mosque's leader, and much of the Muslim world, the year marks the traumatic conclusion of Islam's golden age, a time remembered like a collective wound.

It's a period when the last piece of Muslim-held territory in Spain fell to Catholic monarchs, ending almost 800 years of Moorish rule on the Iberian peninsula.

....

To the east, the Muslim empire of the Ottomans would reign for another four centuries. But many would trace its long decline to the fall of Al Andalus, the Moorish name for Andalusia.

The result is a yearning that today makes Spain, more than any other
European country, a battleground in the name of Islam.

"They stole 500 years of history from us," says Omar Checa Garcia, who heads the Jamal Islamiya mosque and cultural centre."

This whole discussion is somewhat beside the point. It's just a little difficult to have a rational debate when one side (Western knee-jerk Muslim apologists) operates in a carefully crafted alternative reality where inconvenient facts are simply ignored or willed away.

Aspasia M. said...

shady,

My point is specific to my interests in correcting historical anachronisms.

The use of history for political reasons is, of course, not equivalent to the actual history of the Middle Ages. We are not re-fighting the Crusades in the 21st century.

(This does not mean that people might not genuinely believe that they are re-fighting the Crusades.)
In fact, some people may wish to re-fight the Crusades.

Of course the Crusades still have political rhetorical value both within the Islamic world, and, as we see, on this list.

That's why it would be stupid to fall into the trap of turning the War on Terrorism into a religious war. That's why it was incredibly stupid when the DOD originally named the military action in the Middle East and Afghanistan a Crusade.

My point is also that the response to the cartoons is specific not only to time, but to place. For example, the more secular Egyptian government can (and is) using anger about the cartoons to defuse the fundamentalist threat of the Muslim Brotherhood. The Egyptian government is using rhetoric about religion to garner political support.

(One last point. Thousands of our troops are based in the Middle East. Why would anyone advocate fanning the flames of religion without thought to the position of our soldiers?)

Eli Blake said...

The issue however is not whether the cartoons are insulting. I even said they were even in the very same post where I posted them on my blog.

The issue is whether it is acceptable for people to theaten to murder other people (or in this case, to put a contract out on them) because of something they said. In the case of the hypothetical, the person who was victimized at the dinner table has the right to be angry. But if they hire a hit man to 'scrub' the cartoonist, then that would be a crime and they would be prosecuted for doing it.

DutchGirl said...

But the way to protect Althouse's "decent Muslims" is to take an unambiguous stance against the Islamic fascists. Otherwise, it's as if we're saying "Well, the KKK has a point: African Americans can be offensive sometimes. They should tone it down a little" in a twisted attempt to keep the peace.

bearbee said...

Iraq The Model has some interesting comments about Middle Easterns having many offensive and obscene Allah and prophet jokes........

Ann Althouse said...

Dutch Girl: Your analogy doesn't fit the situation at all. Who in your analogy compares to the Muslims who are offended, but nonviolent, who you think should be further offended in order to get back at the people who were violent?

Balfegor said...

who you think should be further offended in order to get back at the people who were violent?

White people who were offended by things Black people said? I know there are quite a lot of such White people. And while I don't follow the latest trends in KKK propaganda, I'm sure they seize on every "slap a white person" remark as an excuse for some new devilry (that one was Charles Barron in 2002; more recently there's Nagin's dream of a racially pure New Orleans. And the truly desperate fomenter of racial-hatred can always turn to Farrakhan).

Jen Bradford said...

Well Ann, maybe this isn't the zone for me. Either that, or I've misunderstood, and you're not really recommending we hedge on free speech as a form of "outreach" to Muslims who are on the fence.

An excellent piece from an unexpected source:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/leaders/story/0,,1702932,00.html

astrolabe said...

Prof. Althouse, it is unseemly, and can be counterproductive, for the western press to “descend into ugly hostile expressions” simply to be provocative. But I am unconvinced that decent Muslims are as offended by these cartoons as some may think. In fact, that is probably not giving them enough credit for being present and accounted for in the 21st century. What does seem clear is that provocateurs, intent on manipulating the passions of the Islamic street mobs, will exploit any opportunity to achieve their perfidious goals (and it’s troubling the way these protests appear to be coordinated). When the moderates are silent, or give lip service to the protests, perhaps it is out of fear of the fundamentalists and not a sincere feeling of being offended. If the cartoons weren’t the issue, the agitators would certainly be able gin up something else. The line that marks the proper balance between restraint and free speech seems like a moving target. Restraint makes a lot of sense. But there has to be some tangible benefit that accrues to the West from exercising restraint. Otherwise it might be self-defeating.

bearbee said...

Swedish publisher withdraws textbook

STOCKHOLM, Sweden (UPI) -- A Swedish publishing company Monday withdrew a religious textbook because it contains two images of the Muslim prophet Mohammed.

The book published by Liber was aimed at intermediate-level high school students, The Local reported.

The pictures were taken from a 14th century Persian manuscript and a 13th century Iraqi manuscript. The book was published in 1993.

The actions coincide with a series of demonstrations around the world protesting newspaper cartoons depicting Mohammed as a terrorist. A statement published by Liber on its Web site made no mention of the controversy.

Copyright 2006 by United Press International

bearbee said...

Oh yeah........ all that rioting has stopped the cartoonists dead in their tracks.....THOSE MUHAMMAD CARTOONS!

brylin said...

There is an excellent post on Sundries entitled "The Essential Differences Between Modern Christianity & Islam."