February 9, 2006

About those anti-cartoonists.

A summit in Mecca:
As leaders of the world's 57 Muslim nations gathered for a summit meeting in Mecca in December, issues like religious extremism dominated the official agenda. But much of the talk in the hallways was of a wholly different issue: Danish cartoons satirizing the Prophet Muhammad.

The closing communiqué took note of the issue when it expressed "concern at rising hatred against Islam and Muslims and condemned the recent incident of desecration of the image of the Holy Prophet Muhammad in the media of certain countries" as well as over "using the freedom of expression as a pretext to defame religions."
Could anything be more obtuse? You see your own people overreacting in the extreme to some drawings, and your response is all about how bad the drawings are? And your goal is to reverse the antagonism directed at you? I've been, I think, more sympathetic than most bloggers in trying to understand the depth of the offense felt, but at this point, I am left gaping at the insane disproportion and lack of self-awareness among the anti-cartoonists. Are there any bigger clowns in the history of free expression?

ADDED: As a commenter points out, my criticism of the communiqué isn't quite apt since it predates the really over-the-top reaction.


Henry said...

As the vector of this particular infection is plotted through Iran and Syria to this conclave of (mostly) despots it seems less and less to be about some Danish cartoonists and more the need of repressive tyrannies to redirect the frustrations of their people.

Thank goodness there is no Danish Pale in these countries, or we'd be seeing a real pogrom, instead of this pathetic cheese pogrom.

Sloanasaurus said...

If the prophet is above criticism, then it is an inevitable that a leader who portrays himself to be a disciple of the prophet will also assume to be above criticism. Such is the rationalization of tyrants.

Dave said...

"Free expression" seems unfamiliar to a many Islamic cultures.

I recall reading an interview with the Turkish novelist Orhan Pamuk in which he related the story of how he learned about the American consitution and Bill of Rights while studying in London, and he was floored that we can say "I hate the President" or "God is dead" and not fear any reprisals.

When he got back to Istanbul, he related this news to his friends and they were equally astonished. Mind you that that the circle Pamuk travels in in Istanbul has more in common with the secular West than it does with Mecca and its ideologues.

Marghlar said...

Yeah, they started to lose my sympathy when it came out about the (probably) faked cartoons...and when they kept reprinting and recirculating them in Muslim countries. At that point, it became entirely political, and very calclulating...

bearbee said...

".......when it expressed "concern at rising hatred against Judaism and Jews..."

I did I quote it accurately, didn't I? Oops..... I guess not...

The Arab world along with its press need to take a hard look in the mirror and reflect upon its own track record of propaganda, cartooning and lies. I need to go further than mention of the despicable "Protocol of the Elders" that they continue to promote.

Kirk Parker said...

What Dave said, multiplied by 1000. These people are not in "the history of free expression" at all! The concept is completely outside their worldview.

ALH ipinions said...


I shared your sympathetic inclinations. But I too have become dismayed by the utter lack of proportion even amongst those who should know better.

Indeed, I'm mindful of the fact that the clerics now belatedly trying to quell the protests are the very ones who sat in blasphemous silence whilst Muslims kidnapped and beheaded innocent people (some of whom were even more respectful of the prophet Muhammad than most of those rioting in the streets).

Gaius Arbo said...

I have said all along this was not spontaneous at all, but a calculated offensive information war. I think a lot of others see it now, too.

I think they overplayed their hand rather badly. The Danes have now uninvited Imams to help solve integration issues. They have been caught in their lies and people are about fed up.

goesh said...

Yet civilization advances. Even though women in Saudi Arabia can't vote and drive cars, they are allowed to protest the cartoons in public, if accompanied with a male family member chaparone. If these islamofacists were really serious about female equality, they would let some of their women saw off a few infidel heads. I'm afraid it is still a man's world over there.

PatCA said...

Another collection of half truths by the NYT.

It is a lie that the three worst cartoons were sent to Danish Muslims. The imam who made them can provide no evidence whatsoever to support that contention. And how can the writer speculate about the purpose of the summit? Perhaps, just perhaps, it was a summit to institute a plan to defeat democracy in their region, which would of course end their corrupt, oppressive, police states. No more Paris ateliers or Swiss bank accounts, no more vacations on the Riviera...bring out the propaganda!

And who paid for the buses to take all those "moderate" Palestinians to Beirut?

Yes, they are the clowns of the universe, along with their media enablers. The only good thing about this controversy is that we can see them for what they are, even if the NYT can't.

mtrobertsattorney said...

For a thoughtful analysis of the cartoon controversy by a Moslem, see Reza Aslan's artical "Depicting Mohammand" posted on Slate (2/8/06).

Semanticleo said...

It seems to be a win/win for the
demogogic clerical class.

If the west knuckles under and
restricts press freedoms to
mollify masses with a mob
mentality, they have undercut
what much of the west holds dear.

If we hold firm, they can muster
their troops to carry out their
slash-and burn strategy to halt
progressive reform in their own

From within the west, or without
the malevolent minority seeks to
maintain the power base of the
status quo.

The question is, do we realize
how the tail wags the dog in our
own ranks? Do we have a demogogic
minority manipulating our
perceptions as deftly?

sierra said...

All this reaction from a set of cartoons reminds me how some of history's major upheavals were triggered by ridiculous events. The Cultural Revolution, which caused the death and dislocation of millions of Chinese, unfolded in the wake of no more than a negative theater review.

Gaius Arbo said...

It's pretty obvious that the NYT story is blatantly trying to wag the dog. It is full of lies, half-truths and diversions.

Frankly, if the blogosphere had not widely published the actual catoons, more people would have been suckered by a story like this. It's pretty sad when Europe is demonstrating a better grasp of the concept of freedom of the press than our own country is.

Here's a very interesting piece from the Copenhagen Post (in English)


Jen Bradford said...

I already gave my opinions in the other thread. When terrorism was the reaction of choice, the legitimacy of the original grievance became moot very quickly.

But for the sake of clarity Ann, you say, "You see your own people overreacting in the extreme to some drawings, and your response is all about how bad the drawings are?"

But the meeting was in December, before the overreaction happened.

GemmySecretPal said...

"Are there any bigger clowns in the history of free expression?"

Well maybe the folks that arrested Cindy Sheehan at Former Gov. Bush's recent speech in Washinton

Dave said...

FYI: This week's Economist devotes its cover story to the Cartoon Wars and free speech.

The link is free.

michael farris said...

You really need to get out more. In much of the third world (in cultural terms this includes almost the entire Arab world) the ultimate form of ethics is group loyalty. Your family against other families in the clan, your clan against other clans in the tribe, your tribe against other tribes etc. This is just another reflection of that. Those that share your faith against all those who don't.

Expecting any other behavior is not realistic.

Gordon Freece said...

Michael Farris:

If you insult a mafia don in public, he's liable to have you killed, and you'd be a fool to expect anything else.

What's your point? That we should add a "subject to mafia approval" clause to the First Amendment?

GemmySecretPal said...

"In much of the third world ... Those that share your faith against all those who don't."

Michael this is hardly a 3rd World phenomena. Look at the U.S and the crazy Jeebus people. Radicalism is radicalism whether you are Osama Bin Laden or James Dobson.

XWL said...

As if Sen. Ted Kennedy isn't a radical secular humanist in his own way.

I haven't been washed in the blood of Jesus, nor baptized, but I respect people who have faith.

Rev. Dobson, or those that listen to him, has never done anything that would justify equating his behavior with the current thin-skinned and violent reaction from those that submit to Allah.

The protesters are a perversion of Islam, not an example.

And that December meeting is where the Danish Imams got together with Muslim Brotherhood apparatchiks (whose organization both predates and admires Al Qaeda) and fomented this current mess.

It's fascism we fight, these folks are fascists in every sense of the word. They are hoping to create an existential crisis for the idea of Liberal Democracy.

Either other Muslims fight them, denounce them, disown them, or truly awful troubles will follow.

Henry said...

I think gemmy must be confusing Dobson with the radical Lutheran clerics of Green Bay.

GemmySecretPal said...

XWL. I concur and also have respect for people of faith. My point is that you could replace Imam with Dobson (robertson if you prefer) and Muslim with Christian in your post and make the same argument.

They are both perversions of their representative faiths.

I'll let you keep the Fascism analogy, since I don't think it probably really applies.

The Drill SGT said...

My favorite displays of Islam's inherent contradictions presented in the article were

The meeting in Mecca, a Saudi city from which non-Muslims are barred, drew minimal international press coverage even though such leaders as President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran were in attendance.

So the conference was held in a city where non-Muslims are barred in a country where Christians are persecuted, Worship forbidden and bibles burned and the Danish Muslims complained that while in Cairo. that some small Danish splinter party didn't like the Koran

In Cairo, for example, the group also met with journalists from Egypt's media. During a news conference, they spoke about a proposal from the far-right Danish People's Party to ban the Koran in Denmark because of some 200 verses that are alleged to encourage violence.

I love the hypocrisy

james said...

If it isn't too far off-topic, may I ask who these demonstrators actually worship? If I mock God, they'll disregard me; but if I mock Muhammad, they'll try to kill me.

Gordon Freece said...


I guess I missed the episode where Dobson and Robertson went around torching embassies and threatening to saw the heads off of people who criticized their religion.

ottotex said...

Enough of this! Happening at this time in Wisconsin backyards...Iowahawk explains all...

The Drill SGT said...

I'll take Henry and Froward's side.

I hardly think the Dobson, or any of the RR are in or close to the level of ignorance or righteous bigotry of too many Imams. I don't think that Christianity has had anything comparable since the Inquisition. When did that effectively stop? 1400's?

ShadyCharacter said...

Hey, is it just me or is gemmysecretpal the new improved quxxo (now with even less logic or consistency!)

To establish his troll bona fides in his first day of posting we have the following gems reflecting a refined sensitivity and a superior intellect =)

"Look at the U.S and the crazy Jeebus people."

followed 45 minutes later with

"I concur and also have respect for people of faith."

What an a**-clown!

But the real question on everybody's mind, will he stand firm and refuse to respond to any substantive criticisms, or will he persevere with Bushitler non-sequitors ad nauseam?

word verification: kosskiddie

astrolabe said...

I haven't been able to find any confirmation, but if this article is accurate, then Ahmed Abu-Laban, one of the leaders of the clerics from Denmark who helped instigate this whole mess, was "expelled by the United Arab Emirates for his vitriolic Friday sermons". I assume this episode occured prior to his relocating to Denmark to take advantage of its more tolerant society. If this is true, then Ahmed Abu-Laban truly deserves standing as one of "the bigger clowns in the history of free expression".

Gaius Arbo said...

I agree with Henry and Ottotex. If you haven't read Iowahawk, you really need to.

My favorite line:

"Those who sow the curds of blasphemy will reap the cheddar wheel of destruction.”

GemmySecretPal said...

I don't think that I ever conflated Bush and Hitler. I clearly left the Fascism references to others.

In terms of the criticism, whether inciting your followers to sack embassies or bomb health clinics, to behead hostages or calling for the death of Supreme Court Justices they are all cut from the same cloth. Fanatics are fanatics, but to see this as "Arab" issue(or more correctly a Muslim issue) is to have some really interesting blinders on.

ShadyCharacter said...

gemmy, no one on this board believes that Dobson and Robertson are equivalent to those murdering and rampaging in response to these cartoons. And I include you in this as well.

Would you feel safer holding a pro-gay marriage sign outside the Southern Baptist Conference in Florida or in Mecca during the Hajj? Assuming you can answer without lying, why would you feel safer opposing the American Christians? Could it be because you know they wouldn't hurt a hair on your head no matter what provocation you give them?

You're going to have to do a lot of work to regain any shred of credibility on any topic as you've evidenced a willingness to knowingly talk out of your *ss on your first day here to score some cheap domestic political points.

p.s. it might be easier to simply adopt a new handle...

Gordon Freece said...


So when did Robertson and Dobson called on their followers to bomb health clinics and kill Supreme Court justices?

How many Supreme Court justices have been assassinated by Christians, by the way? A rough count would be fine. Somewhere in the zero range is my recollection, but that's just my planet. How about yours?

michael farris said...

P. Froward,

I gave no indication of how much concern I thought western media/anyone else should pay to this sort of thinking (for the record: none), just that it's very deeply ingrained and not going to change soon and Arabs watching mtv and drinking coke won't change that fundamental aspect of their culture for many generations.

GemmySecretPal said...

Please don't misconstrue what I have said. I would not equate Dobson or Robertson to those rioting. To the preachers, yes.

And I am certainly not condoning the reaction to the riots. I think they are batsh*^ crazy, too. I imagine that most Muslims in the world are vexed by the reactions, just as a Christian I am shamed by my association with Dobson, Robertson, et al.

Just so I don't get accused of not responding. Robertson 1) Suggested nuking the State Dept on the 700 Club 2) Called for prayer for the removal of Supreme Court justices, noting that two were sick and/or very old 3)Suggested assinating Hugo Chavez (no angel, but c'mon. Pat, just shut up and quit giving Christ a bad name.

Gordon Freece said...

Michael Farris: Fair enough. My bad.

Gemmy: Hmmm. None of those examples of moronic Robertson remarks (hey, wasn't he also the nitwit who agreed in principle with Chomsky's 9/11 teleology?) strike me as suggestions that he realistically expected his followers to act on. Nukes are hard to come by, even at most gun shows.

It's goofy at best to call on God or the CIA to strike somebody dead, but neither God nor the CIA is at all likely to act on Robertson's suggestions. His followers do listen (not that the 700 Club crowd are exactly the McVeigh type anyway), but instead he's filing all these requests with people who can be trusted to roll their eyes and ignore him.

He's a loudmouthed jackass, but I still don't see him sending his followers out to kill people.

sonia said...

This suggestion that Pat Robertson can be somewhat compared to radical Muslim clerics is totally bogus. Not because Pat didn't say some crazy things in the past. But it's bogus because those radical Muslim clerics are the MAINSTREAM of the Muslim public opinion, whereas Pat is a so FAR-RIGHT he makes Jerry Falwell look like a moderate teddy bear. There simply are no influential Muslim clerics who are reasonable and moderate by Western standards (with the possible exception of this guy.

ShadyCharacter said...

Gemmy, that makes two!!

"Look at the U.S and the crazy Jeebus people."

From the Ken discussion: "No, I was thinking more about whatever cult Santorum and Brownback are part of. You know, the one were some supernatural being has told them when you get to be born, when you get to die and then how you are supposed to behave at a funeral."

Then, out of left field (far, far, far left field), you write:

"just as a Christian I am shamed by my association with Dobson, Robertson, et al."

First point: I've never heard a Christian (simply defined as someone who believes Jesus is the Son of God) refer to Jesus as "Jeebus". Have you? I've heard plenty of lefty adolescent athiests throw that around to get a rise out of people.

Second point: I've never heard a Christian refer to Christianity in the abstract as a "cult" with God being "some supernatural being" as you also did in the Ken comments. Have you?

Big question for you - why do you feel the need to lie about your religion in an anonymous comment board? What does that say about you as a person? What does it say about the strength of your arguments.

I'm genuinely curious about where you'll go for strike three!

Charles Chapman said...

Forgive me if this has been done here before, but I have some Support Denmark and Buy Danish up on my site:

Support Denmark

The Is-Ought Problem

GemmySecretPal said...

Sorry you think I lied about my religion, but it doesn't change the fact that I worship every Sunday as a Christian.

With regard to the "cult" quote, I think the cult that I referred to has as little to do with Christianity as the cult that says strap a bomb to yourself and go to a mall does with Islam.

Jeebus was not meant as a literal reference to Christ, but rather a reference to the misappropriation of His teachings by certain groups. I can appreciate the confusion and should watch my use of my own personal vernacular without sufficient explanation.

I stand by my shame as a Christian in the rhetoric and work of the Dobsons and Robertsons of the world as I hope that my Muslim brothers and sisters do in regard to that of the more radical leaders misrepresenting their faith. It is actually a source of great consternation for me, but luckily it hasn't lessened my faith that by continuing to work and pray the truth will prevail over the lies and hatred of the moneychangers and Pharisees.

ShadyCharacter said...

That's fine Gemmy, I'll take you at your word.

Could you please clarify the "cult" comment? I did a quick google and it seems both Santorum and Brownback are Catholic. Is that the connection? Are you an anti-Catholic bigot? You're sending out such mixed signals.

I do have to say, it is very noble of you to feel ashamed by the very existence of Christians who don't share your politics. How Christ-like. That's what He was known for, right?

GemmySecretPal said...

Certainly wouldn't think of myself as anti-Catholic. That the two mentioned are Catholic is coincedental. Guess it would be more the cult of theocracy.

Don't think I am comfortable with the Jesus comparison. My shame doesn't stem from their existence, just their actions. That said, I do know that Christ did rebel against the hypocrisies he saw in his own faith and resisted the in-place tyrany of the governing power. Certainly a good role model, but a pretty high hurdle for comparison.

ShadyCharacter said...

"Guess it would be more the cult of theocracy."

Could you please clarify what the word "theocracy" means on your planet? Here on earth it is
1. A government ruled by or subject to religious authority.
2. A state so governed.

So if a Christian doesn't share your left-wing politics, you feel justified to equate them to the murderers and anti-Semites who run Iran (about the only actual "theocracy" I can think of off the top of my head)? Or are you simply using the term as an ad hominem attack, a short-hand for the gamut of political positions with which you disagree at this adolescent ("Jeebus") stage of your life.

After advancing you alternate definition of "theocracy" can you please identify how Brownback and Santorum fit the bill as members of the "cult of theocracy"? If one is pro-Life is one a "theocrat"? If one is a practicing Christian who holds a government office? If one is opposed to same sex marriage? Please do enlighten us with exactly what policy positions would qualify one for membership in the "cult" - it's got to be something bad as you're equating it to suicide bombing and the like!

You should be comfortable with the Jesus comparison, you're certainly puting yourself forward as having a God-like ability to identify "the lies and hatred of the moneychangers and Pharisees" among your fellow Christian Americans, not to mention your willingness to take the sins of others onto your unsullied shoulders (your self-righteous "shame as a Christian")...

So let's see what we have in this gemmy character who graced us (and I do mean graced) with his presence today. A "Christian" who refers to Jesus as "Jeebus" (it's his "own personal vernacular" that just coincidentally mimics a slur used by adolescent athiests) and God as "some supernatural being", who has the amazing ability to see into the hearts of his fellow "Christians" and is able to discern by their conservative political beliefs (shared by half the country) that they are "moneychangers and Pharisees", who lacks a basic understanding of the meaning of the word "theocracy", and who shows his Christ-like nobility by his willingness to take onto his perfect shoulders the burden of the shame of less enlightened Christians...

It doesn't really matter, though the conversation has veered here, but are you a Christian in the sense that you believe Jesus is the Son of God? And what, to you, is a more important attribute of a Christian, that he believes Jesus is the Son of God or that he embraces the left-wing politics du jour? That is, can someone be Christian and at the same time be pro-life, anti-same sex marriage, skeptical of environmentalists, pro welfare reform, pro NAFTA, republican (or whatever other positions you are ascribing to Brownback as you tar him as a theocratic Pharisee moneychanger)?

GemmySecretPal said...

Wow, that's a lot of anger there. I hope you have someone to work through that with.

Since I have not mentioned sin or my political beliefs once, I am not sure what to make of the rest of the diatribe. Defending myself against assumptions about something that I never discussed seems a rather pointless exercise. Have a great Friday.

ShadyCharacter said...

Gemmy gemmy, try a little critical thinking. Sin of others is to Christ as Shame of others is to Gemmy.

Don't they teach you guys logic at "theocrat" spotting school?

And your non-answer is enough answer for me on the broader points...

GemmySecretPal said...

It seems a very strange analogy, and more rhetoric than logic, but its one you seem fascinated by, so it must resonate with you. I find comparisons to Christ to be a thin-ice game, but that's just me.

aidan maconachy said...

Most of the comments on this thread address the issue of the Muhammad caricatures as a simple matter of offence. Someone mentioned the "N" word by way of analogy. This is more than a tad naive.

I don't know if those who are so magnanimous and concerned about the sensitivities of Muslims re this particular issue have ever actually lived in an Islamic country. I grew up in one, and "blasphemies" directed toward the person of the prophet are not treated as mere infractions or artistic excesses. People do indeed suffer severe punishments for such "crimes" in those jurisdictions where Sharia law is practiced without deference to human rights concerns.

It is however one thing to subject the citizens of a Taliban-like state to the draconian rigors of Islamic justice, and quite another to attempt and export the same climate of threat and intimidation to Western countries under the guise of "righteous offence". In doing this, Islamic radicals seek to use our multi-cultural PC sensitivities against us and if that doesn't work there are always death threats and other types of intimidation.

There is nothing innocent about any of this; these taboos are deliberately evoked and used as a weapon to intimidate and silence.

Ironically (given that the issue of artistic rendering is central to this clash), there are quite a number of Islamic miniatures that portray a likeness of the prophet. Such representations are by no means unheard of.

This particular cartoon incident has been deliberately exploited as a political strategy in the struggle with the secular world. It is really only an early skirmish; the clash of values has just begun and those in the West who are already caving in and resorting to mealy mouthed rationales, simply don't get it.

It's not about being polite about the other guy's religion. Sure, if the other guy happens to be a mild mannered Buddhist, or any other believer whose religion is not being employed as an ideological weapon, I would agree that we should avoid giving unnecessary offence.

In the case of harder edged Islamic chauvinism with its characteristic insolence, it is naive to simply take the view that "we shouldn't offend". Excuse me - but when a Mullah in Iran issues a Fatwah on a Western based author, Rushdie, calling for his murder in a Western jurisdiction we know that it is about a hell of a lot more than wounded religious sensibilities. When a Dutch film maker, Theo Van Gogh, is slaughtered in the street for the crime of exposing injustices experienced by Islamic women, its not merely about offended male pride. When the Canadian refusnik Irshad Manji, has her life threatened for speaking about problems in her own religion, Islam, its not merely about offended orthodoxy. The impulse central to these protests is all about control and silencing any with the temerity to cross lines that have been have drawn for us, without even an attempt at polite consultation.

To simply say "we must not offend" is to be shockingly blind about what is actually going on here. Recently English Muslims were polled on the question of Sharia law, and close to 60% responded that they would like to see provisions from Sharia become a part of the English judicial system.

This is a very real fight, and those who blithely assume that we can afford to bend over backwards because our rights and freedoms in the West are immutable - or worse still - who argue for sub-clauses that designate "Muslim offence concerns" no-go areas, are in the business of selling out the very essence of what it means to be a free society.

I tip my hat to all those courageous editors in Europe - now also in the States and Canada - with the guts to do the right thing by publishing these cartoons.

The following comments are from a recent column by the Muslim refusnik Irshad Manji ...

"Muslims have little integrity demanding respect for our faith if they don't show it for others. When have we demonstrated against Saudi Arabia's policy to prevent Christians and Jews from stepping on the soil of Mecca? They may come for rare business trips, but nothing more. As long as Rome welcomes non-Christians and Jerusalem embraces non-Jews, we Muslims have more to protest than cartoons.

None of this is to dismiss the need to take my religion seriously. Hell, Muslims even take seriously the need to be serious: Islam has a teaching against "excessive laughter." I'm not joking. But does this mean that we should cry "blasphemy" over less-than-flattering depictions of the Prophet Muhammad? God no.

For one thing, the Koran itself points out that there will always be non-believers, and that it's for Allah, not Muslims, to deal with them. More than that, the Koran says there is "no compulsion in religion." Which suggests that nobody should be forced to treat Islamic norms as sacred.

Fine, many Muslims will retort, but we're talking about the Prophet Muhammad - Allah's final and therefore perfect messenger. However, Islamic tradition holds that the Prophet was a human being who made mistakes. It's precisely because he wasn't perfect that we know of the so-called Satanic Verses: a collection of passages that the Prophet reportedly included in the Koran. Only later did he realize that those verses glorified heathen idols rather than God. According to Islamic legend, he retracted the idolatrous passages, blaming them on a trick played by Satan.

When Muslims put the Prophet on a pedestal, we're engaging in idolatry of our own. The point of monotheism is to worship one God, not one of God's emissaries. Which is why humility requires people of faith to mock themselves - and each other - every once in a while."