Little Green Footballs

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Lions and lambs

The Cartoon Crisis (shall we call it the "inktifada"?) is one of those issues, like immigration or free trade, that cuts across ideological lines in unexpected ways.

For example, on the left, some are wondering whether this the beginning of World War IV:

The idea that man has no control over his affairs is a concept created by powermongering dictators. In the Muslim world, it was created as political propaganda, proof that the political decisions made today can impact the planet for eternity.

What this boils down to is moral responsibility. Without free will, there can be no moral responsiblity, something that seems to be lacking in 21st century Islam (and American Evangelicalism.) Listen, you rioters. You are losing supporters by the hour. Don't come whining to us when the bombs rain on Damascus, because somewhere deep within our liberal hearts may be a bit of the feeling of justice. (This is not the same thing as supporting a war.) You want to act like you have no moral responsibility and destroy everything in sight? You get what you give, you know.

A British socialist living in Denmark waxes literary:
The socialist take is very clear on this. There should be no bans or censorship whatsoever. Censorship does not achieve what it sets out to stop and is never productive. It is a sign of the fragile nature of the religious mentality that humour or cartoons can be seen as such a threat to beliefs.

The Jyllandposten picture is not funny. It does provoke a reaction which is healthy, though.

Terrorists kill and maim, sometimes justifying their murderous actions by reference to Islam. The picture above makes a statement on what is happening: there are people with bombs in one hand and the Koran in the other. The worst take on the picture is that all muslims are terrorists and that all terrorism is to be found and justified in the Koran, thus Islam is an evil.

Rather than bans or whatever, free discussion puts an end to misunderstandings, half-truths, untruths and damned lies.

"The Name of the Rose" by Umberto Eco, and the film version, springs to mind here. It has a sobering message.


Why does the murderer fear laughter, especially Aristotle's second book of poetics? Laughter is the common man's practice; if learned men are disposed to comedy then fear is removed and laughter at faith becomes permissible.

In the Observer, Henry Porter asks both sides to lighten up:
Both sides are spoiling for a fight on this one and there is a fair amount of unattractive posturing. When push comes to shove, I have to say that I would take a lot more notice of the outrage in the Middle East if I had not come across dozens of anti-semitic cartoons published in the Arab press.

The striking part of Arabic Jew-baiting is that it is as prevalent, nasty and dehumanising as it ever was in Nazi Germany. Newspapers published in Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan, Oman and UAE all use demonic images of stereotypical Jews (big nose, black coat and hat and laden with money bags) pulling the strings behind the scenes in US politics, buying political influence and spreading death, terror and disease. Josef Goebbels would have felt quite at home reading these newspapers.

They are unacceptable and would, if published here, cause an outrage equal to last week's, but this does not seem to have occurred to the Muslim spokesman or clerics that I have heard on the subject.

Meanwhile, some folks on the other side of the aisle are also issuing calls for restraint.
The Anchoress makes a point that seems to have escaped many of the anti-Muslim hardliners who are pontificating on this issue:
Cooler heads must prevail - it would be a damn shame to lose the advances we have made with moderate Muslims because we have pushed too far. While I’m all for free speech, and was glad to see French editors stand up for it, I don’t know that I can support the few suggestions I have seen, here and there, for bloggers to create “more and better” Anti-Islam cartoons. For what purpose, to fan the flames? I’d like to see the Muslims learn to lighten up. That’s not going to happen if they’re being egged on. We’re in the middle of a very long “process” of trying to bring the Middle East and the Islamists into the twenty first century. They’re currently highly pissed off about fake cartoons. If we can’t get them to slow down and acknowledge that some of their own have had a hand in creating this unrest, is it the wisest thing to say, “hey, those were FAKE cartoons, but here’s some REAL ones for your to freak out over!”

Dean Esmay puts it a bit more bluntly:
Hugh Hewitt--that well-known limp-wristed liberal pansy--said it well recently:

"There are hundreds of thousands of American troops deployed in Iraq, Afghanistan and across the globe among Muslim peoples who they are trying to befriend. The jihadists like nothing more than evidence that these troops represent a West intent on a new crusade and a new domination of Muslims. Idiot cartoonists make our troops' jobs more difficult, and the jihadists' mission easier."

Oh yeah, and I can utterly condemn this without losing my bearings about who our allies are. You can too.

Neal Boortz, JIFA (Just Another Foaming Islamophobe). Oh, and did I add that he's an idiot who hurts the war effort? I should have added that Neal Boortz is an idiot who hurts the war effort. Because Neal Boortz is an idiot who hurts the war effort.

What was that about Boortz again?

Solomonia agrees:
Our guys are dodging IED's in Baghdad and beyond, and our efforts across the Middle East require some measure of winning hearts and minds and the reaction to us is important -- rational or ir, it doesn't matter. We don't need a few cartoons destroying all that effort put in with all that "we're not at war with Islam" talk.

Finally, one commenter over in lizard-land -- an American living in Belgium -- touches on something that has been covered repeatedly here: that Europe's problem may not be too much "multiculturalism" (whatever that is), but too little:
This gets to the true difference of the US and Europe. In the US, anyone can be an American. Just say "yes" and sign on the dotted line. It is a belief, a contract. If you say, heck yes, I'm a Yank, then you can become a yank. No one gives a damn. Plus, given our economy, odds are that yep, you can make a living and have a better life if you work hard. Look at the Koreans in California, the vast majorities are highly successful and there kids now dominate the UC school system. In the 60 and 70s, they came to California dirt poor.

I went home to Los Angeles in spring last year, hung out at a bar to watch a playoff game. Asians are dating Mexicans. Blacks are hanging out with white guys. No body gives a shit. Multi culturalism? Just go to a Lakers game.

Do you honestly think that a Frenchman or a Belgian will ever consider an Arab or black to be French? Gimmie a break.


To summarize: you can be a confirmed Bushophobe and still acknowledge that the cartoon rioters are idiots. Likewise, you can be a fully paid-up member of the Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy while realizing that just because you can do something like publish cartoons that offend Muslims, doesn't necessarily mean you should, especially when the lives of U.S troops might be at stake.

A cartoon of Muhammad wearing a bomb on his head is not worth burning an embassy for, and it's certainly not worth dying for.


AssParrot said...

Good to see Esmay has his head on straight about this one. Much as I often loathe him, it's hugely important to have a respected voice amongst the wingnuts make a calm assessment of this situation. For starters, let's look at the rioters as individuals, not as some vast thing called "Islam", then we can go from there in this conversation.

The contrast between the calm honesty of Esmay and the flame-fanning apoplexy of Malkin, Lizardass, et. al. couldn't be mroe stark.

steve said...

Ummm, for some insight into the Danish fiasco, we can't look to the kooks and fascists.

Get to Kos, read the diary by Soj, who is well respected, and suddenly it makes a hell of a lot more sense than a pack of goofy, crackpots shooting from the lip over in right wing la-la land.
I'll give the freepi, assrocketeers, snotballers and assorted numbskull fascist rednecks a hint....follow the green flags with the with the funny white lettering and white sword....start looking there.


The Frito Pundito said...

The poster living in Belgium claiming that " I'm a Yank, then you can become a yank. No one gives a damn." overstates the problem in Europe (which is more than just France and Belgium) and understates it in the US - just ask the Arab-American community how much they were regarded as Americans after 9/11. And why would illegal immigration in the US be such a hot-button topic if no one gave a damn? After all, they just want to come here work hard and be good Americans. As for Europe, I have lived for the past year in Austria, which despite its (ahem) questionable past, has incorporated large numbers of Turks and Nigerians, and they are as much Austrians as that multi-culti group in that mythical LA bar as Americans. Further, in England I noticed mixing between ethnic groups, especially African-Anglo and Indian-Anglo couples, to an extent I have never seen in the US.

Jon Swift said...

I have posted a picture from the Muhammad Ali cartoons, despite putting myself at risk for a fatwa. I have no idea why Muslims think a cartoon from the 1970s is offensive, but I think it's important to take a stand.