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Jill has been blogging for Feministe since 2005.
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64 Responses

  1. Salvor
    Salvor February 5, 2006 at 10:37 pm |

    You are concerned that we should examine the deeper discontents and not write them of as “Crazy Arabs” but at the same time you refer to Danish newspaper act as “Running the cartoon was racist, bigoted, and stupid.” I hope you have taken the time to read about the matter, Wikipedia has good articles about this, see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Muhammad_Drawings

    But try at least to understand the Danish and understand our culture… I come from the same cultural background, my country used to to Danish colony and I can tell you that it is quit usual to make fun of religion and religional symbols and I value freedom of speech — also essential is the freedom for bad taste and for our enemies to air opinions we think they should not have.

    I also want to draw your attention to one new victim of blashemy charges in the Muslim world, that is Ali Mohaqiq Nasab
    See this:
    Women’s Rights Editor Jailed in Afghanistan Faces Increasing Threats
    http://www.feminist.org/news/newsbyte/uswirestory.asp?id=9424

  2. Johnny
    Johnny February 5, 2006 at 11:23 pm |

    I can’t agree that the cartoons were racist in any way shape or form. Granted I am not Muslim, the closest I come is that one of my favorite books of poetry is from the Sufi Poet Hafiz (translated by Ladinski), but I do come from a heavily mixed rave family, and that has taught me a lot about tolerance, and suppression.

    I don’t normally like to point to him, but Tim C (who I almost always disagree with) has attempted to round them up at Hit n Run.

    I can’t help but remember that these are the same type of “offences” that Rushdie was sentenced to die for. The “law” of Islam that calls these offensive and blasphemous, also sentences women to hell on earth, there are awful good reasons for a free society to challenge their piety.

    These kinds of issues, these kinds of freedom are EXACTLY what we are fighting for in this country against the Bushbots, who by the way, support the suppression of speech, and a good sense of humor.

    “These cartoons are indeed offensive to the belief of Muslims,” State Department spokesman Kurtis Cooper said in answer to a question.
    “We all fully recognize and respect freedom of the press and expression but it must be coupled with press responsibility. Inciting religious or ethnic hatreds in this manner is not acceptable.”

    And like I said, from what I have been able to find online, these were hardly offensive (except for the ones that weren’t actually printed, but the Imans are passing off as “genuine” anyway, now those are offensive)

    Wow, that’s the first time I’ve ever actually disagreed with something you’ve written so completely, sorry to delurk that way.

  3. TangoMan
    TangoMan February 6, 2006 at 12:12 am |

    The more liberal commentary I read about this incident the more I see the Modern Left completely ungrounded from prinicples that seemed to be rock solid only 20 years ago.

    When did “respect for” come to trump “fundamental freedom” or if not trump, then respect for should lead to slef-censorship of the freedom of speech? “Respect for” is not a prinicple that can be defended for all that is necessary for a progressive erosion of any freedom is for one group or another to be vocal or violent enough to place ever more topics off-limit. The modern Left’s goal of creating a society where no one’s feelings are hurt, or no one is offended can not be reconciled with the protection of freedoms.

    There was nothing racist or bigoted about running these cartoons. When artists must self-censor with respect to Muslim sensitivities then a battle against freedom has been fought and no shots have been fired. The perpetually hurt feelings of Muslims cannot always be tiptoed around, especially in the modern world where we don’t treat other religious figures with a greater sensitivity, witness Jesus portrayed as a Hippie in a musical, witness Jesus as a gay man who has sex with Judas in Corpus Christi. Sure, these plays upset the religious but there was nowhere near the frenzy we see with these mild cartoons. And for that matter, where are the reports of past riotings when the might Mo was portrayed throughout history. Here is an archive of past renderings and while I’m at it, it sure would help the cause of the outraged Muslims if they didn’t so blatantly practice the art of biting satire and true bigotry in their own cartoons, as collected on this site.

    I just think that major boil-overs like this one are never the result of a single incident

    I certainly agree with this point. Fueling much of this Arab/Muslim ire is the feeling of being left behind on the world stage. If you exclude oil, then the remaining GDP of the Fertile Crescent is less than that of Spain. The economic output of 800 million people compares to a population of 40 million. Where ever in the world we see the elevation of Islam to be above secular law, we see those nations being left behind economically, politically, and culturally. In much of the Arab world, the birth rates grow faster than the economy, with the result that job creation can’t even keep pace with population growth. These regions look westward and see dynamism that they believe should befall the more righteous rather than the undeserving and this dynamic is like a perpetually festered sore in which every minor irritant serves to pull the scab off of the sore.

    If you compare the 1.3 Billion muslims in the world to the 1.4 Billion Chinese we see that the news generated about each group is distinctively different. Almost every story about muslims has grevience at the core, with hurt feelings, insulted pride, victimization and how the West needs to accommodate itself to all these sensitivities. The less frequent news that concerns China usually deals with their own internal issues, the work the citizens are doing and doesn’t have as its core, the requirement that the West owes them respect, yet the quest for respect is common to both groups.

    No one in the West signed up for a Multiculturalism which involves an erosion of core freedoms in order to mollify the other cultures. Ever since the Left has elevated the respect for multiculturalism above the protection of core freedoms it has lost its way and moral high ground, thus leading to the continued slippage of self-identified liberals down to only 20% of the electorate.

  4. Darleen
    Darleen February 6, 2006 at 12:18 am |

    Running the cartoon was racist, bigoted, and stupid

    Assuming so, it no more excuses calls for “another Holocaust” and the violence we are witnessing than saying a rape victim is a fault for getting fall-down drunk at a frat party.

    And it would appear in that Jyllands-Posten

    …decided to publish these cartoons because it wanted to test what editor-in-chief Carsten Juste described as “an article of self-censorship which rules large parts of the Western world.”

    In other words, Juste contended that there is a real fear of being seen as criticizing Islam in large parts of the Western world, and that this fear has bred self-censorship. Juste is right on both counts.

    and

    One issue that puzzles many Danes is the timing of this outburst. The cartoons were published in September: Why have the protests erupted from Muslims worldwide only now? …

    Last November, Abu Laban, a 60-year-old Palestinian who had served as translator and assistant to top Gamaa Islamiya leader Talaal Fouad Qassimy during the mid-1990s and has been connected by Danish intelligence to other Islamists operating in the country, put together a delegation that traveled to the Middle East to discuss the issue of the cartoons with senior officials and prominent Islamic scholars. The delegation met with Arab League Secretary Amr Moussa, Grand Imam of Al-Azhar Sheikh Mohammad Sayyed Tantawi, and Sunni Islam’s most influential scholar, Yusuf al Qaradawi. “We want to internationalize this issue so that the Danish government will realize that the cartoons were insulting, not only to Muslims in Denmark, but also to Muslims worldwide,” said Abu Laban. *

  5. Tuomas
    Tuomas February 6, 2006 at 12:59 am |

    For the record, I agree more with Steve on the basic idea that Europeans should be more respectful of multiculturalism and their fellow citizens.

    Are you kidding? Been to Denmark or Norway lately? The level of multiculturalism is staggering. Dissent from that ideology can be dangerous to one’s career in all Nordic countries (yes, I am happy about many things here but…)

    The problem isn’t Europeans. Or maybe it really is, but not in the way you mean, but rather the problem is that too often we allow oppression by bending over and blaming the victim “for the sake of multiculturalism”. The unchecked assumption is: Multiculturalism and its bastard child cultural relativism are good. No explanation is ever provided. It just is so, because everyone who argues otherwise is “far-right”, “bigot” or of course “racist”.

    Same standards (rights/responsibilities) for everyone (the old liberal idea) stopped being cool among European intellectuals at some point. At about the same time they started, en masse, supporting such wonderful ideologies (or at least “equally good/rotten” to democracy) as Communism (including Stalinism and Maoism). I wonder if there is a link?

    You know, there should be no ifs, buts or howevers in this issue (“but they will get angry!”) . Either freedom of expression is sacrosanct or it is not. There is no “reasonable middle ground” between freedom and tyranny (Shari’a law applied toward European cartoonists). You are running a fool’s errand by trying to find one.

  6. Tuomas
    Tuomas February 6, 2006 at 1:04 am |

    Just so it is clear, I am socially leftist (pro-choice, pro-gay rights, public health care/education etc). I can not understand why my fellow leftist (both back home and in America) are so wishy-washy about this.

    Well. It is said that “beggars can’t be choosers” (or something like that), and if this means I will have to find allies in the Right, then so be it.

  7. Therese Norén
    Therese Norén February 6, 2006 at 4:16 am |

    Some background commentary: Jyllands-Posten is a mouthpiece for the xenophobic right in Denmark, and Danish Muslims are targeted in what goes for polite political discourse over there. The racist party is the third largest one, and the government use them for a majority in parliament.

    However, the cartoons published are not the ones with Mohammed as a pedophile, Mohammed as a pig and a praying Muslim sodomised by a dog. Those ones were used by the group who’s responsible for drumming up violence, and we don’t know the source of those three. The twelve cartoons in question varied from outright racist to commentary about the consequences of depicting Mohammed to commentary about the newspaper and its PR tricks.

    The original cartoons: http://scienceblogs.com/dispatches/2006/02/the_caricatures_themselves.php

  8. veera
    veera February 6, 2006 at 8:20 am |

    I think you seem to have a blind spot on the inequality of the situation.

    As the situation stands – a group of people organised in a formal way with relatively vast resources per person make fun of a another group’s holy person. The latter group does not have the resources or capabilities per person, are not organised as tightly and some of them use violence to make apparent their dislike for the situation. This of course is a terrible thing to anyone who believes in liberalism and it’s founding principle – “all men are created equal”.

    The only problem is that all people are not given the same resources or the same means, so to think that everyone has adequate ways of reconciling their differences with nothing but free speech in a just manner makes meaningful communication impossible and really leaves no other way than violence to drive the point to the well insulated larger public.

    To prove my point think what would happen if a secular, European newspaper published photos depicting Jesus and the pope doing something ‘entertaining’.

    I think there are alot of other things building up and things like this are not very suprising since many countries in Europe have a history of structual racism (eg. ‘free trade’ – farm subsidies), violent racism by the state (eg. the french riots) or by the population (eg. burning of mosques in the Netherlands after the murder of the dutch director), cultural racism as status quo (as any newspaper will show with the ratio of dead needed from different cultural backgrounds to get into the news or the potrayals of rational – unrational), etc. Not to mention the whole culture industry fueling the flame and being the mouthpiece for the european civilization which would not exist without foreign labor and natural resources, but which newer gives any respect to the so called foreigners but depicts them as the other, the enemy or the crazy for wanting things like respect for their beliefs.

    Who are they that have signed some magical social contract that binds us all?

  9. Jon C.
    Jon C. February 6, 2006 at 9:48 am |

    The only problem is that all people are not given the same resources or the same means, so to think that everyone has adequate ways of reconciling their differences with nothing but free speech in a just manner makes meaningful communication impossible and really leaves no other way than violence to drive the point to the well insulated larger public.

    Do you hear that? It’s the sound of modern progressivism sounding its death knell. I’m sorry veera, but this seems to be nothing more than a thinly veiled defense of fascism. The modern left has come full circle, from fully pro-fascist during the Hitler-Stalin pact, to ardent if belated anti-fascism during World War II, to naive anti-anti-Communism during the Cold War, to the full-throated justification of Islamofascist violence. To be fair, you’re hardly representative of the whole left, as Jill makes quite clear in her post above. But this view is held by a more-than-insignificant minority of left-wingers.

    To prove my point think what would happen if a secular, European newspaper published photos depicting Jesus and the pope doing something ‘entertaining’.

    Veera, you’ve “proven” no point. You’ve clearly not been following this discussion at all, because you’ve missed the numerous references to the myriad ways in which Christ and Christian iconography have been smeared in recent memory- from “Piss Christ” to “Sensation” to “Corpus Christi” and whatever else some avant-garde hack who wants to grab a few headlines has decided to churn out this month. Heck, just this past week Kanye West was “crucified” on the cover of some magazine. If anyone burnt any embassies over that, I missed it.

  10. zuzu
    zuzu February 6, 2006 at 9:57 am | *

    One thing that’s being lost here in the whole freedom-of-speech argument is that while the cartoons were published in a country with free speech and press, the outrage is mostly occurring places where those things don’t exist, at least not to the same extent.

    I also agree with Steve Gilliard that this outcome was entirely foreseeable, and that the editors, sitting safely in Denmark, wrote a check that someone else — namely, Danes in Syria and other Arab Muslim countries — had to cash. It’s the “shouting fire in a crowded theater” problem — just because you’re free to say something doesn’t mean that it’s not stupid to say it because of the completely foreseeable consequences.

  11. Dianne
    Dianne February 6, 2006 at 9:58 am |

    Some thoughts on this issue:
    1. The cartoons were racist, bigoted, and not very funny. Yes, I know that Islam is not a race, but “Islamic” was denoted in the cartoons by Arabic racial characteristics. If some of the villains in the cartoons were European looking, I’d withdraw the claim of racism, although not the claim of bigotry.
    2. Likewise, the protesters calling for “another 911″ or “another Holocaust” are racist, bigoted, and scary. But if they restrict themselves to words, I think you have to respect their right to foam at the mouth. I think of them as sort of like the Islamic equivalent of Fred Phelps with a bit of David Duke thrown in. Not anyone you want to encourage, but as long as they’re fighting with words, the counter-attack should be with words only, not laws encouraging censorship.
    3. A lot of Islamic people are embarrassed by the actions of their co-believers and some, including some high level Imans have tried to stop the violence and calls for violence. That should be taken into account just as the fact that not every Christian or even every fundamentalist is a Phelps should be taken into account when thinking about Christianity.
    4. I think that most, possibly all people would be better off being secular humanists rather than Moslim, Christian, Buddist, or whatever. But then again no one asked me and I’m not going to go play missionary.
    5. I have no problem with calls to boycott the paper or even Danish products. Boycotting those who offend you is an accepted way to try to make them change their minds or at least their actions. I boycott Walmart because of their position on contraception. Boycotting a whole country because of the offense of about two people in that country seems a bit excessive, but still within the realm of acceptable protest methods.
    6. The violent idiots who torch embassies need to be arrested and put someplace where they won’t have the opportunity to play with matches. If their countries are reluctant to do so, the UN, EU, and Danish government are free to protest or, arguably, impose sanctions (though that seems a bit like boycotting a whole country because of the actions of a few). Invading would be about as justified as torching the embassy was.

  12. Sally
    Sally February 6, 2006 at 10:01 am |

    I’m confused. Are you guys (by which I mean Tuomas and Jon) saying that it’s bad to criticize, boycott, and otherwise peacefully protest images that are offensive to your religion? Or is your problem just the kind of violent response that pretty much everyone would agree is completely illegitimate?

    FWIW, there is absolutely nothing new about religious minorities protesting mainstream images that offend their religious sensibilities. I could come up with several instances from the mid-19th century. I know of several instances of violence over similar issues in early 20th century America. If arguing for religious sensitivity and respect for religious minorities is “Stalinist” or P.C., then there were an awful lot of Stalinist Catholics and Jews running around 19th and early 20th century America.

  13. zuzu
    zuzu February 6, 2006 at 10:09 am | *

    Hell, there are a lot of Stalinist Christians running around 21st Century America, to judge by all the whining about persecution of Christians and mockery and whatnot.

    As for everyone who’s saying they don’t see what’s so offensive about the cartoons: you probably wouldn’t, unless you had some background knowledge of Islam. I remember reading The Satanic Verses and having no freakin’ idea what was so bad about it that there was a fatwa issued against Rushdie. Later, a Muslim guy I worked with who was also a big fan of Rushdie explained to me that the scribe was changing the words of God as he wrote them down. Which is apparently a very big thing in Islam, and very offensive.

  14. Stephen Frug
    Stephen Frug February 6, 2006 at 10:21 am |

    I’m not sure that it is problematic to demand that your faith, race or other characteristic not be thoroughly disrespected, as Islam was in that cartoon.

    I think there’s an important distinction between “race” and “faith”. For “race” I agree with you (as long as the demands are peaceful, of course) — and would broaden out “race” to “ethnic group”, including, say, Jews and — in many cases — Muslims, i.e. a cartoon implying that all Muslims are suicide bombers.

    But requiring respect for another’s “faith” is a matter of requiring respect for ideas — and that shuts down debate. We dissrespect faith when we point out that those Christians who believe that the early is 6,000 years old are both clearly wrong and silly; we dissrespect faith when we point out that the treatment of women in Orthodox Judaism is sexist; and we dissrespect faith when we caraciture Mohammed even though Islam would prefer us not to. If Muslims want to peacefully protest the latter, fine, just as Christians and Orthodox Jews might peacefully protest the former two. But none of them should be able to force us to abide by their faith.

  15. Jon C.
    Jon C. February 6, 2006 at 10:29 am |

    I’m confused. Are you guys (by which I mean Tuomas and Jon) saying that it’s bad to criticize, boycott, and otherwise peacefully protest images that are offensive to your religion?

    No.

    Or is your problem just the kind of violent response that pretty much everyone would agree is completely illegitimate?

    “Pretty much everyone” doesn’t include veera and those of similar mind (see above). The violence, and the general liberal wishy-washy response to it is my problem, as are the frequent analogies of Islamist stone-throwers and embassy-burners to American evangelical Christians. To be clear: I’m not an evangelical or a fundamentalist Christian, and I certainly disagree (theologically and politically) with a good deal of the fundamentalist Christian agenda. But neither I nor anyone else with a passing acquaintance with reality should sit by and let folks like veera effectively say “Well, if Christians had their religion smeared they’d be acting the same way.” News flash: Christ and Christians have been smeared plenty of late, and mainstream evangelicals were not in the streets the next day carrying signs saying “Behead those who insult Christ.”

    Because I apparently didn’t make it abundantly clear: I’m not saying that it’s “Stalinist” to call for religious respect. Certainly, I would be happy if folks on the left would accord Christianity the kind of respect that they suddenly feel for Islam. But I’m not going to pull my punches when it comes to people like veera who are actively justifying the Islamist violence in response to these cartoons, offensive though they may be.

  16. Sally
    Sally February 6, 2006 at 10:42 am |

    But requiring respect for another’s “faith” is a matter of requiring respect for ideas — and that shuts down debate.

    I don’t know if I think that distinction works. “All Muslims are suicide bombers” is an idea. It’s a stupid, offensive idea, but still an idea. Whereas I’m not sure what the idea is when you caricature Mohammed, other than that it’s ok to caricature Mohammed.

    Here’s a recent incident I remember. Hindus generally think feet are dirty, in a way that goes beyond them just being actually dirty. When I was in India, I was warned to be careful what I did with my feet: when I sat down, I should tuck them under me so they weren’t pointing at people, because pointing your feet at someone is insulting. That kind of thing. So about a year ago, an American clothes store that caters to cute young things decided to make flip-flops with pictures of Hindu gods on them. Trendy non-Hindu kids could then walk around all day with their dirty feet touching pictures of Hindu dieties. Every Hindu I talked to thought it was pretty offensive.

    I don’t think that the trendy American clothes company should have put pictures of Hindu gods on flip-flops. The only idea they were expressing, I think, was “I don’t have any respect for Hindus or Hinduism.” They’re entitled not to have respect for Hindus and Hinduism, but I think it’s shitty and I wouldn’t want to shop there. Is that stifling free expression? Is “Hindus don’t deserve any respect” an idea I’m required to support?

  17. Dianne
    Dianne February 6, 2006 at 11:24 am |

    Sally: There’s a reasonable chance that the trendy American clothes company was being clueless rather than intentionally disrespectful. A letter of complaint with an explanation of why you find it offensive might be useful. Maybe if TACC got enough such letters they’d pull the flip flops and apologize for giving offense? In a similar way, maybe the Danish newspaper would have backed down if they’d received complaints rather than threats? Or, at least, threats limited to “I’m cancelling my subscription to this idiotic paper”.

  18. Dianne
    Dianne February 6, 2006 at 11:32 am |

    Christ and Christians have been smeared plenty of late, and mainstream evangelicals were not in the streets the next day carrying signs saying “Behead those who insult Christ.”

    Are the people in the streets carrying signs saying “Behead those who insult Allah” mainstream Moslems? (Not a rhetorical question, BTW: I’m really not sure what the answer is.) I think the analogy holds pretty well. There certainly are Christians out there who are willing to threaten and carry out violence against those that they disagree with. Abortion clinic arson/bombings are a regular event in the US, as is anti-gay violence, anti-Jewish violence, even anti-atheist violence perpetrated by Fundamentalist Christians.

  19. Kyle
    Kyle February 6, 2006 at 11:34 am |

    Jon, this comparative analysis between Christianity and Islam is shortsighted. As Jill wrote, there are probably many reasons why violence broke out in these (very specific) areas of the world, many of which people don’t discuss (because Islam v. Christianity is far more familiar, personal, and simple). The secular history, and its resulting conditions, of post-colonial nations provide comprehensive explanations about why “Islamofascist” (a word Neo-cons carry in their back pocket) violence arises. In other words, the cartoons are only a match lighting a very contained powder keg…that’s been sitting around for a while. I think it’s far more important to understand this dynamic situation through the study of history, rather than biased religious and political rhetoric. Bookstores abound…

    Also, this point may seem a bit simplistic, but based on this discussion, it should be mentioned: “Islam” cannot and should not be interchanged with “Arab,” “Eastern,” the “Middle East,” or whatever other colonizing title you may come up with. Islam is found in almost every country in the world. The range of opinions regarding these cartoons within the Muslim “world” is partly reflected by the religion’s geographic diversity. I’m sorry, I feel like an idiot when I write these things…

    (And for you, Jon, “Christianity” cannot and should not be interchanged with “Caucasian,” “American,” “Western”…or “Jon.”)

  20. Jon C.
    Jon C. February 6, 2006 at 11:56 am |

    Abortion clinic arson/bombings are a regular event in the US.

    Are you from the U.S.? I can’t imagine an American, even a pro-choice feminist, making such an inaccurate assertion. Abortion clinic bombings are hardly a “regular event” here- there have been maybe half a dozen ever, and the last one was when, 1996?

    as is anti-gay violence, anti-Jewish violence, even anti-atheist violence perpetrated by Fundamentalist Christians.

    I’d really like to see you cite some sources for this. Maybe I just don’t see them here in New York, but I really can’t recall any recent instances of massive international Christian rallies that burnt down synagogues and called for the execution of gays and atheists in any manner approaching what Islamists have been doing in the past few days.

    And Kyle: spare me the progressive “go read a book” condescension. I’ve studied Islam. I’ve read the Koran. If anything, it’s the liberals in this debate who have been conflating “Islam” with “Arab” in this debate, when they call unflattering caricatures of a religious figure “racism.”

  21. veera
    veera February 6, 2006 at 12:44 pm |

    I did not mean that western christians would use violence – what I was thinking was that western christians have other means with which to express their anger. They may use the courts, their own newspapers, their greater wealth to form big boycotts, rally people through their organised networks or refrain from selling their products to those who offend them. So Jon C, you were thinking what I meant, but somehow you it did not connect it in your mind.

    I am saying that people who have nothing and have little power over their lives have nothing but violence to turn to to make their voices heard.

    It does not mean I am saying it is good to use violence – it means that when left with no other means the use of violence is an effective way of making statement that can be heard, when the volume of your voice is governed by your resources.

    And I hardly think that it is justifying violence to talk about what brings it about. I do not do so – I think all human life is precious. Thinking so does not mean I can’t understand or even explain the actions of others who don’t share my views.

    -scary “fascist”

  22. Jon C.
    Jon C. February 6, 2006 at 12:55 pm |

    Veera, I don’t buy that the worldwide Muslim community had absolutely “no other means” to express their displeasure than immediately turning to violence. Although one wonders what judicial penalty they would want imposed, they have redress to the courts: I’m sure that there are organized pro-Muslim litigation groups in Europe, (the equivalent of CAIR in the US) that advocate for them. They have their own press organs. They have immense buying power that they could have, indeed have, used to effect a boycott. And as we’ve all seen, they’re quite good at organizing huge rallies and other kinds of protests.

    All these alternatives existed. And despite that, you chose to treat Muslims as children with no other option available to them except a violent temper tantrum. I think that bespeaks a spreading sickness on the Left.

  23. zuzu
    zuzu February 6, 2006 at 12:59 pm | *

    Jon, what conclusion do you draw from the fact that the violence and outrage have been mostly contained in the Middle East, and has not spread to Europe or the US?

  24. piny
    piny February 6, 2006 at 1:15 pm |

    You’ve clearly not been following this discussion at all, because you’ve missed the numerous references to the myriad ways in which Christ and Christian iconography have been smeared in recent memory- from “Piss Christ” to “Sensation” to “Corpus Christi” and whatever else some avant-garde hack who wants to grab a few headlines has decided to churn out this month.

    Death threats and vandalism; death threats and vandalism; death threats, bomb threats, and a guy who stood outside the theater on opening night with a box of tomatoes for audience members to throw at the cast. The Manhattan Theatre Club initially opted to close down the production of Corpus Christi before it opened because they were afraid that someone would be hurt.

  25. Jon C.
    Jon C. February 6, 2006 at 1:24 pm |

    A guy with a box of tomatoes? A theater deciding to temporarily close down? Threats that didn’t translate into anything? Damn piny, you’re right, this problem of Christian violence is a lot more serious than I had realized.

    Jon, what conclusion do you draw from the fact that the violence and outrage have been mostly contained in the Middle East, and has not spread to Europe or the US?

    Danish and Norwegian embassies are considered to be Danish and Norwegian soil, so in that sense, the violence has in fact “spread to Europe.” And the Theo van Gogh murder makes clear that Europe hasn’t been free of Islamist violence either.

    In truth, I don’t really know why America has been spared the worst of the violence so far. I truly hope and pray that it stays that way.

  26. piny
    piny February 6, 2006 at 1:29 pm |

    A theater deciding to temporarily close down? Threats that didn’t translate into anything?

    …Nice. I love how you totally ignore the vandalism thing.

    I’ll just repeat what you pretend not to hear: the theater decided to temporarily close down because they were afraid that someone would set off a bomb, open fire during the production, attack the cast and crew, or kill the playwright. They were besieged with graphic threats of violence. They took the threats seriously, and only opened up again after an outpouring of both support and pressure from local gay-rights and civil-liberties groups.

  27. Dianne
    Dianne February 6, 2006 at 1:36 pm |

    Maybe I just don’t see them here in New York, but I really can’t recall any recent instances of massive international Christian rallies that burnt down synagogues and called for the execution of gays and atheists in any manner approaching what Islamists have been doing in the past few days.

    First, it’s not “Islamists” who’ve been foaming at the mouth and burning embassies, it is a relatively small number of idiots who feel they have to express their outrage violently. Not all Islamic people act that way. I’ve never been threatened by the Islamic lab tech I work with. I used to live down the street from a mosque and never had the slightest problem with them, not even when I walked past there in shorts and a T-shirt, both of them wet from a jog on a hot summer day. Not so much as a “die infidel” or “cover yourself woman” from the local “Islamists”. The frat boys, on the other hand…feel free to censor them anytime you feel like it.

    If you really think that there are no hate crimes occuring in the US, I suggest you go to the FBIs home page and look the stats up. As far as attacks on abortion clinics go, see here There’ve been at least 36 bombings, acts of arson, or attempted bombings/arson on abortion clinics in the US and Canada since 1996. I’d be suprised if any of them were the work of non-Christians. Fred Phelps and followers certainly call for death to all non-believers every chance he gets. And then there are the good Christians who beat Mirecki up. Of course, most, the vast majority, of Christians are nice, sane people who don’t do that sort of thing. Therefore, I don’t run around claiming that the Christists are coming to destroy civilization. I worry because many North Americans and Europeans don’t seem to be able to make the same distinction between crazy people who use Islam as their excuse to commit violence and the average Islamic person.

  28. zuzu
    zuzu February 6, 2006 at 1:40 pm | *

    Danish and Norwegian embassies are considered to be Danish and Norwegian soil, so in that sense, the violence has in fact “spread to Europe.”

    Snerk. Bit of a stretch, that.

  29. Robert
    Robert February 6, 2006 at 2:16 pm |

    it is worth recognizing that these people are coming from an entirely different place than we are

    And the sooner we invade them, depose their corrupt and evil governments, and introduce them to democracy and a free press, the better.

  30. Shannon W.
    Shannon W. February 6, 2006 at 2:39 pm |

    I think understanding the violence is important. This whole thing could have been prevented by a little respect and understanding. You can’t prevent violence unless you know why it happens, and no “Muslims are all evil people” is not a sufficent reason.

  31. Robert
    Robert February 6, 2006 at 2:44 pm |

    This whole thing could have been prevented by a little respect and understanding.

    True. And let us hope that one day the Islamic world develops that respect and understanding.

  32. Shannon W.
    Shannon W. February 6, 2006 at 3:18 pm |

    I think it’s important for us to take responsibility for ourselves instead of saying “well, all whites are automatically not responsible for their actions, and all non whites are automatically responsible for anything another non white does even if it’s half way across the world”. A little maturity, and a lot less sense of entitlement on the parts of some WHITE people would have prevented this whole incident.

  33. TangoMan
    TangoMan February 6, 2006 at 3:23 pm |

    And the sooner we invade them, depose their corrupt and evil governments, and introduce them to democracy and a free press, the better.

    Haven’t we seen what happens when policy makers and their idiot cheerleaders, Bill Kristol, are completely oblivious to cultural/genetic/religious differences. Democracy can’t be imposed onto a society that is clan based. When countries have rates of cousin marriage hovering around 50%, and up to 80% in some rural areas, have their sociological landscape built on a foundation of me and my brother against my cousin; me and my brother and my cousin, against my tribe; and so on in outward expanding circles.

    Imagine the grief that would befall a clan member if they, as a government employee, hired some one not of the clan, to a civil service position. Or did business with someone not of the clan when a clan member was available.

    In 2002, Adam Garfinkle, writing in The National Interest:

    democracy facilitates the rise to power of groups that appeal to indigenous ethnic and religious loyalties that are likely to be anti-Western and–here is the paradox–anti-democratic in the not-very-long run. We have already seen this phenomenon at work in Muslim domains like Indonesia and northern Nigeria, . . .

    Not so within Islamic civilization, which has never recognized any intrinsic source of political authority. Islam is a radically monadic religion of divine revelation, and Islamic political culture has developed over more than 1,300 years wholly true to that principle. Divine, extrinsic authority cannot be disputed, so there is no logic to political pluralism as a permanent or ideal condition. Tolerance for any other set of social and political first principles amounts to heresy; tolerance of other private religious beliefs is conceived as virtuous forbearance, not as a recognition that truth might really be in dispute. A Saudi professor of Islamic law thus explained tolerance to a visiting journalist in these terms: “Well, of course I hate you because you are a Christian, but that doesn’t mean I want to kill you.”

    A particular concept of political leadership flows from these predicates. A leader is someone who enunciates and spreads God’s law. It follows that since there is only one God and He has only one law, there should only be one political structure (the caliphate) and one leader of it. Accountability is not democratic in the Western procedural sense, but organic in a religious communal will. Government is legitimate when it accords with a priori religious truth. . . .

    This fundamental principle establishes the equality of all citizens as far as basic social status and political rights are concerned. Like nearly all traditional authority templates, however, Islam mandates inequality and hierarchy. Men are inherently “more equal” than women, the educated more than the illiterate, the noble or Sherifian more than the commoner, the pious more than the reprobate, the elder more than the youth. Theology aside, social custom in the Arab world is such that most people find offensive and absurd the idea that the vote of a 19-year old illiterate peasant woman should be equal to that of a respected 70-year old qadi. . . . .

    The last thing that most educationally inferior, insecure Muslim Arab males want is “democracy”, which they associate with utterly frightening changes in the status of women. Rather, such fears have tended to drive many into the fold of traditional or fundamentalist religion, and no doubt these stresses also help explain the troubling rise in “honor” killings in recent decades. . . .

    These efforts, after all, are unlikely to change the contemporary Arab view of liberal democracy as an alien Western idea at a time when Arab societies are struggling to cope with Western-wrought modernity. They cannot erase the fact that most Arab societies tried but failed during the late 19th and 2Oth centuries to adopt Western ways to achieve wealth, power and respect, or erase the legacy of simultaneous envy and resentment created by that failure (explaining why many Arab youths who in the morning declare their enmity for the West in the afternoon express a desire to emigrate there). They cannot change the reality that societies which undervalue scientific education, restrict the flow of information, simultaneously educate and oppress women, maintain bloated public bureaucracies, avoid real privatization and free trade, and base economic relations on primordial affiliations of ethnic or religious identity will never be able to compete with the West, the states of East Asia or–most frustrating for them– Israel. Nor can these efforts stem the rise of identity politics that is reducing the appeal of liberal democracy in much of the Arab world, or persuade the rentier elites who own and run that world to take an interest in resisting that trend. To put it mildly, then, Arab antipathy toward the West and Western ways, including democracy, is not mainly a public relations problem.

    Also, how many countries in the Middle East meet the basic economic precursors to democracy?

    More recently Adam Przeworski of New York University confirmed this truism by studying every attempted transition to democracy around the globe. He and his colleagues found that once a country passes $6,000 in per capita income it is virtually guaranteed to succeed in its transition to democracy. States between $3,000 and $6,000 have less than a 50-50 chance of staying democracies. And countries below $3,000 are almost bound to fail. . . .

    Unfortunately, Iraq’s per capita income is only between $1,500 and $2,400, and at least some of that comes from oil wealth — though Saddam’s regime was sufficiently greedy that much of it was probably earned.

    Keep in mind that with the exploding birth rates throughout the Middle East the GDP/capita is falling most every year. The trend lines are pointing the wrong way.

    Also see this Stanley Kurtz article:

    Arab Muslim societies remain un-modern and un-democratic not just in their attitudes toward political authority and law but also in their social organization. For men and women living within a universe where tribal identity, the duties and benefits of extended kinship networks, and conceptions of collective honor organize the relations of everyday life, democratic principles will be incomprehensible. . . . .

    In Cairo, for example, marriage negotiations, and the extended process of family scrutiny that such negotiations entail, are unbelievably complicated—and potentially quite dangerous. A single untoward remark or social misstep by any family member can sink a prospective marriage; failed negotiations in turn put the family reputation—and thus the marriageability of every family member—at risk. Since the families you ally yourself with in marriage determine your level of access to credit, education, food, housing, and a host of other goods, loss of reputation is a disaster. The social importance of reputation explains why a practice like veiling is so difficult to reform. With a family’s honor tied to the modesty of its female members, a young woman’s refusal to veil will likely result in the loss of marriage prospects not only for her but for everyone in her family—and with those prospects, the path to success.

    So, exactly how will we introduce democracy and a free press to these nations?

  34. Robert
    Robert February 6, 2006 at 3:44 pm |

    Democracy can’t be imposed onto a society that is clan based.

    You mean like Scotland?

    So, exactly how will we introduce democracy and a free press to these nations?

    At the point of a gun.

  35. Robert
    Robert February 6, 2006 at 3:45 pm |

    A little maturity, and a lot less sense of entitlement on the parts of some WHITE people would have prevented this whole incident.

    Yeah. If you and Jill would just put on the god-damn Burqa, then these people wouldn’t be so mad at us.

    That is what you meant, right?

  36. TangoMan
    TangoMan February 6, 2006 at 3:59 pm |

    Jill,

    That doesn’t justify this violence, of course, but it is worth recognizing that these people are coming from an entirely different place than we are.

    I absolutely agree, but I think that you stop your analysis prematurely. As noted in the article I quoted above:

    Divine, extrinsic authority cannot be disputed, so there is no logic to political pluralism as a permanent or ideal condition. Tolerance for any other set of social and political first principles amounts to heresy;

    Denmark, before the onset of Multiculturalism, had a common set of notions accepted by all of its citizen’s, which were that political first prinicples took precedence over religious notions. With the introduction of peoples holding opposite views into the social matrix, and the rise of PC sensitivities, the upholding of first prinicples has been taking a back seat to not causing offense.

    If it wasn’t Denmark, or if it wasn’t now, it would have been another nation at another time, that would have lit this fuse, for the issue at stake is which first principles will govern the people.

    The outlandish violence we see in the Middle East in response to the cartoons is a reflection of how those people see the world about them – the first principle of “free society” cannot take precedence over religious taboo. This is a structural impediment and there is no way to reach an amicable compromise. One can’t engineer a situation where Muslims are pleased because secular Europeans agree to forfeit their rights of free speech by adopting Muslim notions of how Mohammed should be thought of and depicted, or not. We’ve clearly seen that many Europeans don’t want to agree to the compromise where an uneasy peace is purchased at the expense of their fundamental rights.

    Further, for those who see the republication of the cartoons as a mean spirited ploy serving only to agitate the angry mobs, I would suggest that they give at least a cursory examination to the hypothesis that the republications are an act of validation by exercising the very rights that people feel are threatened by the ever present need to be sensitive and not cause offense thus leading to self-censorship.

  37. TangoMan
    TangoMan February 6, 2006 at 4:01 pm |

    Robert,

    You mean like Scotland?

    Here’s some rope, so please use as much as you need to make the equivalence between the social structures of Scotland and Iraq or other Mid-East nations.

    I eagerly await your analysis.

  38. Robert
    Robert February 6, 2006 at 4:10 pm |

    TangoMan –

    Basically I agree with your pessimistic analysis. But we don’t have an option. We either convert these countries into relatively functional democracies, or we turn them into glass, or they turn us into glass, or we become a dhimmi province of Greater Arabia.

    Outcomes 2-4 are unacceptable. That means its option 1, whatever it takes.

  39. Shannon W.
    Shannon W. February 6, 2006 at 4:47 pm |

    So, if you go, do the most insulting thing possible you can do to someone, you’re not at fault at all for being a jerk? Yea, you can insult all Muslims, but that doesn’t mean you should. But somehow all Muslims everywhere, even Muslims who don’t care about the cartoons, and don’t wear burqas, thank you very much, are responsible for the actions of 300 dudes in Syria? The double standard is what pisses me off. Those cartoonists knew that was really insulting and that the situation was tense already- but they said “hey, let’s pour gasoline on the flames”. What sense did that make, if any?

  40. TangoMan
    TangoMan February 6, 2006 at 4:48 pm |

    Jill,

    Sure, there’s a mindset in fundamentalist christianity than overlaps with fundamentalist islam and it pains me that I can’t really flex my athiest tendencies on this issue, but what we’re dealing with here in not a 1:1 equivalence, where religion=religion.

    A question that I think needs to be injected into this analysis is whether the way Islam is constructed, and/or practiced, is fundamentally at odds with Western modernity that is not seen in the practice of Christianity. Pick your flavor, moderate or fundamentalist, and there will still be differances that arise. Sure, fundies of both religions want to take us all back to some state of nirvana. For Fund. Muslims that would entail going back 1,000 years. For Fund. Christians, I think they have some vision of pre-feminist days in mind, with visions of a nuclear family, mom staying at home, but still anchored within a modern state. They’re the easiest to dismiss.

    The moderate christian mindset probably wants to see more societal adherence to christian values/teachings but they too abide by secular first principles and they neatly compartmentalize religious life from secular life. For the moderate muslim I think there is an open question of whether Islam permits such compartmentalization, and if it doesn’t it’s interesting to watch the cognitive dissonance arise as a muslim tries to mediate between enjoying a life lived in a society with secular first prinicples and feeling like the life that is being lived is a betrayal of muslim teachings and principles, which mandate that Islam be the first principle.

    There is a fundamental conflict at issue here, and while the fate of Mid-East nations is ultimately their own to resolve, when the arena is a multicultural embracing nation, then the battle has to be resolved so that Muslim first principles get constrained within the pocket of life reserved for religious observance rather than have those principles be overarching.

    Who’s using their own right to free speech to draw attention to the issue, and who is using violence? Even among Muslims, there’s a fairly clear pattern.

    To beat my theme to death a little more; you’re right that European Muslims are using these very rights of freedom to protest their case, and that’s not what we see with Mid-East Muslims, but even with the European Muslims what we see is that they’re advocating “bad things” about the publication of the cartoons, and do advance the position that the right to publish should be subordinated to the observance of taboo.

  41. zuzu
    zuzu February 6, 2006 at 4:58 pm | *
  42. TangoMan
    TangoMan February 6, 2006 at 5:00 pm |

    Jill,

    You don’t see this violence coming from Muslims world-wide — or at least, I haven’t heard reports of Muslims rioting or causing violence in the United States, or even in European nations.

    As you already noted, this isn’t an isolated incident that flashed to prominence on its own. There are deeper issues at play and these cartoons were just the catalyst for the moment.

    As sure as the sun rises, there are going to be new Muslim greviences that arise. Just last week there was an angry mob of Muslims in Indonesia who violently attacked a residential sect of Muslims who deviated from the true faith. Nothing to do with Christianity, nothing to do with the West, just an internal muslim dispute. Yet the same dynamic was at play.

    The violence we’ve seen with respect to this cartoon incident has been localized to the ME but the same guiding philosophy was witnessed in Europe, the need to place respect for religious taboo above secular principle, all that was missing was the violence.

  43. TangoMan
    TangoMan February 6, 2006 at 5:27 pm |

    Shannon,

    So, if you go, do the most insulting thing possible you can do to someone, you’re not at fault at all for being a jerk? Yea, you can insult all Muslims, but that doesn’t mean you should.

    Are you really willing to abide by this logic?

    Some faction has some crazy idea that is antithetical to the way life is lived in the West. Oh, let’s say some group believes that women should be seen and not heard, barefoot and pregnant, subservient to men, etc, etc. You can be respectful to their views and not cause any uproar simply by shutting up about women in the workforce, reproductive freedom, and other women’s issues. You will certainly have bought a peaceful truce.

    However, if you feel these issues are not something that should be taken out of the public sphere and you actually throw them out there to make a prinicpled stand, are you then a Jerk, and is all of the mayhem that results from the intolerant your fault?

    Do you understand what prompted the publication of those cartoons? Do you understand the feeling of repression that was starting to be felt by the ever present need to self-censor and tiptoe around Muslim sensitivities that run counter to the prinicples of free society?

    BTW, it’s quite over the top to suggest that these cartoons were “the most insulting thing possible you can do to someone” if both parties can’t agree to a common standard of insult. Further, I wouldn’t want to be in your shoes and having to argue that we must all abide by arbitrarily, and individually, determined standards of discourse. Every individual has a veto on what is permissable speech within society. Good luck advancing that line.

  44. TangoMan
    TangoMan February 6, 2006 at 6:19 pm |

    Robert,

    Outcomes 2-4 are unacceptable. That means its option 1, whatever it takes.

    Option 1, converting them to democracy, is a fool’s errand. People have to be willing to be led towards a goal and not fight it at every turn.

    How are you going to pry apart the custom of marrying your cousin? Sure, it would be beneficial, if for nothing but the release from the heavy boot of genetic carnage that results. The resulting inbreeding depression takes a heavy toll on IQ and health matters. The “smart fraction” within society is reduced by this practice, and the “smart fraction” is essential to maintaining a technological state.

    How will you induce, at the point of a gun, the cessation of cultural practices than undermine democratic governance?

    Democracy isn’t something that is imposed upon a society, it’s something that has to develp after the necessary precursors are in place. Japan and Germany had those precursors, so the institutional frameworks we laid down after WWII took root in fertile soil, so to speak. The Middle East, in contrast, is a desert for democratic reform.

    The four options you laid out are all untenable, so just as Captain Kirk rewrote the Kobayashi Maru scenario, a reprogrammed scenario needs to be found.

    Look, the only reason we don’t abandon the Middle East as a lost cause, like we do Sub-Saharan Africa, is because of their oil.

  45. Thomas
    Thomas February 6, 2006 at 7:00 pm |

    Robert, the Scottish lowlands, where Scots was spoken, were not clan-based in the way you mean. The Gaelic-speaking highlands were. As you may know, that began to change in 1746, when Cumberland butchered the Jacobite supporters of a Stewart restoration at Culloden Moor (bayonetting the wounded without mercy) and the English sent garrisons to occupy the highlands. They banned bagpipes and tartan for 37 years to try to break the highlanders’ cultural backbone. Thereafter, the highland chiefs had little use for a rent-roll which produced little money but served mainly as a list of men that could be called to arms. So, between about 1775 and about 1865, these landlords rented vast tracts to sheep-farming operations. They ejected their tenants by force, first to coastal hamlets to have them make basic chemicals from kelp, and later to anywhere. These landlords destroyed houses and crops and killed resisters. The uprooted folks made their way to cities in Britain in some cases, but mostly they were forced to take perilous passage to Australia and North America. Many of the men joined the highland regiments, only to return to no home. The highland population was scattered into the diaspora, Scots Gaelic nearly died out as a language and a way of life passed into history.

    What you’re referring to is an atrocity on a historical scale — a serious attempt at genocide, or at least ethnic cleansing, on my people. (My father’s side are Fifers, lowlanders. My mother’s people left the highlands in the clearances, and made their way to Glasgow, then Canada, and finally the U.S.)

    Perhaps you didn’t know the history of what are generally called the Highland Clearances. If not, you can get the basics here or in any basic history of Scotland (or perhaps Prebble’s brief work Highland Clearances, which gives a flavor, but not much in the way of the big picture). On the other hand, perhaps you knew that the clan system in the highlands was broken by first slaughtering a generation of fighting men and then forcing the succeeding generations to flee, in which case I suppose that means you’re suggesting genocide or ethnic cleansing of Islam.

  46. Shannon W.
    Shannon W. February 6, 2006 at 7:31 pm |

    Tango, you are assuming that Muslims are people who have no rights we are bound to respect, and are just these wacky people who showed up one day to oppress our precious, precious free speech rights. I’m a black American- to hear white people tell it, their free speech rights are trampled on because they can’t say the n word without people getting angry. It’s a bunch of BS- you can say what you want to say, but you have no right to people being happy about it. The free speech right does not include the right to an audience or for people to sing the praises of your expression. It’s not like Muslims are a small sect of people who just suddenly showed up in Denmark one day- they are a billion strong religion. If you deliberately insult their religion, yea, you have to expect they’ll get angry.

    The sort of argument that their feelings aren’t important really pisses me off. Who decides who is important and who is not? I would not post a cartoon in my school newspaper denying the Holocaust because I know that is very hurtful to Jewish people. There are fewer Jews in the world than there are Muslims. Most Americans would agree that you don’t insult the Jews. Why is it all the sudden when it’s Muslims that it’s open season on them? A professor at my school deeply offended Hindus with his writing. Did we say “Oh, those Hindus! If we try not to offend them, we’ll have to try not to offend everybody!!” No, we’re like “Sorry to be offensive”. Now, if the Europeans would have met with the Arab world’s delegates, and said “Hey, tell your people that we can’t control our newspapers, but we’re sorry that the offensive cartoons were published”, then it wouldn’t be a problem.

    But that’s not what happened, and even though I wouldn’t react in the same way, I see why people are angry. If you disrespect people, they’ll get mad at you. Instead of being shocked, shocked, be honest about it. I think the lack of honesty is what annoys me, because people are using the idea of ‘defend free speech’ as an excuse to say bad things about Muslims.

  47. Shannon W.
    Shannon W. February 6, 2006 at 7:35 pm |

    Also, I don’t think Islam is antithetical to life in the West. Plenty of Muslims live here, and yea, some of them aren’t happy about the cartoons. Our compromise must come from listening to other people, not automatically assuming things about them. Jews in America have an organization devoted to defending them from insults, but we don’t say that Judism is against free speech or the West.

  48. Tuomas
    Tuomas February 6, 2006 at 8:37 pm |

    I’m confused. Are you guys (by which I mean Tuomas and Jon) saying that it’s bad to criticize, boycott, and otherwise peacefully protest images that are offensive to your religion?

    Definite no from me too. This would fall under the umbrella of “Freedom of Expression”. If there would be nothing but peaceful protests, the situation would be completely different (=no problem)..

  49. Robert
    Robert February 6, 2006 at 9:02 pm |

    Thomas –

    I’m a Scot (1/2), too, and familiar with the history of the clearances, though I suspect not as familiar as you are – nice summary. I wouldn’t call it genocide (here we are, after all) – I would call it the imposition by force of a superior social organization. Not pretty – and if I’d been alive then, I’m sure I’d have fought to the death against it. Just as I would expect some Arab villager married to three of his cousins to fight against us telling him “your sons can’t live like that anymore”.

    Nonethless, his sons can’t live like that anymore.

    TangoMan –

    How are you going to pry apart the custom of marrying your cousin?

    Shoot people who marry their cousins.

    Or less dramatically, introduce cultural propaganda against kin marriage, establish punitive laws that make it impossible to get an education or hold a good job or own land if you’re in a cousin marriage, and so forth.

    How will you induce, at the point of a gun, the cessation of cultural practices than undermine democratic governance?

    Shoot people who engage in those practices. Suppress or buy off the resulting insurgencies. Continue shooting the people who engage in those practices. Repeat until the generation appears that says “banging my cousin is NOT worth this shit”.

    The example I have in mind is, pretty much, India. India had marriage and social traditions which made a modern state impossible to achieve. The British hunted down and killed people that followed those traditions. It was really ugly and imperalistic and judgmental and all those other things that make us cringe back in PC terror.

    But it worked, and India is a reasonably democratic state. They hate the British with a passion, but they don’t set their widows on fire anymore.

  50. TangoMan
    TangoMan February 6, 2006 at 9:28 pm |

    Robert,

    It’ll never happen and I’m not saying this from a squishy sympathetic perspective, but from looking through a lens of realpolitik. To enforce such strict cultural re-engineering policies would require either dictatorial power or a unified political resolve. No one has that dictatorial power, so we’re left with political resolve.

    To get to that point of political resolve requires, at the minimum, that the citizenry at least understand why such measures are necessary. The case for draconian interventions in another culture are going to be opposed by the usual suspects, for no other reason than the guilt they are trying to shed about Western oppression. What you’re proposing will become “the definition” of Western oppression. Now add the contingent who may understand the case that is being made but have misgivings and hopes that they’ll change their ways and governments on their own, if only we give them enough time.

    Lastly, people just won’t believe you about the cousin marriage connundrum. I went through a lengthy dialogue with a physicist who couldn’t believe that the consanguinity rates were so high in Arab countries. Finally, after I linked him to scores of genetic and sociological literature , he came around. We’re talking about the very fabric of society here and the whole Bush Cheerleading Squad was completely oblivious to this important fact and thought we’d be welcomed with parades. The anti-war brigades wouldn’t touch this with a ten-foot pole for fear of looking like racist imperialists if they implied that cousin marriage ain’t such a hot thing for a culture to engage in.

    So, going in to forcibly change the culture requires a strong backbone, and a citizenry to get your back, and solid world opinion would help as well, especially in the face of the sob stories, heartbreak, dislocation, hurt feelings, families ripped asunder, penalties, criminal trials, imprisonment, and/or executions. There is not an iota of good news in this whole scenario – all everyone is going to see is out and out imperialism and authoritarianism, and seeing how that will reflect on the society(s) sponsoring this action, most people will buckle and want to disengage.

    You can’t change cultures at the end of a gun. In the past, yes, but there is no will to do it today.

  51. Robert
    Robert February 6, 2006 at 10:04 pm |

    In the past, yes, but there is no will to do it today.

    How much will is generated when New York goes up in a mushroom cloud?

    Enough, I wager.

  52. TangoMan
    TangoMan February 6, 2006 at 10:15 pm |

    Robert,

    Here you have the NY nuclear bombing as the catalyst, but heretofore we’ve been discussing “option 1″ as a means to prevent such a bombing. Recall:

    Outcomes 2-4 are unacceptable. That means its option 1, whatever it takes

    If we switch gears and analyze your plan as an after the fact response, then I think the case is stronger, but as a preemptive measure I think it’ll never come about.

  53. Tuomas
    Tuomas February 7, 2006 at 12:48 am |

    More response Sally (#12) and zuzu (#13) and something to Jill (in general).

    If arguing for religious sensitivity and respect for religious minorities is “Stalinist” or P.C., then there were an awful lot of Stalinist Catholics and Jews running around 19th and early 20th century America.

    I’m not saying that. My definition of Stalinist is not arguing for respect towards religions (hey, I know my history a bit better than that). I suppose I was rambling about a personal peeve, the fact that many people who strongly supported Soviet Union in the 1960s and 1970s are now biggest proponents of sensitivity and appeasement towards radical Islam (such as the Finnish foreign minister Erkki Tuomioja and other former Stalinists and apologists for Soviet Union).

    Lacking context, I am aware now that my dropping the term Stalinist, devoid of context, was unclear. To be clear, I don’t think PC=Stalinist.

    But even then, why do you (zuzu) assume I (or other vocal members in this issue) am unfamiliar with the tenets of Islam? I know that the cartoons in Jyllands-Posten are deeply offensive from an Islamic viewpoint. Ditto for the Satanic Verses (nothing new for me in what you told on that issue). I am also aware of many other facts that will push Islam (=not muslims, not arabs. The idea: Islam) into conflict with Western liberal values (=not Christians/secularist, not whites. The idea: Liberalism*.) For example, I am aware that for my religious beliefs (I am [close to deist with an agnostic streak] a Christian), or those of Jews, I am considered to be one of the People of the Book. Thus, Islam does not command my death. But it does command the death of my fellow human beings who are atheists or polytheists (such as Hindus), or Muslims that turn from Islam.There are also numerous “offenses” (pointed out by the cartoon scandal), that do not hurt the basic human rights of other people, that warrant death according to Islam. This is unacceptable. What I am saying is that fundamentalist Islam is irrevocably opposed to secular values (the muslims who embrace secular values need to be supported by uncompromisingly denouncing this fundamentalism).

    There is this argument that fundamentalist Christianity is equally opposed to secular values. Abortion is used as the prime example in this (despite the fact that Bible does not give a clear-cut answer to that, or many other things beyond “Love God” and “Love your Neighbor” [which means - as anyone with better patience toward reading beyond the word "Neighbor" than Nietsche apparently had - everyone]). Even then, not all opposition towards abortion is religious, nor are all religious people anti-abortion.

    Point being: Islam actively commands all Muslims to wage war on those who disrespect Islam. Jesus commands His followers to tell everyone about his message. Islam actively provides blueprints for theocracy (, the dual, political-religious nature of Islam calling for Shari’a). With Christianity theocracy is a huge stretch, if not a misinterpretation.

    Until Islam can coexist with secular, Liberal values, it must be opposed. Until Muslims stop the huge amount of death threats and terrorism, I will answer the claim “Islam is a religion of peace” with poignantly sceptical: “Prove it”.

    Jill, I appreciate the fact that you condemn violence. I also appreciate your quest for understanding in this issue. We all want to understand this. The conclusion simply may differ.

    I hope I made some sense in all that.

    * Liberalism in the sense: My rights stop where your rights begin.

  54. Tuomas
    Tuomas February 7, 2006 at 12:52 am |

    which means – as anyone with better patience toward reading beyond the word “Neighbor” than Nietsche apparently had knows – everyone

    Emphasis to point out how it should read.

  55. MikeW
    MikeW February 7, 2006 at 2:31 am |

    You know when this first started being covered. I thought to myself. Who’s pulling the strings on this one. I mean its not like these folks are in countries where protesting is allowed to happen without government approval. Come on Saudi Arabia, Syria, Iran, and others.

    Then I ran across this letter from a reader at Kos.

    “Muslim Cartoon Controversy: What the Media Isn’t Telling You”

    If it is legit then it goes along way to explaining the real motivation behind whats driving this fake issue.

    You all know that this whole thing was just puppet theater. And even if it isn’t.

    Leads me to another thought which isn’t as pretty.

    That of watching many folks on this blog make excuses for these people which would in many cases condemn the very lives the poster are leading myself included. (Hell they would stone me to death in a minute.)

    And that really is the point. Freedom. Period.

    It is just to much. I really don’t care about their belief in a god and this applies to any of the worlds religions. Period.

    Peoples beliefs are great if thats works for them in getting through and forming their lives.

    But that is never repeat never ever above my rights to free speech. And I am so sorry if that offend you. Grow up and get over it.

    To do otherwise is to take our civilization back to the days when religions ruled the lands and we all know how well that went.

    So lets not muddy the waters with speeches about all the empathy we should have for those poor misunderstood souls. These folks want, no demand that we turn back the clock to the 14th century.

    I save my empathy and sorrow for the poor souls that have to live under these repressive regimen’s.

    That what real liberals stand up for. At least the were I was raised.

  56. Thomas
    Thomas February 7, 2006 at 7:32 am |

    Robert:

    I’m a Scot (1/2), too, and familiar with the history of the clearances …if I’d been alive then, I’m sure I’d have fought to the death against it.

    No. No, you would not. As far as I can tell, you would have been a middle-class tacksman, helping the chief’s factor to push the tenants into the sea, burning their thatch roofs, and telling them it was for their own good. Apparently, your model for positive change really is ethnic cleansing. Duly noted.

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