|12 Danish Cartoons
||[Feb. 6th, 2006|06:36 am]
criticism and analysis of advertisements
I think that pretty much sums up my views on this whole Danish cartoon issue. In case you've been living under a rock or don't read the news, a while back a Danish newspaper published 12 cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammed. Several cartoonists declined to participate due to fears of violence, but some did. You can view their cartoons (along with some very interesting commentary) at http://timblair.net.
Here is a quote from that same blog:
Odd that this concern over maintaining the peace doesn’t limit Muslim commentary on other religions or communities. The Islamic Bookstore in Lakemba, for example, sells vicious anti-Semitic tract The Protocols of the Elders of Zion as well as various anti-Christian titles (Crucifixion – or Cruci-FICTION?). Sheik Khalid Yasin, a regular guest lecturer in Australia, declared that “there’s no such thing as a Muslim having a non-Muslim friend” and denounced modern clothes as the work of “faggots, homosexuals and lesbians”; Christians, he said, deliberately infected Africans with AIDS. Yasin wouldn’t merely draw cartoons of homosexuals—he’d have them put to death in accordance with Koranic law. One Imam told Australian students that Jews put poison in bananas. Local Iraqis voting in their country’s elections were shot at and otherwise intimidated by Islamic extremists whose banners announced: “You vote, you die.” These friends of free speech were also observed photographing those who dared to vote. Sheikh Feiz Muhammad told a supportive Bankstown crowd last year that women deserve to be raped if they wore “satanical” garments, including anything “strapless, backless, [or] sleeveless”, and also “mini-skirts [and] tight jeans.”
All of this is far more hateful and moronic than those twelve Danish cartoons, not one of which depicts the Prophet eating babies, poisoning fruit, or infecting Africans with AIDS. Far from being against hate-speech, many Muslim spokesmen seem to be aggressively for it; until, of course, someone contemplates publishing harmless drawings of an old beardy guy. At that point Sheik Fehmi El-Imam warns that we risk “disturbing the peace”.
This is clear and blatant hypocrisy by the Muslim world. So far, in response to the 12 cartoons I linked to above, extremists have reacted violently:
Thousands of Muslims rampaged in Lebanon yesterday, setting fire to the Danish Embassy, burning Danish flags and hurling stones at a Maronite Catholic church as violent protests spread over caricatures of the prophet Mohammed. On Saturday, angry Syrians torched the Danish and Norwegian embassies in Damascus in protest at the cartoons. [They also burned down the Danish consulate in Beiruit].
The Muslim community in Malta described the publication of cartoons depicting the prophet Mohammed as an irresponsible act and an insult, but said that protests should be held in a peaceful and conciliatory way.
The Maltese Muslim community called for an official apology from the Danish government and those responsible for this "disgraceful, shocking behaviour".
While the local Muslim community said it believed in freedom of expression, it insisted that criticism should be conducted objectively, responsibly and respectfully.
The Islamic World Studies Centre in Malta said freedom of expression was being used to justify unacceptable behaviour.
"Since when did the concept of freedom of expression include the freedom of offending others, the propagation of racist values and the culture of superiority?"
Since always, actually. It is free speech--something that apparently Muslim governments do not understand. In the West, we are free to offend anybody through the use of satire and our goverments do not control what our press does. In America, it is a constitutionally protected right. While the Denmark has no first amendment, their goverment has sided with free press, saying that they will not apologize for something over which they do not have (nor wish to have) any control over. Our own administration could learn a lot about freedom of the press from this PM.
It's the utter hypocrisy of these Muslims that astounds me, both the militants and the goverments. Do they not realize that by their actions, all they're doing is proving whatever racial bias someone might read into these cartoons correct? "You dare show Islam as violent in a blasphemous way! Thats it! I'm burning down a consulate!" How does that look to the west? I'm sure there's some guy in America right now who is thinking, "Those damn towel heads are at it again, the Danes are right. I'm going to draw my own cartoon."
When the President of Iran made his anti-semitic remarks--remarks far more offensive than a political cartoon, where were the Jews storming the embassies of Iran, setting fire to the premises then raising star of david flags? (The muslim rioters raised a flag praising allah.) Would such an action be given a short wag of the finger, or be internationally condemned?
What the newspaper did was just plain stupid. When you have a community whose fringes are vocally militant and belong to terrorist organizations, pissing them off prolly isn't the wisest thing to do, and in Islam depicting the prophet Muhammed is a surefire way to piss off a good number of people, not to mention give terrorists more PR material. I wrote an entry a while back on how pissed off I get about racial slurs. I support free speech--which includes hate speech--but I don't agree with it. It's fine to disagree. Go ahead, disagree all you want.
But publishing cartoons mocking Jews and Christians in response? Burning down embassies and consulates? Rioting?
That's not disagreement. That's anarchy, and it's unacceptable. You want to talk about racism, Muslim governments? You want to talk about offensiveness or unacceptable behavior? START WITH YOUR OWN PEOPLE.
We in the West have freedom of speech, but we don't have the freedom to act uncivilized. Most of us--including Muslims--are reasonable people. But I can't fucking stand how these militants (and the governments that support them) are behaving. If anyone's to blame over this whole ordeal, it's them. If the world were responsible and considerate the newspaper (a crappy little Danish sheet) wouldn't have published, and no embassies should have been burned because of it. The Middle East would recognize that a few cartoons do not represent the views of two continents, and the West in turn would recognize that rioters do not a society make. Good discussion would be had by all, and that'd be the end of it. But the world is not like this. It makes me fucking sad to see the opinons of reasonable people trampled by extremism.
What can we learn from this? Muslim governments are hypocrites. Freedom will always offend people. When you clash with fundamentalism, fundamentalists clash back, hard (and get away with it). And finally, Danish cartoonists suck at drawing.
For some excellent reading, I recommend The Guardian's story on this issue. Other than that, I have nothing else to say.