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An Update On The Danish Cartoons [Feb. 8th, 2006|04:30 pm]
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From the Brussels Journal. Here are the relevant parts:

Norway can fortunately take pride in some of its media. On Tuesday the Christian newspaper Magazinet published 12 cartoons depicting the Muslim prophet Muhammad. Magazinet did so to support the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten that published the cartoons [see them here] last September, but has since received terrorist threats and huge international criticism, including pressure from organisations such as the United Nations and the European Union. Now Magazinet has received threats via e-mail from around the world. One of these, sent anonymously through a popular e-mail service in the Middle East, was mailed to the editor, Vebjørn Selbekk, simply stating: “You’re a dead man!” Other staff members have also received threats. Selbekk said it looked as if the newspaper’s e-mail addresses were being distributed in an organized campaign. One of the e-mails Selbekk received contains a couple of pictures showing a burnt body, sent through an e-mail address in France.

Giving in to the threats, Magazinet decided today to remove the cartoons from its webiste. “The e-mail with the pictures of the burnt body is the most frightening. But I am not afraid. This is of course unpleasant, especially for a family man. But I cannot go around being afraid,” Selbekk told the Norwegian daily Dagbladet which also published the cartoons on its website last Tuesday. However, a number of other Norwegian newspaper editors have said they do not intend to follow the two newspapers’ example, claiming it to be an unnecessary provocation. Arab newspapers around the world have also reacted sharply to the publication of the cartoons. Selbekk, however, said the purpose for his decision was not to provoke anyone, but to highlight the status of freedom of expression in Norway.

Magazinet also interviewed two leading Norwegian cartoonists: Finn Graff and Morten M. Kristiansen. Graff, who was known in the 1960s and ’70s for his satirical drawings of Jesus Christ, said that he does not draw pictures mocking Muhammad. He does so out of fear for Muslims, and also “out of respect.” Muslims, he said, are very sensitive about their religion and their prophet, which is something one has to take into account and one has to respect. Kristiansen said he had received many protest letters in the past whenever he mocked Christ. The same applies to cartoons about Muhammad, but lately the protest letters from Muslims had increasingly become threats, including death threats in e-mails from places such as Iran. Unlike Graff, Kristiansen said he will not change his behaviour because of these threats because it is important to defend the right to freedom of expression.

Carsten Juste, the editor of Jyllands Posten, the Danish paper which published the cartoons first, told Magazinet that he does not regret that decision. “We cannot regret it. We live in a country where freedom of expression is recognized and we live and work in Denmark under Danish laws. The nature of the reactions has shown how necessary this debate is.” Juste said.

Asked if Jyllands-Posten had received any support from the Danish media after the decision to publish the cartoons Juste said at first there was not much support. Most of them believed this was something Jyllands-Posten did just to provoke. But after all the arbitrary demands that the newspaper apologize for the publication their attitude began to change. “Fortunately most people now realize this is an important issue about freedom of expression and, as a consequence, we have been getting more and more support.” He added that support has come from all over the world, but, unfortunately, threats, too.

Meanwhile, the Danish tabloid Extra Bladet got hold of a 43-page report that Danish Muslim leaders and imams, on a tour of the Islamic world are handing out to their contacts to “explain” how offensive the cartoons are. The report contains 15 pictures instead of 12. The first of the three additional pictures, which are of dismal quality, shows Muhammad as a pedophile deamon [see it here], the second shows the prophet with a pigsnout [here] and the third depicts a praying Muslim being raped by a dog [here]. Apparently, the 12 original pictures were not deemed bad enough to convince other Muslims that Muslims in Denmark are the victims of a campaign of religious hatred.

Akhmad Akkari, spokesman of the 21 Danish Muslim organizations which organized the tour, explained that the three drawings had been added to “give an insight in how hateful the atmosphere in Denmark is towards Muslims.” Akkari claimed he does not know the origin of the three pictures. He said they had been sent anonymously to Danish Muslims. However, when Ekstra Bladet asked if it could talk to these Muslims, Akkari refused to reveal their identity.

So it seems there's an active group of Muslims trying to drum up hatred and racial tensions. Doesn't surprise me. It explains why cartoons that have been around since September could motivate people to such violence. The three added cartoons are particularly telling of the propaganda machine currently going on.

Newspaperindex.com's blog reported this:

Responding to a complaint by the Organization of Islamic Conferences (OIC) over twelve caricatures of the prophet Muhammad published in the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten last September, Louise Arbour - United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights - has appointed two UN experts on racism to carry out a detailed investigation into what Arbour characterizes as a “disrespect for belief.”

Why did Jyllands-Posten publish the cartoons? The Copenhagen Post explains: “Jyllands-Posten called for and printed the cartoons by various Danish illustrators, after reports that artists were refusing to illustrate works about Islam, out of fear of fundamentalist retribution. The newspaper said it printed the cartoons as a test of whether Muslim fundamentalists had begun affecting the freedom of expression in Denmark.”

What do you think? Should hate speech be protected, and does the UN have the right to limit free speech in a similar manner to Britain? Is punishing hate speech is a dangerous precedent, or necessary for a safe society?

[User Picture]From: pirat_ponton
2006-02-09 12:58 am (UTC)
Why is this STILL being portrayed as an issue of so-called "free speech", when the newspaper itself, though still attempting to hang on to it as an excuse, has already admitted this is not the case?
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[User Picture]From: pirat_ponton
2006-02-09 04:41 am (UTC)
false choice

try again
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[User Picture]From: pirat_ponton
2006-02-09 07:12 am (UTC)
the choice between those two isn't the only choice available
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[User Picture]From: pirat_ponton
2006-02-09 05:29 pm (UTC)
actually, it's not

there was no "threat" of violence before that danish paper ran those cartoons, just like there was no "threat" of violence before that danish paper rejected the jesus cartoons

the link clearly shows, by their own admission, that publishing such cartoons was akin to yelling "fire" in a crowded theater, which does not fall under so-called "free speech"

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[User Picture]From: horosha
2006-02-10 02:40 am (UTC)
Well, the article you link to says nothing about if there was a threat or not. Other articles though do discuss their motivations.

Also from The Guardian:

Jan Lund, the Jyllands-Posten's foreign editor, said there was little discussion when the decision to run the cartoons was taken. 'I don't remember anyone raising any objections. The idea seemed good. The intention was to provoke a debate about the extent to which we self-censor in our coverage of Muslim issues.'.

"Rose said the exercise had been inspired by a conversation with Danish comedian Frank Hvam, who said he did not dare make fun of the Koran. Rose added that children's writer Kaare Bluitgen, who had written a book about the Prophet Muhammad, had lamented the fact that all the illustrators he approached wanted to work anonymously."

It seems to me they were very cognizant of threats and violence.

The "fire" case has to do with physical danger to the listener. It really doesn't apply here. The case that does seem to apply though Chaplinksy v. New Hampshire, where the United States Supreme Court ruled that fighting words were not protected. Looking over the cartoons and how passive they are, and considering the newspaper's stated intent, I really can't see them as fighting words. Offensive, yes, but some forms of offensiveness are protected. Look at Hustler Magazine v. Falwell.
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[User Picture]From: pirat_ponton
2006-02-10 05:20 am (UTC)
Looking over the cartoons and how passive they are

I almost fell for your spiel until that phrase - mohammed-bomb-head is "passive"? bullshit

as for the article I linked to, I guess this part went right over your head: "As a matter of fact, I think that they will provoke an outcry. Therefore, I will not use them."

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[User Picture]From: horosha
2006-02-10 02:46 pm (UTC)
Hey now. I'm fine with discussing issues but I don't come along to be sucked into asshattery. You got a chip on your shoulder? Fine. Give it to somebody else. I honestly don't care for it. If you want to criticize something I say, bring something to the table. Saying "bullshit" and linking to an article for the third time proves absolutely nothing.

Now then, If you'd check the cartoons out you'd see that most of them are passive. I consider even the portrait of Mohammed with the ACME bomb pretty passive as there's only an implied statement--it's just a portrait, you take from it what you will. But for the sake of argument I'll agree with you that it's not.

If you look over the cartoons you'll notice the first few are actually pretty passive. Then, by the fourth one down, the theme changes. The bars over the eyes clearly represent make a statement about the way Islamic terrorists hide their identities. It's a political cartoons.

There are, I would say, five political cartoons down the line and two that satire the paper itself. Both are forms of protected free speech.

In the flag burning case, the US Supreme Court ruled that political desicration is a form of free speech and should be protected under the first ammendment. That's why A.N.S.W.E.R. can use those horrible Bush = Hitler protest signs, art exhibits can feature American flags in toilets despite veteran protests, and things like this can occur.

So in the US the cartoons would almost certainly be protected. The Danes don't have a first amendment, but they seem to have the same respect for free speech we do so I imagine they have a similar protection. I know nothing about actual Danish law, though.

And yes, this is a free speech issue. The article you link to says not a word about the intentions of the Muslim cartoons, but even if despite their repeated statements otherwise they were malicious, it doesn't change the fact that this is a free speech issue. What's debatable is whether or not the current protections that exist are helpful or hurting. Look at the people calling for the arrest of protestors in Britain, for example. Is that justified?

I take the opinion that the more speech, the better. You don't like someone's speech, you counter it instead of censoring. It's not perfect, but I'd rather debate controversy, not silence it. If you disagree, fine, back it up.

Were they hypocrites for rejecting the Jesus cartoons? Maybe. But nobody fears for their physical safety for making a comment about Jesus. Either way, just because something might provoke an outcry does not make it wrong. "As a matter of fact, I think that they will provoke an outcry. Therefore, I will not use them" is the same reason you never saw gays on television.

What I find interesting is the Danish Imams who turned a French clown into a picture of Mohammed are not being similarly attacked for depicting the Prophet Mohammed, even though their depictions are far worse than the 12 originals. Perhaps that's why they met recently?.

Nobody's disputing that the cartoons are stupid, but moderates at least recognize who's to blame for the violence.
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[User Picture]From: pirat_ponton
2006-02-10 05:21 pm (UTC)
again, you just don't get it. this is NOT a so-called "free-speech" issue, since the newspaper already admitted they consider things that will, IN THEIR WORDS, ''provoke an outcry'' to trump supposed ''free speech''

and by the fascist "logic" you defend, gays need never be shown on TV. "free speech" and all

as a matter of fact, YOU seem like the one with the chip on your shoulder, as you expose your hypocritical prejudices: mohammed-bomb-head is "passive", and only an "implied statement" - "it's just a portrait", whereas signs that may compare the actions of bush to hitler are "horrible"

this is only a "free speech" issue to those that agree with blanket anti-muslim sentiment and provocation

the fact that the newspaper refused to print the jesus cartoons proves it, and you prove it with the statement "in the US the cartoons would almost certainly be protected": that's exactly why cindy sheehan was recently arrested, isn't it? "free speech"!

you should be ashamed of yourself
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[User Picture]From: horosha
2006-02-11 01:33 am (UTC)
Not really. Any further discussion with you is pointless. You have nothing to bring to this debate.
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[User Picture]From: pirat_ponton
2006-02-11 06:44 pm (UTC)
yeah, I figured you wouldn't have an answer to the sheehan example

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[User Picture]From: altdrsmoothop
2006-02-09 09:09 am (UTC)
free speech or the rights of millions of muslims......let's dump the ideological ideal here for a second to consider whose right to exist freely and without discomfort in a free society has been impinged upon. Prolly say diff't if you were muslim.

free speech is that beautiful monster white folk love to bring up in order to cover over blatant racism or any other thing that threatens to dislodge their worldview.

but you need not worry, the worldwide response to this indicates one thing to me: they are united. the proles speak. same happened with women during the 70's, and with the civil rights movement. what we have here is a sentiment unto racism. the riots in france....these are not unconnected events. the failure of the Western world to subsume the muslim one is the battle being waged here.

Unfortunately, I see righteous outrage. I could care less about your free speech. The same restrictions that should have been placed on these papers are what requires the clan to get permission to march. examine your life outside this blog: where is your free speech? will you pretend you can speak whatever you want whenever you like? please take the shrink wrap off that naive point of view and expose it to a real world....
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[User Picture]From: redstar826
2006-02-10 05:13 pm (UTC)
and what about the rights of those who had nothing to do with the cartoons, but are still being attacked (for instance, Christian neighborhoods and churches in Lebanon) during this supposed "righteous outrage"? Is violence justified as long as one claims to be inspired by an offense? If violence is an acceptable response in some situations, where do you draw the line?
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[User Picture]From: altdrsmoothop
2006-02-16 11:39 pm (UTC)
are you saying the american way of life is not implicated in the unrest in the middle east? again, widen your focus and try to put your western-centrism on hold for a moment. yes, it is justified if no one listens to you or your legitimacy. this errs on, and then crosses a line called racism. although it will be called an extension of terrorism. simply stated, there is nothing that can be shot at western society that would be as insulting, or as explicitly involved in reiterating a dominant western view that sees people as they want them to be seen, rather as those people would choose to represent themselves.

again, when is speech free? when white folk who have all the power can say whatever they want when they want, or when a muslim population that is widely misrepresented and discriminated against cannot say anything about itself that isn't approved by white folk. this kind of thing happens when those who are misrepresented collect, and unfortunately, it is righteous outrage. How dare we not consider why they would be offended, and instead selfishly turn to our trump card "oh, no, you're impinging on our free speech" again, whose free speech is being impinged upon?
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[User Picture]From: redstar826
2006-02-17 03:50 am (UTC)
are you saying the american way of life is not implicated in the unrest in the middle east?

Huh? I didn't say anything about the United States or "the american way of life" whatever that means. I'm honestly not sure what your point is here because I am not sure what this even has to do with the U.S. seeing as how the cartoons came from Denmark and my previous questions had to do with how the protests are affecting people living in those countries where the protests are taking place.

I never stated my opinion on the cartoons (or my opinion on "free speech for that matter), I simply pointed out that I thought that saying it is okay to start burning stuff down because of a supposed "right to not be offended" opens up one big ol' can of worms. As I said before, If violence is an acceptable response in some situations, where do you draw the line?
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[User Picture]From: altdrsmoothop
2006-02-17 10:00 am (UTC)
like it or not they are deeply implicated in teh current political and social environment there. they need be taken into account for any useful discussion of this topic.

this whole idea of "the right not to be offended" doesn't apply here. this isn't petty political cartoonery like those we are readily familiar, dealing with party lines. This is stuff that strikes at the core of people who believe and respect a certain set of beliefs. But I agree, it is a big can of worms, because it's always a big can of worms to tell dominant western society to take anything into account besides our own values and judgment. it took hundreds of thousands of women to push abortion rights, sexual harassment rights. Similarly it took hundreds of thousands of men and women and blood to push through civil rights (and to be sure, racism isn't exactly eradicated at all). We can ignore them and misrepresent them all we want, but you get riots in france, you get riots in the middle east, you get terrorism. it just may, maybe, might make sense to be compelled to put our own ideological interests in being able to say whatever we want whenever we want, instead of reacting on instinct to simply reject anything that constricts our right to represent the middle east in any fashion we like, and then expect those who hold so dearly to those beliefs to calmly say to themselves, "well, they've invaded the fertile crescent, removed and assasinated leaders of our countries, declared war on an ethreal "terrorism" that seems to be qualified by simply being muslim and having any anti-american sentiment at all, but if they want to represent our main religious profit as being co-extensive with a inherently violent, death-dealing regime, only intent on intolerance....yeah, that's ok". This is why I say righteous anger....and it would be foolish not to consider events and the american way of life and its idealistic view of itself which holds to its idealistic roots only so long as it's in reference to the opposition of our way of life to THEIR way of life. It's easy to say that tolerance is the answer as white folk who have not really had our rights impinged upon...in fact, we must harken back to a past that is nearly unrecognizable to us in which our rights were constricted by the british empire. and our resistance to the british empire was considered righteous and is mythologized today. and that's why you're right that it's a can of worms, because white folk are sensitive. being on the top of the heap, it's very easy for us to be enraged and indignant over the smallest pressure to adjust our way of thinking for others. but as was the case in civil rights and women's rights, that space was forced and wedged open, not made on principles such as justice, tolerance, and morality that exist for one specific identity, but not for others. white folk are never willing to admit that the situation is different for other people, and that those rights we take for granted simply do not exist for others.

I hope at least that that point gets across. sorry if i was sassy. history is meant to provide us with context, not with the ability to mete out a differential interpretation of the rights it provides to ALL people in order to reassert the multitudinous rights only some of us have. of course we can assume that they should have the same resolve as we do, but that would be presuming a lot, and also require a blatant ignorance of the differences that do exist as a reality for some races and religions in the world.
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[User Picture]From: redstar826
2006-02-17 05:27 pm (UTC)
Okay, I see where you are coming from a bit better now, but I still have to disagree with some of your points.

The thing is, "justifiable anger" does not mean "anything you do in the name of that anger is justified." I agree, Muslims have every right to be angry about those cartoons. To use a personal example, I would also like to think that I have the right, as a gay person, to be incredibly offended and angry at a lot of the anti-gay stuff I see. But, I don't think that anger gives me the right demand that people be arrested for saying that stuff, or to riot, or to physically attack someone whom I think might be anti-gay. No one likes to feel that who they are is under attack.

I'm all for discussing historical context. I am less inclined to suggest that historical context gives people a blank check to avoid responsibility for their own actions. What about the clerics who possibly made the situation much worse by also showing cartoons that weren't published in that Danish newspaper? What about governments that point fingers at the west to deflect attention away from their own corruption and human rights abuses?

I am no fan of U.S. foreign policy, but I don't think that the protesters and the leaders who encouraged them are saints either. Is there room for those of us who don't support the U.S. government and its overseas adventures but at the same time are less than comfortable with radical Islam? You mentioned women's rights. How friendly are the clerics and governments which encouraged these protests towards the rights of women?
If the reaction to U.S. imperialism is militant Islam, I am not sure I can support that either.

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[User Picture]From: altdrsmoothop
2006-02-17 06:32 pm (UTC)
ok, I want to deal with context first of all. History is not a revisionist blank check for anyone who would like to use it. I am just using historical examples to show how the situation in many lights could be applicable to early american anti-british sentiment (let's go back to cartoons, the boston massacre was used to embroil an american revolution, the boston tea party, all of these are political actions and events that stirred a people to focus on removing an oppressive power. civil rights movements which tried to expose the inequality of a country they belonged to.
similarly these muslims belong to countries that do not recognize them as they intend to be represented. This is clearly a point that will lead to civil unrest, and if channels are not provided for a culture to represent itself then means outside the insitutional system can and will be used as muslims begin collect around issues which face them as structural inequalities. I see a huge likeness between the way muslims are being represented and racism, and I also see it bearing a strong resemblance to defining white culture by opposition, similiar to how white culture figures itself by opposition to black culture (key in this regard is being able to represent the dark Other with complete freedom *ah, and here we get to why people might initially begin to center around protecting their right to free speech before considering the harm they are doing, most likely because it goes far deeper then simple images would portend*).

Historically I'm reminded of the Watts riots when I think of the activity in France. I don't think it would be too difficult to write a paper on that in a 1:1 ratio.

As to the efficacy of what the response to this is, I can only say that it is not my race and culture that has been offended. I cannot pretend to know, or to imply at all that a culture is inherently violent based on the tenents of its beliefs. I will say that it is highly unlikely that the picture of middle eastern culture, and especially muslim culture outside of the middle east, is inadequately understood by westerners. I mention women's rights here, and yes, human rights and civil rights violations can and do exist in these countries. And while that may be, you must understand that a middle east in unrest actually prohibits the rights of women. when a gov't is displaced and replaced so often, women's rights are often swept under the rug. Many women's movements were promised a place alongside new regimes only to be co-opted once the new gov't was installed. In that regard western culture isn't exactly a friend of women's rights, arguably having destabilized the region periodically over the last 30 years (who can say whether this was planned, but I won't start going into shadow conspiracy theories here, all that is necessary is to acknowledge that much of the unrest in the middle east can be implicated in certain disturbances that the clash with westerners and the middle east has created, much of this, however, can be related to economic interests for instance). Additionally ethnocentrism, if it wasn't already on display, becomes especially important when talking about women's rights in other countries. What if a woman submits herself to the burqa? Insurgency and destabilization don't exactly help women to establish organizations and movements because destabilization and war are necessarily masculinized ideals, and intensely inflame masculine, patriarchal value systems. Many times women will be likely to withdraw back into an oppressive culture rather then to be absorbed into a western culture that they regard as foreign and which makes them uncomfortable.

Additionally let's turn those eyes back on the u.s. Human rights violations? Right now the gov't is spying on americans without warrants. we have a terrorist prison in guantanomo bay where prisoners are being held indefinitely. A prisoner trafficking system was uncovered in Europe when a German man was held without the consent of the german gov't. Could you imagine what rights would be like for a minority audience in our country if it was so unstable? The closest example we have is the turbulent late 60's and then the reconstruction era politics after the civil war.

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[User Picture]From: altdrsmoothop
2006-02-17 06:38 pm (UTC)
to conclude, I don't think that radical islam is the answer to american imperialism, i think that radical islam is part and parcel to american imperialism. radical islam is the new, dark Other, and we will cling to representing however we want because that's the way racism works......1)represent those who are to function as your opposite 2)distance yourself from that opposite 3)use that opposition to continually identify yourself 4)ignore sentiment that doesn't place your identity's opinion as the default 5)push to have the dark Other who is being represented actually internalize the images and representations you produce 6)displace and recenter when insitutional channels of action backfire (the dark Other takes legal action, or tries to force open their rights on a political front)

I think american imperialism needs radical islam, because without it, we are this:
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[User Picture]From: altdrsmoothop
2006-02-17 08:50 pm (UTC)
I know they're politically left, but I thought this would shed some light on what america is doing and perhaps add some context to accusations against other culture's humanitarian responsibilities:

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[User Picture]From: snarkybando
2006-02-11 03:52 am (UTC)
Last I checked, there is no universal right not to be offended.

It's not like I'm burning down the Syrian embassy for their state-sponsored television showing cannibal rabbis on prime time.

free speech is that beautiful monster white folk love to bring up in order to cover over blatant racism or any other thing that threatens to dislodge their worldview.

And "white folk" is used to marginalized someone's opinions on the basis of a supposed skin color. Race has nothing to do with this, hell, arabs are technically "white folk".

The same restrictions that should have been placed on these papers are what requires the clan to get permission to march.

Okay, here's some US Government 101:

1st Amendment:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

The reason the Klan, and anyone else, would need permission to march is that there is an ordinance requiring permission or registration. The states/counties/municipalities et al are allowed to regulate the time and place of assembly. So long as they are demonstrating peacefully and abiding by the rules (such as not using "fighting words") then they can demonstrate.

Why don't you think Fred Phelps is allowed to demonstrate?

examine your life outside this blog: where is your free speech? will you pretend you can speak whatever you want whenever you like?

Considering I live in the US, pretty much any public property and some private ones, so long as I do not infringe on anyone else's constitutionally protected rights.
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[User Picture]From: altdrsmoothop
2006-02-16 11:48 pm (UTC)
marginalized white folk don't exist. Just think on that for a second. is this response of white folk, the one of indignation of not being able to say what they want to say, in short supply, or is it echoing in the corridors of western society? that's just bs. I'm white too. Time to own up to the privilege that we get from being in power and how we use it constantly to represent people who we know nothing about.

Focusing this clearly in american rights doesn't make sense. first of all because this is going on in Europe. Second of all, because this type of sentiment is one of the saddest things I have ever seen. It is white people saying that they are oppressed by middle eastern muslims. that they prohibit them saying things constantly to a point of discrimination. the focus of attention should be on us, but not on our rights as non-muslim westerners. god forbid we drop our own concerns to look for a split-second at what damage we do to other cultures. righteous anger because they're making us pay attention. when institutional structures do not allow for a collective to speak (and make no mistake, they are united), then other means are used to express that disdain. How to stop the riots? Actually listen to people who collectively represent a large amount of the world population.

a more applicable example, and why i brought up the clan, is precedents set because of civil rights protests and the after-effects of those turbulent times. the reason that we don't cry "they need free speech" is because we now have established, through forceful social confrontation, that it simply won't stand. I think that the middle eastern situation is applicable here. free speech is an ideal that many people quote but often do not recognize doesn't ideally exist.

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[User Picture]From: horosha
2006-02-18 04:59 am (UTC)
marginalized white folk don't exist

You know, I think a lot of Jews, homosexuals, transvestites, Irish, Germans, Chinese, Japanese, unemployed, abused, raped, and impovrished people might disagree with you.

I really don't understand you when you talk about owning up to privilege. Privilege isn't anything you can "own up to". anymore than you can own up to being born with two legs. White privilege, along with male and straight privilege, is a system that exists apart from the individual, and is based entirely on stereotypes. For example, if I act like a stereotypical male the system might help me. If I don't act like a stereotypical male, the system punishes me. This is how all privilege works, and why it really is so awful. Likewise, when you group every white person together in your criticism you hedge on racist thought.

I'm somewhat curious what makes you think that these people are righteous. You almost compare the burning of the embassies to the Boston Tea Party--a comparission that is oil and water, really. The insurgency in Iraq, for example, harasses women who don't wear burqas, bombs buses of civilians, and beheads journalists. Ths is righteous anger? Holding people ransom, a call for attention? I would say that the extremists are playing paper tiger, blaming the West for their own crimes while they use their power to harm others. The repressive governments of the Middle East seem to support this. Blame the West to take pressure off their own civil rights abuses.

I agree that it doesn't make sense to focus this on American rights since considering our first amendment and past SCOTUS rulings you have the right to offend in America, whether it's for righteous reasons or not. That's why my original post had nothing to do with the US. I disagree with you when you say listening will stop the riots, mainly because of what the rioters are actually saying. "Death to Denmark" is not a call for better living conditions. The riots will end when the real issues facing the middle east are finally addressed.
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[User Picture]From: altdrsmoothop
2006-02-18 07:43 pm (UTC)
i'll restate. white folk are not marginalized. you can add being queer, or being a woman and get different results, but when taken in equal standing with muslims around the world, those identities are far more marginalized then any comparable white non-dominant identity. for instance, being homosexual does not exclude a white person from being able to be racist.

you can own up to privilege. it's simple. it consists of realizing your own place in society, and how your race informs how you can differentially interact with that society with rights and privileges that other people simply do not have. all it requires is that we do not think of ourselves. but i'm looking at your response and seeing that once again you're focusing attention on your own experience. by doing this, I can understand where you're coming from. I think you implicitly expect any other person to react as you would, meanwhile ignoring the real differences that do exist in how, for instnace, a muslim in european country, can be represented in the world. if you take your experience as default, you will inevitably come to the conclusion that these people are acting irrationaly.

they've been offended and discriminated against, and now we're crying about our right to free speech. it's ironic how they've been offended and we turn the situation around immediately and say that it is our right to exist and repreesent ourselves that is being infringed upon. righteous anger it is indeed. not oil and water at all. the only reason you make it oil and water is because yous ee the contexts and historical outcomes as comopletely different. they are a collected people, who are using means outside the channels provided explicitly by institutions to express their unrest and their conflict with a western system that dominates their representation.

you think that 'death to denmark' has nothing to do with the qualitative subjective rights they have as citizens in a country? I thought context was useful here because it helped to expose why this is happening, instead of simply rejecting why it's happening, or from seeing coextensive events as responses to western political engagement with the middle east. listening to these people will mean that this problem is being adressed, and fooling around with the idea that our rights are being widdled away is counter-productive. this is a problem that will probably go on to define our times. 'death to denmark' is more likely a symbolic confrontation between middle eastern politics and western invasion of those places. of course the first western reaction is going to be one of calling it sensless violence, but I hradly believe that with the way we have treated this specific part of the population. the watts riots weren't explicitly about civil rights, but it was a reaction to the same sort of political motivation, where a large segment of the population is unfavorably recognized and represented. unfortunately, violence seems to be the only way to make the west listen. I think it is clear that these protests are a reaction ot a much larger trend in western involvement in the middle east, and I think that we should construtively analyze it as such, because it is a part of a large trend, and not unsystematic violence against nothing.

yes, we should listen instead of feigning that we are the ones being assaulted here.
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[User Picture]From: horosha
2006-02-23 07:00 am (UTC)
All people act irrationally. It's part of being human. Perhaps I should restate my point in turn. I have no problem with them being offended. They have every right to be offended. What I have a problem with is the actions they've taken.

One person says something offensive--the cartoons--and you speak out against them, then another group of people does something offensive--burning down buildings and calls for blood--and this is righteousness? There is a very obvious disconnect here. First, because the cartoons are non-violent and the extremists are, and second, because you can't claim righteousness when you're being just as offensive yourself. I for one support their right to burn Danish flags and to march in protest. They've been offended. They have every right to shout, "Death to Denmark" ‘til their faces turn blue. But that SAME EXACT RIGHT is also the right the newspaper exercised in publishing those cartoons.

That being said, sensible people are not stating that our "right to exist" is being infringed upon. Rather, what they're saying is that nobody has the right to exist without discomfort. Not in the West, or any free democracy, they don't. Such a right is absolutely ludicrous! Just as there was a time when showing black people equal to whites was extremely offensive, there was also a time when the thought of women having any sexuality or political stance was as well. It's common sense that just because you find something offensive does not mean it must be banned. If everyone who was ever offended stifled someone else's expression there would be no expression at all. I take exception to the idea that just because some Muslims react violently, they should be exempt where others do not. That's exactly the type of censorship-through-fear that the cartoons were published to highlight. After all, yes, mockery is wrong, the freedom that supports it isn't. Discussing this is as a free speech issue not counter-productive at all, or turning anything around. Rather, it highlights everything at stake.

A riot without senseless violence is a protest, nothing more. There was senseless violence in Watts, Stonewall, in every riot in history. It's part of the definition. The Boston Tea Party was not a riot. It was a well-planned and non-violent protest: an act of rebellion against a specific target to prove a specific point. In this case, tea. These latest riots on the other hand have been amorphous and spontaneous. There is no clear message or interpretation in burning an embassy other than general hatred. Dumping a taxed item overboard when you feel the taxation of that item is unfair is an entirely different animal. Hence oil and water.

Going back to riots, you can justify whatever political agenda you have with violence. PETA, for example, supports arsonists. Just because you use violence does not give your stance justification, and I have a lot of trouble buying into the assumption that just because you're angry you have a point worthy of discussion. Take the beheadings in Iraq for an obvious example. They're angry. Their actions hurt America (the occupier). But I would call them neither righteous nor justified. They use violence to gain advantages, not to empower people's freedoms. If we must look to ourselves--and I agree, we should--they should also look to themselves and see the actions they are doing. Because you want Israel destroyed does not give you justification for blowing up a discotheque.
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[User Picture]From: horosha
2006-02-23 07:01 am (UTC)
As for repression, no cartoon published in Denmark or in any newspaper is repressing Muslims. I see much repression in the Islamic world, in particular in Africa but also in the Middle East. But it is not the West that is doing the repressing. When was the last time you saw a riot over Iran's repression of women, or a rally in Saudi Arabia over free elections? Riots can give insight, yes, but it's very important to understand the context of the Middle East in order to put such events into perspective. People who have tried to protest their governments in Saudi Arabia have been executed. Egypt jails journalists who even hint at criticism of their government. But burn an American or Western flag? The government supports you. We have a very skewed view of the Middle East because the Western media groups see the outward reactions, not the internal politics.

I should also point out that no, they're not united. This is a minority of people who are performing this violence and acts of hatred. Extremists are never mainstream. Likewise, cartoons do not control behavior. These people rioted of their own free will, and I don't see why we should listen to them. The artists knew drawing Muhammad was blasphemous. They knew people would be upset. That's EXACTLY WHY they did it. To prove a point. What the West DOES need to do is stop supporting these repressive Middle Eastern regimes and actually help the people on the ground, as we're trying to do in Iraq (no thanks to the administration--some recommended reading: Assassins at the Gate). We should be pushing governments towards free elections and demanding the release from prison for people who speak up for democracy, not listening to extremists who call for the West's destruction. It would be like listening to the KKK because they hang people. That path leads nowhere.

You state that these people were offended. Of course they're offended. That's never been the issue, and, as I've been repeatedly trying to get across, being offended is NOT moral justification. If these riots were over the West's support of the Shah I'd agree with your point about symbolic confrontation. But they're not the same. These riots didn't occur in Denmark, didn't actually attack the stimulus (embassies are not the free press). And to disagree with you, I'd call burning down a country's embassy a very obvious assault. Likewise, I have a hard time believing that everyone riots to prove a point. Take Rodney King for a local example. Certainly many people began rioting as an expression of anger over police brutality, but how many on those streets were actually rioting for a cause and how many were there just to do acts of violence? If anything Katrina and Badghdad have shown us that people will do horrible things for less than symbolic reasons.

As for racism, ALL humans have some racism in them. That includes, yes, "black folk", Indians, Mexicans, Native Americans, Africans, Muslims, Latinos, you, me, everyone on LJ, and, well, name your homo sapien. When you point out that even a gay white person can be racist I agree with you completely. It's also important to acknowledge that racism is not a white-only issue. Sure a gay man can be racist. But so can a black woman. We're inundated with racist messages every day from numerous sources. No ethnicity is an exception.

I don't believe you can "own up" to privilege mainly because I have a problem with such language. You can "recognize" privilege, you can "acknowledge" privilege, and you can "fight" privilege. But "own up"? You own up to things you're guilty of, and being born, say, white, is not a crime. Privilege is something to be understood. Telling people to "own up" to things they cannot help is just another way cycles of hatred and racial stereotyping continue in the same way.
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[User Picture]From: robotar
2006-02-16 08:34 pm (UTC)
Hear, hear!
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[User Picture]From: altdrsmoothop
2006-02-17 10:11 am (UTC)
haha. yeah, that's what's at stake. it's the oppressed that are oppressing us.

I can't say this nicely: bullshit. Go drop the n bomb in a largely black community. i think you'll enjoy the response and maybe you'll get a visceral look at what it means to offend an entire race, or in this case religion/culture.

but dealing with you before, i highly doubt any discussion we could have would produce anything. Good luck breaking in your naivete, i'm sure it'll stay nice, fresh, and crisp from your safe home and safe identity that isn't being assailed constantly by the west as being the anti-thesis of freedom. Yes, your rights are the ones being oppressed *sarcasm*
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