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Think at your own risk.
Saturday, February 04, 2006
Danish cartoonists in hiding
You know what's so irresponsible about the Michelle Malkin-led "blogburst" (tucked somewhere between the "quip of the day" and "Hollywood libs gone wild") to post the Danish Muhammad pictures to as many blogs as possible in order to show "solidarity with the Danes?" Malkin and her blog friends are playing with other people's lives, and doing so with a casualness that's really quite chilling (but not surpring for Ms. Malkin, who seems to relish offenses against non-whites and non-Christians simply for their own sake, or for some of her more vulgar, stupid compatriots like this one). It's real easy to be brash and balsy when it's not your ass on the line, and in this case, Malkin and her group are sitting comfortably in the confines of their pajamas, while waaaaaay over there in Denmark, the cartoonists who drew the various Muhammad pics (and many of them had serious reservations about it even before this whole nightmare began) are in hiding, in fear for their lives.

What do Malkin and her tribe propose to do about that, or about the American blogger now facing similar threats here? Can they protect those cartoonists and that blogger? Do they even care to? Or will they just fire off a few pithy posts condemning the evil Islamofascists, should one of them decide to pull a Van Gogh on one of these guys.

Let's not kid around here: there are real, serious jihadis out there, in Europe, in Scandinavia, in Denmark (not to mention in Iraq, where our and other countries' troops could once again reap the whirlwind while we sit here and type...) A militant cleric within the Danish homeland just might have been the one to incite this madness, months after the pics ran in Denmark without much notice. Sorryl, but this is no different than George W. Bush going on television and daring the jihadis in Iraq to "bring it on." Well, just like George, someone should ask Michelle and her group what the hell they're going to do about it if the jihadis do bring it on.

I'll bet they don't have a freaking clue.

I think this incident has made clear for everyone how wide the gulf is between the West and the Muslim world. Clearly, we don't understand them -- at all. And they can't be made to conform to our Western notions of "modernity" and secular humanism, hedonism and in-your-face political speech. Brazenly posting the pics to "defy the totalitarians" sounds really great and really brave, but it isn't. Brave means putting your own neck on the line, not someone else's, and not for nothing.

These, in the end, were silly cartoons, meant to make a point about freedom of expression and the constrictions of same in Islam, where even positive depictions of Muhammad are strictly forbidden (something not true in Christianity, hence the very different reaction to things like extreme depictions of Jesus...) Well, point made. But get a clue, wingers. You're "solidarity" movement could get somebody killed.

And then what are you gonna do? Mark the casualties down as "battle hardened?"

And furthermore, if even the cartoonists themselves, and the newspaper that originally printed them, now see that the content was so offensive -- not in the sphere of "classical liberalism" where -- hello! -- Islam obviously doesn't dwell, but on a fundamental level, to billions of already angry, politically impotent people, why can't the right wing blogosphere see the same thing? How deeply do Muslims feel about this? Well first, they see it as a double standard:
Arab League Secretary General Amr Moussa, in Tunis for a meeting of Arab interior ministers, decried the "double standards" in the European media.

"We see double standards in the European media, which is fearful of being accused of anti-Semitism but which invokes freedom of expression for a caricature on Islam," Moussa said.
In other words, had a Danish newspaper published cartoons depicting Jews as characatured "blood suckers" (as yes, often happens in the Muslim world, but never, ever in Europe) the world would have rightly condemned it, and so would the Michelle Malkins of the world.

Second, they see it as racist, and indicative of a general lack of respect for, and hatred of them by Europeans, something that literally burns in the hearts of Muslims in France or Denmark or Britain, making them very, very vulnerable to terrorists... As former U.S. President Bill Clinton recently put it:
So now what are we going to do? ... Replace the anti-Semitic prejudice with anti-Islamic prejudice?" he said at an economic conference in the Qatari capital of Doha.

"In Europe, most of the struggles we've had in the past 50 years have been to fight prejudices against Jews, to fight against anti-Semitism," he said.

Clinton described as "appalling" the 12 cartoons published in a Danish newspaper in September depicting Prophet Mohammed and causing uproar in the Muslim world.

"None of us are totally free of stereotypes about people of different races, different ethnic groups, and different religions ... there was this appalling example in northern Europe, in Denmark ... these totally outrageous cartoons against Islam," he said.
And now, I'm going to do something I have never done before, and probably will never do again. I'm going to quote Hugh Hewitt:
The furor over the Danish cartoons is sparking an odd reaction among some commentators in the West who see no contradiction in condemning the idiocy of Joel Stein or the repulsiveness of Tom Toles while urging solidarity with the idiot newspapermen in Denmark who thought it a good idea to not just illustrate Mohammed, but to include some illustrations designed to offend. Like Toles and Stein, they sought a cheap reaction, and getting it, are alarmed that anyone could be judgmental of their efforts.

Of course the thugs who threaten violence against the idiots are evil, and the reaction across radical Islam is every bit as chilling and outrageous as the 1989 fatwa against Rushdie.

But I think the third course between the cartoonist provocateurs and the radicals waving guns at the EU employees in Gaza is to denounce without ambiguity or excuse the latter but at the same time to delineate a very bright line between what the West stands for and the churlishness of the caroonist provocateurs.

Our country's founding document includes in its opening paragraph the explanation for why the Declaration is necessary: "a decent Respect to the Opinions of Mankind requires that [we] should declare the causes which impel [us] to the Separation."

The cartoons were in bad taste, an unnecessary affront to many of the 1.3 billion Muslims in the world, just as Joel Stein affronted the military, the families and friends of the military, and as Toles did the same to the wounded, and their families, friends and admirers. Of course each of them had the absolute right to publish their screed, and the Danish (and now Norwegian) governments must reply to demands that these papers be punished with a steely refusal to be dictated to as to their culture of free expression and the protection of the vulgar and the stupid.

But don't cheer the vulgar and the stupid.
Well said. I've been trying all day to work out my feelings about this cartoon flap. And the only thing that really threatened to move me off my gut reaction (against the cartons) was the Bush administration's maneuver condemning them (which I instantly saw as cynical -- I guess I'm failing the Moonbat test after all, Jay). But upon reflection, and as this thing has rolled on, and especially once this stupid "post the pics" blogswarm started, I have to come down on the state department's side (wait! Passed the test...!) which is also Bill Clinton's, Hugh Hewitt's, and I should think any fair minded person's side. (Remember this? I have to tell you I was not and am not prepared to defend it on free speech grounds.)

The Muhammad cartoons were published, I think, in a spirit I can understand, as a Westerner who believes that secularism goes hand in hand with religious freedom. But I am not a Muslim. I can't presume to demand that they react in the same way, any more than I can expect a white person to react to the above picture in the same way. (And I'm prepared also to apologize for my blythe reaction to the Kanye Jesus pic. That too, was wrong. But again, were are here in the West, where Christianity already is steeped in modernity, and where depictions of Christ are not nearly as taboo. We can shrug it off. Obviously the Muslim world -- particularly when incited by twisted people who want them inflamed so they can strap suicide belts on them -- can't.)

I think we all find it easy to tell other people to "get over it" when it isn't your beliefs that are being made light of. I'm as guilty of that as anyone. But the Europeans and the right wingers in this country are dead wrong on this (as are the nutters who are running amok in the Islamic world). You guys wanna demand that the world's billions of Muslims get with the "classical liberalism" program? Good luck. That tactic has really worked out for the Scandinavians, the British and the French. Just stop putting other people's lives on the line to flex your keyboard bravado. I do understand that we can't allow ourselves to be held hostage to extremists. But there is very large middle ground between preserving our freedom of expression and kicking Muslims in the teeth.

Related: Mark in Mexico agrees with Hewitt, too, and manages to slip in a shot at Black people for in the main, detesting George Bush. We should take a number, Mark. Most of humanity detests George W. You guys still firmly in his camp are a distinct minority. Although he makes a salient point here:
My feeling is that the only reason that a world war between civilizations has not already broken out is that the vast majority of Muslims living in the world today are so desperately poor that they have the time, energy and resources for only the occasional burst of AK-47 fire into the air from the garbage and sewage laden streets outside of their mud huts. Give them resources and I fear that they will come after us everywhere that they can find us, which is to say everywhere.
... And most of us won't even know why.

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posted by JReid @ 1:25 AM  
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