I won't even tell you what you can do with your cheese danishes

|

I've got a hunch that the In-toon-fadah is winding down. There was a peaceful demonstration by 300 people in Bangkok, and a planned demo in Jakarta is expected to draw between 2,000 and 5,000 people. It would still be nice if these hundreds and thousands grokked the idea that a cartoon in a privately owned paper in a particular country does not have to be approved by that country's government, but a peaceful protest is good. Increase the peace.

Meanwhile, evidence for the theory that the embassy burnings were as much government setups as popular uprisings continues to trickle in: Lebanese authorities report that half the 174 rioters they've arrested turned out to be Syrians. Meanwhile, a soi-disant Damascus rioter describes how the government greenlighted the attack on the Danish embassy.

Despite the pusillanimous shillyshallying of government officials in the United States and Europe, the message to the protesters, demonstrators, and rioters has been more or less clear: Governments don't (or at least shouldn't) decide what people say with their own natural right to free speech. The lesson for everybody else has been valuable too: Neither the neocons nor the simpering left will be able to feed us any more horseshit about how radical Islamism is limited to a few bad apples. Believers in multiculturalism and believers in the clash of civilization (who are closer to each other philosophically than either wants to admit) got some points too: There are serious philosophical differences at work here, which go beyond politics or civil affairs, and require real (ahem) dialogue.

So all in all I revert to my earlier statement, that the best thing that can happen is for this crisis to go as far as it can, with nobody pussing out.

Since the fanatics are quickly running out of Danish interests to attack anyway, maybe it's time to start focusing on soft targets: No more performances of Hamlet anywhere. All references to the Danish roots of pre-Sartrean existentialism will be removed from textbooks. "The Emperor's New Clothes" is out of the question just for its promotion of immodest dress. And somebody needs to spread the word that Greenland isn't even green, for Allah's sake; some Viking realtor just called it that in the hope of turning it into the next Hot Neighborhood.

NEXT: Superbowl Wrap

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. Tim,

    And somebody needs to spread the word that Greenland isn’t even green, for Allah’s sake; some Viking realtor just called it that in the hope of turning it into the next Hot Neighborhood.

    When Eric the Red settled there got to its southern tip it was a far more hospitable place due apparently to what we call the Medeival Warm Period.

  2. Does anyone else get the feeling that the simultaneous protests in disparte Muslim countries seemed to serve of some sort of bonding experience for the world’s Muslim population? I mean, not even bin Laden’s call for a global Caliphate, nor the Iraq and Afghan Wars, nor the Israeli/Palestinain conflict fired up the base to this extent. I’ll bet that upwards of 95%-99% of the participants in these marchest havn’t seen the cartoons, yet were motivated not only by religious outrage, but by a chance to be part of some global show of force.

  3. Tim —

    “Meanwhile, a soi-disant Damascus rioter describes how the government greenlighted the attack on the Danish embassy.”

    In a closer reading on the article, it says the opposite almost, that the organizers were local religious sheikhs and the soi-disant rioter says the government security forces were taken by surprise.

    I have no doubt the government greenlighted the demonstration but no one says they ordered the attack.

  4. So the west has trouble understanding that protest movement can be sponsored by a hostile government, and the east can’t understand how pictures in a private newspaper is a decision by a private enterprise and not sposored by a government.

    Seems to me we are in not so much a clash of civilizations as a talking past each other of civilizations.

  5. Native NYer,

    Other civilizations have different values from our civilization (if we wish to speak along such grossly oversimplified terms), so that is not surprising at all. This is why the whole “yearn for democracy” business of the Bush administration is so bizarre; most folks in the middle-east yearn for whatever their culture values, which doesn’t appear to be individual freedom so much as reinforcing various religious-oriented values, maybe filial piety, etc.

  6. Despite the pusillanimous shillyshallying of government officials in the United States and Europe, the message to the protesters, demonstrators, and rioters has been more or less clear: Governments don’t (or at least shouldn’t) decide what people say with their own natural right to free speech.

    Someone should tell South Africa.

  7. Governments don’t (or at least shouldn’t) decide what people say with their own natural right to free speech.

    I wonder whether Al Jazeera knows this.

  8. Is Cavanaugh suggesting we can’t say “something’s rotten in the state of Denmark” until this blows over?

    You can have that cliche when you pry my basket of cliches from MY COLD DEAD HAND!!!!

  9. Am I the only one who finds it mildly entertaining that the first thing that these assclowns do after a symbol of their faith is allegedly trod upon is to begin destroying other cultures’s symbols? I realize that irony is what closes on Saturday, but there has to be a better way to make a point. We may well be talking past each other, but if the standard Muslim response to a grievance is to set the nearest embassy on fire and start torching Old Glory I doubt a healthy dialogue is the solution.

    Neither the neocons nor the simpering left will be able to feed us any more horseshit about how radical Islamism is limited to a few bad apples.

    I would agree that it looks that way, but as usual I am not sure we have the proper perspective. Is the uprising really that significant in a statistical sense? It seems that in a world of a billion Muslims there are going to be the disgruntled demonstrations on any given weekend, I just cannot tell whether the response is a big deal or not.

  10. Given that many (most?) of these demonstrations appear to have had no more than a few dozen to a few hundred participants, I’d be wary of drawing any conclusions about Islamic civilization as a whole from them. Their magnitude and significance is being inflated by media coverage.

  11. I think all this excitement is due to these depictions as being relatively new. The more cartoon Mohammeds we churn out, the more these cretins will get used to it.

    In fact, I think there should be a daily series called “Spider-Hole Man”. It will feature our hero Mohammed and his wife Mahri-Jane, exchanging lame dialogue day after day after day. Once in awhile Mohammed gets into a bloodless fist fight with an infidel. And then more lame dialogue ensues.

    ’nuff said.

  12. I think SR raises a significant point, and I hope he’s right.

    Imagine if our civilization was judged by the outrage over Janet Jackson’s wardrobe malfunction.

  13. To be clear, I’m not trying to say the two episodes of outrage are equivalent, just that you shouldn’t judge a civilization by how a handful of idiots respond to something in the media.

  14. Hakluyt,

    More hospitable than Iceland? 😉

  15. If the Syrian government green lighted the attack on the Danish embassy, that is an act of war. Denmark, therefore has a right of self defense and can go to war with Syria without going to the U.N. Security Council. Further, since Denmark is a NATO member, it could invoke the mutual assistance portion of the U.N. charter and NATO members would be obligated to assist Denmark in it’s war against Syria. Since regional defense compacts such as the NATO charter are recognized as legitimate under the U.N. Charter. Thus, theoretically at least, U.S. could invade Syria without going to the Security Council. Not that I think that this will happen, but it would be hysterical to see the usual cast of clowns banging their rattles about another of George Bush’s “illegal wars”, when in fact such a war would be imminently legal under international law.

  16. “Media groups here [in South Africa] have reacted strongly to a restriction by a court on the publication by a local newspaper group of the Danish-origin cartoons about Prophet Mohammed that have sparked global outrage. . . .

    “But local media representatives were alarmed at what they saw as a pre-emptive muzzling of the press, especially since both the Sunday papers cited in the court judgement allegedly had no intention of publishing the cartoons.

    “. . . The judge found that the right to dignity of religious groups outweighed the right to freedom of expression. . . .

    “Joe Thloloe, chairperson of the South African National Editors’ Forum, called the court ruling ‘pre-publication censorship’.”

    South African censorship sounds uncomfortable familiar. In the apartheid era, the state had a censorship bureaucracy, whose rulings were discussed at the time by censor J. C. W. Van Rooyen. Censorship was authorized in the case of books, pamphlets, etc. which promoted racial and religious strife. The preventing-strife rationale was, of course, invoked to censor some attacks on the apartheid regime. Also, however, they censored Rushdie’s *Satanic Verses, * as well as censoring an anti-Christian polemic by Muslims about the Crucifixion (or ?crucifiction,? as the author called it).

    There’s a message for the Muslims: If offensive material can be censored by the government, there’s no reason to assume Muslim stuff won’t from time to time be found offensive by the government.

  17. That is the mutual assistance portion of the NATO charter not the UN charter.

  18. I once saw a training vessel of the Danish Navy dock in BOston during a Tall Ships festival years ago. The crew consisted entirely (it seemed) of smiling young, blond, attractive 18-year-old men and women at about a 50/50 ratio.

    Now, the question is: if that’s representative of the Danish armed forces, why would anyone not want them to invade your town??

  19. http://english.aljazeera.net/NR/exeres/FCE073DD-7F1B-4714-95F0-DD1F354F1D9A.htm

    An Itanian paper announced a contest for cartoons about the holocaust.

    If they have a contest about christians I hope the South park guys submit the episode where Jesus saves Santa from the Iraqis

  20. Itanian=Iranian

  21. Maybe the Iranians were inspired by Life Is Beautiful.

  22. Here’s some free speech. The Prophet Mohammed can suck my dick.

  23. Kills Bill

  24. Yes it is a shame…

    But, in a dictatorship like syria, These very same ppl will take to the streets to attack opposition figures… it’s not about Denmark, and I doubt it’s about Islam!!

    Danish embassy CAN and WILL be rebuilt again, but the damage to the Syrian image outside and to Syrians, that’ll take years to heal… that’s the worst part of this.. for me as a Syrian.

    Again, it is a shame…

    if u’re intersted u can check my blog for responses from the Syrian Blogsphere to such events… I find it my duty to help erase the trauma of this…

    good day

  25. Yes, Cavanaugh, “The lesson for everybody else has been valuable too: Neither the neocons nor the simpering left will be able to feed us any more horseshit about how radical Islamism is limited to a few bad apples.” Brilliant, very libertarian take, some people behaving like jackasses means all billion who are part of this religion are the same!

  26. I dunno. Seeing “The Family Circus” every goddamned day in my local newspaper made me think about breaking stuff.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.