Putting the Destruction Back in "Creative Destruction"


Reader Paul Wilbert finds one man who knows how to work the angles in the intoonfadah. Gaza store owner Ahmed Abu Dayya is out to corner the market on highly flammable Danish flags:

Abu Dayya ordered 100 hard-to-find Danish and Norwegian flags for his Gaza City shop and has been doing a swift trade.

"I do not take political stands. It is all business," he said in an interview. "But this time I was offended by the assault on the Prophet Mohammad…

"I knew there would be a demand for the flags because of the angry reaction of people over the offence to Prophet Mohammad," said Abu Dayya, whose PLO Flag Shop also sells souvenirs and presents.

He sells his Danish and Norwegian flags for $11 a piece—a price he acknowledged might be dampening sales. Many protesters prefer to save money and make the flags themselves from scraps of fabric, he said.

The Prophet, for whom business always came first, would certainly approve. The most intriguing detail concerns Abu Dayya's source for Israeli flags:

Abu Dayya sources some of his flags from suppliers in Taiwan, but he buys Israeli flags from a merchant in Israel, even though he sells them to be burnt at anti-Israeli rallies.

That may raise ominous memories of Lenin's quote about the capitalists selling the rope with which to hang themselves. Or maybe Lenin didn't really say that. Or maybe he said something similar. Or maybe he said they'd sell the lash to go with the rum and the sodomy. In any event, it's clear who turned out to be the chump in that business deal.

NEXT: Crack Tax Collectors

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  1. If anyone doesn’t want to click through, what Lenin apparently really said is this: “The [capitalists] will furnish credits which will serve us for the support of the Communist Party in their countries and, by supplying us materials and technical equipment which we lack, will restore our military industry necessary for our future attacks against our suppliers.”

    So apparently his legacy has benefitted from a very good translator.

  2. This reminds me of something I was reading by Mark Steyn, the conservative Canadian columnist with libertarian sympathies. I usually enjoy reading him and often even agree with him, although he’ll be too rightish for many of you.

    Anyway, here’s his bit, which I thought was kind of funny — not so much the Islamilitant-bashing as the Europe-bashing and the “transgressive artist”-bashing:

    I long ago lost count of the number of times I’ve switched on the TV and seen crazy guys jumping up and down in the street, torching the Stars and Stripes and yelling ”Death to the Great Satan!” Or torching the Union Jack and yelling ”Death to the Original If Now Somewhat Arthritic And Semi-Retired Satan!” But I never thought I’d switch on the TV and see the excitable young lads jumping up and down in Jakarta, Lahore, Aden, Hebron, etc., etc., torching the flag of Denmark.

    Denmark! Even if you were overcome with a sudden urge to burn the Danish flag, where do you get one in a hurry in Gaza? Well, OK, that’s easy: the nearest European Union Humanitarian Aid and Intifada-Funding Branch Office. But where do you get one in an obscure town on the Punjabi plain on a Thursday afternoon? If I had a sudden yen to burn the Yemeni or Sudanese flag on my village green, I haven’t a clue how I’d get hold of one in this part of New Hampshire. Say what you like about the Islamic world, but they show tremendous initiative and energy and inventiveness, at least when it comes to threatening death to the infidels every 48 hours for one perceived offense or another. If only it could be channeled into, say, a small software company, what an economy they’d have.

    … The cartoons aren’t particularly good and they were intended to be provocative. But they had a serious point. Before coming to that, we should note that in the Western world “artists” “provoke” with the same numbing regularity as young Muslim men light up other countries’ flags. When Tony-winning author Terence McNally writes a Broadway play in which Jesus has gay sex with Judas, the New York Times and Co. rush to garland him with praise for how “brave” and “challenging” he is. The rule for “brave” “transgressive” “artists” is a simple one: If you’re going to be provocative, it’s best to do it with people who can’t be provoked.


  3. “the conservative Canadian columnist with libertarian sympathies”

    When has Steyn ever displayed “libertarian sympathies”?

  4. Well, Steyn certainly has no use for the soft-left nannyism that characterizes Canadian liberal orthodoxy. I think that counts for something.

  5. That’s the best article about the In-toon-fada that I’ve read.

  6. For the record, and for Steyn’s edification — not that I expect him to be the kind of person who is truthful about things, even allowing for hyperbole and exaggeration — that both Ben Brantley and Vincent CanbyThe New York Times panned Terence McNally’s Corpus Christi, as did a lot of other critics. It’s also worth noting — which Steyn elides — that the theater that was originally going to stage it temporarily shut down production after receiving a number of death threats from fanatical Christians, many of who were dumb enough to let their threats be recorded by an answering machine.

    Finally, reading the Amazon reviews for the play hardly puts us Americans on the high ground about this kind of stuff: i have never read this book before, but it doesn’t matter. This book is just wrong, have you not read the bible!?!?!

    Yeah, that about says it all.

  7. Well paint me white and call me a t-cell! Phil’s right:

    Corpus Christi’s originality came under universal attack. Ben Brantley of The New York Times launched into his review with “The excitement stops right after the metal detectors.” After summing up the security procedures he went on to say “That’s pretty much it for pulse-quickening drama. The play that brought an outraged chorus of protest even before it went into rehearsal is about as threatening, and stimulating, as a glass of chocolate milk.”

    The paper’s erstwhile drama critic and current Op-Ed columnist Frank Rich heartily seconded him, adding: “Culture wars are almost never about culture, and are almost always more dramatic, more entertaining and more farcical than the supposedly incendiary art works that ignite them. Variety’s Charles Isherwood was hardly alone when he remarked that “the overlaying of the gay material onto the new messiah?s life doesn?t illuminate anything new in the story of Christ. In fact it begins to seem facile and hectoring” concluding that “one sympathizes with the intent, but the execution is unhappily artless.”…

    Vincent Canby in the Sunday edition of The New York Times his hat to McNally and Mantella by giving the play credit for being “a thoroughly professional production.” Tthis turned out to be a backhanded compliment as he went on to describe the overall as having “the teeth-grinding earnestness of an amateur theatrical put on by a neighborhood encounter group.”

  8. When has Steyn ever displayed “libertarian sympathies”?

    I don’t have any striking specifics at the top of my mind, but Steyn has always struck me as small-government pro-freedom pro-capitalism conservative rather than a ranting-about-morality nanny conservative.

    You do have to be careful with Steyn. A couple times I’ve caught him repeating hearsay stories that later turned out not to be true. Of course, he is not alone in this.

    But this is what really earned my respect for the guy: Remember when the cops shot dead the guy in the London subway because they thought he might have a bomb in his backpack. I read something Steyn wrote about this incident. I expected him to take the law-and-order tack: “This is a war against terrorism! You can’t expect to cops to pussyfoot around with a man who may have a bomb. If the cops tell you to stop, don’t run away! That’s a crime of stupidity that carries a death sentence. The guy had it coming. You cop-haters need to stop whining and get serious about the War on Terror and the Clash of Civilizations.”

    However, to my surprise, Steyn was one of the first commentators I read anywhere (outside of Reason) who came down hard against the cops and said they criminally overreacted.

    Ah! I finally found the article here. Although he dismissively soft-pedals the possibility of abuses at Gitmo in passing, he does call the subway shooting “the pathetic public execution of an innocent man.” He makes the point well in one paragraph:

    With that in mind, we turn to Jean Charles de Menezes, the supposed “suicide bomber” who turned out to be a Brazilian electrician on his way to work. Unfortunately, by the time the Metropolitan Police figured that out, they’d put five bullets in his head. We’re told we shouldn’t second-guess split-second decisions that have to be made under great stress by those on the scene, which would be a more persuasive argument if the British constabulary didn’t spend so much time doing exactly that to homeowners who make the mistake of defending themselves against violent criminals. And, if summary extrajudicial execution was so urgent, why did the surveillance team let him take a bus ride before eventually cornering him in the Tube? And:

    … I can understand why a Brazilian might find 61 and overcast no reason to eschew a heavy jacket. So a man in a suspiciously warm coat refuses to stop for the police. Well, they were a plain-clothes unit – ie, a gang – and confronted by unidentified men brandishing weapons in south London I’d scram, too.

    Steyn persuaded me on this case.

    Others disagreed. I found a copy of their criticism and Steyn’s responses here. Take a look. And check out Steyn’s best response:

    I’?m not playing into the hands of anybody. Supporting the war against Islamism does not mean blindly supporting every half-witted act by every official participating in it. It’s incorrect to describe him as an “illegal immigrant”. The government has certainly not categorised him as such. He did not ignore “warnings” — only one warning, from plain-clothes officers — ie, guys in casual dress. And when several men hold a person down and empty eight bullets into his head at point-blank range I don’t know what term one would use other than “execution”. “Self-defence”? The Israelis, who have far more suicide bombers to deal with, manage very often to disarm theirs. At the very minimum, when you inaugurate a hitherto unannounced “shoot-to-kill” by killing some innocent boob it’s gross incompetence.

    The guy took an anti-authoritarian position that he must have known would be unpopular with many of his fans, and he defended it ably. I give him props for that.

    Phil, thanks for clarifying the actual position of the actual, non-metaphorical New York Times. However, any poser can make a phone call claiming to be an outraged Christian with a yearnin’ for murder, but it takes a real man(iac) to actually set fire to something for what he believes in.

    As for the Amazon reviewer you quoted, what the guy basically said was:

    1) I haven’t read the book myself, but I understand that it says Jesus took part in homosexual acts.

    2) This is made up; this is not described in the Bible.

    3) This is a misrepresentation of the life of the person that’s purportedly being portrayed, and that’s wrong.

    As far as I can tell, statements #1 and #2 are true statements. And statement #3 is at least a legitimately arguable opinion. I didn’t see anything in the reviews about burning anything or death to the author.

  9. I meant to edit “Remember when the cops shot dead the guy in the London subway because they thought he might have a bomb in his backpack” to “Remember when the cops shot dead the guy in the London subway because they thought he might have a bomb in his ‘suspiciously bulky jacket’?”

  10. Whether or not one likes Steyn’s politics, he’s usually good for a laugh. I especially like his movie reviews (as humor).

  11. Tim puts lots of links in his posts, but does anyone actually click all of them? I don’t.

  12. “Who gives a shit what you do?

    Comment by: Bama at February 7, 2006 10:45 PM”

    Let me take a stab at this: not you? Boy, aren’t you just the toughest?

    The answer is nobody gives a shit what I do. Incidentally, I wasn’t asking that and I’m not particularly concerned either way. I was asking if anyone actually clicked on the cornucopia of links Tim puts in his posts. Posts, by the way, that are always worth reading (the extra links, not so much, IMHO).

    If you want to rush to Tim’s defense when he didn’t need any defense to begin with, be my guest. For be it from me to stop an Hit & Run commenter from fulfilling their daily obligations of being a keyboard warrior and sanctimonious prick.

    Also, genius, “bama” is slang for loser or dork and no, I’m not making that up. It actually is. The next time you’re busy not giving a shit about me, maybe you could squeeze in a little homework hour to give yourself a title that perhaps a tad more flattering.

  13. If any Danes out there are interested, I should have Iranian, Syrian, Lebanese, Libyan, and Saudi flags, and Arafat Hats? by the end of the week.

  14. hm. that’s supposed to be a TM, not a “?.”

  15. Not a Bama,

    Sometimes I click ’em. Sometimes I don’t.

  16. some jackass: Use “& trade ;” without the spaces (or the quotes) to make a ? symbol in HTML.

    By mastering HTML, you master the world. And when you can snatch this pebble from my hand, you may leave this thread.

    Say, there sure are lots of symbols that you can use. “C?sar.”? ?Ariba!


  17. I sure hope this works?

    Preview? says it does, but I Previewed? last time too.

  18. Excellent, Grasshopper. Your training will be complete when you can produce your copyright and trademark registration symbols: ? and ?.

  19. Steyn didn’t write that they liked the play, he wrote that they considered Terence McNally “brave” and “provocative”. Even Charles Isherwood wrote (accoring to Tim’s post) “one sympathizes with the intent”.

  20. I think Steyn’s implication was clear, Russ: “That Liberal Media loves those who offend Christians, who are by the way unprovokable.” He was, obviously, wrong on both counts with his specific example: The arts world did not rush to praise McNally’s play, and Christians were provoked to the point of offering death threats. Perhaps he should have sought out a better one.

  21. Phil,

    Steyn’s implication is clear: shutting down a bad play for a few days while metal detectors are installed is not the same as completely shutting down the play. They’re not scared shitless of provoking Christians, but they are scared shitless of provoking Muslims. It ain’t cultural sensitivity, it’s fear of being killed. Certainly one group is more provokable than the other.

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