Well, Maybe It's A Gradual Wind-Down

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Is the intoonfadah winding down, as I guessed yesterday? It's dropping off the front page, but things are still pretty hot: A 14-year-old boy was shot by police during a protest in Somalia. Four people were killed in protests in Afghanistan—though these protests, like others, may be more about local issues than the cartoon flap. Meanwhile, a South African court has prohibited republication of the cartoons, and Ferial Haffajee, editor of the Mail and Guardian, receives death threats for having reprinted one of the cartoons as an illustration to a news story. In the UK, politicians are looking to punish protesters who issued "direct incitements to violence" last week; one Omar Khayam (last scene getting mega-props from the literati for his Rubaiyat) explains why he dressed like a suicide bomber at last week's festivities. And as Jacob noted below, people trying to kill innocent Danes are at least being civilized about it.

Daily Kos comes up with a novel theory: that the Saudi government blew the protests wide in order to distract attention from yet another lousy security performance at the Hajj, during which 342 pilgrims were trampled in the annual stoning-the-devil mêlée. I'm somewhat partial to this theory because it gives the best explanation I've seen for why the issue suddenly blew up after four months of simmering. But there are problems with this view too. A survey of Arab press reactions to the stampede doesn't indicate the Saudis were under an unprecedented amount of public pressure—at least, no more than usual, since the Hajj produces a high body count every year, and this year's total death toll isn't even close to the record.

You may or may not know that there is a pretty long history of images depicting Muhammad in Islamic art. Here's an image gallery that traces the development in eastern and western pictorial history, and shows how the abstraction of the prophet's image evolved. (I wish Hollywood would take a hint for future Jesus movies, and take us back to the glory days when Christ and Franklin Roosevelt were represented onscreen by a silhouette and a disembodied voice.)

Another running theme lately has been the anti-Semitic art that thrives in the Arab and Islamic media, with nobody calling a foul. Here's a gallery of that kind of stuff. The funniest gag on this theme has been at a site called Filibustercartoons.com:

Speaking of this kind of having-your-cake-and-eating-it-too critique of anti-Semitism, here's the best evidence that the furor is dying down. After many interesting emails about my intoonfadah opus, I'm finally starting to get hotmail messages from real or fake Nazis that go like this: How's this for "free speech" the hollocaust is a lie.the biggest deception ever publish that and see what the jews do to your career! And once those volks show up, the topic has definitely jumped the shark. Allah Makun.

Updates:

Pakistan's biggest protest yet draws 5,000 people.

Austrian and Danish embassies attacked in Teheran.

Palestinian police break up protest at EU office in Gaza City.

Omar Khayyam's a crack dealer, and he's really, really sorry.

Muslim Council of Britain calls for incitement prosecution of protesters who made ominous 7/7 references.

Philly Inquirer becomes first U.S. paper to publish cartoons, draws a peaceful protest of about two dozen.

Iran's most popular paper will sponsor Holocaust-cartoon competition. Art Spiegelman, call your agent.

Wind-down/non-wind-down factor: A push. Several of these are peaceful demos, and the Holocaust thing, though grotesque, is non-violent.

NEXT: State Eye for the Homophobe Guy

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  1. wow, that guy look just like jon stewart.

  2. Tim, you are tireless and remarkably productive. I hope you are right about the wind down but I am afraid that you are not. Somebody is out to make sure that all expectations are exceeded.

    Sorry for the looong link but I am quotaed:
    http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3212064,00.html

    Iran’s most popular daily newspaper, Hamshahri, is set to initiate a Holocaust cartoon contest in what it says is a response to cartoons disparaging Islam’s prophet Muhammad published in a Danish newspaper.

    “This will be an international cartoon competition on the topic of the Holocaust,” said Farid Mortazawi, the paper’s graphic editor.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/frontpage/story/0,,1704032,00.html

    Muslim protesters infuriated by cartoons depicting the prophet Muhammad raised the diplomatic stakes last night as Iran’s best-selling newspaper announced it would retaliate by running images satirising the Holocaust.

  3. I think we can officially declare something to be over and done with when it shows up on YOU’RE THE MAN, NOW, DOG.

  4. As a dane I am offended by that depiction. We are not all ofish placid oval faced blonds…………..oh wait.

  5. I have a very bad feeling about this…

  6. What’s sad is that any newspaper editor in the middle east that publishes this cartoon will likely get fired, if not worse.

    But perhaps the Europeans will publish it and the European Muslims will see it and go: “hmmmmmmm, I resemble that remark”.

  7. Maybe the Muslims are just getting psyched up for the Olympics. After all, the Nordic countries usually own everyone in those games.

  8. For what it’s worth, at least one blogger uses one of the Danish cartoons as his avatar.

  9. I’m finally starting to get hotmail messages from real or fake Nazis that go like this:

    Greetings! Please pardon my intruders, but I am requesting your urgent assistance please. My late grand-uncle was Fiscal Sekretary under Adolf Hitler, who disfortunately both men was killed with in the 1945 change of government in our fatherland. Kindly undersstand that in the courses of the peformanding of his duties, my grand-uncle had amandded a considerable frotune of his personal oversight in Jewish gold equaling to the amount of approximately 3 million dollars American. This is currently resides in a Swiss bank.

    I need your assisting please! I must move the gold or cash equalence out of the bank with speed, before it is paid to various litigizers as post-war settlement. If you cooperately give me your bank account numbers I will arrange trasnfer to your account. For your trouble, I will pay 50% to you for your keeping.

    In order to espedite this transfer, however, I must ask your aid for providing a small fee of $5,000 first in advance as I will not have access to funds until after transfer is complet. Please wire me this transaction as immediately as possible! From this we will both profit, I underscore you. However, kindly comprehend there is little time to lost.

    This situation is completely for true! Awaiting your response with great expection,

  10. The Saudi theory on Koss is interesting. Not only do the Saudis take the focus from their misgandlong of the hajj, they help queada with this and the jihad in general, but they also help the Bush administration.

    A welcome distraction from the spying and other scandals.

    And a rallying cry to keep the Iraq War on course. Give in now and the zombies will get inside the green zone.

    The neocons have made the jihad into a plague of sorts, the suicide squads like zombies storming the barriers to eat civilization alive!

    A delicious wave of fear to ride into the election. Hang 10 duuhbyaists, or 10,000? No matter you have a free reign of terror with your war on terror. No rules of war apply in this battle. The enemy is a wailing horde of monsters.

    Is this all a way to prepare the world for bombing of Iran? Europe’s neocons can ride the wave of fear to win elections and join their nations to the coalition of the willing to bomb Iran.

  11. What I find amusing (in the not very funny sort of way) is that when DANES draw unflattering cartoons about Muslims, Muslims respond by drawing unflattering cartoons about… JEWS.

    Guys, seriously, it’s not always about the Jews. You really need to get over it.

  12. Umm…can’t we all just get along?

  13. Loki, too funny … and true!

    As an amateur cartoonist, that’s only been published a few times (i.e., it ain’t my dayjob), I can say that all cartoonists secretly live for this kind of drama and reaction to our “low brow” art, albeit at a level of indignation that places in between pissed-off populace and below far-reaching fatal fatwa.

    Having seen many anti-Jewish hate cartoons in Arab newspapers that would make Hitler wince, this whole reaction is both ignorant and hypocrtical on the part of the Islamic fundies.

    We can only expect theses “Islamic Scholars” to actually INCREASE in madness, as they start to find all kinds of “hidden anti-Prophet meanings” in Japanese anime, Disney films, etc. much like the Christian fundie morons were looking for “satanic messages” in rock albums of the 1960s and 70s.

    And with many hundreds of millions of brainwashed undereducated impoverished lemmings who react like this to mere toons, we cartoonist will NEVER be without an audience.

    OUR MASTER PLAN IS SUCCEEDING! CARTOONING UBER ALLES!!!

  14. “This cartooning will not stand, man!”

    I was hoping rick barton (sp?) would show up and clarify that this whole thing was planned by Mossad cartoonists or something.

    I do think that Sam Huntington deserves some credit here.

    http://www.alamut.com/subj/economics/misc/clash.html

    “It is my hypothesis that the fundamental source of conflict in this new world will not be primarily ideological or primarily economic. The great divisions among humankind and the dominating source of conflict will be cultural.”

    Although, he could have said that the dominating source of conflict will be cartoons. but he was getting there.

    Has no one here watched the animations on Al Jazeera? They’ve always been pretty good at dancing a fine line. not directly related, however. I’m surprised that dude hasnt gotten more coverage in this context. Maybe he’d surprisingly stand up in defence of provacative cartooning for all?

    JG

  15. The kick-off after a four month lull also struck me as having a specific reason behind it. Based on the initiation of the heavy protest in Palestine and the Kingdom, I think this might have been an attempt by the House of Saud to take some heat off Hamas until it can figure out how to chew what it has bitten. Of course, once the fire’s been lit…

  16. From the Holocaust-contest article:

    Qaradawi has called for “sanctions on countries that published the cartoons in their newspapers. We demand an international law forbidding religions from being humiliated, and we held a rally as a response to these injuries. These are the ways to respond.”

    Qaradawi also condemned freedom of speech, saying: “No one has this freedom. When you drive in a car, you can’t swerve right and left because there are other people on the road with you. You must drive according to traffic laws.”

  17. No one has this freedom. When you drive in a car, you can’t swerve right and left because there are other people on the road with you, also you can’t be a woman. You must drive according to traffic laws.

  18. (Slightly off-topic, but funny): Last night I stumbled upon the Mohammed image gallery Tim linked to in his third paragraph, and wasted a good chunk of time there. Go onto the site and scroll down to the section called “Contemporary Christian Drawings”; the second picture there has a link to a more-insane-than-usual Jack Chick comic book which explains how Islam was created due to a conspiracy by the Roman Catholic Church to deny REAL Christians access to the holy land. Or something like that. (And the Pope, not the Nazis, was behind the bombing of Guernica and other atrocities of the Spanish Civil War.)

    You’d think Muslims would find THAT a hell of a lot more offensive than a cartoon with Mohammed saying “We’ve run out of virgins.”

  19. I have a solution. The angrier parts of the Muslim world should shut off all trade and relations with the West. In turn, we’ll ignore them.

    And there was much rejoicing.

  20. Works for me, PL, but I don’t know how willing Americans would be to adopt a less-oil-intensive lifestyle.

  21. A distraction from the Hajj deaths or from the Hamas victory have been suggested — How about the _Iranians_ as fomentors of the “Cartoon Bloodshed” (as Reuters has dubbed it — http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20060207/ts_nm/religion_cartoons_dc — puts one in the mind of Itchy and Scratchy…) to alleviate the pressure on their nuke program? Seems to me like they have the biggest need of a distraction in the Middle East at the moment.

  22. “It is my hypothesis that the fundamental source of conflict in this new world will not be primarily ideological or primarily economic. The great divisions among humankind and the dominating source of conflict will be cultural.”

    huntington’s right, mr gilmore, i agree.

    also — i’m not sure what the point of citing a gallery of depictions of the prophet is really supposed to be. perhaps, mr cavanaugh, in citing dante’s imagery, you are suggesting that the late medieval crusader’s mentality vis-a-vis islam justifies ours? or that our inability to understand or accomodate alien religious traditions in the past justifies maintaining such a stand going forward? i’m unsure.

    as far as i can tell, this boils down to an issue of cultural respect — in both directions. it’s too easy for us to say why they should respect ours; it’s far less easy, it seems, for us to understand why we should respect theirs.

    what remains in the world of non-westernized society is justified, is it not, in feeling itself under a cultural assault from the west? our economic, political, technical and cultural systems have been mandated to the world over the course of centuries. one can argue about whether that is good, bad or neither — but one cannot argue is that what remains of islamic civility is the last genus of civility on the planet independent of the west.

    previous cultural assimilations sparked great unrest — china from 1800-present is an excellent example, as the gradual adoption of western political and cultural systems in the vacuum created by manchu decadence met with the sino-british opiums war of 1839 and 1856, german incursion into shandong, russian incursion into manchuria, the boxer rebellion of 1900 and finally the cultural revolution within china under mao.

    china went over that span from being the ancient chinese empire of confucian culture to a westernized communist regime run along western cultural lines — with the ancient cultural actively despised and destroyed.

    how are islamic peoples supposed to view that legacy — especially in light of western economic, political and cultural inroads that began in earnest with the discovery of oil in persia in 1908? the mideast has jumped in a historical instant from a political clan system and in some cases outright nomadism to being reorganized into nation-states by british and french fiat; had that order preserved and openly managed by western powers; been subsumed by a wave of advanced foreign technologies; and watched western cultural values change their ancient culture more rapidly than many believed possible. that is all frighteningly similar to the earlier westernization of china.

    are we really to expect no resistance? no opium war? no boxer rebellion? are we to expect the east to simply relinquish their past because we detest our own? i think not. and i think that they will not is why such a triviality as a quite inept doodle can spark this kind of reaction.

  23. What I find amusing (in the not very funny sort of way) is that when DANES draw unflattering cartoons about Muslims, Muslims respond by drawing unflattering cartoons about… JEWS.

    The holocaust is untouchable subject in many Eurpoean countries. In fact, some countries prosecute those who deny or minimize it. So, the point is to ridicule the holocaust and see how far Eurpoeans like ‘freedom of expression’.

    Having seen many anti-Jewish hate cartoons in Arab newspapers that would make Hitler wince, this whole reaction is both ignorant and hypocrtical on the part of the Islamic fundies.

    and how many times did western governments protest the portrayal of Jews in Arab cartoons? Hypocracy is a universal value.

  24. What the heck, Jennifer, I’m sure we’d come up with some way of meeting our energy needs. And the smug satisfaction we’d get would be worth any hardships we’d have to endure, certainly.

    The only other solution is to tell Turkey that they can have the Ottoman Empire back (sans Greece, of course) 🙂 No, wait, there’s also the solution we came up with in another thread–threaten to make and release Muhammad: The Musical (“Muhammad, Muhammad, we love you, Muhammad; Muhammad’s a jihad awaaaay”) if the Arabs don’t submit completely.

    And, of course, there’s my suggestion that we elect Penn and Teller in 2008 and use magic tricks to cow the Middle East into submission. We’re just full of useful ideas around here, let me tell you.

  25. or that our inability to understand or accomodate alien religious traditions in the past justifies maintaining such a stand going forward? i’m unsure. as far as i can tell, this boils down to an issue of cultural respect — in both directions. it’s too easy for us to say why they should respect ours; it’s far less easy, it seems, for us to understand why we should respect theirs.

    Why should we HAVE to “accomodate [read: pander to] alien religious traditions,” Gaius? We’re not talking about people contaminating the Muslim food supply with bacon fat; we’re talking about some damned cartoons.

    How far should this accomodation go? Muslims don’t want people drawing Mohammed, therefore nobody anywhere on the planet is allowed to do so?

  26. or that our inability to understand or accomodate alien religious traditions in the past justifies maintaining such a stand going forward? i’m unsure. as far as i can tell, this boils down to an issue of cultural respect — in both directions. it’s too easy for us to say why they should respect ours; it’s far less easy, it seems, for us to understand why we should respect theirs.

    Why should we HAVE to “accomodate [read: pander to] alien religious traditions,” Gaius? We’re not talking about people contaminating the Muslim food supply with bacon fat; we’re talking about some damned cartoons.

    How far should this accomodation go? Muslims don’t want people drawing Mohammed, therefore nobody anywhere on the planet is allowed to do so?

  27. Jennifer: Eh, oil gets expensive and oil sand in Alberta becomes pretty profitable. Maybe oil shale does too. There are ways around this problem, is what I’m saying.

  28. For the past three years, I have enjoyed trolling this board and watching the self-flagelation over our involvement in iraq. Iraq was a garden, though secular, of the mindset that plauges the world. Though he didn’t fly the building into the trade centers, he sure as hell had a hand in ferminting the hatred and chronic victimhood that has established a worldview bent on destroying western ideals of freedom and democracy. A means to that end is to kill people like me.
    It is creepy to me that there are large numbers of people in several nations who have a axiological process that concludes that “Ain’t `nuff virgins ta go `round,” is on the same level as the Hitler’s industrial genocide that killed 12 million. Not only that, once they reach that conclusion, they kill to attone for thier perceived grievance.
    Apparently there are lots of people with this valuation impediment (hehe, ethically challenged) who live in a particular nation called Iran. This country has a leader who says that the holocaust was a PR campaign and wants one of my favorite democracies in the world, Israel, off the planet. Oh, and they can have the atomic bomb shortly.
    The political problem is that these issues are not neatly encapsualized as nation states. But those Ivy Leaguers at the State Department will still the employ “The enemy of my enemy is my ally” philosophy which gave us Hussein, and Norieaga, and the Shah in the first fucking place.
    But I don’t give a fuck. Though these islamo-fascists will never kill the numbers that a hitler or stalin did, they still pose a risk to our civilization that deserves to be… ahem, ameliorated. I choose marines.

  29. If muslims keep up the protesting, we’ll all miss that awesome crossover where Wolverine teams up with Mohammed to kick Mr. Sinister’s ass.

  30. Did nobody else think the Gunter Von Kurtz thing was funny? I nearly fell out of my little impersonal booth in the library laughing. But I suppose there could be all kind of reasons for that.

  31. are we really to expect no resistance? no opium war? no boxer rebellion?

    Opium War = caused by British government forcing the sale of addictive substances to the Chinese people

    Current brouhaha = Danish newspaper publishes cartoons which Muslim world didn’t even know about until its own imams raised a stink about it four months later.

    I’m not seeing any correlation.

    the mideast has jumped in a historical instant from a political clan system and in some cases outright nomadism to being reorganized into nation-states by british and french fiat; had that order preserved and openly managed by western powers; been subsumed by a wave of advanced foreign technologies; and watched western cultural values change their ancient culture more rapidly than many believed possible. that is all frighteningly similar to the earlier westernization of china.

    Yes, and the people of the Middle East have legitimate reasons to dislike America for doing things like propping up corrupt and evil governments in that part of the world. That doesn’t mean these people are right in launching an anti-Western pogrom over a bunch of stupid cartoons.

  32. How far should this accomodation go?

    would not praising the mocking of the fundamental tenets of islam — such as the law against iconography — be a shallow enough impingement on our universal right to total irresponsibility, ms jennifer?

    or do we *need* to portray this philosopher/poet/scholar, surely one of history’s most influential personalities, as a bomb thrower just to prove that we can, thereby proving that nothing is sacred, nothing is respected, and nothing is of any value at all?

    like it or not, this sort of thing — not the doodle, which is just so much tossed-off trash from the pen of some dumbshit, so much as the outrageous rationalizations of it flooding in from every quarter — is only possible in an society of insult, where anything and everything is detested simply because someone takes it seriously. it’s symptomatic, if you ask me, of a western society that is now nothing more than a theater of the absurd — indeed, one perhaps not worth trying to save from itself.

  33. The whole notion of accomodation is a non starter. Who has to accomodate whom? All I know is that ‘don’t make me upset in any way or I’ll blow things up’ is not an attitude I’m willing to accomodate.

  34. gaius is right that regardless of the actual logic of the request (from both muslim leaders and the vatican, no less) that no one make fun of or otherwise make uncomfortable a religion’s followers*, this mindset is both real and something to be dealt with. of course the entire issue is absurd, but absurd or not, we still have to deal with the nuts and bolts of the response.

    at some point, however, there will be a serious clash – and no, we’re not even near serious yet – because a certain segment of the religious population (and i see it quite a bit in american catholics, especially younger traditionalists) not only feels persecuted, but talk of a retaking of the culture. now, most of them are complete pussies, but i wonder about those who aren’t sometimes. some people here are worried about the mohammadean menace, which is about as silly as a catholic claiming to be persecuted in the united states

    now, a catholic saying they’re persecuted is a laughable – indeed, it is almost transcendentally retarded, but probably a result of a worldview where a being of absolute evil is always trying to fuck with your steeze. but saying this out loud, especially in public in a city where there are immigrants who have escaped actual persecution, is somewhere beyond irony in the great land of farce. what they mean, of course, is that their sensibilities are offended, and that no one takes their pronouncements at face value. boo friggin’ hoo. to which i can only reply – well, try being a libertarian. it’s not easy being blue!

    the short answer, of course, is this: don’t like plurality? kill your neighbors!

    anyhoo, the gallery was interesting because it shows an evolution of iconographic respect; the many of the older items, gaius, were from islamic sources.

    *the presumption here is that they mean of the big three, and not pagans, idolaters, etc. benny certainly didn’t mean respecting homosexuals, secularists, atheists, or anyone else of the culture of death. oh yeah, the culture of death! that’s totally respectful, by the way. as ye give ye shall get, etc etc and so forth.

  35. None of this would be happening if those damn Crusaders hadn’t gotten their asses kicked.

  36. would not praising the mocking of the fundamental tenets of islam — such as the law against iconography — be a shallow enough impingement on our universal right to total irresponsibility, ms jennifer? or do we *need* to portray this philosopher/poet/scholar, surely one of history’s most influential personalities, as a bomb thrower just to prove that we can, thereby proving that nothing is sacred, nothing is respected, and nothing is of any value at all?

    Wait a minute. Ten Danish guys draw some cartoons, a bunch of people riot, burn and kill as a result–and it’s the cartoonists who are being irresponsible?

    Gaius, I doubt you’d ever say that a rape victim in a miniskirt deserved it, and I especially doubt that you’d say her rapist was “victimized” by the sight of his victim’s sexy legs, but that’s pretty much what you’re saying in regards to these cartoons. “Oooh, I was offended by something! Therefore I cannot be held responsible for anything I do afterwards! Surely you cannot expect me to exhibit self-control! It’s not like I’m a grown-up who needs to understand that the six billion other people on the planet are not obligated to tiptoe around my feelings.”

  37. it is telling, also, that no gays, secularists, atheists, pornographers or the like have ever taken a shot at a catholic official for that whole “culture of death” thing.

    it’s offensive – if one were to take it seriously, it might be considered “fightin’ words” – but how much can you expect from a guy who wears a dress but has never been in a cabaret?

  38. link :

    “The Western papers printed these sacrilegious cartoons on the pretext of freedom of expression, so let’s see if they mean what they say and also print these Holocaust cartoons,” he said.

  39. I’m not seeing any correlation.

    you should, ms jennifer. the opium wars were far more than economic — the economics were in britian’s favor long before 1800. they were one of the british imperial wars, justified by the vision of britain as the new rome articulated by men like macaulay and carlyle. that empire-building put the west in the business of subjecting asia to a western political and cultural order.

    the reaction we’re seeing today in the islamic world is against that same intention carried forward in islamic lands and all its manifest consequences. it is a kind of boxer rebellion, as it were — though, plainly, in much different and more teneuous circumstances for the west, which is now showing its advancing age in ways it didn’t then. the confidence of british imperialism that formed the basis of whig history is now the paranoid insecurity of a west that feels itself honeycombed with its enemies and in constant need of a reassertion of its waning dominance.

  40. I’m tired of the shrill and violent heckler’s veto we’ve been giving extremists of all types around the world. I’m tired of our institutions showing no cajones when it comes to defending our principles. Where’s the press on the cartoon mess–shouldn’t they all join together to publish the cartoons (along with an apology and explanation of why they’re compelled to do this for any moderate Muslim readers)? Why couldn’t the State Department keep its trap shut if it couldn’t strongly endorse freedom of speech and press?

    I’m a big advocate of civility and reasoned discourse, but there are times where enough is enough. I’m sorry that we haven’t been perfect, but we’re the good guys here, regardless of our flaws. Just imagine what the more extreme Muslims would do to us if they had our military power, in case you doubt that.

    I have no antipathy towards Islam itself, and I’m sure that even the Middle East will moderate itself in the coming decades. But if we refuse to challenge the extremists’ irrationality and hatred now, then we may very well see a mushroom cloud over a Western city before it’s all over. That’s unacceptable. Standing up for our ideals and for our rights now is better than waiting until we get pushed to the point of a general war in the Middle East. Which, in my opinion, is where things are going.

  41. Did nobody else think the Gunter Von Kurtz thing was funny?

    I did!

  42. like I said, hypocracy is a universal value.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/cartoonprotests/story/0,,1703552,00.html

    Jyllands-Posten, the Danish newspaper that first published the cartoons of the prophet Muhammad that have caused a storm of protest throughout the Islamic world, refused to run drawings lampooning Jesus Christ, it has emerged today.

    The Danish daily turned down the cartoons of Christ three years ago, on the grounds that they could be offensive to readers and were not funny.

  43. All I know is that ‘don’t make me upset in any way or I’ll blow things up’ is not an attitude I’m willing to accomodate.

    first — if one cannot understand that these mobs are mobs, and that they meet with the disdain of the vast majority of muslims just as mobs in the united states meet with ours, there’s a certian blindness that needs to be remedied.

    but i would point out that you yourself are speaking there, mr ligon, in a language of non-accomodation no different than theirs. you’re essentially asserting that it is your inalienable right to lawlessly insult whomever you like in any way you like and walk away guiltless — just as these zealots on the other end assert their right to not be insulted and enforce said restrictions lawlessly.

    is that really the basis of a harmonious society? or are you, overconfident in the universality of a western rational order, inviting violence because you don’t think you will feel its effects?

  44. Did nobody else think the Gunter Von Kurtz thing was funny?

    so did i. quality!

  45. you should, ms jennifer. the opium wars were far more than economic — the economics were in britian’s favor long before 1800. they were one of the british imperial wars, justified by the vision of britain as the new rome articulated by men like macaulay and carlyle. that empire-building put the west in the business of subjecting asia to a western political and cultural order. the reaction we’re seeing today in the islamic world is against that same intention carried forward in islamic lands and all its manifest consequences.

    Did the Danes or any other Western government force Muslims to look at these cartoons? Did squadrons of US fighter pilots drop leaflets of these cartoons over various mosques during Friday prayer services? If so, I’ll maybe concede that the Muslims are justified in being furious. But that isn’t what happened.

    You know, Gaius, as an atheist I was and am still offended by the fact that the first President Bush–a sitting president, mind you, not some low-paid editorial cartoonist–said that since I am an atheist I should not be considered a patriot or a citizen. Damn, that was a rude and bigoted thing for Bush to say. But do you think that I would therefore be justified in leading a bunch of atheists in violent riots and acts of arson? Can I commit various crimes and insist that they are Bush’s fault, not my own?

  46. if one were to take it seriously, it might be considered “fightin’ words” – but how much can you expect from a guy who wears a dress but has never been in a cabaret?

    exactly, mr dhex — no one takes anything seriously in the west. we are living in the theater of the absurd. all is jest!

  47. you’re essentially asserting that it is your inalienable right to lawlessly insult whomever you like in any way you like and walk away guiltless

    Drawing a cartoon is a “lawless insult”?

  48. these mobs … meet with the disdain of the vast majority of muslims

    But not of their governments, by the look of things.

  49. Another thing occurs to me: as a woman, I am deeply offended by Muslim beliefs to the effect that I cannot be trusted to live my own life, that what I say in a court of law is worth only half as much as a man’s testimony, and that I cannot associate with males lest I force them to lose control and become mindless zombie rapists.

    So, Gaius, if Muslims have the right to demand that I treat Mohammed with all the respect they say he deserves, does that mean I also have the right to make Muslims change their view of women to be more in keeping with my own? If they refuse, can I lead all-female riots to burn down mosques, do you think?

  50. “or do we *need* to portray this philosopher/poet/scholar, surely one of history’s most influential personalities, as a bomb thrower just to prove that we can, thereby proving that nothing is sacred, nothing is respected, and nothing is of any value at all?”

    You know, gaius, the whole point would be completely moot if the response of the Muslim world had been a collective yawn.

    This whole incident is nothing more than the overreaction of the sensitive, picked on kid in a high school class writ on a geopolitical scale.

    Some asshole draws a mean picture of the kid flipping out, and then the kid flips out.

  51. gaius is right that regardless of the actual logic of the request (from both muslim leaders and the vatican, no less) that no one make fun of or otherwise make uncomfortable a religion’s followers*, this mindset is both real and something to be dealt with. of course the entire issue is absurd, but absurd or not, we still have to deal with the nuts and bolts of the response.

    i don’t think any thought with such a long and persistent history can be considered “absurd” prima facie, mr dhex. indeed, if no one ever took anything seriously in history, where would we be? likely still lounging in our caves.

    a catholic saying they’re persecuted is a laughable

    well, i might agree with that — but it’s not entirely laughable for a christian to feel decidedly on the outs of postmodern westernism. again, it comes to the point of being taken seriously on your merits as a person or a philosophy or a religion — for that truly is being persecuted, if not by iron maiden then by all other means. the tendency in the west now is to focus not on serious merits but ironic opportunities for lampoon.

    one should not underestimate the threat to civility that attitide poses. when nothing is worthy of real consideration, nothing is considered.

  52. again, it comes to the point of being taken seriously on your merits as a person or a philosophy or a religion — for that truly is being persecuted, if not by iron maiden then by all other means. the tendency in the west now is to focus not on serious merits but ironic opportunities for lampoon.

    So everybody has the right to be taken seriously, and satire and parody have no place in a civilized society?

  53. Wow, gauis, I believe you’ve outdone yourself on this one, actually defending violent response to some cartoons.

    I mean, I hear what you’re saying about someone like me not being accomodating while asking the religious nutjobs to be accomodating, but then again, I’m not rioting and setting fires, so in this case I really do think I have the moral high ground.

    And what of Jennifer’s question about how my reaction, as an atheist, should be? (Apologies if you’ve already answered.)

  54. gaius, the whole point would be completely moot if the response of the Muslim world had been a collective yawn.

    these problems, mr mediageek — radical islam for one, but also the society of insult as a theater of the absurd — pose real threats to our weakening civilization.

    and they emerge not from without but within. i think gilles kepel has done an excellent job in diagnosing the source of radical islam as the slums of european cities — it is a reaction to the juxtaposition of serious-minded eastern muslims into a western secular society that berates the serious. the theater of the absurd *creates* these terribly humorless reactions — i consider those frightening placards that we’ve all seen to be an inevitable consequence of a society that can no longer take anything seriously on its merits.

  55. actually defending violent response to some cartoons.

    for christs sake — can’t anyone analyze anything here without being accused of sleeping with the enemy? i expect a higher level of discourse than this simpleminded tripe here.

  56. i consider those frightening placards that we’ve all seen to be an inevitable consequence of a society that can no longer take anything seriously on its merits.

    Some things do not deserve to be taken seriously on their merits.

    I’m still waiting to see if you think I can lead atheist mobs to attack G. H. W. Bush and his fellow Episcopalians, or if I can lead all-female mobs to attack mosques. Now that I’ve been offended I’m absolved of responsibility for future crimes, right?

  57. satire and parody have no place in a civilized society?

    of course they do, ms jennifer — but if they had a place, there wouldn’t be a problem. as you can see, my opinion is that they don’t have a place here — they are everywhere, in everything, without relief. and that is a serious problem.

  58. Keep in mind that we are in the middle of something, the outcome of which will be yet another illustration of the Iron Law of Human Behavior:

    You get more of what you reward, and less of what you punish.

    If we ‘accomodate’ the Islamist extremists in any way, if we do anything that they will perceive as a reward, then we will get more of what we are seeing now in response to these cartoons.

    If our response to their absurd antics is mockery and widespread dissemination of what they are trying to shut down, well, maybe next time they’ll think twice before trying this back-door sharia crap on us.

    IOW, the only smart long-term response to this crisis is to reprint the cartoons everywhere, and laugh at the idiots who think violence and threats of violence are a legitimate response.

  59. of course they do, ms jennifer — but if they had a place, there wouldn’t be a problem. as you can see, my opinion is that they don’t have a place here — they are everywhere, in everything, without relief. and that is a serious problem.

    What? I have no idea what you are saying. What, then, do you consider to be the proper place for cartoons making fun of a certain modern religion that’s currently producing more than its fair share of suicide bombers, intolerant fundamentalists and misogynists? What would have been the proper place for these cartoons?

  60. But not of their governments, by the look of things.

    indeed, mr rhywun, they are too temptingly useful for governments and even peoples at large in dire need of some effective weapon against the western cultural onslaught.

    of course, they are destined to fail — violence will be met with violence, and nature will succeed over the rational soul. one has to hope that, somewhere between the west and the east, the problems can be met philosophically and spiritually, inducing a change of mindset on both sides. that is a long shot hope, perhaps — but the only one.

  61. Drawing a cartoon is a “lawless insult”?

    clearly, ms jennifer, just because you or i don’t take it seriously doesn’t mean it can’t be taken seriously.

  62. Jennifer,

    You must remember that in gaius’s perfect world, artists are few, and they are outcasts for challenging conventional wisdom. The fact that most people can express themselves without being outcasts in our world is a sign of society’s decline.

  63. What is it exactly that we are supposed to accommodate here? Irrationality? Violence as a means of dealing with mere words? Hatred? Lies? Disproportionate reactions? No religion requires this kind of behavior, and tolerating it doesn’t make us any better. Besides, reasoned discourse by these people would get them a lot further than the current behavior. Western media and other insitutions would and do bend over backwards to avoid offending many people as it is.

    Still, as Jim Morrison said, “The West is the best” 🙂 I’m not happy with a lot of what we do, but we’re mostly right. Especially compared with the alternatives (not counting our past glory days, of course, gaius 🙂 ).

  64. anon

    and how many times did western governments protest the portrayal of Jews in Arab cartoons? Hypocracy is a universal value.

    Looking at the link provided, a lot of those cartoons were anti-Israeli rather than anti-semitic. We can suspect an underlying anti-semitism, but as long as Israel co-opts the symbol of the Jewish faith as part of their flag then that symbol will form part of anti-Israeli cartoons. Is it dehumanising to Jews to portray Sharon as a donkey? Was it dehumanising to the British to portray Tony Blair in a Union Jack shirt as a lap-dog to George Bush, as many in the anti-War movement did? Would portraying evil in the form of a red and white cross be attacking Christians or Danes?

    The ambiguity in the anti-Israeli cartoons allows the creators to claim valid satire of a country’s policy rather than religious prejudice (and there has been condemnation and protest at blatently anti-semitic art within the Arab world, maybe without a riot nobody listens to protest). There was no ambiguity in the cartoons of Mohammed which were intended only to offend. I support in principle the right of the cartoonists to say whatever they like, even things that are blatently offensive, it doesn’t mean I have to be blind to the fact that they were blatently offensive and deliberately so.

  65. I wasn’t accusing you of sleeping with the enemy, gaius, and I apologise if I offended (see, reasonable humans can insult and forgive [I hope] like civilised people, and not issue death threats).

    But sometimes I think that you’re so bitter about the prospects of Western Civ that you go a little overboard in criticising it.

    But seriously, I’ve probably told you you’re nuts on this board at least 3 or 4 times, so is it any surprise I’d still think so? 😉

  66. “There was no ambiguity in the cartoons of Mohammed which were intended only to offend.”

    Yeah, because there’s all kinds of ambiguity in a cartoon that shows Ariel Sharon chopping Palestinian children up with a Swastika-shaped axe.

    This whole bit where people claim that “Well, the cartoons making fun of Israel are less offensive than the ones of Muhammad.”

    That’s a patently subjective statement, and a pathetic way of excusing the murder of people and destruction of property as a valid way to protest a couple of cartoons.

  67. “i don’t think any thought with such a long and persistent history can be considered “absurd” prima facie, mr dhex.”

    slavery? the subjegation of women? physical warfare? spiritual warfare? eschatology? brutality? tribalism? kings? popes? do as i say, not as i do?

    they are “absurd” because phrases like “sick” or “twisted” or “fucked up beyond all recognition” don’t fully sum up the deal. they do not capture the flavor, the essentialism of these things. it is absurd to own someone else. it is absurd to kill people for imagined gains in another realm no one has ever actually seen. it is absurd for a catholic to say “i am being pressured by the culture of death to give up my way of life” when what they really mean is “my way of life is so flavorless and rootless that without everyone else playing along i cannot follow all the precepts i claim to believe in; thusly, we must control how others live, or we cannot live as we wish to.”

    the ironing is delicious.

    i mean, i’m glad it’s old, but lots of incredibly vile things are old. that’s not an argument.

    so i use absurd to describe the actions of some old bat in a dress sitting on a throne of gold in a house made of even more gold (and some very nice pagan artwork) who decries things like fundamental human rights – i.e. the right to marry, the right to live spiritually as one will, the right to configure one’s life according to one’s own understanding of the divine (or not) etc – as a “culture of death” because, and only because, i am fairly certain his rhetorical violence will not transfer into physical violence.

    that is the only reason i would consider such a thing absurd.

    otherwise, mr. gaius, we’d have some serious problems on our hands. i don’t particular relish the idea of a shitty futuristic dystopia where i’m part of a ragtag band of culture of death-ists running from a much larger band of heavily armed eschatologists who honestly believe an invisible personality of unknowable heft is deeply interested in what we do with our genitals.

    that is what might be called “bad.”

    i laugh at it, mr. gaius, because i do not have to face the possibility of having to kill catholics to defend myself. i will not impede their life legally, physically or socially; that there are some who consider the way myself and others live to be impinging upon their life (via some sort of vile magicks or other remote forms of sorcery i cannot claim to understand) is something i cannot help.

  68. “clearly, ms jennifer, just because you or i don’t take it seriously doesn’t mean it can’t be taken seriously.”

    And this justifies destructive rampages?

    Gaius, what if I were to say that your lack of proper capitalization is an affront to me that I find so offensive that you should be relieved of your head?

    Would you then start using proper capitalization?

  69. Some things do not deserve to be taken seriously on their merits.

    i agree, ms jennifer — but my point is that we have invited this irrationalist seriousness by our irrationalist trivializing. we’ll see more of it, too, from without and within for so long as we persist.

    What would have been the proper place for these cartoons?

    i’m saying that cartoons of this type — that is, satire generally — doesn’t have a proper place any longer, as swift did or as the missal satires of medieval jongleurs did. all is satirical; all is jest. satire is not one thing but everything.

    the reaction that we now see out of radical islam would not exist — indeed, radical islam, imo, would not exist — if the west were capable of seriously addressing anything. if it were, some genuine faith might have been invested in western society by islamists who now instead fight what amounts to an insurgency against western globalization. it is this inability to be serious that drives antipathy of the postmodern west (and not just islamic).

    but our widespread view of politics and religion as a tired amoral charade of ironisms has disinterested most of us in the possibility of using institutions to solve human problems — so we don’t, instead leaving them to the perversions of a dessicated management class interested in maintaining economic advantage againt all that may come. one can see why those who feel themselves on the outside of such a thing would find it appalling, i think, and worth opposing.

  70. “the ironing is delicious.”

    Piquant, with a metallic undertexture.

  71. If we ‘accomodate’ the Islamist extremists in any way, if we do anything that they will perceive as a reward, then we will get more of what we are seeing now in response to these cartoons.

    that’s very patristic of you, mr dean, and i’m sure muslims appreciate your condescension to teach them how to behave. i’m sure you’ll make a lot of headway by putting them in a corner for a timeout with a few hundred more jdams.

  72. No religion requires this kind of behavior, and tolerating it doesn’t make us any better.

    no religion requires it, mr liberate, i agree — but being intolerant in reaction is animal advice. there is a reason for this. doesn’t it behoove us to try to understand what it is in order to rectify the problems that threaten us all?

  73. And this justifies destructive rampages?

    who is justifying them, mr mediageek?

  74. Gaius, I’ve got a few dozen American atheists here with me who are still waiting to know if we can riot and burn a few buildings to express our displeasure with the way G. H. W. Bush insulted us all. What say you?

  75. anon: and how many times did western governments protest the portrayal of Jews in Arab cartoons? Hypocracy is a universal value.

    BarryJV: Looking at the link provided, a lot of those cartoons were anti-Israeli rather than anti-semitic

    I think you misunderstood my point. Western governments do complain about anti-Jewish (or anti-Israel, if you wish) cartoons all the time. So, I’m just pointing the hypocracy of the west here and that hypocracy isn’t a middle eastern thing.

  76. So, Gaius, if Muslims have the right to demand that I treat Mohammed with all the respect they say he deserves, does that mean I also have the right to make Muslims change their view of women to be more in keeping with my own? If they refuse, can I lead all-female riots to burn down mosques, do you think?

    Or, if the rioters win this battle, will the day come where our wearing mini-skirts results in violence as well? I mean, mini-skirts (and women holding jobs, keeping their inheritance, choosing their husbands, having babies by themselves) are offensive to Muslims, and we wouldn’t want to offend anyone …

  77. gaius, I’m not suggesting that we pave the Middle East in response. What I am saying is that there is a limit to what is acceptable behavior. If some Muslims are so insecure in their faith that images created by what are, after all, infidel nonbelievers result in violence and hysteria, I feel no particular need to accommodate that sort of irrational reaction. I’m not saying that a newspaper (or any other insitution or person) shouldn’t take care to avoid needless offense, but why should we trade our ideals for theirs? I’ll say it again–I think we have a vastly superior culture, especially when it comes to our political and economic systems, and I’m not willing to concede my values because some people don’t like them.

    Besides, if Muslims really cared about our wayward ways, they’d try to help us see the way to righteousness. Frankly, they’re at least as hypocritical about their faith (generally speaking) as we are about ours.

  78. Western governments do complain about anti-Jewish (or anti-Israel, if you wish) cartoons all the time. So, I’m just pointing the hypocracy of the west here and that hypocracy isn’t a middle eastern thing.

    Western governments may complain about anti-semitic cartoons, but they don’t impose embargoes on the countries where they were published or encourage their people to riot and burn down embassy buildings.

  79. “who is justifying them, mr mediageek?”

    Yourself, evidently.

    And blaming the ubiquity of satire for this is kinda backwards. I mean, maybe if politics and religion weren’t made into amoral charades by, you know, the people who make a living at them, there would be no need to satirize them.

    You’re justification is nothing more than overly-serious dog-wagging.

  80. sometimes I think that you’re so bitter about the prospects of Western Civ that you go a little overboard in criticising it.

    occupational hazard, but i fight it, mr lowdog.

    honestly — reading kepel and olivier roy, i’m convinced of the thesis that radical islam is a western problem in origin, not an islamic one. our inability to address the real ethical and material problems of serious muslims — whose worldview is, postmodern chauvanism aside, a very honorable (if imperfect) vision of a human society of harmony — who live in and interact with as citizens a west that has jumped the shark into perpetual absurdity is the source of these troubles. and this model explains not only the unrest of radical muslims but radicalized proletariats of all types within the west.

    But seriously, I’ve probably told you you’re nuts on this board at least 3 or 4 times, so is it any surprise I’d still think so? 😉

    i’d forgotten, mr lowdog — my apologies if i reacted unexpectedly. 🙂

  81. “i agree, ms jennifer — but my point is that we have invited this irrationalist seriousness by our irrationalist trivializing.”

    yeah, um…no.

    does heresy ring a bell? the flames? the sword? the crucifix?

    were the cathars unserious? no, they were deadly serious. and then they were dead.

  82. “Or, if the rioters win this battle, will the day come where our wearing mini-skirts results in violence as well?”

    Goddammit people, we in the West need to stop joking around, mocking, and satirizing and take something seriously! And a jihad against mini-skirts is where I draw the line. When it inevitably comes to this, I will man the barricades! And I’m dead fucking serious! Now if you’ll excuse me, I have several back issues of Mad and National Lampoon magazines to plow through.

    (Oops, was that mockery of someone’s serious discourse? The decay, it’s palpable. And cursing, too. Tsk, tsk.)

  83. Yourself, evidently.

    come on, now, mr mediageek. i’m trying to autopsy how we got here and what might be done to address our problems — not calling for the west to burn.

  84. a very honorable (if imperfect) vision of a human society of harmony

    I think women who want to be something other than slaves to their husband and gays who want to be something other than executed are a couple of examples of people who might differ with the “honor” of this vision. How “western” of me.

  85. What say you?

    is my testimony really holding you up, ms jennifer? 🙂

    again — my point is not to justify but to analyze and explain.

  86. No, Gaius, you’re not holding me up. I’m just wondering–if I burn down a few Episcopal churches and beat the snot out of some Episcopal congregations, will you be ready to insist that the former President Bush is more to blame than I am? That’s what you seem to be doing in regards to the Danish cartoonists and the riots.

  87. I think women who want to be something other than slaves to their husband and gays who want to be something other than executed are a couple of examples of people who might differ with the “honor” of this vision. How “western” of me

    i agree — ergo, imperfect. but it’s an imperfection that we overemphasize and dramatize out of all perspective with reality (in an effort to characterize the Other, imo).

    clearly, the zealots are zealots. but the vast majority of islamic women find burkha as appalling and unnecessary as christian women find skirts hemmed to the ankle.

  88. Jennifer: Would you consider burning down a few Missouri Synod Lutheran Churches instead? My girlfriend is an Episcopal and I don’t want her caught up in the cross-fire.

  89. “but the vast majority of islamic women find burkha as appalling and unnecessary as christian women find skirts hemmed to the ankle.”

    and gaius, therein lies the rub.

    the decadence you decry is the decadence which freed women from those chains in this country in the first place.

  90. I’m just wondering–if I burn down a few Episcopal churches and beat the snot out of some Episcopal congregations, will you be ready to insist that the former President Bush is more to blame than I am? That’s what you seem to be doing in regards to the Danish cartoonists and the riots.

    i would argue, ms jennifer, that you — like all of us — are a person of your times, disposition and situation — and that you’re incapable of burning down a church of your own reason.

    i would also argue, however, that some in the west are so capable of flouting authority to do so — largely because they, like radical islamists, have given up on western institutional control as a means of solving problems. the ineffectiveness of such institutions that led them to that belief is, at core, a matter of western peoples refuting a serious conviction in them for an ironist’s view.

    that isn’t “blaming” dubya or anyone. it’s just an analysis of the reality.

  91. i would argue, ms jennifer, that you — like all of us — are a person of your times, disposition and situation — and that you’re incapable of burning down a church of your own reason. i would also argue, however, that some in the west are so capable of flouting authority to do so — largely because they, like radical islamists, have given up on western institutional control as a means of solving problems. the ineffectiveness of such institutions that led them to that belief is, at core, a matter of western peoples refuting a serious conviction in them for an ironist’s view.

    So in other words, people raised in Western cultures can be held responsible for their actions, but people raised in the Middle East cannot?

  92. Western governments may complain about anti-semitic cartoons, but they don’t impose embargoes on the countries where they were published or encourage their people to riot and burn down embassy buildings.

    Name one muslim country that imposed an embargo on Denmark. Mulims are boycotting Danish products on their own.

    Oh, and how many countries does the US impose embargoes on? Does the term “Cuba” remind you of anything? The US doesn’t only prohibit its citizens from trade and visits to the Island, they also punish other countries who does.

  93. Name one muslim country that imposed an embargo on Denmark

    Iran.

  94. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/middle_east/4687992.stm

    Denmark’s foreign minister, Per Stig Moeller, told a Danish radio station that he would hold Iran responsible for any damage to the embassy, and was asking for security guarantees for its citizens still in the country.

    But Mr Moeller said he could do little about the trade embargo, under which Iran has banned all Danish imports as well as any other business dealings.

  95. Oh, and how many countries does the US impose embargoes on? Does the term “Cuba” remind you of anything?

    I agree the Cuban embargo is bullshit. But even so, that’s an embargo based on the actions of the Cuban government, not on the actions of ten Cuban private citizens who drew cartoons disrepectful of Jesus Christ or Uncle Sam.

  96. i agree — ergo, imperfect.

    I would say “dramatically, overwhelmingly less than perfect” but OK, point taken.

    but it’s an imperfection that we overemphasize and dramatize out of all perspective with reality (in an effort to characterize the Other, imo).

    Well… unless everything I’ve ever read about muslim countries is utterly wrong, I’m under the impression that being a woman or being gay there rather sucks–unless you agree to get with the program (i.e. shut up, get that clitorectomy, get a forced marriage at 12, and on and on). The “harmony” you perceive in such a society is merely superficial. Under the surface, I suspect there are simmering problems–the same sort of problems that eventually led to greater freedoms for women and gays in the west. I would rather live in a disharmonious yet free society than a harmonious unfree one.

  97. Iran.

    Thanks Jennifer, I hadn’t seen this. I have seen calls for boycotting Danish products from individuals and organizations. This is the first instance where a government got involved as far as I know.

    But even so, that’s an embargo based on the actions of the Cuban government, not on the actions of ten Cuban private citizens who drew cartoons disrepectful of Jesus Christ or Uncle Sam.

    You can make the same claim in this case as well. If you look at the chronology of this cartoons’ ‘crisis’. They were first published few months ago. Diplomats of some muslim countries were trying to convince the Danish government to intervene (the same way they would if someone wrote an article denying the holocaust). The Danish government refused citing freedom of expression. Hence, the escalation that now is getting out of control.

  98. the decadence you decry is the decadence which freed women from those chains in this country in the first place.

    you invoke rousseau, mr dhex. paul wolfowitz would be proud. 😉

    sir — if the established order had for centuries been one which enslaved the majority of its peoples (regardless of gender) against their will, the established order would not have stood for centuries. people of free will are more dangerous than that.

    there is a different dynamic at work — one in which people for generations can submit themselves selflessly to a greater moral order that is not of their making nor perfect in their eyes but which they take quite seriously and in which they see great value. is that slavery? only to a dogmatic or an idiot, if there is a difference.

    lampoon it they did — medieval secular art and its rampant popularity attests to that, as does the subculture of islamic satire. but lampoon and dismiss are two very different things. one could lampoon the medieval ordinary without dismissing christ. can we?

    i think we’ve all but lost the ability to make that distinction. postmodern satire (if it can be elevated to that word) implicitly dismisses everything it touches — all is mere jest. swift could treat christianity satirically (“a tale of a tub”) while remaining a devout christian — an ordained anglican, in fact, who famously devoted two-thirds of his income to charity. our absolutist inability to satirize and yet hold dear costs us dearly, imo, at times like these.

  99. You can make the same claim in this case as well. If you look at the chronology of this cartoons’ ‘crisis’. They were first published few months ago. Diplomats of some muslim countries were trying to convince the Danish government to intervene (the same way they would if someone wrote an article denying the holocaust). The Danish government refused citing freedom of expression. Hence, the escalation that now is getting out of control.

    No, it’s still quite different–the Cuban embargo (which I say again is a load of crap) is in response to something the Cuban government has done, whereas the Danish embargo is in response to something the Danish government did NOT do. Or are you saying that the Danes should completely rewrite their laws to appease Muslim fundamentalists?

  100. that’s very patristic of you, mr dean, and i’m sure muslims appreciate your condescension to teach them how to behave.

    I’d love to teach Muslims fanatics to be good citizens, gaius. Wouldn’t you?

    I would have thought that someone like yourself, who seems to think that too much mockery in the public discourse is bad for the polity, would have no trouble concluding that violence and threats of violence are even worse, health-of-the-polis-wise.

    Since I can’t believe you are arguing that

    (a) Muslims can’t learn to be good citizens,

    (b) violence and threats of violence are a good and virtuous reaction to cartoons,

    (c) we should encourage more violence and threats of violence in the town square as part of our political and civil discourse, or

    (b) by and large, you don’t get more of what you reward and less of what you punish,

    I really don’t have any idea what your problem with my post actually is.

    If you are adopting one or more of the above positions, well, do let us know.

  101. sir — if the established order had for centuries been one which enslaved the majority of its peoples (regardless of gender) against their will, the established order would not have stood for centuries. people of free will are more dangerous than that.

    If I remember my ancient History correctly, the Spartans had more slaves than citizens for quite some time.

  102. unless everything I’ve ever read about muslim countries is utterly wrong, I’m under the impression that being a woman or being gay there rather sucks

    i would indeed argue, mr rhywun, that much of what we’ve been asked to read is indeed utterly wrong — or, shall we say more charitably, recast for our sensibilities.

    being a woman and being gay are two different issues — gays are actively persecuted in places like egypt, where women ride busses alone and wear headscarves.

    as to whether that “sucks” for women or not — you should ask the women. i think the responses would surprise you. some do think it an imposition, one can be sure — but of those i’ve conversed with, most of them feel very comfortable with how they live because they wish to feel a part of their society and traditions.

  103. So in other words, people raised in Western cultures can be held responsible for their actions, but people raised in the Middle East cannot?

    not at all, ms jennifer — but i am a westerner. this is my society. my responsibilities lie here, and this is where my critcisms belong.

    i’m confident that there’s a gaius marius on their side of the cultural divide as well, contributing to his civilization as i am to mine. it’s his job to make these criticisms for islamic culture.

  104. as to whether that “sucks” for women or not — you should ask the women. i think the responses would surprise you. some do think it an imposition, one can be sure — but of those i’ve conversed with, most of them feel very comfortable with how they live because they wish to feel a part of their society and traditions.

    And if they don’t feel comfortable, tough shit for them.

  105. So the point is that we’re not allowed to call “bullshit” on other societies, only on our own?

    Is Mr. Marius actually Juan Cole incognito?

  106. sir — if the established order had for centuries been one which enslaved the majority of its peoples (regardless of gender) against their will, the established order would not have stood for centuries. people of free will are more dangerous than that.

    I’m rather startled by such an absurdly untrue statement as that from you, GM.

  107. “sir — if the established order had for centuries been one which enslaved the majority of its peoples (regardless of gender) against their will, the established order would not have stood for centuries. people of free will are more dangerous than that.”

    the entire history of slavery – in other words, a history of humanity – more or less makes this kinda…wrong.

    you assume people submitted to a social order of their own free will. that is a rather rosy assumption.

    again, i ask you to consider the cathars. the order you mention cannot survive competition, which is why the catholic version of that order had to destroy the cathars. when something crumbles under the weight of being laughed at, how strong was it in the first place?

  108. I really do not understand this notion that we should have respect for other people’s religions.
    For fucks sake! I don’t believe in any of these medieval fairy stories and I certainly feel no special “respect” for people who choose to. Of all the crazy myths, Islam is surely the ugliest, most repressive, and most brutal. I should “respect” the demands of this moronic cult? No. No more than I respect Jews by passing on the shellfish platter when I’m eating out. The nice thing about the Jews is that they don’t threaten to behead me for going to the oyster bar. They may choose to believe in wacky stories but they tend not to kill people for disagreeing.

    Sheesh…

  109. the Spartans had more slaves than citizens for quite some time.

    the model of helotry lasted from c. 640 bc to 370 and the theban invasion — punctuated by constant slave uprisings, insurrections and wars. and this much in a religio-philosophical system in which most men were understood to be slaves by their nature.

    this is vastly different from an example like the respublica christiana, which encompassed all of europe for nearly a millennium with nary a revolt in the record — the first i’m aware of being the jacquerie in 1358, by which time the inquisitional church had rotted sufficiently to fall into the hands of humanists who fancied themselves roman emperors, and had certainly forfeited the moral allegiance of christians — paving the way for the reformation.

  110. And if they don’t feel comfortable, tough shit for them.

    you would have all the people happy all the time, i suppose, ms jessica?

  111. ‘m confident that there’s a gaius marius on their side of the cultural divide as well, contributing to his civilization as i am to mine. it’s his job to make these criticisms for islamic culture.

    o rly?

    I don’t imagine he can make these criticisms too loudly or effectively, considering the potential response.

  112. So the point is that we’re not allowed to call “bullshit” on other societies, only on our own?

    yes, i’d say your criticisms are best directed at self-improvement. there’s plenty to criticize, and it’s vastly more compelling to lead by example than by hypocrisy.

  113. you would have all the people happy all the time, i suppose, ms jessica?[sic]

    I would have people have the right to choose their own destinies rather than have them imposed by those in power. Is that too decadent for you?

  114. i’d say your criticisms are best directed at self-improvement. there’s plenty to criticize, and it’s vastly more compelling to lead by example than by hypocrisy.

    We do lead by example, gaius–when Christians in America get offended by various TV shows or movies they engage in peaceful protests or boycotting of sponsors, rather than mass riots leading to acts of arson and murder.

  115. mediageek

    Yeah, because there’s all kinds of ambiguity in a cartoon that shows Ariel Sharon chopping Palestinian children up with a Swastika-shaped axe.

    It’s not ambiguous in what it says about the artist’s feelings towards Ariel Sharon, but it is ambiguous in what is says about the artist’s attitude towards Jews. I don’t take cartoons about Tony Blair to mean that the artist hates the British.

    This whole bit where people claim that “Well, the cartoons making fun of Israel are less offensive than the ones of Muhammad.”

    It’s not about being less offensive, it’s about the difference between genuine political satire, racism and being deliberatly offensive for no other purpose than to offend.

    I’m not sure if your last comment was referring to me, but I’m not justifying the violence, just pointing out the genuine difference between cartoons that criticise politicians/political policy and those that are just racist.

    anon I agree that there is a difference in the scale of reaction amongst Europeans, but there has been European criticism of anti-semitic art in the Arab world, just not such prominent criticism.

  116. but of those [women] i’ve conversed with, most of them feel very comfortable with how they live because they wish to feel a part of their society and traditions.

    What claptrap – the “noble savage” all over again. How, then, do you explain the enormous amount of immigration to the west and roughly zero in the other direction?

  117. I’m rather startled by such an absurdly untrue statement as that from you, GM.

    the only examples i can find in the record of slave states, mr .5b, are those which are wracked by discord, internal and external, which eventually contribute mightily to their undoing. for every rome — which itself didn’t truly adopt helotry until the second punic war had devastated the campagna — which lasted some four tumultuous centuries on the spartan model from scipio africanus to marcus aurelius, there are a hundred failed spartas which blew apart.

    against that, one has the gregorian christian society that lasted from the 6th c to the 14th with very little popular discord that would even make a footnote for a roman imperial historian.

    as soon as it became clear to europeans that serfdom was not in the service of a moral civilization, the unrest began — and still hasn’t let up, as far as i can tell.

  118. but there has been

    should read ‘that there has been’

  119. “as soon as it became clear to europeans that serfdom was not in the service of a moral civilization, the unrest began — and still hasn’t let up, as far as i can tell.”

    you’re enough to drive a man to marxism, or at least drinking with marxists (which is nearly as bad).

    “yes, i’d say your criticisms are best directed at self-improvement. there’s plenty to criticize, and it’s vastly more compelling to lead by example than by hypocrisy.”

    gaius and i agree here, at least.

    hail the pax lowercasus!

  120. I would have people have the right to choose their own destinies rather than have them imposed by those in power. Is that too decadent for you?

    no, ms jennifer, it’s what i would like to have. the problems is this: the people in this society, unlike earlier incarnations of the west, overwhelmingly choose a selfish chaos over any impingement of holy irresponsibility.

    what is the resolution when the choice of the free is the election of a suicide pact?

    is this what we are condemned to — social death by the introverted freedom of the escapist? great. if it must be that, i’ll start looking for somewhere very isolated in which to live.

  121. the problems is this: the people in this society, unlike earlier incarnations of the west, overwhelmingly choose a selfish chaos over any impingement of holy irresponsibility.

    And yet here you are justifying this selfish chaos on the grounds that we really can’t expect non-violent behavior from people who saw an offensive cartoon, so we should instead suppress the cartoon.

  122. the “noble savage” all over again.

    posh, mr rhywun — tacitus praised just the opposite attributes i’m talking about. this isn’t some rousseauian exercize in emancipation, and muslims aren’t savage. just the opposite in this context — they could teach a vulgarizing west a thing or two about moral law and tradition.

    How, then, do you explain the enormous amount of immigration to the west and roughly zero in the other direction?

    economics, not moral attractiveness. many immigrants hold their noses and fear for their children to come here, but so badly need the money. i have a number of indian friends whose families operate in just this way — stay and work until the kids show signs of westernizing — then send them home to save them from the pox. the moral disdain of the west is palpable, but the economic need undeniable.

  123. ms jessica?[sic]

    good grief — my apologies, ms jennifer. 🙂

  124. And yet here you are justifying this selfish chaos on the grounds that we really can’t expect non-violent behavior from people who saw an offensive cartoon, so we should instead suppress the cartoon.

    YET AGAIN — does no one here have the intellectual capacity to discern between justifying and analyzing? or are we so addicted to emotionalizing our arguments that we cannot imagine explaining a position we would not hold in the effort of understanding?

  125. many immigrants hold their noses and fear for their children to come here, but so badly need the money. i have a number of indian friends whose families operate in just this way — stay and work until the kids show signs of westernizing — then send them home to save them from the pox. the moral disdain of the west is palpable, but the economic need undeniable.

    Yet they never consider that maybe the culture they so disdain is the REASON for the economic superiority. A culture that values an individual more than “social classes” is less likely to squander the intellectual capital of a genius born into the wrong stratum of society.

  126. YET AGAIN — does no one here have the intellectual capacity to discern between justifying and analyzing? or are we so addicted to emotionalizing our arguments that we cannot imagine explaining a position we would not hold in the effort of understanding?

    Did you or did you not previously compare riots and arson over a cartoon to the Boxer Rebellion and the Opium War? And refer to the cartoons as “lawless insults”?

  127. what remains in the world of non-westernized society is justified, is it not, in feeling itself under a cultural assault from the west?

    Comment by: gaius marius at February 7, 2006 10:22 AM

    Justification, or analysis?

  128. Did nobody else think the Gunter Von Kurtz thing was funny?

    Well, I’m glad a few people did. Danka! 😉

    You know my credo (which I stole from Emo Phillips):

    “You know, if I can make just one person laugh … I’m still doing better than Tony Danza.”

  129. again, i ask you to consider the cathars. the order you mention cannot survive competition, which is why the catholic version of that order had to destroy the cathars. when something crumbles under the weight of being laughed at, how strong was it in the first place?

    you know, mr dhex, the first material reaction of the church to the cathars was not conquest — it was the founding of the dominican order. as the church had going back to its conversion of germania, britain and scandinavia, its heretical problems with arianism and nestorianism, its “weapon” was dialectic.

    what happened after that — the crusade, the inquisition — illustrates exactly why no system of society ever devised by man ever long approaches perfection. it was the aftermath of the persecution of the cathars that eventually led to the final corruption of the church and ultimately the reformation. popular revolt against the inquisition began in the 14th c and the precedent set the stage for the jacquerie.

    i agree with you — the albagensian crusade was a onset sign of problems within the catholic institution that were never thereafter truly rectified. the basic source of the problem wasn’t removed until 1870 and the final collapse of the papal states. but the institution has already then presided over the most harmonious extended period of european politics in the history of civility in europe. it failed in the end, as all works of man must; that doesn’t mean it was always devoid of value.

  130. Justification, or analysis?

    justified — as islamic civilization is under cultural assault from without.

    but that is a far different thing from justifying the mobs burning buildings, ms jennifer, and you know it.

  131. moreover, ms jennifer, it is a position that i, as a westerner, can empathize with but cannot hold.

  132. justified — as islamic civilization is under cultural assault from without.

    They are not experiencing cultural “assault.” It is true that a lot of people, when asked to choose between Western culture and Islamic culture, choose the Western–is this because Westernism is forced upon them, or because Western culture is more attractive than Islamic fundamentalism?

    It’s like those Europeans who decry the McDonaldization of their culture, while completely ignoring the fact that if it weren’t for European customers, the McDonald’s franchises in Eurpoe would go out of business. Nobody is forcing Islamic youth to listen to Western music or adopt Western ideals.

  133. Yet they never consider that maybe the culture they so disdain is the REASON for the economic superiority.

    wonderful — the rebirth of whig history. “they’re here because we’re just better.”

    lol — i kid, ms jennifer. i think your view — a very popular one in the west — that freedom from obligation is the key to a utopian existence has the advantage of sycophanting itself to the hubris of our times, but the somewhat larger disadvantage of having been proved wrong repeatedly in history. this isn’t the first bout of individualism in the arc of civilizations. past example — the greeks, the romans, the babylonians, the persians, the chinese — indicates that, whatever temporary advantage the deferment of law in favor of the cult of revolutionary genius presents, it fairly rapidly consumes itself and the civilization with it. genius is as often malevolent as not, as it happens, and is no substitute for the wisdom that accumulates in music of tradition.

  134. wonderful — the rebirth of whig history. “they’re here because we’re just better.”

    What is “whiggy” about believing that, for example, a culture which allows women to compete equally with men might have a better economy than a culture which keeps all women under permanent house arrest? What is whiggy about believing that a culture that allows scientific enquiry (so far, anyway) is more likely to be prosperous than a culture which outlaws anything that contradicts their holy book? What is whiggy about thinking that a culture which allows creative expression will be wealthier than a culture which suppresses it?

    this isn’t the first bout of individualism in the arc of civilizations. past example — the greeks, the romans, the babylonians, the persians, the chinese — indicates that, whatever temporary advantage the deferment of law in favor of the cult of revolutionary genius presents, it fairly rapidly consumes itself and the civilization with it. genius is as often malevolent as not, as it happens, and is no substitute for the wisdom that accumulates in music of tradition.

    So when do you suppose the individualist West will find its economy in worse shape than the economy of the wise and traditionally-motivated Middle East?

  135. good grief

    Linus? Linus, is that you?

  136. My word – gaius sounds like someone who says you can’t have morality without God.

  137. i have a number of indian friends whose families operate in just this way — stay and work until the kids show signs of westernizing — then send them home to save them from the pox.

    And I know just as many immigrants who come here from relatively prosperous societies like Taiwan or Malaysia in order to be more free.

    Aside from a few oddballs, no westerners are going to live in muslim countries for “moral” reasons.

    [they] could teach a vulgarizing west a thing or two about moral law and tradition

    For every example you could possibly cite, I could cite a counterexample that takes away a freedom I take for granted and will not live without. So… we’re even.

    Finally… what Jennifer said. (“Yet they never consider that maybe the culture they so disdain is the REASON for the economic superiority.”)

  138. Nobody is forcing Islamic youth to listen to Western music or adopt Western ideals.

    actually, we did just yet again send yet another army into the mideast, did we not, to force yet another western political, economic and (we surely hope) cultural order onto these people at the point of a gun? and do we imagine that will be the last?

    i would agree that some muslims themselves have a part in it — but it is an assault nonetheless, isn’t it, even when it is without an obvious leader? it can easily be conceived of as an illness — a virus that turns the infected cells of the organism against the organism itself. it’s not crazy for people to detest that and stand against it just as many frenchmen some years ago reviled vichy collaborators.

  139. I’m just imagining what would happen to the American economy if we adopted the Muslim fundamentalist laws:

    All women (except maybe a few nurses and elementary-school teachers) out of the workforce. Huge loss of GDP and a much greater number of families in poverty.

    All openly gay people dead or at least in prison, rather than working, paying taxes and contributing to the economy. More loss of GDP.

    Good-bye to the entire entertainment industry (one of the few in which this country has a trade surplus rather than a trade deficit).

    Good-bye to contraception, hello to more families forced to have children they cannot afford. More poverty.

    But yeah, Gaius is right–it’s insane to think that cultural differences might explain why Western countries are wealthier than Islamic fundamentalist shitholes.

  140. actually, we did just yet again send yet another army into the mideast, did we not, to force yet another western political, economic and (we surely hope) cultural order onto these people at the point of a gun? and do we imagine that will be the last?

    We did send an army over there, and I still oppose the Iraq war. But I haven’t heard of soldiers forcing people to watch Western TV or movies, listen to Western music or wear Western clothes.

  141. So when do you suppose the individualist West will find its economy in worse shape than the economy of the wise and traditionally-motivated Middle East?

    lol — a false dichotomy, but i think we’re in for very serious trouble much sooner than we seem to presume. there are good reasons to believe, imo — without knowing the future, of course — that if a universal state is ever to be arranged for the west beyond that which britain endowed us, it will be a westernized chinese one.

  142. just as many frenchmen some years ago reviled vichy collaborators.

    I call false analogy on you Gaius. I could just as easily say that the fundamentalist muslim reaction to the AMerican forces in Iraq and Afghanistan are similar to the plantation owner’s telling their slaves that the Union army was attempting to destroy their “southern culture”. That some of the slaves were so cowed as to be obsequious to the plantation owners hardly makes their case.

  143. there are good reasons to believe, imo — without knowing the future, of course — that if a universal state is ever to be arranged for the west beyond that which britain endowed us, it will be a westernized chinese one.

    I can live with that. No pointless & arbitrary dietary restrictions, spiritual wingnuttery is relatively harmless, and intellectualism is praised rather than condemned. I’ll probably have to go back in the closet… unless we westernize ’em some more first.

  144. I’m just imagining what would happen to the American economy if we adopted the Muslim fundamentalist laws

    is our economy the point of our existence, ms jennifer?

  145. That does it, I conclude that Gaius is Juan Cole.

  146. i’m confident that there’s a gaius marius on their side of the cultural divide as well, contributing to his civilization as i am to mine. it’s his job to make these criticisms for islamic culture

    Well, there was, but they executed him.

    Gaius, once again writing in obfuscating pseudophilosophical navel-gazing High Academic, in order to say “Don’t blame them – it’s our fault.” Sometimes I’d swear he runs that stuff through the Postmodernism Text Generator before he posts it.

  147. I could just as easily say that the fundamentalist muslim reaction to the AMerican forces in Iraq and Afghanistan are similar to the plantation owner’s telling their slaves that the Union army was attempting to destroy their “southern culture”.

    the civil war did in fact destroy the antebellum southern american society, though, didn’t it, even as it achieved other, better ends? i don’t think it’s just one or the other, mr mk.

  148. Sometimes I’d swear he runs that stuff through the Postmodernism Text Generator before he posts it.

    LOL. My eyes glaze as they pass over some of the more nonsensical passages, but I get his gist.

  149. “Don’t blame them – it’s our fault.”

    more like “we can’t force them to be as we would wish, but we can be as we would wish”. again, it’s far easier to lead from example than hypocrisy. we have much room to improve.

    moreover, mr stubby, this is something of a cop-out. have islamic armies regularly invaded the eastern seaboard and ruled by proxy in order to procure access to american coal? militant muslims and the reasonable folks who deplore their methods but sympathize with their goals are responding to considerable western stimuli.

  150. have islamic armies regularly invaded the eastern seaboard and ruled by proxy in order to procure access to american coal?

    Nope–because they were stopped at Vienna.

  151. is our economy the point of our existence, ms jennifer?

    No, but you’re the one who said that the economy is the only reason any Muslims bother to immigrate here. So we must be doing SOMETHING right.

    Do you agree, though, that fundamentalist laws may have something to do with the poor shape of fundamentalist economies?

  152. because they were stopped at Vienna

    and long before that, at poitiers. but what is that — a justification for the animal-nature school of politics? “don’t stop until the map is clean”? is all we hope for endless struggle?

  153. have islamic armies regularly invaded the eastern seaboard and ruled by proxy in order to procure access to american coal? militant muslims and the reasonable folks who deplore their methods but sympathize with their goals are responding to considerable western stimuli.

    Gaius, we’re not talking about people protesting Americna foerign policy, but Danish newspaper editorial cartoon policy. Big difference.

  154. is all we hope for endless struggle?

    NOW you’re beginning to learn from history 🙂

  155. Do you agree, though, that fundamentalist laws may have something to do with the poor shape of fundamentalist economies?

    surely — loaning of money at interest is the basis of western economics.

    but the question is what serves us best? you can bet that the bans on usury which are part of virtually all religious traditions — even cato enjoined against it — have a basis in long experience with the social cost of banking.

  156. Gaius, we’re not talking about people protesting Americna foerign policy, but Danish newspaper editorial cartoon policy. Big difference.

    i agree, ms jennifer, but you can’t decontextualize the response we’re witnessing to those cartoons from the broader cultural issue between west and east and hope to make any sense of it.

  157. but the question is what serves us best?

    Let’s see–a system which doesn’t require knowledge to take a back seat to faith? A system which doesn’t view religious conformity as the highest virtue? A system which doesn’t keep women from reaching any non-maternal potential? A system in which people can differentiate between something worth rioting over and a fucking cartoon?

    In other words, everything that Islamic findamentalist societies are not.

  158. So let me get this straight…the rioting in the Middle East can, at root, be said to be caused by banking?

  159. is all we hope for endless struggle?

    Certainly not, but given that endless struggle seems to be exactly where we are at. What shall we do about it? Retreat into Fortress America? Lapse into imperialism? accomodate until the Caliphate has been restored? (we seem to be doing all of those things to various degrees already)

    I may be decadent and dessicated (come to think of it, I am a bit thirsty), but I am unwilling to accomodate the same kind of zealotry that led to the murder of Pim Fortuyn and Theo Van Gogh.Murders that were committed in Europe by radical immigrants that were unwilling to acculturate (geez, is that even a word?). Noone asked these immigrants to be completely assimilated, they just needed to accomodate some simple cultural biases that are prevalent in western societies like “Don’t murder people that offend you”.

  160. “Mulims are boycotting Danish products on their own.”

    Well, not quite. From the early days of this, stores were pulling Danish products from their shelves unprompted before the major cries for boycott got organized.

    I don’t know about you, but I find that boycotts are more effective and true to their purpose when people or organizations eschew something for an alternative IN THE PRESENCE of that choice.

    Stores pulling stuff pre-emptively really doesn’t align with that.

    Interesting that among the stores doing the pulling were Western chains like Carrefour.

  161. sir — if the established order had for centuries been one which enslaved the majority of its peoples (regardless of gender) against their will, the established order would not have stood for centuries. people of free will are more dangerous than that.

    Numerous slave societies stood for centuries across a wide array of cultures. See: Orlando Patterson, Slavery and Social Death and Junius Rodriquez, The Historical Encyclopedia of World Slavery.

  162. gaius marius,

    BTW, your statement on slavery so patently absurd and ignorant as to call into question your honesty.

  163. gaius marius,

    …justified — as islamic civilization is under cultural assault from without.

    Cultures change, are effected by other cultures, etc. That has been a constant of human cultural development. Now some element of the Muslim population may desire to stick close to an idealized/mythical notion of what their past culture looked like (always a foolish move largely based on invented ideas about the past), but its unlikely to prove successful.

    I always knew you were a nut gaius, especially after you excused the mass murder of the regime of Charlemagne as mere “peaceful incorporation,” but I didn’t realize that you were an apologist for terrorism.

    it’s not crazy for people to detest that and stand against it just as many frenchmen some years ago reviled vichy collaborators.

    You are comparing the Nazi occupation of France to peaceful cultural exchange? I really pity your poor child.

  164. gaius:

    Re: accomodation, the language thereof, and whether I’m inviting violence because I feel secure

    When unpleasant speech is met with violence, the physical aggressor is always in the wrong. The first rule of society is that violence is only justifiable as a response to violence. I tire of the middle eastern argument that the solution to such violence is not to make anyone mad. The marketplace of ideas is the greatest gift society provides, and if mere discussion incites you to violence, you need to be in a cage with the rest of the monkeys. If you have an intolerance for the marketplace of ideas, for the very notion that ideas should be exchanged, you have no place in the modern world. This is a value the west should never compromise on.

  165. sir — if the established order had for centuries been one which enslaved the majority of its peoples (regardless of gender) against their will, the established order would not have stood for centuries. people of free will are more dangerous than that.

    FWIW, and gaius marius, please correct if I’m wrong, I believe his point is that these people were not enslaved against their will – the implication being that slave owning societies only fall when the slaves start to resist their bonds. Are you a fan of Nietzsche, gaius marius?

  166. Oh, also, I should note that I don’t think there is anything gaius marius has said yet that I agree with. I wasn’t trying to defend him, just suggest one possible meaning of his statement.

  167. Sulla,

    Well if he means to argue that slave societies never existed for long periods then he is flat out wrong. After all, the slave society of the English North America colonies/United States lasted from 1607 to 1860. The unfreedom of serfdom lasted in various areas of Europe (its presence shifts over time) hundreds of years. Now if his point is to merely parrot Gramsci about the nature of societal acceptance of particular regimes that’s fine, but that hardly bolsters his communitarianism/corporatism as a worthwhile ideal argument.

  168. Hakluyt – I agree with your statement (although to be honest, I know very little about Gramsci other than the wikipedia article I just read). gaius marius’s sense of history seems very myopic considering his view of european history.

  169. Just as a general response to GM:

    as far as i can tell, this boils down to an issue of cultural respect — in both directions. it’s too easy for us to say why they should respect ours; it’s far less easy, it seems, for us to understand why we should respect theirs.

    Especially in the situation where this all started, I think this is literally true. These comics were commissioned as a statement on how in Denmark Danes (specifically children’s book illustrators) felt unsafe violating a taboo of Muslim outsiders permitted to setle there.

    More broadly, Muslims seem very keep on contact with the West, wanting our money for their oil, our products for some of that money, our entertainment to crudely bowlderize, etc. And that’s just when they stay in their own societies. Especially when they leave for the West, they need to adapt to the idea of what interacting with (and being a part of) a liberal society entails.

    would not praising the mocking of the fundamental tenets of islam — such as the law against iconography — be a shallow enough impingement on our universal right to total irresponsibility

    Not everyone has praised the cartoons. I have no use for a few of them, myself. To more accurately phrase the question, “Would not gouging one of the fundamental aspects of our society be a shallow enough impingement to avoid offending the sensibilities of immigrants to our society? (If we want to go a West vs. Islam scope)” The answer, of course, is no.

    do we *need* to portray this philosopher/poet/scholar, surely one of history’s most influential personalities, as a bomb thrower just to prove that we can, thereby proving that nothing is sacred, nothing is respected, and nothing is of any value at all?

    Frankly, knowing whether one, as a member of a Western, liberal society, can still make a statement that pisses off religious maniacs and people like you without being killed in the street strikes me as a depressingly valuable gauge of how our society stands.

    muslims aren’t savage. just the opposite in this context — they could teach a vulgarizing west a thing or two about moral law and tradition.

    The Muslims that are rioting and threatening are serving as an excellent bad example, yes.

    Or, put another way, God save us from people that serious about their religion.

    YET AGAIN — does no one here have the intellectual capacity to discern between justifying and analyzing?

    Or between either of those and mastubatory explanations as to how it’s all our fault and a sign of our feckless decrepitude? You’ll have to forgive them, though. They’re used to hearing the dumping of responsibility at the feet of the West as part of excusing Muslims.

  170. gaius marius,

    do we *need* to portray this philosopher/poet/scholar, surely one of history’s most influential personalities, as a bomb thrower…

    Portraying him as a killer of Jews would be more historically accurate. Of course turning a blind eye to the historical record is what you are good at.

  171. New York Press editor Harry Siegel wanted to publish the toons which have so upset Muslims and the owners stated that the publication would not allow such. So Siegel and the entire editorial staff resigned.

    More here: http://thepoliticker.observer.com/2006/02/ny-press-kills-cartoons-staff-walks-out.html

  172. Wow – that was truly an amazing display of a moral relativist jerking everyone around in a circle for a very long time.

    And then of course Hakluyt comes in, almost as if he was a plot device – someone evil whom nice folks must call upon to fight even greater evil. (Not that I think he or GM are evil of course – I’m just making an analogy. I’m sure either of them would share their food with me if we were lost in a boat together etc.)

  173. man, the ny press is a fucking mess these days.

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