Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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February 5, 2006
By: Kevin Drum

EVENING ROUNDUP....I'm sure there will be other, more comprehensive tributes in the months to come, but of the Betty Friedan obituaries in the major newspapers today, I think Elaine Woo's in the LA Times is the best.

In a somehow related-and-yet-not vein, the Guardian has a fascinating little story about Harper Lee, author of To Kill a Mockingbird. I always sort of wondered what happened to her, and now I know. Sort of.

And in an entirely unrelated vein, a reader wants to know what my serious take is on the Danish cartoon affair. Here it is: I think the press has an absolute right to print those cartoons. But you knew that already.

Finally, you should certainly read this article in the Washington Post about the NSA's domestic spying program. I've got other stuff to do tonight, but I'll probably have more to say about it in the morning.

Kevin Drum 12:40 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (114)

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Comments

Lovely coincidence. My wife and I watched To Kill a Mockingbird just last weekend. We talked about the film for about ten minutes afterwards, and then my wife, a successful writer of novels herself, went looking for info on Harper Lee on the web. Thanks for the link, Kevin. I have forwarded it to my wife... but only after telling her of the most interesting revelations found within. Fascinating novel, fascinating writer.

Thank you,
HRlaughed

Posted by: HRlaughed on February 5, 2006 at 1:13 AM | PERMALINK

The question isn't whether the press had a right to print the cartoons, but whether they should. Simon Jenkins in the Times (London) says no. These cartoons don't defend free speech, they threaten it:

Despite Britons robust attitude to religion, no newspaper would let a cartoonist depict Jesus Christ dropping cluster bombs, or lampoon the Holocaust. Pictures of bodies are not carried if they are likely to be seen by family members. Privacy and dignity are respected, even if such restraint is usually unknown to readers. Over every page hovers a censor, even if he is graced with the title of editor.

To imply that some great issue of censorship is raised by the Danish cartoons is nonsense. They were offensive and inflammatory. The best policy would have been to apologise and shut up. For Danish journalists to demand Europe-wide solidarity in the cause of free speech and to deride those who are offended as fundamentalists ... who have a problem with the entire western world comes close to racial provocation. We do not go about punching people in the face to test their commitment to non-violence. To be a European should not involve initiation by religious insult. ...

In all matters of self-regulation the danger is clear. If important institutions, in this case the press, will not practise self-discipline then governments will practise it for them. Ascribing evil consequences to religious faith is a sure way of causing offence. Banning such offence is an equally sure way for a politician to curry favour with a minority and thus advance the authoritarian tendency.

The whole thing is worth a read.

Posted by: editer on February 5, 2006 at 1:26 AM | PERMALINK

Of course they should print the cartoons if they want to. What is blasphemy to some is not to others, and when exactly did Denmark agree to adopt Sharia as the basis of their legal system.
The Arabs may whine about sensitivity to other people's faiths all they please, but when are they planning to stop re-distributing the Protocols of the Elders of Zion? Or, for that matter, when will their maps even show the state of Israel on them, instead of labeling the whole area Palestine?

I for one have no intention of kowtowing to these backward, manipulative fucks.

Posted by: jprichva on February 5, 2006 at 1:34 AM | PERMALINK

Harper Lee is descended from Robert E. Lee! Who knew?

Posted by: cld on February 5, 2006 at 1:51 AM | PERMALINK

Editer: Whether the editors involved were wise to print those cartoons is indeed a different question. I wouldn't do it myself because gratuitous religious insults seem tasteless to me. But others disagree. In fact, there will always be others who disagree, no matter what the question.

But that's the whole point, and it's by far the most important point. The right to disagree about what's wise and what isn't and to do it in a tasteless way if that's how you think the point is best made is about as fundamental a right as we have.

Posted by: Kevin Drum on February 5, 2006 at 1:53 AM | PERMALINK

"The scale of warrantless surveillance, and the high proportion of bystanders swept in, sheds new light on Bush's circumvention of the courts. National security lawyers, in and out of government, said the washout rate raised fresh doubts about the program's lawfulness under the Fourth Amendment, because a search cannot be judged "reasonable" if it is based on evidence that experience shows to be unreliable. Other officials said the disclosures might shift the terms of public debate, altering perceptions about the balance between privacy lost and security gained."
--Washington Post

Posted by: cld on February 5, 2006 at 1:54 AM | PERMALINK

As far as I am concerned, editer misses the point. And I think Kevin is mistaken if he think can brush this issue aside and not comment on matters further.

First point: the noises coming out of the mouths of establishment figures in our culture have been pathetic. From Bill Clinton's playing up to his Bahreini audience in typical style ("those appalling cartoons") to the administration's comments read by Sean McCormack and justifiably lampooned by Hitchens.

Second point: The cartoons are tame stuff for a American raised with the First Amendment. The one with Muhammed telling the suicide bombers to stop because he's run out of virgins, rather than be called "appalling," should be reprinted over and over again until Sunni Muslim clerics en masse declare that killing civilians at random for those virgins is against their religion. Until they do, they deserve those cartoons.

Of course satire hurts. It's supposed to, in order to prod to action. And if satire doesn't work, other means are available.

Posted by: JohnFH on February 5, 2006 at 2:04 AM | PERMALINK

The cartoons thing isn't about rights-- it's not as if government is trying to keep them from printing the cartoons.

I'm sorry, but Kevin's failure to see the real issue here is a perfect example of why he's a minor league pundit. You're a smart guy, but people like you go way out of your way to ignore the real issue on a lot of issues like this-- just to avoid confrontation. And that's why the country's in the state it's in today.

The point that p.c. can be taken too far is always a point that can be made. But this situation is a totally different situation-- it's not a good exemplar of the "p.c. can go to far" thing at all. The fact that people are trying to paint it as if it is, is precisely why the whole dialogue on this one is so insidious and dangerous. It's total, obvious race-baiting.

That should be clear to anyone.

Posted by: Swan on February 5, 2006 at 2:15 AM | PERMALINK

Tonight we had a family party for my mother's 82nd birthday. I culled a list of people born on February 4 from google, and we commented on the fact that Betty Friedan was born on Feb 4 along with Rosa Parks and Charles Lindberg.

"I wonder how old Betty Friedan is now? She hasn't died, has she?" we wondered, little knowing! These odd little coincidences.

We started to barter. My husband (Dec 16) was willing to trade Jane Austen to my daughter in exchange for Miles Davis (May 26).

...and on a different topic, I think the Muslim response is totally out of proportion. As my mother taught me, "sticks and stones can break my bones, but words will never hurt me." It's a drawing, ink on paper. I know that Islam believes that no images should be made of Allah, but please. This furious indignation is drawn from the same self-righteous, self-defeating religious frenzy that rationalizes flying airplanes into buildings and killing thousands of innocent people or denying the Holocaust.

Posted by: PTate in MN on February 5, 2006 at 2:32 AM | PERMALINK

Kevin said above: The right to disagree about what's wise and what isn't and to do it in a tasteless way if that's how you think the point is best made is about as fundamental a right as we have.

I think this is a distortion. As editer's quote points out, our enlightened western societies have plenty of sacred cows (race and gender differences, Christianity, Judaism, etc.) and heads would roll (regardless of constitutional rights) in any major newspaper or media outlet that crossed well-defined lines. It's just that we don't include insults to all religions in this list of unacceptable tansgressions.

Posted by: JS on February 5, 2006 at 2:37 AM | PERMALINK

Having seen the cartoons, they are tasteless and as insulting to all Arab peoples of the Middle East regardless of religion as any Uncle Tom, Step'n'Fetchit, watermelon eating, chicken eating charactures would be to blacks. Swan has got it right. This goes beyond freedom of speech back to the social mores of the Old South and the offensive denigration of a whole people for an offensive political social purpose. It was meant to be offensive and should not have been allowed any more than a Minstrel show would now be allowed as a humorous depiction for any entertainment purposes.I am not a Right Wing person and I despise censorship but some things are just wrong and this was one of them.

Posted by: murmeister on February 5, 2006 at 2:42 AM | PERMALINK

I agree with PTate regarding the Muslim response, except for the part about words never hurting. Words can hurt a lot, and in the case of satire, they are meant to. But there is such a thing as satire that is meant to call forth a change of heart precisely by pricking that heart until it hurts.

Swan misses the point entirely. Go read up on the Danish cartoonist before calling him a race-baiter. Go read up on the dozens of editors who have reprinted the cartoons, some of whom have lost their jobs at the hands of management who fear the consequences to their bottom line or to their persons, before implying that they, by reprinting the articles, are race-baiters as well.

This thing has played itself out many times now. Salman Rushdie. Fortyn. Theo van Gogh. Start connecting the dots, please.

Posted by: JohnFH on February 5, 2006 at 2:44 AM | PERMALINK

I always wonder about so called liberals and their sense of values. kevin, I dare you to say that the press has the right to publish cartoons that are blatanly racist, sexist, gay bashing, or any other type of hate print. Do you actually think that indeed, we ought to be able to hate anyone we feel like, and perhaps even let them know, preferably in public? Of course we can hate. But to incite hatred is an odious thing. If you allow this sort of hatred in the press, then what is to stop those who see this as freedom to take it one step further? the reason hate crimes are criminalized beyond the mere act is that hatred has a way of breeding mroe hatred. we cna never outlaw it, but we can prevent it from getting a hearing. Kevin, you amaze me on this one. Does the Press have the right at all times to say anything it damned well please? of course. is it the right thing to do. Of course not. That might have been a better line.

Posted by: chris on February 5, 2006 at 2:45 AM | PERMALINK

Charles Moore in the Telegraph points out that the Muslim demonstrations may not be as spontaneous as they look.

It's been noticed as well that many of those vicious protest signs showing up in photographs all seem to be in the same handwriting...

Posted by: tbrosz on February 5, 2006 at 2:46 AM | PERMALINK

race-baiting?

Since when did Muslim become a race? And exactly which ethnic group was baited? Syrians? Arabs? Persians? Indonesians, Chechens, Bosnians? This is about religion and religion like any other ideology or philosophy should be fair game, or are we now supposed to self censor ourselves because people find satire directed at their ideas deeply offensive?

Posted by: Blaik on February 5, 2006 at 2:49 AM | PERMALINK

My .02 from the other thread:

1) I'm a First Amendment purist. The issue is in no way that any European government should have prohibited those cartoons from being published.

2) I'm a human being capable of empathy. The decision to pubish produced results that should have been entirely predictable. And, knowing this in advance (as any journalist with half a pulse must have), it makes publishing those cartoons an immorally mean-spirited and hateful provocation.

3) The purpose of satire is to entertain, not to edify. The *victims* of satire tend to harden their views in response, not smack their heads and go "sheesh! What a *stone ignorant drooling primitive moron* I was! Thanks, you cool enlightened and terribly witty Western folks, for setting me straight on that!"

Sheesh ...

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on February 5, 2006 at 2:59 AM | PERMALINK

By accident perhaps, Simon Jenkins hits on a key point when he says,

"Ascribing evil consequences to religious faith is a sure way of causing offence."

True enough. The Bible itself is full of invective, sometimes employing satire, against the evil consequences of (misguided) religious religious faith. The people who engage in such invective are called prophets. The people who are the butt of such invective are called hypocrites.

A prophet may be true or false. The problem has always been when someone approaches the truth a little too closely, not the other way around. That's why some of the cartoons are offensive to Muslims: they are too close to truth for comfort.

Whoever brought up p.c. speech is also on the right track. P.c. speech rules always run the risk of promoting dishonesty and dissimulation in the name of inoffensiveness. In the long run, it is best to protect the rights of free speech without apology.

Posted by: JohnFH on February 5, 2006 at 3:08 AM | PERMALINK

Eugene Volokh looks at the Boston Globe's views on offensive speech here. A bit of inconsistency...

Posted by: tbrosz on February 5, 2006 at 3:11 AM | PERMALINK

An apology to plants,

http://www.qwantz.com/

Posted by: cld on February 5, 2006 at 3:21 AM | PERMALINK

rmck1:

the purpose of satire is not merely to entertain. The satirist tradition is long and honorable and has never been for the faint of heart. In Pope's phrase, a satirist ventures to "heal with morals what hurts with wit."

Satirists have always faced intense criticism from a certain kind of person. Swift claimed that "His satire points at no defect / But what all mortals may correct." But of course many disagreed with Swift. You are certainly free to join the company of the cultural despisers of satire. A joyless lot in my experience. What's more, they run the risk of being morally irresponsible.

Posted by: JohnFH on February 5, 2006 at 3:24 AM | PERMALINK

JohnFH:

Cute straw man there. I happen to *adore* satire, and I have no problem taking a joke or two (or five) at my own expense.

But I'm also capable of empathy.

If you honestly think that hardcore radical Muslims would be capable of divining Swiftian wisdom from being ridiculed in the European press, then I think it's you who are living in a world of comfortable self-justifying hypocrisy.

You like the satire because it validates *your* view of radical Islam. Pretending that it's edifying to its victims is like spitting on somebody and telling them it's raining out.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on February 5, 2006 at 3:36 AM | PERMALINK

We don't mind killing muslims but we are against ridiculing them in cartoons. Huh?

Posted by: wtf on February 5, 2006 at 3:40 AM | PERMALINK

wtf:

For the record, I oppose killing them as well.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on February 5, 2006 at 3:43 AM | PERMALINK

Whether or not one agrees with the original publication of the cartoons in the regional Danish paper, how irresponsible was their reproduction in papers across Europe? I see that as clearly a defense of the freedom of expression.

And, by the way, the publication of racist and sexist works is hardly unusual in the United States.

Posted by: bad Jim on February 5, 2006 at 3:45 AM | PERMALINK

JohnFH:

Here's the thing; I don't think those cartoons were all that screamingly funny. They were mildly amusing, but lacked anything that might be called subtlety or visual wit. They were nasty visual snarks, not works of great editorial humor.

I can see a Muslim becoming extremely offended at the one with the 72 black-eyed virgins, because that's an urban legend that Westerners like to repeat to each other. It's based on a mistranslation of the Koran; the original term is "white raisins," which are simply an attribute of the fruits of Paradise.

Nobody blows themselves up to get laid -- least of all 72 times in a row with a different inexperienced woman each time.

Good grief -- and you wonder why Muslims hate us so much.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on February 5, 2006 at 3:51 AM | PERMALINK

Bob,

hard core radical Muslims are not going to be swayed by cartoons that challenge their most fundamental beliefs, to wit, their religious justification of the random slaughter of innocents. Nor will an attempt to hold their hand and explain politely why their words and actions are not appropriate.

I have many Muslim friends. This is a trying time for many, because if they choose to forthrightly denounce forms of Islam which advocate suicide bombing and the like, they risk very much. That's the situation, and it's an intolerable one.

We, as non-Muslims, risk far less by taking on the hard core radical Muslim belief system by satirical means that do fellow but non-radical Muslims. If we fail to take on the "you love life, we love death" people, we become guilty bystanders in our own demise, and we acquiesce to the climate of fear radical Islam creates. We make it that much more likely that voices of reason in the Muslim world will continue to be suffocated. Finally, we sow the seeds of greater conflict down the road.

Posted by: JohnFH on February 5, 2006 at 3:55 AM | PERMALINK

bad Jim:

1) There was no need for those papers to "defend" free speech, because nobody was proposing to take it away. Those were rightist papers and they published the cartoons in a gesture of provocation -- because their editorial positions are anti-immigrant.

2) No series of cartoons illustrating blatantly racist stereotypes would ever get published in a national American newspaper, no matter how right wing. But if somehow this happened -- blacks would go ballistic and mount protests, and rightly so.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on February 5, 2006 at 3:59 AM | PERMALINK

Bob,

the belief about virgins in Paradise awaiting those who die in the cause of jihad is widespread. Not least of all among the jihadists as has been amply documented. Please read a little bit more widely.

Posted by: JohnFH on February 5, 2006 at 4:02 AM | PERMALINK

Bob,

"rightist papers"? Once again, fact check a little bit more. The papers that have published the cartoons cover the whole range of political persuasions.

Posted by: JohnFH on February 5, 2006 at 4:04 AM | PERMALINK

What if the Middle East tinder box ignites and explodes in the days and weeks ahead, with this cartoon fury being a significant if not the major provocation? I mean really explode.

How wise and noble will Kevin's judgment -- and more saliently, that of the the European editors who chose to run these cartoons again -- look then?

This is a difficult issue, and I have found myself swaying back and forth on it. But good god man, at some point common sense about playing with matches in a gasoline-drenched warehouse has got to win the day. At least one would hope.

Posted by: Jones on February 5, 2006 at 4:05 AM | PERMALINK

JohnFH:

I have never heard it once in a press account of a suicide bombing, or about the culture of martyrdom in Gaza, or anywhere, frankly, save from people predisposed to mock Islam.

I *have* read scholars who believe that it's a mistranslation of "white raisins." Maybe that got passed down as mistranslations of ancient texts tend to do and it's in the air in the Occupied Territories.

If you can cite one news source that references it, I'd be much obliged.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on February 5, 2006 at 4:08 AM | PERMALINK

As editer's quote points out, our enlightened western societies have plenty of sacred cows (race and gender differences, Christianity, Judaism, etc.) and heads would roll (regardless of constitutional rights) in any major newspaper or media outlet that crossed well-defined lines.

So what? Such cartoonists in America are free to find a fringe paper that will print their crap, or publish one on their own. Noone is saying that in a free society, people aren't going to get canned for displeasing their publisher.

If such cartoonists cause people to burn embassies or threaten people, these criminals should be thrown in jail.

Also, some in blogdom seem to take these riots as sufficient to condemn the whole religion of Islam. It's unreasonable and ignorant to lump everyone together simply because they share a religion and are offended by the same cartoon.

Posted by: Boronx on February 5, 2006 at 4:09 AM | PERMALINK

JohnFH:

I don't believe that's true. Certainly the original Danish paper is center-right. A Dane who posts here, Ole, admitted as much.

If you can demonstrate otherwise, I'd be happy to see the evidence.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on February 5, 2006 at 4:11 AM | PERMALINK

Here's an excerpt from reportage by John Burns, an exceptionally fine NYT reporter, dated 2002:

"Mr. Khan, a college-trained pharmacist, joined the jihad, or holy war, like thousands of other Pakistanis who crossed over into Afghanistan.

He worked as a medical orderly near Kabul, shuttling to the front lines, picking up bodies and parts of bodies. Of 43 men who traveled with him to Afghanistan by truck in October, he says, 41 were killed.

Now with the Taliban and Al Qaeda routed, have Mr. Khan and other militants finished with holy war?

Mr. Khan, at least, said he had not.

''We went to the jihad filled with joy, and I would go again tomorrow,'' he said. ''If Allah had chosen me to die, I would have been in paradise, eating honey and watermelons and grapes, and resting with beautiful virgins, just as it is promised in the Koran. Instead, my fate was to remain amid the unhappiness here on earth.''

Jihad literally means striving. The Prophet Muhammad gave Muslims the task of striving in the path of God. Whether that striving is armed or a personal duty of conscience is a question causing consternation in the world's 1.2 billion Muslims, and that question goes to the heart of President Bush's war on terrorism.

In the Muslim world, it seems that Osama bin Laden is now a fractured idol, and many Muslim scholars criticize him. Yet he also remains appealing to others, almost as a political Robin Hood."

Posted by: JohnFH on February 5, 2006 at 4:18 AM | PERMALINK

Bob, you wrote:

There was no need for those papers to "defend" free speech, because nobody was proposing to take it away.

There were certainly demands for its suppression from assorted Muslim authorities, Danish goods were being boycotted, which suggests a general understanding that the entire country was responsible for the act of a provincial newspaper, and the editor of France Soir was fired.

No series of cartoons illustrating blatantly racist stereotypes would ever get published in a national American newspaper

But they do get published in local papers all the time. The Danish paper wasn't located in Copenhagen, either. Moreover, outright sexism isn't hard to find even in the national media.

Moreover, the cartoons weren't actually racist. They were blasphemous, and thus belong to a deeply cherished tradition.

I'd also agree that we ought to use the epithet "rightist" sparingly, and reserve it for the hard core authoritarians. I get tired of being called "leftist".

Posted by: bad Jim on February 5, 2006 at 4:26 AM | PERMALINK

Here's a range of newspapers and media sources that have published some or all of the cartoons:

Liberation (French, left wing), Le Monde (French, liberal), Die Welt (German, liberal), La Stampa and Corriere della Sera (Italian, mainstream centrist), BBC (English, equivalent to our public television).

I only cite sources I'm familiar with. Plenty of right wing newspapers have printed them too, as you correctly state.

Posted by: JohnFH on February 5, 2006 at 4:29 AM | PERMALINK

Boronx, I hope that when you say

If such cartoonists cause people to burn embassies or threaten people, these criminals should be thrown in jail.

by "these criminals" you mean people who burn embassies or threaten people, not cartoonists.

Posted by: bad Jim on February 5, 2006 at 4:29 AM | PERMALINK

Danish goods were being boycotted, There's nothing wrong with that besides misguided stupidity.

I wonder if Saudi Princes now take a "Deity Pastry" with their coffee in the morning.

Posted by: Boronx on February 5, 2006 at 4:44 AM | PERMALINK

The Observer has an interesting summary.

I was wrong about the Jyllands-Posten, which is described as "a national newspaper with a circulation of 150,000".

The Vatican and the U.S. government seem to agree that it's not permissible to make fun of other people's religions. I vehemently disagree.

It would be entirely reasonable for Arabs to boycott the Danes, the Dutch, the Brits and the Aussies for their participation in the occupation of Iraq. But this?

Posted by: bad Jim on February 5, 2006 at 5:05 AM | PERMALINK

Juan Cole finally weighs in on the cartoons:

Westerners cannot feel the pain of Muslims in this instance. First, Westerners mostly live in secular societies where religious sentiments have themselves been marginalized. Second, the Muslims honor Moses and Jesus, so there is no symmetry between Christian attacks on Muhammad and Muslim critiques of the West.

He must be thinking of Europe. I wouldn't describe the United States as a secular society where religious sentiments have been marginalized.

Posted by: bad Jim on February 5, 2006 at 5:24 AM | PERMALINK

It would be entirely reasonable for Arabs to boycott the Danes, the Dutch, the Brits and the Aussies for their participation in the occupation of Iraq. But this?
Posted by: bad Jim

there are things which affect people on a visceral level which cannot adequately be rationalized by those not feeling the same. witness the wingnut anguish over clinton and blowjobs.

unfortunately, the right wingnuts, closet racists that they are, will eagerly use the muslim repsonse as an excuse for their bigotry. ... they already feel that they are subhuman, and are certainly more interested in highlighting the response to this insult than they are in actually defending speech.

and for those asshats who feel the muslim response is excessive ... well, I feel that the 22,000 civilian deaths we caused in iraq is a tad excessive response to 9/11 ... you know, given that iraqis weren't even in those planes.

Posted by: Nads on February 5, 2006 at 5:24 AM | PERMALINK

a reader wants to know what my serious take is on the Danish cartoon affair. Here it is: I think the press has an absolute right to print those cartoons. But you knew that already

But should the paper have published them; and should other papers have published them in solidarity with the right to publish but not necesssarily the decision to publish?

Posted by: AlanDownunder on February 5, 2006 at 5:27 AM | PERMALINK

My impression is that Clinton's personal popularity wasn't severely harmed by the revelations about his sexual appetitites, which were hardly unknown before he was elected, and there is anecdotal evidence that oral sex has increased in popularity in the meantime.

What's good for fellatio might be good for blasphemy, too. Or vice versa.

(BTW: 22,000 is far below even the most conservative estimates for Iraqi deaths.)

Posted by: bad Jim on February 5, 2006 at 6:16 AM | PERMALINK

JohnFH:

Thanks for the Burns piece and the list of European papers who
published the cartoon. It's very late where I am (or early)
and I'm tired and thus a little more prone to making snap
judgments that I tend to be. I stand corrected in both cases.

> hard core radical Muslims are not going to be swayed by
> cartoons that challenge their most fundamental beliefs,
> to wit, their religious justification of the random slaughter
> of innocents. Nor will an attempt to hold their hand and explain
> politely why their words and actions are not appropriate.

The only people who can delegitimate the fanatics are their fellow
Muslims. An analogy I like to draw is the resurgence of our own
radical right during Clinton, which culimated in the OKC atrocity.
When the hard right felt completely out of power, it was less
inclined to take on the militia movement, white supremecists and
abortion clinic bombers. When Bush swept into office and the right
felt closer to power, it had the luxury to talk sense into them, and
thus the radical right has pretty much dropped off the radar screen.

> I have many Muslim friends. This is a trying time for many,
> because if they choose to forthrightly denounce forms of
> Islam which advocate suicide bombing and the like, they risk
> very much. That's the situation, and it's an intolerable one.

Zarqawi certainly seems to have worn out al Qaeda's welcome in
Iraq by killing so many Muslims unconnected to the occupation.
It may be that Osama's recent tape was more a play to his home
audience, his hudna offer reassuring them that he's a man of peace.

There are a number of reasons that moderate Muslims feel hard
pressed to take on the radicals. You seem to imply that fear
is a big part of this: "they risk very much." I don't know where
you're located and how close your Muslim friends are to the direct
line of radical fire, but I'd posit as a general rule that Bush has
made this problem much worse than it needed to be by amplifying the
Umma factor in all Muslims, by creating the strong impression that
he's attacking Islam itself by attempting to transform Iraq in
the West's image. The natural inclination of Muslims is to stick
together and mute their criticisms of radicals -- just as Christian
fundamentalists were not inclined to take abortion clinic bombers
publicly to task while "under siege" during a Clinton presidency.

> We, as non-Muslims, risk far less by taking on the hard core
> radical Muslim belief system by satirical means that do fellow
> but non-radical Muslims. If we fail to take on the "you love
> life, we love death" people, we become guilty bystanders in
> our own demise, and we acquiesce to the climate of fear radical
> Islam creates. We make it that much more likely that voices of
> reason in the Muslim world will continue to be suffocated.
> Finally, we sow the seeds of greater conflict down the road.

Well, I disagree rather strongly with this for several reasons.
First, because it's not our struggle. The only people who can
truly laugh at those cartoons are Westerners -- which is why I
found your earlier remarks on the moral sting of satire to be
disingenuous. Even the most liberal, Westernized Muslim has to
feel a pained ambivalence at best about them, as indeed Danish
television anchor Rushy Rashid's reaction seems to illustrate.

Secondly, I think the cartoons are counterproductive to the
process you describe. We are manifestly *not* helping the voices
of reason in the Muslim world with those cartoons; we're helping
to shut them up in solidarity with the unambiguously aggrieved.

This being said, I think Europe had its own set of reasons
for publishing those cartoons, and I wasn't as sensitive
earlier as I should have been to the context of this past year.
The bombings, the killing of van Gogh, the French "car-b-ques"
all took their toll on European tolerance, so I can identify
with the need those editors felt to assert themselves.

But this doesn't make their publication any less
counterproductive in the struggle to help Muslims
purge themselves of radicalism, either, unfortunately.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on February 5, 2006 at 6:33 AM | PERMALINK

My Best:

Jesse Colin Young - Ridgetop
Dead - Althea
U2 - New Years Day
Steely Dan - Dont Take Me Alive
Santana - Smooth
Police - King of Pain
Dylan - Memphis Blues
Sonny Landreth - Speak of the Devil
Pat Benetar - Heartbreaker
Santana - Primavera***
Luna - Tiger Lily
Allman brs - Whipping Post
Lil Feet _ 6 Feet of Snow

Posted by: Michael7843853 G-O in 08! on February 5, 2006 at 7:26 AM | PERMALINK

Regarding the protests: I wonder what the story behind the story is? Who is organizing the protests and what is their objective? This violence is on a pretty grand scale to just be an innocent, local, and spontaneous response to insult.

Remember the Koran in the can protests. I read several reports about background organizers. Are there other agendas to this activity?

There is more going on here than meets the eye.

Posted by: Keith G on February 5, 2006 at 10:29 AM | PERMALINK

This is not about rights. If the government had stepped in and said, "Sorry, you can't print that," then the newspapers would be in a position to complain about whether or not this meant their freedom of speech had been violated.

What actually happened is that the newspapers got to print the cartoons. I've read descriptions of the cartoons, and they're certainly the type of thing that's over-the-line offensive. Talking about whether or not the newspapers have a right to complain here is just buying into the illusion that's being sold about this story. Whichever persons started calling for the president of the country (where the newswpapers were located) to apologize did over-react by asking for that, so that just fed into the fake spin surrounding this thing.

Whether this was racism or "religionism" or a little of both is not something that's worth arguing about right now- we all know what it was. It was the same thing as those fake books that claim that Jews are plotting to take over the world, and as the cartoons printed in newspapers that used to dehumanize different peoples- those of Nazi Germany that dehumanized Jews, and cartoons in Britain and America that made fun of the Irish and the blacks. Printing things like that and then acting incredulous that there's ethnic conflict is ridiculous. It's just this kind of disrespect that keeps leading to ethnic conflict.

What this story is really about is right-wing people who want to try to get society to say, "A single minority religion or ethnic group should be able to be singled out to be made fun of and even insulted by religions and newspapers."

People who want to argue to help those right-wing activists wouldn't have been much help during the civil rights movement. Women and blacks have something more like decent rights today, but it's certainly not because of the contribution of people like you.

Posted by: Swan on February 5, 2006 at 10:56 AM | PERMALINK

RE: the cartoons --

Anyone who sides with the Pentagon over Tom Toles' cartoon has no right to mock Muslims for being upset with the Muhammad cartoons.

Meanwhilve, in the faint hope that Kevin might see this:

The US' GOP-Media Complex is spinning the IAEA's remarks on Iran so as to justify Bush's desire for yet another war -- even though he's botched the Iraq war (a war he should never have attempted), and in fact everything he's touched in his five horrific years in office.

That pinko Communist lefty rag in London, the Financial Times (via TruthOut),reports that the IAEA's El-Baradei has handily debunked the "Iran's Gonna Get Ya!" myth.

If I were running the Democrats, I'd use this, and the fact that polls show that most Americans see Bush as a liar AND a failure, to push this theme:

"Even if there WAS a real, immediate danger -- and the IAEA (who should know) says that there isn't -- do you really trust Bush to be able to fix it?

He made 9/11 possible by failing to pay attention when the CIA and FBI were screaming at him, then he botched getting Bin Laden and the other perps at Tora Bora, and now he's wasted over three years, thousands of lives and hundreds of billions of dollars attacking a country that was Bin Laden's biggest enemy, next to the US. And when it's revealed just how badly he's screwed up, his automatic response is not to learn from what he's done, but to attack the people who revealed his screw-ups.

Bottom line: Bush is such an incompetent dork, he couldn't boil water on a stove even with Julia Child helping him out."


Posted by: Phoenix Woman on February 5, 2006 at 11:13 AM | PERMALINK

Regarding your Harper Lee reference -- you need to read the New York Times more often. That Guardian article is lifted almost word for word from a piece that ran in the Times on Jan. 30.

On a related note: it has long been suspected among some literary types in the South that the real reason Harper Lee never wrote another novel after "To Kill a Mockingbird" was because the book was really written (or heavily edited and shaped) by her childhood friend Truman Capote. It would be interesting if someone could run a computer analysis (the kind of analysis they use on texts purported to be lost Shakespeare poems) of "Mockingbird" and see if there are similarities or parallels to Capote's writing in areas such as vocabulary, syntax, and the like. I'm not trashing Ms. Lee, by the way. I loved her book and think she's a fine lady.

Posted by: Tom In Lake Claire on February 5, 2006 at 11:22 AM | PERMALINK

What this story is really about is right-wing people who want to try to get society to say, "A single minority religion or ethnic group should be able to be singled out to be made fun of and even insulted by religions and newspapers."

I dont see that point. Though, one thing I guess we all must admit is that there are so many actors and motives now involved in this story, a direct line of causality may be difficult to determine.

In fact looking at the two threads here on PA mentioning at this story, I can see this is becoming a Rorschach test.

As I said above, there seems to be more to this story than we are currently aware.

Posted by: Keith G on February 5, 2006 at 11:31 AM | PERMALINK

Kevin, with respect you are so wrong re:cartoons. Juan Cole best sums up what the concept of Muhammad images do to the moslem psyche. Most of Islam is poor, deprived and has been (or continues to be) exploited by the West (or its surrogate locals). It does not see the issue in white, middleclass 'free speech' terms. It see it as another attack on its beliefs and values by an unsympathetic, uncaring and very importantly ignorant Western culture. If it is thought that by continuing to publicize the pictures it will eventually dilute Islam's strength of belief over this principle it is a very big miscalculation. If radical moslems needed a gift to fire up the majority of moderate Islam, this could likely be it. moslems (and they are in the majority) The consequences of this stupid action will be far reaching, perhaps not by immediate bombings but perhaps by the ignition of the first embers of a global Islamic disaffection with the West. While I do not agree with the bulk of this adminstration's policies, the US's condemnation of this folly was absolutely correct.

Posted by: Geoff on February 5, 2006 at 11:31 AM | PERMALINK

Just read the Jonathan Chait's piece in LAT today.

So the number of jobs created during GWB presidency is 2 Million! I had known this, and thought that was a respectable number, but ....

but 2.8 million jobs are in the public sector!

During the same 6 year period of his presidency, Clinton created 18 million jobs.

Anybody who still supports GWB is either a paid shill or an idiot.

Posted by: lib on February 5, 2006 at 11:36 AM | PERMALINK

"And in an entirely unrelated vein, a reader wants to know what my serious take is on the Danish cartoon affair. Here it is: I think the press has an absolute right to print those cartoons. But you knew that already." Kevin Drum.

I assume, Kevin, you also think the Supreme Court was wrong about the cry of "Fire!" in a crowded cinema, on the grounds of Free Speech and Hang the Consequences. Oh for the certainty of youth again, when everything was wonderfully simple and black or white!

I think that, really, as a country of which the only contributions to culture are the adjustable wehrmacht cap, low-rent almost-no-nutrition junk food, and societal violence, it probably behooves us to keep our mouths shut about other cultures.

The US culture used to have a single focus --- piling up the bucks. where did we go wrong. In purely practical terms, we have already done enough harm to our economic future by our actions of the past 30 years, so we should keep our heads done on this one.

Incidentally, those of Jewish and Christian faiths should surely be agreeing wholeheartedly with Islam's position, because both Old and New Testaments are very firm about "images" being verboten.

Christianity was separate from general life at first, became synonymous with general and poltical for a long time and then disengaged itself again. In Judaea Judasim was inextricably entwined with general and political society and is again in Israel. What is so different?

Those who care religiously are perhaps being a little weaselish if they do not at least understand Islam's fury. Me, I am concerned about my social security, so I want us to be able to sell things to as many people in the world as possible, which means we should stop pissing off more and more potential buyers.

BTW to jprichva. The majority of the world's population is at least ambivalent about the existence of "Israel" and as long as it in breach of so many UN Security Council Resolutions, protected by its economic umbilical chord, we the US tax-payers, the legitimacy "Israel's" position on the map is doubtful. You do know, do you, jprichva, that Ancient Israel was a society which existed before the Hebrews/Jews did, and was populated by Palestinians --- a mixture of Canaanites and other tribes, but nary a Hebrew/Jew of course, because they did not exist yet?

Posted by: maunga on February 5, 2006 at 11:40 AM | PERMALINK

Of course satire hurts. It's supposed to, in order to prod to action. And if satire doesn't work, other means are available.
Posted by: JohnFH on February 5, 2006 at 2:04 AM

What means would you advise using against the Joint Chiefs of Staff?

Posted by: Frankly, my dear, ... on February 5, 2006 at 11:48 AM | PERMALINK

But that's the whole point, and it's by far the most important point. The right to disagree about what's wise and what isn't and to do it in a tasteless way if that's how you think the point is best made is about as fundamental a right as we have.
Posted by: Kevin Drum on February 5, 2006 at 1:53 AM

Ah, the right to be tasteless -- Now I understand better some of the things you post.

Posted by: Frankly, my dear, ... on February 5, 2006 at 11:50 AM | PERMALINK

I wonder if any tv station in the US would run this:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6p81I0l7GOE

Posted by: just me on February 5, 2006 at 11:54 AM | PERMALINK

"The Moslem World" indeed. If that isn't a absolutley chilling thought then I don't know one.

Islam was spread across North Africa, India, and into Western Europe (Bosnia anyone?) and so forth at the point of a sword blade. Simple choice for the local populace: "Convert or die."

I don't know about some of ya'll but I'm damned glad that Vienna didn't fall and that the battle of Tours turned back the Moorish invasion which had already swept across the Iberian Pennisula.

The rationale for their resentment is pretty simple. This is a faith which says that as followers of the prophet they are entitled to rule the world - they don't (yet anyway) and they're pissed as hell.

I agree with Chris Hitchens' rather incedenciary piece at Slate.com. Religion and bigoty are two sides of the same coin.


Posted by: CFShep on February 5, 2006 at 12:09 PM | PERMALINK

The problem has always been when someone approaches the truth a little too closely, not the other way around. That's why some of the cartoons are offensive to Muslims: they are too close to truth for comfort.
Posted by: JohnFH on February 5, 2006 at 3:08 AM

Then presumably some Jews found Julius Streicher's characterizations of Jews in Der Strmer offensive because they came too close to the truth for comfort.

This isn't about freedom of expression. It isn't even about the right to be tasteless as Kevin thinks. It is about hate speech. Hate speech is about arousing hatred towards a group on the basis of race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, or national origin. In most places it is illegal, freedom of expression not withstanding. That is why Julius Streicher was hanged.

Directing hatred towards an entire group based on the actions of a few is not only tasteless, it is morally reprehensible.

Not all Muslims are terrorists. Not all terrorists are Muslims. Not all Jews are Jack Abramoff. Jack Abramoff is not all Jews.

Posted by: Frankly, my dear, ... on February 5, 2006 at 12:23 PM | PERMALINK

So you say that a boycott will take time or will not work?
Nonsense.

Idiot conservatives called CBS 3 or 4 years ago in droves to protest the airing of a Reagan movie they did not see but heard that it would not portray Reagan well. They thratened a boycott of CBS and the advertisers.

That did not take long to get CBS to shift the movie over to showtime which had a much smaller viewership.

Many progressives called Sinclair Broadcasting in droves before the 2004 election threatening a boycott of them and their advertisers if they would not take a movie smearing John Kerry off the air. It worked quickly.

If we can get a movie off Sinclair stations then whey can't we call companies in droves that give money to the Republican party and their candidates and Republican senators and representatives and threaten them with a boycott in order to get a comprehensive progressive agenda passed?

Why?


People must CALL their senators and representative AND these companies in droves making the connection between a boycott of these companies and a demand that they want a progressive agenda passed in congress.

Do you want to increase the minimum wage?
Write your senators and representative and demand they increase the minimum wage.

Browse http://tinyurl.com/bl2fa

Do you want to scrap the current meager Medicare Part D discount and replace it with 80 percent medication coverage under Medicare Part B?

Write your senators and representative.

Browse http://tinyurl.com/7zj69

Next time you fax, email or call a senator or representative, include this in with your demand:

Until the legislation or action I demand gets done I will boycott products from Republican contributors Walmart, Wendy's, Outback Steak House, Dominos Pizza, Red Lobster, Olive Garden, Eckerd, CVS and Walgreens, Curves for women health clubs, GE and Exxon/Mobil.

Hold Republican contributors accountable for their officeholders opposition to progress.

Posted by: mighty maximus on February 5, 2006 at 12:26 PM | PERMALINK

Sometimes Jon Stewart's stuff writes itself:
"Muslims throughout the world gathered to demonstrate violently against cartoons that portrayed Islam as a culture of violence."

And how about this white raisin thing? Could that get a little more circulation? Might remove that "couldn't get laid on Earth" demo from al-Quieda.

Posted by: Steve Paradis on February 5, 2006 at 12:32 PM | PERMALINK

Regarding the "72 virgins" as a reward for "martyrdom operations:"

It is absolutely true that Islam has a tradition of the al-Hur al-'Ayn, the beautiful maidens of paradise. (The term was the title of a MEBC miniseries last year which focused on terrorism and its effects on Muslim victims.) This is attested to within Islam in both the Qur'an and various hadith which describe heaven in primarily physical and sensual terms. (In particular, see "ar-Rahman," 55:46-77.)

Luxenberg's revisionist idea about "white grapes" or "raisins" theory came about by way of linguistic comparison to Syriac. The term translates literally into "pure white of the eyes," and is contextually linked within the literature to marriage in heaven. It's generally been considered to mean something like "wide-eyed lovelies."

However, these are described as part of paradise generally, not specifically reserved for persons who die as martyrs. The idea of "72 virgins" comes from hadith, not from the Qur'an, and is represented as "the least of the rewards" (along with 80,000 servants) a believer is given in heaven.

Nonetheless, it is widely believed in folk Islam that suicide bombings and the like are shortcuts to heaven (and let you provide intercession for 70 of your relatives); for many young men, this provides, in concert with religious, ideological, and political reasons, a powerful incentive to die in the service of what they see as defending Islam.

Posted by: WatchfulBabbler on February 5, 2006 at 12:32 PM | PERMALINK

"I assume, Kevin, you also think the Supreme Court was wrong about the cry of "Fire!" in a crowded cinema, on the grounds of Free Speech and Hang the Consequences. Oh for the certainty of youth again, when everything was wonderfully simple and black or white!"

I believe Kevin is in his 40's.

Posted by: Dustin Ridgeway on February 5, 2006 at 12:46 PM | PERMALINK

And in an entirely unrelated vein, a reader wants to know what my serious take is on the Danish cartoon affair. Here it is: I think the press has an absolute right to print those cartoons. But you knew that already.

I find this episode to be very odd and contrived.

I haven't seen the cartoons in question, but am amazed that a private printing of cartoons, no matter how offensive, should provoke such sudden and widespread violence in the Middle East.

I am sure that other offensive cartoons have been printed before. Indeed, I am sure that many slurs on Islam are going on now - say, in Argentina - that are being largely ignored. So why this and why now?

And surely - and I am sympathetic with much of the Muslim cause - even the most devout and committed fundamentalist Muslim must realize that Danes or Europeans in general are not responsible for the printing of cartoons in a private newspaper. If the Danish prime minister had slurred Islam, that would be different.

So there is something disproportionate about this episode.

Posted by: Thinker on February 5, 2006 at 12:46 PM | PERMALINK

"It is about hate speech. Hate speech is about arousing hatred towards a group on the basis of race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, or national origin. In most places it is illegal, freedom of expression not withstanding. That is why Julius Streicher was hanged."

Is 'Hate' Speech not a Free Speech issue?

The ACLU disagrees with you.

Posted by: Dustin Ridgeway on February 5, 2006 at 12:49 PM | PERMALINK

Having seen the cartoons, they are tasteless and as insulting to all Arab peoples of the Middle East regardless of religion as any Uncle Tom, Step'n'Fetchit, watermelon eating, chicken eating charactures would be to blacks. Swan has got it right. This goes beyond freedom of speech back to the social mores of the Old South and the offensive denigration of a whole people for an offensive political social purpose. It was meant to be offensive and should not have been allowed any more than a Minstrel show would now be allowed as a humorous depiction for any entertainment purposes.I am not a Right Wing person and I despise censorship but some things are just wrong and this was one of them.

By hypothesis, let us say that some Italian newspaper were to publish a set of Jim Crow cartoons.

That would, predicatly and understandably - give rise to protests againts the newspaper, boycotts against it advertisers, etc.

However, it would not give rise to burnings of the Italian embassy or attacks upon Italians.

So I am sorry that the Danish cartoons may be offensive; but the Muslim reaction is even more so.

Posted by: Thinker on February 5, 2006 at 12:55 PM | PERMALINK

[E]ven the most devout and committed fundamentalist Muslim must realize that Danes or Europeans in general are not responsible for the printing of cartoons in a private newspaper.

One should always be suspicious of any putative "spontaneous" uprising, and all the more so in the Middle East. But regardless of how this particular contretemps developed, it's worth noting that the idea of a genuinely free press in the Middle East remains virtually unknown, al-Jazeera aside. Many people in the region probably believe that Jyllands-Posten could not have posted such cartoons without the government's at least tacit approval.

Irony of people demonstrating over anti-Muslim cartoons (which is what the J-P project /was/, although quite a few of the cartoons were oriented against the newspaper and its publicity stunt) while they consume government-sponsored media filled with anti-Jewish cartoons: noted.

Posted by: WatchfulBabbler on February 5, 2006 at 12:56 PM | PERMALINK

Contrary to what someone said, the reason the cartoons were published in the first place was, in fact, because of a perception that free speech was being suppressed. Someone had written a children's book on the life of Muhammed and found it impossible to find someone to draw pictures (an artist later agreed to do so -- anonymously).

It was in this context that the Danish paper commissioned cartoons about Mohammed. That seems reasonable, even admirable. The cartoonists were not told what to draw, only that the subject should be Mohammed.

No subject should be off-limits in a free society. No group gets to set the limits on speech about themselves.

The right to mock is fundamental. The hard core of those who have been mocked will never change their minds -- that's not the point. It's the soft core and society at large for which mockery, done well, can illuminate the fundamental error in thinking.

Fundamentally, mockery is nothing more than the right to say that the emporer has no clothes.

Excellent Times (London) opinion piece on this here:

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,1065-2023870,00.html

Posted by: mocker on February 5, 2006 at 12:59 PM | PERMALINK

There's something deeply creepy about ostensible liberal-left people approvingly citing Oliver Wendell Holmes' "shouting fire in a crowded theater" as a curb to free speech, given that Holmes coined the phrase in a case that involved a man passing out anti-draft literature during World War One. What's next, a defense of the Palmer raids?

Posted by: Hank Scorpio on February 5, 2006 at 1:00 PM | PERMALINK

If the government was banning speech or was helping people repress speech, then this would be about rights.

You don't have a "right" to have people buy your speech. People can buy whatever they want.

It sure sounds like the right-wingers are trying to argue that people need to have racist cartoons forced on them. That's the conservative position on this story, and it certainly has nothing at all to do with rights.

Posted by: Swan on February 5, 2006 at 1:06 PM | PERMALINK

Was it Marx who once said (roughly) that the capitalists will sell us the rope with which we hang them? what we see in the West is a total appeasement poliocy towards Osama bin Laden and his goals. He, long ago (over tne years now) saw that the way to power and perhaps paradise was a clash with the west, which was increasingly hemming in the Islamic world. Osama does not recognize nation states in the way we think of them. he only sees the line dividing Islam and infidels. HIS goal has been, all along, a righteous war agains tthe West, with Islamic Law, religion and culture pushing their frontiers. Bush, the classic idiot, thought he saw that, and thought: no, this is a simple solution problem, and i will push his lines backwards. Doing so, Bush, but I'm sorry to say, Americans who voted for him, allowed the Pandora's Box to be opened. We are now engaged in a country that was a shell of its former self, and we are STILL engaged in a country where we did have a decisive victory, but were unab le to capitlize on that (Afghanistan).

As a result of allowing the enemy to set the terms of our battles, and to determine the battlefield, we are now mired in a mess, with Iran, the truly worrisome enemy, rearing up. Osama has created the very conditions we now see exploding in Lebanon, Syria, and all over the islamic world: a true hatred by the man on the street for what WE represent. The Danish idiots on the editorial board who allowed that cartoon to be published have again played into Osama's hands.

This is not about religion. No one attacks religion without getting into it with the believer. This is about a way of life that we are leading that THEY hate. Well, we will now have to defend it. And Bush, well meaning, has paved our road, and it looks like Hell to me.

Posted by: Chris on February 5, 2006 at 1:07 PM | PERMALINK

BTW, these cartoons sound an awful lot to me like the Reich-era anti-semitic pamphelet and newspaper cartoons I've seen reporductions of at the Holocaust museum in D.C.

This is all part of a trend or right-wing people trying to push the envelope on what's allowed w/ this kind of speech-- maybe because it greases the wheels for more fascistic practices to be put into play?

These are the questions we should be asking.

Posted by: Swan on February 5, 2006 at 1:10 PM | PERMALINK

Is 'Hate' Speech not a Free Speech issue?

Actually, it is. There is no first amendment exception for hate speech. But when I said "most places" I was not including the US. Perhaps I should have said "most civilized places" to make that clear. Canada, Great Britain, Germany and numerous other Western democracies ban hate speech. The ACLU's writ doesn't run there.

Nonetheless, there is an ongoing debate about whether banning hate speech undermines a basic tenet of liberal democracy. Unfortunately, much like terrorism, it is difficult to get everyone to agree on a precise definition of hate speech.

But hate speech is alive and well in the US. It is also alive and well in Denmark, where the Prime Minister apologized on behalf of the government for the cartoons but said that he could not apologize on behalf of the newspaper that published them nor could he prevent their publication. The publisher, Jyllands-Posten, has apologized separately.

Posted by: Frankly, my dear, ... on February 5, 2006 at 1:16 PM | PERMALINK

Thinker: Please do that. Put these cartoons in context with the white violence towards Blacks perceived in the 60's 70's 80's 90's and you have the race riots in LA, Detroit, etc. This is some of what is going on undoubtedly with some whipping up by wannabe leaders just as the aforementioned riots were not as entirely spontaneous as perceived. This does not mean that the cartoons were any less racially demeaning to those of the mid-east and does not mean that anger and outrage is not a justified response.

Posted by: murmeister on February 5, 2006 at 1:18 PM | PERMALINK

People are missing the point int he world about this. We are at war. Osama wants us to be at War. The US was stupid enough to go to War. Europe was not, they were choosing a middle ground, which was not part of Osama's plans. Now, in turn, Europe has been dragged into the War. World War 4, is here, and has been for a few years. The cycle of violence is inexorably dragging us further down. It will take a very very smart group of statemen to get us through this. Are the voters in our countries up to the task?

Posted by: Chris on February 5, 2006 at 1:20 PM | PERMALINK

The issue is religious fanaticism. If the islamic street had become incensed over the loss of life in 9/11 one could say they were consistently devout and life affirming. But it did not.

Religion is a mystical belief system. One can buy into it or not--I think its silly.

cycledoc

Posted by: cycledoc on February 5, 2006 at 1:23 PM | PERMALINK

It sure sounds like the right-wingers are trying to argue that people need to have racist cartoons forced on them.

Yes, but surely we can all agree that one should not be in fear for one's life if one prints or writes an offensive cartoon, no? If we go around defending mobs' rights to burn down buildings to revenge perceived slights, then free speech is pretty meaningless. I think we /do/ have a right to not be threatened or killed over our speech.

Posted by: WatchfulBabbler on February 5, 2006 at 1:27 PM | PERMALINK

The issue is becoming one of religion, and mysticism. But the West has chosen its own mysticism. Show me one evangelical Christian who doesn't get that silly glow on their face when they look at the modern world. They want to Second Ocming, and they will help us along the Road to Hell as they get their wish: death and destrcution, minus, of course, the actual Jesus figure coming back to rule us. We're jsut as bad as the other side. no one is willing to admit that Christiainity has been hijacked, much like Islam. Both are not about Peace or Love. Both are about Power.

Posted by: Chris on February 5, 2006 at 1:28 PM | PERMALINK

Watchful: have you ever been the target of hateful cartoons? believe it or not, Humans are programmable. the more you see something, the more you might relegate it to background, and forget the actual thing that it is. Violence on Televisioon is a good example. Right wing or hate cartoons, depicting dehumanization of people works wonders in allowing that behavior to exist. Freedom of Speech? Does no one remeber grade school? we were taught early on that freedom goes with responsibility. when's the last time YOU yelled "Fire" at a movie house, causing a stampeded, and used freedom of speech as a defense? That's what this has become.

Posted by: Chris on February 5, 2006 at 1:31 PM | PERMALINK

I have no sympathy for Arabs complaining about a cartoon as long

as they publish hateful cartoons about Israel and Jews. Do what I

say, not what I do. You see this attitude all over the web,

particularly on the right, but what these people miss is no one

respects a hypocrite. Even when you agree with their positions it

is obvious that they, in fact, do not believe it or they wouldn't

be violating their own words and actions.

Posted by: Name Withheld on February 5, 2006 at 1:41 PM | PERMALINK

Wow, thin skinned American liberals are attacking European social democracies. The American right is finding common cause with liberal French newspapers. The US administration is counseling empathy towards fundalmentalist Islamasists.

And as I look out my window, I notice a lion is lying down with a lamb.

The End Times have arrived!!

Posted by: Keith G on February 5, 2006 at 1:42 PM | PERMALINK

Chris,

Your points are merited, and well-taken: I have no brief for J-P and its attempt to poke a hornet's nest, and at least some of the cartoons privilege a view of Islam that is simply not reflective of the vast majority of Muslims worldwide. Yet they did /not/ commit the functional analogue of shouting 'fire' in a crowded movie theatre, because their works were not intended specifically to cause actions.

Holmes' opinion in Schenck (which, it must be noted, lies on the wrong side of history when it comes to free speech protection, and was in many ways repudiated by Holmes himself in his dissent in Abrams) goes on to state, "The question in every case is whether the words used are used in such circumstances and are of such a nature as to create clear and present danger that they will bring about the substantive evils that Congress has a right to prevent." This is surely not such a case.

Any free society worthy of the name must be willing to tolerate "bad" speech in order to protect the "good" -- the rub being that we are not, except in very narrow exceptions, capable of distinguishing between the two in an objective sense. To paraphrase Voltaire, I will attack the content of such speech but defend the right to have it said.

Posted by: WatchfulBabbler on February 5, 2006 at 1:44 PM | PERMALINK

The issue is becoming one of religion, and mysticism. But the West has chosen its own mysticism.

The West has a great mystical tradition, one that encompasses such figures St. Anthony,St. Theresa, and Thomas Merton. This tradition has inspired great art, music, and poetry. It is Christianity for "madmen, lovers, and poets."

As such, it differs from typical tel-Evangalism, which is far more prosaic. It bears far greater semblance to modern psychology ( see, eg., Eric Fromm ) or to Sufic Islam than it does to Pat Robertson.

Posted by: Thinker on February 5, 2006 at 1:54 PM | PERMALINK

I think Mocker is right. "No subject should be off-limits in a free society." Let's all make demeaning cartoons and stories about Mocker and send them to his/her employer, family, friends, church, associates, newspapers, strangers who might see him/her and any one who might ever run into him/her. Letr us continue this with his her family. after all....."no subject should be off-limits in a free society" and the demeaning of a group of people simply because we choose to demean them is a not off-limits...all those in favour say....Right Wing Asshole.

Posted by: murmeister on February 5, 2006 at 2:02 PM | PERMALINK

I prefer to say 'Committed Liberal who actually believes in free speech'

Posted by: Dustin Ridgeway on February 5, 2006 at 2:09 PM | PERMALINK

Wow, thin skinned American liberals are attacking European social democracies. The American right is finding common cause with liberal French newspapers. The US administration is counseling empathy towards fundalmentalist Islamasists.

And as I look out my window, I notice a lion is lying down with a lamb.

The End Times have arrived!!

Posted by: Keith G on February 5, 2006 at 2:13 PM | PERMALINK

sorry about the double post, jeeez

Posted by: Keith G on February 5, 2006 at 2:14 PM | PERMALINK

Watchful: well aregued, but with a premise that may or may not be true. most rational people would look at the world, and say: it's not so much the Prophet that is the problem, it is his followers who have gone astray. As such, a cartoon depicting the followers with a nuclear bomb, with the Prophet either absent or watching off page, and even perhaps bemoaning his followers, that would have been non inflammatory, and gotten the message across in a much clearer fashion. I think the cartoon IS in fact the equivalent of yelling "fire" in a theater. Does the cartoonist live in isolation? no. most likely, he knew that depictions of the Prophet are extremely insulting and forbidden by true Islam. Most likely, he knew that depicting the Prophet in the trappings of a nuclear madman would incite someone. most likley, he wanted that. No, I must dusagree. In this case, the choice of cartoons went beyond that which can be considered free speech. It was a deliberate attempt to portray an entire religion in a stereotype that does injsutice to most members of that religion. And, msot likely, it has created the very actions it was designed to protest against, BECAUSE it chose ignorance and stereotyping.

Posted by: Chris on February 5, 2006 at 2:15 PM | PERMALINK

So, murmeister, you are exhorting mocker to not demean others by calling him an ass hole?

Posted by: Keith G on February 5, 2006 at 2:18 PM | PERMALINK

Keith: Yes. Ironic, isn't it?

Posted by: murmeister on February 5, 2006 at 2:31 PM | PERMALINK

Like rain, on your wedding day?

Posted by: Keith G on February 5, 2006 at 2:36 PM | PERMALINK

Chris,

I agree with you on everything except the major premise -- that is, I think we both agree that most of the cartoons were deliberately inflammatory, and were designed to provoke a response. (Quite a response indeed.)

Now, there are cases when deliberately provocative speech is considered out of bounds in the legal sense: pornography, for example; incitement to criminal activity; speech that the person knows is likely to lead to a physical response (the "fighting words" doctrine). But there's no evidence that the cartoonists intended to specifically provoke a violent reaction. Beyond that, the entire concept of outlawing "fighting words" is a questionable exception to freedom of speech -- if we decide that these cartoons are out of line, do we also say that Sami al-Arian should be convicted for having said, "Death to Israel?" Should we also say that someone who calls the President a "goddamned fascist" to his face -- see Chaplinksy v. New Hampshire -- is beyond legal bounds? And should we take into consideration the fact that the cartoons did not apply to any one person specifically?

You are absolutely correct in saying that publishing the cartoons "was a deliberate attempt to portray an entire religion in a stereotype that does injustice to most members of that religion" and that "it has created the very actions it was designed to protest against, BECAUSE it chose ignorance and stereotyping." But I think we can say that the paper did something very stupid, demeaning and ill-intentioned, but also defend their right to do it -- at least when the reaction is a wave of violence surely out of proportion to any supposed offense.

Posted by: WatchfulBabbler on February 5, 2006 at 2:44 PM | PERMALINK

Keith:

In fact looking at the two threads here on PA mentioning at this story, I can see this is becoming a Rorschach test.

Yeah, it has been instructive, hasn't it? Some liberals who seem intensely concerned about the feelings of Muslims don't seem to feel that way when Christian values are mocked.

On the other hand, to their credit, many other liberals are consistent either in their views that no religion should be mocked this way, or that all religions should be able to handle this kind of thing without flying off the handle.

For some perspective, Google "Anti-Semitic cartoons" and take a look. This kind of visual abuse has been going on for years in the Arab world, and has gotten very little attention. Certainly Jews have not been burning embassies because of it.

Posted by: tbrosz on February 5, 2006 at 3:12 PM | PERMALINK

Anyone remember the late, unlamented cartoonist "M. Kahil" at the Arab News? Any Jewish mobs ever burn down a Saudi embassy after reading an issue? I thought not.

Posted by: waterfowl on February 5, 2006 at 3:13 PM | PERMALINK

RE: Cartoons

I have to admit, this question is a tough one for me. On the one hand I support free speech as a non-negotiable principle. On the other hand, certain limitations on speech are accepted in democratic countries (i.e. the laws in Germany that ban Nazi groups and incitement of religious hatred).

I'm comfortable with those limitations. Free speech and free press "yes," but incitement to hatred or violence "no." I don't think this contradicts a free press or democratic principles.

The question is, do any of those cartoons constitute incitement of hatred. I think a couple are borderline. And here's another question: Do we distinguish between the private press and the state owned press? There may be certain incitement I'm more comfortable allowing in a private paper than a government paper.

I know that's not satisfying, but I'm genuinely confused by it. The hypocrisy in the Arab world is extreme, if for no other reason than the fact that they publish the most vile anti-Semitic trash routinely and no Arab minister raises a peep.

But that's a separate point. My question is this: Is it acceptable to limit the press if the press is inciting hatred? And if not, then what do you do about the most extreme case, Germany?

Posted by: Jonathan Dworkin on February 5, 2006 at 3:15 PM | PERMALINK

Jonathan,

Someone over at Volokh provided this link:

http://www.tomgrossmedia.com/ArabCartoons.htm

This stuff is by no means "borderline." And yet all the relevant embassies are still standing.

Posted by: waterfowl on February 5, 2006 at 3:31 PM | PERMALINK

Is it acceptable to limit the press if the press is inciting hatred

Who sets the limits, who defines the offense, and who determines punishment?

Posted by: Keith G on February 5, 2006 at 4:02 PM | PERMALINK

There are a lot of logical fallacies and a lot of distortion on this thread. But that's not surprising because people who argue for this kind of stuff do that routinely.

It's not as if all Arabs who are offended or complain also draw, publish, enjoy, or condone Anti-semitic cartoons. By making it sound as if they are, you people are distorting the facts-- basically, making stuff up.

Also, even if we accept 9for the sake of argument) that someone has done something wrong, that does not mean that from then on you are free to do similar wrong things to them. The right wing loves this argument, though; and I think inestead of trying to police or improve their own behavior, whenever they do something questionable (or just fucking wrong) they pretty typically just find someone else who has done something kind of similar in the past and then say, "Well look! They did it!"

As if that has any bearing at all, in and of itself, on whether something is right or not. It's distortion, lying-- the 'moral reasoning' of a manipulator.

What matters is the principle. That's what makes something right or not.

Posted by: Swan on February 5, 2006 at 4:51 PM | PERMALINK

Well, this is a very complex issue but ultimately I think it resolves itself by separating the idea of rights in a free society with expected reactions from an unassimilated and potentially violent cultural group.

If I lived in any of those European countries, I would be solidly on the side of the publishers of those cartoons. I would consider it in pure free speech terms, and consider the issue a defining one for the values of my culture. I'd deal with Muslim reaction by trying to get them to confront the hypocrisy of their own penchant for laughing at deeply racist and anti-semitic cartoons, and making the point that in *this* culture, we hold the Prophet no more sacred than you do, umm, the rights of Jews to go unmolested by inflammatory caracature.

That position is entirely consistent with my civil libertarian beliefs.

But that being said, it is still entirely possible to condemn the publishing of those cartoons as being a counterproductive act in the necessary mission we all share in the West to help moderate Muslims talk some sense into their extremists. Publishing those cartoons sets this project back, because it provokes Muslim solidarity and makes moderates much less inclined to criticize their radical brethren. We have to spend time now arguing with the *moderates* why it's okay in the West to mock the Prophet.

In other words, I'll defend to the death the rights of idiots to be gratuitously offensive, and I'll pound the idiots for saying idiotic stuff that makes a huge problem that much worse.

No contradiction.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on February 5, 2006 at 5:02 PM | PERMALINK

Those whining about the cartoons & rioting over such are behaving like a group of spoiled 4 year old brats

Grow Up !

"...It is in the religion of ignorance that tyranny begins..." - Benjamin Franklin

Posted by: daCascadian on February 5, 2006 at 5:09 PM | PERMALINK

I appreciate the heads-up about the article on Nelle Harper Lee in the Guardian. I missed it in the NYT.

And I can personally avow that, despite her "withdrawal," she was very interested in and encouraging to young writers. I was one of those writers.

Through my teenage years, in the 1960s, I lived in Monroeville. Alice Lee, Nelle Harper's sister, was our lawyer. It was a very small town -- everyone knew everyone. After I went off to boarding school in 10th grade, I began to find my voice as a writer, and sent some of my papers (those with A's) home to my mom. Some of my most treasured possessions are the encouraging notes that Nelle Harper attached to them when my mom showed them to her. During summer vacaction from school, I was a 7am golfer on our 9-hole course, as was Nelle Harper, so we played together from time to time.

She's a lovely lady and very interesting character, with whom I had great affinity. The press always portrayed her as a recluse; she wasn't, just a private person who didn't want the baggage of "fame," and who also was more or less overwhelmed by the success of her first work, and that was enough.

The article is in error where it states that she was a direct descendant of Robert E Lee. The family very well may be (probably is) out of the Virginia Lees, but they are an old family in the Americas with many branches.

Posted by: Ducktape on February 5, 2006 at 5:51 PM | PERMALINK

Bob,

I've enjoyed most of your thoughtful posts on this thread. This, however, stood out as an exception:

"I'd deal with Muslim reaction by trying to get them to confront the hypocrisy of their own penchant for laughing at deeply racist and anti-semitic cartoons . . ."

What evidence do you have that most or all of those protesting the cartoons have themselves laughed at deeply racist and anti-semtic cartoons? Aren't you assuming a form of collective guilt?

Posted by: Joel on February 5, 2006 at 6:25 PM | PERMALINK

Joel:

Well, unfortunately I am. There's no other way to speak about "Muslims" or "the Muslim reaction" (or "Europeans," for that matter) without doing so. The other alternative is to cite personal anecdotal evidence. That's solid for individuals, but it has its own set of problems when extrapolated.

I'm basing it, though, on the prevalence of those sorts of cartoons in Mideast newspapers. Apparently they run often enough to make a reasonable assumption that there's an audience for them among Muslims.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on February 5, 2006 at 7:37 PM | PERMALINK

Heh. Then since I'm a white 50 yo man who was raised in the South, I guess you'd also assume I'm a somewhat overweight, SUV-driving Republican who has a high school education, works in sales, is on his second marriage and is watching the Superbowl as I post this.

You'd be wrong.

You're smarter than that. Aren't you, Bob?

Posted by: Joel on February 5, 2006 at 8:59 PM | PERMALINK

What evidence do you have that most or all of those protesting the cartoons have themselves laughed at deeply racist and anti-semtic cartoons? Aren't you assuming a form of collective guilt?

The Muslim protesters are burning Danish flags and embassies, not pictures of cartoonists. They're threatening boycotts of Danish products, and a number of other things.

"Collective guilt" seems to be working in two directions, here.

Muslim terrorists (not to be confused with the protesters) make a career out of assigning collective guilt to their enemies for real or perceived wrongs.

Posted by: tbrosz on February 5, 2006 at 9:28 PM | PERMALINK

Here is a great discussion thread over at Josh's Cafe. A lot of good points all around, limited trolling. Takes about an hour to read through, though.

http://www.tpmcafe.com/story/2006/2/2/22317/81851

Posted by: Keith G on February 5, 2006 at 10:05 PM | PERMALINK

""Collective guilt" seems to be working in two directions, here."

Indeed, tbroz. So, since there are a few (a minority) muslims who are outraged and lash out indiscriminantly, that means we can generalize about them and lash out indiscriminantly?

I don't compare myself to the worst. I compare myself to the best. How about you?

Posted by: Joel on February 5, 2006 at 10:56 PM | PERMALINK

Swan, Joel,

I can only speak for myself, but in pointing out the virulently anti-Semitic cartoons that are the daily stock-in-trade of just about every Islamic newspaper, emphatically including the state-run ones, I wasn't suggesting that the West ought to retaliate in kind, only pointing out that we have not seen any embassies torched by Jews who thought, say, a month-long dramatization of the "Protocols of the Elders of Zion" wasn't quite in the best of taste.

By the way, does anyone know why the Norwegian embassy in Damascus was also destroyed? I suppose the next best thing to dead Danes was dead Norwegians? So far as I know, no Norwegian paper ran these cartoons, though if they have any guts at all, now they will.

Posted by: waterfowl on February 5, 2006 at 11:18 PM | PERMALINK

Joel:

It is literally impossible to talk about groups of people without generalizing. Sure, you want to avoid negative sterotypes. Sure, it's better to assume the best of people rather than the worst of them, if you're given that choice.

But nevertheless: If a certain group of Muslims 1) has viewed Mideast newspapers and snickered at anti-semitic cartoons and 2) is deeply offended at cartoons of the Prophet -- then this is a contradiction that I think they should examine.

Now -- it may not be a contradiction at all in their culture, where mocking Jews is of an entirely different order than mocking the Prophet, who isn't even supposed to be depicted in any way. However, it is a glaring contradiction in *European* cultures, where religious figures get no special status above any other object of mockery, tasteful or otherwise.

At the very least, Muslims who live in Europe might spend a little time meditating on this -- because caracatures of Jews can be hurtful to them as well.

That's all I'm really saying ...

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on February 5, 2006 at 11:29 PM | PERMALINK

waterfowl:

A Norwegian Christian paper was actually one of the first to run those cartoons after that Danish paper, and well before the recent spate of reprints.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on February 5, 2006 at 11:31 PM | PERMALINK

"But nevertheless: If a certain group of Muslims 1) has viewed Mideast newspapers and snickered at anti-semitic cartoons and 2) is deeply offended at cartoons of the Prophet -- then this is a contradiction that I think they should examine."

No argument there.

Your assumption, however, appears to be that 1 and 2 are necessarily the same group. I didn't see you back up that assumption with any evidence. I guess if they're all brown and muslim, they're all the same.

"Now -- it may not be a contradiction at all in their culture, where mocking Jews is of an entirely different order than mocking the Prophet, who isn't even supposed to be depicted in any way."

In the case of the same people doing both, they have no excuse. In the case of muslims who don't mock Jews but object to mocking the Prophet, you have no excuse. I don't know how the numbers break down on this. Do you?

Posted by: Joel on February 5, 2006 at 11:56 PM | PERMALINK

joel:

> "But nevertheless: If a certain group of Muslims 1) has viewed
> Mideast newspapers and snickered at anti-semitic cartoons and
> 2) is deeply offended at cartoons of the Prophet -- then this
> is a contradiction that I think they should examine."

> No argument there.

> Your assumption, however, appears to be that 1 and 2
> are necessarily the same group. I didn't see you back
> up that assumption with any evidence. I guess if
> they're all brown and muslim, they're all the same.

Oh c'mon, Joel, that's a really undignified and unfair straw man.
*You* also have no evidence, given my postings in this thread,
to assume I'd be operating under that egregiously racist premise.

> "Now -- it may not be a contradiction at all in
> their culture, where mocking Jews is of an entirely
> different order than mocking the Prophet, who isn't
> even supposed to be depicted in any way."

> In the case of the same people doing both, they have
> no excuse. In the case of muslims who don't mock Jews
> but object to mocking the Prophet, you have no excuse. I
> don't know how the numbers break down on this. Do you?

I don't need to; I'm using inference to make a
qualified generalization. I'm not saying all
Muslims. Most Muslims? Possibly. Some Muslims?
Definitely. It doesn't need to be precise.

It's sort of like this. Most Americans -- a vast majority --
know who Bart Simpson is. Many Americans also know what Bart
looks like, what his voice sounds like and can recite a few of
his characteristic wisecracks, even if they're not devotees of
The Simpsons TV show. Bart's an icon of popular culture; if I
make a reference to Bart in a thread, I can be confident that the
vast majority of my audience will get it without me needing to
explain. And there's a reason for this -- Bart is extremely popular.
If he wasn't, The Simpsons wouldn't be such a long-running TV show.

Now ... as waterfowl has said, Mideast newspapers publish
anti-semitic cartoons regularly, even in state-run newspapers.
I'm not in a position to know what the readership is, but I've
talked with waterfowl before and I have no reason to doubt her
on this. She seems like a responsible enough person not to
simply make somthing like that up out of anti-Arab motives.

So it's perfectly reasonable to assume that these cartoons are seen
by quite a lot of Muslims who live in the Mideast and/or who buy
Mideast newspapers. And it's furthermore reasonable to assume that
these sorts of cartoons are popular, or else they wouldn't be run
so often. Why print something if there's no audience for it?

And it's also quite reasonable to assume that most Muslims were
very offended by those cartoons of the Prophet -- however they
chose to react to it. So making the further inference that there's
a substantial overlap of these Muslims with the Muslims who have
seen and in some way appreciated anti-semitic cartoons is not a
huge stretch. Can I give you concrete numbers? Of course not.
But it's still fair to assume that the number is significant.

And yes, those are the only Muslims to which I suggested that
they should examine this contradiction -- especially if they
live in a European culture with a different view of free speech.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on February 6, 2006 at 1:23 AM | PERMALINK

I think we need to distinguish between the rights of individuals and the rights of groups, including governments.

Then we need to acknowledge that while one may have a 'right' to do something that act may still be stupid or may endanger us all.

For example during WWII Hollywood made cartoons satirizing Hitler. They had the right to do this, but one could argue that while those cartoons were helpful to American morale they may have also been helpful to German morale.

We all know the caution professional athletes take to avoid providing locker-room bulletin board material to their opponents.

So I say the newspapers had the right to publish those cartoons. I see similar cartoons in the US lampooning my personal beliefs.

But with unrest in the Middle East maybe it was stupid to give fuel to those who would stoke the fires. Maybe it is stupid to appease the radicals, too.

In balance, assuming that we want to bring peace to the Middle East I think publishing these cartoons was stupid. It fuels anti-Western sentiment, which allows the despots in control of the Middle East to stay in power.

So I would have held off on these cartoons, not out of respect for any religion or because I did not have the right to publish them but for the pragmatic reason that they would hurt my cause of Middle East peace.

Posted by: Tripp on February 6, 2006 at 10:56 AM | PERMALINK

Hmmm, thought provoking post.

Enquiring minds want to know, is there really such a thing as a white raisin? What is it?

My first, and obvious, response to the question of the cartoons is this: think of the most sacred things to you and ask yourself if you'd mind having them lampooned the same way as was Mohamed? If you're cool with it then go ahead, else don't.

But, to connect this dot to the larger world and the story of our involvement in the Middle East (home of more Muslims than you can throw a stick at):

I'd ask Gonzales & Bush how you know when the GWOT is over, but I'd also ask a question about something we also faced in the Vietnam War. How do we identify the enemy as opposed to noncombatants or friends? In Vietnam we couldn't. How do we do it in the Middle East? Are they the Muslims, brown skins, Saudis, or what? If we can't identify them, then how do we know when we've wiped 'em out and ended the war? Is it the guys with guns who are trying to chase us out of Iraq and the Middle East? What if those guys are right and fully justified in trying to get rid of us? What if their motivation is completely non-religious or non-affiliated with Al Qaeda?

So, if we can't identify Muslim as 'enemy', then why rag on them in a cartoon? After all, there are many Muslims here in America who would gladly fight and die to protect America from Al Qaeda and terrorism in general.

Who is the enemy and how do we know when we've won? These are essential, so we'll know precisely whom we should offend in snarky newspaper comics.

Posted by: MarkH on February 6, 2006 at 4:32 PM | PERMALINK

maunga: "The majority of the world's population is at least ambivalent about the existence of "Israel" "

WHAAAAT?

Um, are you also a Holocaust denier? The majority of the world may not LIKE Israel, they may not APPROVE of Israel, they may not have diplomatic RELATIONS with Israel, but they are not either living in a fantasy land. Trust me, they are aware that it exists.

And as for the existence of the land before there were Hebrews, well, I suppose in the sense that land masses were around during dinosaur times, that's basically true, but, um, it wasn't called Israel yet. As if that matters.

You idiot.

Posted by: jprichva on February 7, 2006 at 5:26 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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