Thursday, February 09, 2006

Cartoon Wars Commentary Missing the Point

“The occasion has been judged proper for asserting, as a principle in which the rights and interests of the United States are involved, that the nations which make up Western Civilization, by the free and independent condition which they have assumed and maintain, are henceforth not to be considered as subjects for future colonization by any Islamic Peoples...”
This surely topical quote makes a body want to congratulate the brave spokesman who issued it as our response to the Islamic actions of the Cartoon Wars. Unfortunately, its author can no longer enjoy our approval. It was part of the Monroe Doctrine, directed at Barbary pirates in our nation's infancy. It certainly did not come from today's timorous State Department, which buried a nod to freedom of the press in a fluffy apology by our government for a group of political cartoons published in a Danish newspaper five months ago.
Just in case one cares to see what just how horribly offensive the cartoons in question really are, try As political cartoonery in the free world goes, rather tame stuff, but so far only a handful of papers have run any of them.
If a series of political cartoons in a paper nobody outside Denmark had ever heard of and the reaction to it ends up crystallizing the cultural gulf between Western Civilization and Sharia Law, it won't be the first time a pointed image lit up a distinct line between right and wrong. Radical Islamists have, aside from that minor unpleasantry of 9/11, murdered Dutch politicians and artists, sawed off the head of a journalist on film, burned enough French cars to jumpstart that country's failing auto industry and danced joyfully in the streets celebrating each of the above actions.
Sadly, the apologetic voices calling the Islamic violence and threats of terrorist response a minority aberration unrepresentative of this “religion of peace” have mostly been Western. The voices of prominent Islamic leaders condemning violence as unacceptably intolerant have been conspicuous in their absence. The few who have allowed that the level of violence is perhaps less than admirable have in the next breath condemned the publication on the grounds religious belief should be out of bounds to satire. Coming from a culture whose state-controlled newspapers regularly serve up caricatures of Jews as hook-nosed, baby-eating pedophiles and America as lap dog to the evil Jews, this sensitivity to strongly held belief seems a one-way street.
I am sure that many, possibly most, Muslims do not support violence and terror. Unfortunately, they are clearly not in control of events in that part of the world. Given recent history, the West has no choice but to take the rhetoric of the extremists as literal threats.
One hopes fear of such threats has not prevented our brave Fourth Estate from giving us a peek at what has stirred all this noise, but I have my doubts. The Dane who invited the submission of the cartoons in question said it was done to probe the question of fearful self-censorship. One of the cartoons is indeed of an artist drawing a purely representational portrait labeled “Mohammed”, nothing derogatory to it , looking nervously over his shoulder and sweating profusely lest he be seen by the wrong person. In light of recent events, that seems a reasonable point to make.
We distract ourselves worrying whether the publication was “inappropriate” and the UN and EU scramble to give forth really inappropriate apologies (the party of the third part cannot apologize for actions by the party of the first part). We need to look up from the sackcloth and ashes we are voluntarily wearing and ask who is orchestrating this violence for what reason. Riots and civil unrest do not happen spontaneously in the Middle Eastern dictatorships, at least not for very long. If this violence did not serve the interests of the rulers it would have been shut down brutally and immediately. The cartoons were published in September. I doubt it is a coincidence this dog and pony show erupts just in time to distract us from little things like Iran kicking out the last IAEA inspectors.
A truly suspicious mind might imagine we are not only being distracted, but our will is being tested. I have a truly suspicious mind. Just because you're paranoid doesn't mean they aren't out to get you. I can only hope a few of the better minds in the Defense Dept. (State would be too much to hope for) are looking past this circus of smoke and mirrors.
In the meantime, I am going to pretend we still live in a free country, and have taped a Danish Flag in my truck's rear window. Might have a Danish ham for dinner and buy a box of Leggos to give to a children's charity.

1 comment:

  1. I have always tried to hear from all sides, I subscribe to the National Review, Reason, and The New Republic, (sorry Nation is too much of a stretch, though I will read Mother Jones if I don't have to pay for it).

    I just spent money to subscribe to Weekly Standard. They published the original Jyllands-Posten front page that supposedly started this AND noted that it had been reprinted Dec 2005 in the Egyptian paper, (careful how you pronounce this) Al-Faqr with no response worth mention. Weekly Standard also had a great humor piece, same issue, by P. J. O'Rourke on topic. Every time I think I have a handle on this writing thing, PJ comes along and reminds me why he makes a good living at it and I drive a truck.