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February 13, 2006

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Larry

Amy. Superb.

Jon W

It strikes me that if US newspapers feel they cannot safely print on our own soil a cartoon they feel is legitimate news because of actions taken by Arab governments then we are quite definitely losing the "war on terror".

Apparently, our government can no longer defend us against the actions of other states.

Donald R. McClarey

It is much easier for Western secular and religious leaders to chant phrases about "tolerance" that they have memorized by heart and used constantly since the 60s, than to do the hard thinking and acting that will be necessary to deal with an Islamic civilization, large portions of which are increasingly strident, violent and irrational. We are in the midst of escalating clashes between radical movements throughout the Islamic world and the West and much of the rest of the planet, and attempts to ignore this, downplay it and appease these movements are doomed to failure. I fear a vast storm of violence rapidly approaches and too many leaders in the West simply lack the will and wisdom to deal with it.

Gene H

Well, there's not much trouble defending us against foreign states--it's the individual terrorists (that form violent mobs) that Europe has been suffering from, and that the Boston paper was probably concerned about.

The real issue here is that when we Christians are offended by a blasphemous cartoon/picture (which get published without much hesitation), we write letters, boycott, etc. Remember the Ebay problem last year when a person was purporting to sell a Eucharist from a Pope's mass. Ebay's offices weren't fire bombed, but they were inundated with communications from offended Catholics.

I wish someone would start focusing on the problem, which is the violent reaction that is becoming automatic with a lot of Muslims. And before you accuse me of generalizing, I read that 100,000 had taken to the streets in London. That is not a small minority. If 100,000 violent protesters had marched on a city 100 years ago, you'd have a war.

Sean H

I practically passed out with laughter when I read Joseph Kahn’s story in the Boston Globe describing the reasons that most US news outlets will not run the Danish political cartoons that have caused such a violent reaction by Muslims throughout the world. Hypocrisy is too mild a word for these editors. In particular, the Boston Globe’s editor, Martin Baron cited a “longstanding policy of not publishing words or imagery that are grossly offensive to religious, racial, or ethnic groups.” As an Irish-American Catholic, I am assuming there are exceptions.

For example, on November 10, 1991 and then again on April 5, 1992, the Globe had no problem at all printing photographer Andres Serrano’s “Piss Christ” depicting a crucifix submerged in a jar of urine. In a truly ironic twist, just two days ago the Globe’s parent publication, the New York Times, published a photo of Chris Ofili’s “Black Madonna.” A portrait of the Blessed Virgin Mary festooned with elephant dung and close-ups of pornographic depictions of female genitalia. Covering the illness and subsequent death of John Paul II, the Globe printed columns and quotes from many individuals that were not merely critical of the pontiff, but cruel and hateful.

It is pretty clear that the Globe’s policy has less to do with how offensive something is than it does with whom it offends.

Clare Krishan

Amy - am I the only one who calibrates her snarkiness by her menstrual cycle, out of proper respect for unintended consequences of the tongue lashings I inflict on others? Most days I revel in your 'canniness' while some days I cringe at your 'cattiness'? Recommended reading for those who need to discern the danger to their souls from misuse of their intellect, will or psyche: Dr. Alice Von Hildebrandt "In Defense of Feelings " at
http://catholiceducation.org/articles/religion/re0722.html
Tangentiallly - has anyone else counselled a chemically-contracepting mother of the naturalness of the monthly moods exhibited by her teenage daughter after she fails to empathize with her since she is no longer natural herself? I see the same fault in the West - we are so cosy in our "plastics make it possible' world we fail to see the suffering of those who have not received the Good News. Rather than decry the unpleasantness of it all, we shouls ask ourselves the question "What can the "Orient" tell us because we are unable to experience it ourselves?" To many, the East is threatening, but never forget that the Father in his Divine Providence sees fit to reveal to us with whatever means he chooses that His will rules -the West would benefit from a tad more 'inshallah" (God willing) humility and a wee bit less "bismillah" (In the Name of God) hubris,
God Bless
Clare

TSO

Things seem to have reached some sort of critical mass since two very different priests in central Ohio mentioned it over the weekend, and I don't recall a local Catholic priest ever mentioning Islam or Muslims in a sermon before. (Terrorists, yes. Al Qaida, yes. But not the religion and its adherents.) Our Byzantine pastor says, "Please pray for the Muslims. God loves them too. And we Eastern Christians have much to offer since we lived side-by-side with them for centuries, mostly peacefully."

Our RC pastor says that, "you can tell a lot about a religion by what happens when you show disrespect towards their founder. Christians wear crucifixes and crosses, an emblem of the disrespect shown to their founder. We remember it and we identify ourselves as the cause of it, or at least we should." He went on to say that the Resurrection was proof that God is more powerful than our sin. Islamists don't have that proof so they are mired in a religion that "still thinks the way to overcome sin is through power, through violence. Thus they take up arms against those who would insult the Prophet Mohammed."

Liz

When all Americans men have beards and all American women are wearing burkhas our government, our press and millions of tolerant citizens will realize that Islam was NOT the religion of peace.

Peggy

Courageous post! [Who'da thunk it would be so hard to say such things?] Even on the illegal immigration concerns.

TSO

Also, this NY Times piece was interesting, talking about how we got from cartoons to violence.

Rich Leonardi

Good post, Amy. CAIR is little more than a terrorist front. Increasingly newspapers recognize this, but many, including my local Cincinnati Enquirer, do not.

For a view of things across the pond, take a look at my post concerning last week's trip to London:

- Surprised by the strong negative reaction of Londoners to the February 4 demonstration/riots conducted by British Moslems in front of the Danish Embassy. (According to press accounts, placards urging the murder of the prophet's real and imagined enemies were present throughout, as were chants urging the same.) The story dominated the news cycle throughout the week. This morning's London Times reports that four in five of the city's residents believe the government has been "too politically correct" in dealing with London's festering Islamic militancy problem, and nine in ten believe another 7/7-scale attack is likely.

Britons more or less snoozed through 7/7. Ironically, it took a cartoon to get them appropriately agitated.

Adam

Am I the only one who wonders how all these mobs deep in Islam suddenly came up with so many Danish flags? (I'd be hard put, here in the Land of the Free, to come up with one within 24 hours.) Was some of this "spontaneous" activity orchestrated?

Patricia Gonzalez

I think you're onto something, Adam -- it wouldn't be at all suprising that this turns out to be the case. Sad but true -- mobs are easily manipulated, especially when emotions run high ...and in a large crowd, we can all get swept up in the emotions of the moment. Cynical political/spiritual leaders (remember Caiaphas and the Temple crowd?) have often, sadly, used this tool to achieve their ends. May indeed be the case here.

Rich Leonardi

A parallel situation might be the situation down on the US-Mexico border. In the debate, some seem to persist in the paradigm that all we are talking about here is huddled masses yearning to be free, but the deeper reality is that we're dealing with drug and people-smuggling cartels, increasingly heavily armed. That calls for more than statements about the human right to support one's family.

Sidebar: In 2004, 43% of our country's immigrants came from South and Central America. For the past half-dozen years, Latin American governments have fallen like dominoes to socialist parties run by populists, with predictably disasterous economic results. Hugo Chavez has presided over a 23% contraction in Venezuela's economy since he took office.

Sandra Miesel

Of course the protests were orchestrated, by Syria and Iran! Nobody in the Islamic world, muchless Denmark was up in arms when the cartoons were originally published.

In yesterday's Indianapolis STAR, the editor assured us that newspapers are meant to be provocative, which is why they ran a story about a lesbian "comic" who insulted Pope Benedict. But out of their great respect for Islam they won't be publishing the cartoons. It's fear, of course, and well-justified fear.

The Muslims are not on our side. They are the opponents of all other religions (as well as the irreligious) in the great clash of civilizations. Do note that Muslims attack Hindus, Buddhists, and Ba'hais in different parts of this world. Do you really want your children to live under sharia law?

dilys

In case it's of any use, here is what I've concluded:

It's important for Americans to see just how tame, to our eyes, the cartoons were, and that they had been public in Egypt for months. That helps evaluate the response.

And secondarily, know that three really crude ones were quite possibly added by Mullahs to inflame their flock.

Thirdly, keep an eye on the premises pointed up in the apparently authentic "Project" memo.

JP

No one will ever listen to the WaPo or Times, or Globe the next time thier beat thier chests and brag about thier fearless stances concerning civic virtues. I doubt if anyone will take Woodward, Bernstien, and others seriously again.

Fifty years ago, men and women from many newspapsers and television stations literally risked thier lives during the civil rights battles. Murder, beatings and disappearances were a reality. Ridicule was the norm. Today, all it takes is a smack down or two from a Mullah 12,000 miles away to send them running for cover.

Now, editorial offices are in deep discussions about the limits to free speech and responsible reporting. And just think, all it took was 5 Danish Cartoons to send Newspapers world wide into a fit of soul searching.

Salaam

Amy,

These protests are not simply manufactured by Muslim goverments. Rather, it's a case of these dictatorships letting the people they oppress let off some steam, and of letting them appear to be 'with the people' for a change.

It is undeniable that there is genuine, grassroots anger at the West in much of the Arab world and some of the non-Arab Muslim world, and the cartoon episode is just one manifestation of this.

I think this is difficult for many Americans to understand as they simply don't interact with the 'Muslim masses'. Remember how happy they were about 9/11? Yes, they were happy, and it wasn't because their governments told them to be!

For me, the solution is simple. Let go of the dictators. The idea that if we can just hang on for one more generation, the modern world will change the Muslim masses even while they're under dictatorships has and is continuing to be proven wrong. Let them go. Let the Algerian vote stand. Let them become like Iran. Then watch as they turn on their own and fix their own problems instead of obsessing about 'America'.

Liam

The Globe, it should be noted, specifically noted the Serrano work in its comments and pretty much said that its current "long-standing" policy only goes back to the current editor and owner... So it finessed its way out of the past but now can be skewered for the future. Which it most surely will need to be.

Tony A

Andrew Sullivan is doing a superb job pointing out the hypocricy in all of this. Nobody bothers to consider that the Da Vinci Code is considered extremely offensive to Catholics. The same media that publishes (and even lauds) Piss Christ claims to be sensitive to Islam.

Sullivan notes that an episode of South Park has a statue of the Virgin Mary with blood exploding out of her ass onto the face of the Pope. Now, that's about as offensive as one can get. And yet, I will still defend the right of South Park to make this kind of crap. We need to get beyond the hypocrisy, and stop skirting around the truth: Islam is the only religion that promotes such violent responses on such a large (and organized) scale.

May the soul of Father Andrea Santoro, martyr for Christ, rest in peace.

Tony A

On Rich Leonardi's sidebar:

The recent leftist trend in Latin America is result of the mushrooming anti-Americanism in the region, caused by the policies of George W. Bush. The bad fruits sown by his horrendous foreign policy will be reaped for many years to come.

Rich Leonardi

Right, Tony. George W. Bush caused the election of Hugo Chavez in 1998, presumably from the governor's mansion in Austin.

Peggy

Further re: Tony A's comment on South America. The rest of the world decided to hate George W Bush before he actually did anything. The American political center is too "right" (as opposed to "left") for most other countries which do not have a political "right" remotely close the the Am political right--as per John Derbyshire's (a native Brit, legal immigrant, now naturalized US citizen) various examinations of this at NRO over the years.

mulopwepaul

Didn't you know the October Revolution in 1917 was merely the oppressed Russian workers and peasants way of expressing their objection to the policies of George W. Bush?

And the Prussian annexation of Silesia, and the Berber invasion of Spain in 712, and the Vandals attacking Rome, and...

PVO

Dave Wells

A question I would like to see addressed more is simply this: What DO the Muslims want?

Do they want an apology? If so, from whom - from the Danish cartoonists themselves, from the Danish government, or from the entire Western world?

Somehow, I cannot help but feel that they do not want an apology... When I see images of placards calling for the beheading of "blasphemers," or when I read of imams calling for laws against "blasphemy" (as presumably defined by the same imams), I can only conclude that the Muslims want only one thing: our submission to Islam, and Sharia law.

As politely and as firmly as we can, the Western world must stand up and say "WE WILL NOT SUBMIT!"

Tony A

Rich,

Yes, Chavez was first elected in 1998, but a smarter U.S. foreign policy (more than respected the international community more) would have prevented him becoming a role model in the region.

Blind Squirrel

I can't agree. This was the ethnocentric error of the American "New Left" during the Cold War: Communism within the Soviet Union, and more especially in the Third World, was nothing more than a response to Western hostility to, and fear of, political and economic change. If the U.S. would only adopt a more emollient stance, the Communists would respond. The Iron Curtain was a reflection of the USSR's justifiable fear of invasion, etc.

All this, of course, was thoroughly solipsistic. People overseas don't have ideological aims of their own that may not be amenable to anything "we" do. We lead the dance; "they" merely react accordingly. Or, in other words, we can control"their actions if only we approach them the right way.

The U.S. right, of course, had (and has) its own ethnocentrism. We are "the last best hope of mankind"; if the rest of the world were only free to choose, it would want to be just like us.

It's very hard for Americans of whatever political persuasion to accept that for much of the globe, neither the "soft power" of negotiations, economic concessions etc. nor the "hard power" of military force (except of the overwhelming variety) can make them stop doing what they've already decided to do.

Mary Kay

Amy, excellent post, right on target. Appeasement did not work in the 1930s and it won't work in 2006.

Clare, it is true that deep pain is often expressed in destructive behavior. However, it is imperative to send the message that violence is not an option.

Mike Petrik

Clare,
My life experience has taught me that many people deeply enjoy understanding themselves as righteous victims -- anger can be an intoxicating high. Combine that with the phenomenon of mob mentality and we can understand much of what is happening in the Middle East. What is even more pathetic is when passionate anger alone convinces the putative offender that it really must be his fault. Weird. Sad. Dangerous.

Thomas Gonzales

A parallel situation might be the situation down on the US-Mexico border. ... some seem to persist in the paradigm that all we are talking about here is huddled masses yearning to be free, but the deeper reality is that we're dealing with drug and people-smuggling cartels, increasingly heavily armed.

I think you are mixing apples and oranges.

There's the legal issue of what our immigration policy should be, including the policing of the border. But shutting down the drug cartels and other criminal enterprises, if that’s possible, carries no guarantee that the economic and social forces pushing millions across that border will go away. I would also argue that our current legal immigration quotas, particularly for manual labor, bear no relation to reality.

The second is that given the example of Christ, how should we treat immigrants, illegal and otherwise, who we find in our neighborhoods and churches? I, for one, don't see a whole lot of Christ in those advocating a closed border and draconian deportion proceedings for every illegal immigrant.


Katherine

"A parallel situation might be the situation down on the US-Mexico border. In the debate, some seem to persist in the paradigm that all we are talking about here is huddled masses yearning to be free, but the deeper reality is that we're dealing with drug and people-smuggling cartels, increasingly heavily armed. That calls for more than statements about the human right to support one's family."

Gang activity is certainly a problem, but this seems exaggerated and ill-supported. Drug smuggling and illegal immigration are separate problems. People smuggling develops naturally as it becomes harder for huddled masses to make it across on their own.

Where are you getting your information? Are there some particular stories you are thinking of? The existence of drug smuggling along the US is nothing new, but most illegal immigrants are here to support their families, and there are a fair number of honest-to-God refugees as well.

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