Cartoons Of Mass Destruction

Posted on Wednesday, February 08 at 10:30 by harrisp
It has been argued that Muslims need to lighten up a bit and stop taking themselves so seriously. That may or may not be valid; but the fact remains the newspapers who published these cartoons knew exactly what they were doing and the reaction they could expect. Regardless of whether the Muslims are stiff-necked, publishing these cartoons was no different than yelling 'Fire!' in a crowded theatre. They might have underestimated the fury with which Muslims would respond, but they knew they would provoke anger. They did so with careful, and malicious, intent.

This is NOT an issue of ‘freedom of the press’. Of course the newspapers had the ‘right’ to publish the cartoons; that’s what freedom of the press is all about. But while that right should not be curtailed, understanding the ramifications of carrying these particular cartoons should have been evident. Publishing them was just plain stupid.

There is no question that the reaction of the Muslims is extreme and not justifiable. But it is understandable. These cartoons were published in Europe, where Muslims are a marginalized group. They were published by a newspaper well-known as a right-wing anti-immigrant journal, and there can be little doubt that the editors of Jyllands-Posten intended to be hurtful. Muslims know this. And they know their brethren living in Europe are ghettoized and oppressed and they could not have failed to see this as a provocation against an oppressed people. Jyllands-Posten is linked to the Danish People’s Party which opposes a multi-cultural approach to Denmark’s growing immigrant population and is on record as stating it is impossible to assimilate Muslims into Danish society. Muslims know that, too.

The publication of those cartoons was not an exercise in freedom of the press; it was a coldly calculated step that had no intent other than to cause harm. Jyllands-Posten, and all those who have subsequently carried the cartoons, deliberately set out to create a problem, to inflame an already volatile situation, to set fire to a cat’s tail for the sheer pleasure of watching it suffer. The editors of the world who say otherwise are lying. They would never think to publish pictures or cartoons of a woman being gang-raped, or of someone sodomizing a young child – they would understand that societal norms would be grossly offended by such things and they would not argue about ‘freedom of the press’. In the same way, they knew that a large part of their society would be grossly offended by these cartoons and chose to publish anyway, for the sheer thrill of causing that offence. Newspaper editors are not generally stupid people so they surely would have understood the reaction they were likely to see; their decisions to publish can only be seen as an intentional move to provoke exactly that reaction.

There are those who are claiming the reaction of the Muslims is rooted in religious fundamentalism – and some of it surely is. But most of the reaction arises from contemporary conditions of imperialist oppression. Even Newsday, publishing in the United States, recognizes that “the deep offence many Muslims have taken to the cartoons is about present-day politics as much as theology.”

This situation plays into the hands of the world’s oppressors. When black Americans took to the streets in riotous numbers during the 1960s, commentators acknowledged the years of pent-up frustration over societal marginalization. Inwardly, though, most of the smarmy journalists and politicians of the day knew that the riots only occurred because these people were black; civilized white folk would never have acted that way. And blacks have never been forgiven for their violent response to oppression.

Today, in many places, Muslims are the blacks, they are the ghettoized Jews, the constricted and restricted Sikhs, the oppressed indigenous people of many lands. And they are reacting as should be expected. Someone has taken a spark and applied it, with deliberate forethought, to extremely dry tinder. The resulting fire should surprise no one.

The current turmoil will eventually die out. The resentment will not. Muslims will continue to believe they are oppressed in many places, that they are hated in many places, that they are convenient scapegoats. And they will be right.

There is no justification for the carnage the Muslim people have unleashed on the world … but only a damn fool would fail to understand it.

Thanks to Peter Simonsen for suggesting this article and its title. [Proofreader's note: this article was edited for spelling and typos on February 9, 2006]

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  1. Wed Feb 08, 2006 7:07 pm
    Yes Paul, exactly! The more people keep downplaying the issue by saying, 'they can't take a joke' the worse it gets. It is interesting how freedom of speech is being played on this, when we all know how the press is free to censure important information they do not wish to disclose. Yet they chose to use something extremely offensive and tasteless, I fail to see how anyone would find it humourous?

    If I stand for my country today...will my country be here to stand for me tomorrow?

  2. Wed Feb 08, 2006 8:08 pm
    If I were Muslim I would not find it funny. Just as I did not find it funny when Jesus was portrayed as "sleeping around" in the Last Temptation of Christ but to say that Christians have not had violent reactions is not true. The Spanish Inquisition and the Crusades all come to mind.

    We could say that those black marks on Christianity were caused by Christian Fundamentalists. Just as today's violence is being caused by Muslim Fundamentalists or Muslim Extremists. We have to be careful not to paint every Muslim with the same brush that's all. If we do it would be like defining American society by looking at the actions of the KKK. Obviously incorrect.

  3. Wed Feb 08, 2006 8:16 pm
    Does that mean because you are not a Muslim you DO find them funny? I not a Muslim and I still don't find them funny; I can't imagine how anyone would.

    But this situation cannot be equated with the Spanish Inquisition or the Crusades. Those were admittedly nasty, but they were planned and orchestrated events while this is a visceral, and wholly predictable, reaction to stupidity.

    Paul Harris

  4. Wed Feb 08, 2006 8:27 pm
    Well written, Paul. Something can only be seen as "funny" when even the targeted group believes it is so. Otherwise, it is simply insulting and degrading, which this clearly is. Note that whether or not the targeted group has a sense of humour is not part of the equation.

    Freedom of speech is a poor defense, as you have stated. The examples given in your writings are clear examples of where Christian readers would feel that a line had been crossed, and would not pass the "freedom of speech" test.

    Rico AB.

  5. Wed Feb 08, 2006 8:27 pm
    Thanks. I should be clearer in my posts. No I don't find it funny, but neither do I find it offensive.

    You make a good point on the Inquisitions and Crusades. Noted

  6. by Deacon
    Wed Feb 08, 2006 8:34 pm
    First of all, let's get one thing straight: the cartoons were political opinions expressed by their respective artists.

    Second of all: those calling for the deaths of those who drew them only validates the points of view that gave birth to the cartoons in the first place.

    Third: this entire incident should have been left to die in the obscurity it deserves. It was only kept alive by those wanting to make some sort of political gains from it.

    Fourth: We cannot make excuses for those who would use the cartoons as an excuse for inciting violence, and an excuse is EXACTLY what it is. Instead of reasoned debate we have threats. boycotts, riots, and threats of worse.

    Fifth: Political cartoons by there very nature are going to be offensive to someone, somewhere. Anyone who disagrees with me should really take a look at some of the cartoons that Arab newspapers have run in the past 20 years.

    You may just receive a long overdue epiphany.

  7. by N Say
    Wed Feb 08, 2006 8:37 pm
    I wonder what the reaction will be to the Iranian newspaper's holocaust-cartoon contest? Or what if some muslim newspaper held a cross-burning contest?

    "George Bush has declared the war on terrorism to be the cause of his generation. The cause of Canadian sovereignty will be ours." - John Godfrey, MP for Don Va

  8. by Deacon
    Wed Feb 08, 2006 8:42 pm
    "by there very nature" should obviously be " by their very nature"

    my bad

  9. Wed Feb 08, 2006 8:52 pm
    "Third: this entire incident should have been left to die in the obscurity it deserves. It was only kept alive by those wanting to make some sort of political gains from it."

    While I agree with you that this situation should be left to obscurity, I don't trivilaize it by assuming the motivations are only political. The Mullahs in Iran and Syria are whipping their zombies into a frenzy, and people are dying in protests over this. Whether these are political or religious motivations is up to debate, but as long as people are dying over published cartoons, I think we should be paying attention.

    "Fifth: ...take a look at some of the cartoons that Arab newspapers have run in the past 20 years."

    I'm glad you pointed that out, 'cause I was going to. Iranian papers are calling the west 'hypocritical' and 'racist' because we don't make jokes about the Holocaust. Ummm, perhaps because there isn't anything funny about it? We don't make jokes about the bombing of Pearl Harbour or Siege of Stalingrad or starvation of China under Japanese occupation ethier.

    I guess those things are funny to a media that will publish 'cartoons' showing members of another religion eating babies.

    "I think it's important to always carry enough technology to restart civilization, should it be necessary." Mark Tilden

  10. Wed Feb 08, 2006 9:18 pm
    “The Mullahs in Iran and Syria are whipping their zombies into a frenzy”

    Well said, Mr. Lick-where-I-shit! Very much in keeping with your demeanor

    From Christopher Bollyn
    American Free Press

    “Under the guise of free speech, a leading Danish newspaper published a dozen provocative anti-Islamic cartoons clearly designed to offend Muslims. The predictable result has greatly increased the possibility of violence and left Denmark in a costly and dangerous predicament.

    Four months after Jyllands-Posten (JP), Denmark's most widely read morning paper, published 12 anti-Islamic cartoons, Danes woke up to the fact that there is a very high price to be paid for promoting the "clash of civilizations."

    The fact that the editors behind the anti-Islamic images claim to be exercising free speech while refusing to address Europe's strict censorship laws regarding discussion of the Holocaust and the ongoing imprisonment of historical revisionists reveals the existence of a more sinister agenda behind the provocative cartoons.”

    "Agents of certain persuasion" are behind the egregious affront to Islam in order to provoke Muslims, Professor Mikael Rothstein of the University of Copenhagen told the BBC. The key "agent" is Flemming Rose, the cultural editor of JP, who commissioned cartoonists to produce the blasphemous images and then published them in Denmark's leading morning paper last September.

    nota bene. 'note well' It was the Cultural Editor who “commissioned”

    Nothing in this World makes People so Afraid as the Influence of an Independant Minded Individual.
    Attrib. Al Einstien

  11. by Deacon
    Wed Feb 08, 2006 9:41 pm
    "who commissioned cartoonists to produce the blasphemous images"

    Just one question: have you bothered to examine the cartoons in question, or are you just echoing the opinions of others like some mindless droid?

    The only image that remotely approaches "blasphemy" is the image of Mohammed wearing a bomb turban. Personally I think that it pretty much sums up the mindset behind suicide bombers, but that's just my opinion.

    I am still allowed to have them in your universe, aren't I?

    The image in the set of 12 that rings truest is the image of the cartoonist huddled under cover fearfully drawing Mohammed's face.

    Tell me, oh great and all knowing Oz... oops I meant Diogenes, what precisely is blasphemous about that?

    Btw, Dio, better get that lamp of yours fixed.

  12. Wed Feb 08, 2006 10:59 pm
    Thank you for the advice, Dea-Con
    I am certain the lamp you allude to will be easier to fix than your mind.
    Take away the non sequitors, Ad Hominem’ and what areyou left with,Deacon?

    You have set yourself up as judge of what is offensive to a culture you have no knowledge of and then turn around and attack me.
    You most certainly are "allowed" to have what ever it is you desire in "your" universe.

    I have nor want control of it.

    You "own" it and wear it well, so enjoy.

    Nothing in this World makes People so Afraid as the Influence of an Independant Minded Individual.
    Attrib. Al Einstien

  13. Thu Feb 09, 2006 12:00 am
    Though the cartoons have been considered offensive to and by the vast majority of Muslims in the world, it does not justify the rioting, shooting, killings, property destruction and total lack of self control by those that consider themselves as Muslim fundamentalists as well as practicing Muslims. This reaction of theirs also is a violation of their religious beliefs and practices.

    Not only am I totally amazed by the lack of the World’s practicing Muslims to standup and speak out in condemnation against these reactions I am equally amassed that members of the World’s other religious beliefs are not standing up and speaking out against these cartoons and the lack of sensitivity and total ignorance of one of the Worlds largest religious beliefs. Let’s not forget that the Western Christian Nations stood up and condemned the Muslim World for not standing up and condemning the attacks and lost of life of the Twin Towers in New York by Muslim extremists nor did we hear from the Worlds religious groups making a stand against the Taliban destroying the Worlds oldest Buddhist statues in Afghanistan.

    It’s about time that all religious beliefs stand up, speak up, follow and practice their fundamental religious beliefs instead of standing by the side lines quietly until they themselves are attacked and ridiculed. Also let’s not forget that the Worlds Nations Leaders are also practitioners of these religious beliefs as well.

    Perception is two thirds of what we perceive reality to be.

    Difficult decisions are a privilege of rank.

  14. Thu Feb 09, 2006 12:09 am
    Really, what's wrong with posting controversial subjects? It was also very clear that the intent of the Jyllands-Posten was to incite debate. Debate is good. Debate is at the core of our values. Our grandparents blood soaked the ground across the world so we could have that right. I refuse to ever consider a course of action that would cause us to lose what we have gained.

    Muslims, moderate included (if there ever was such a thing) want to take away our right to debate. They want us to defer to a god that is not our own. I'm absolutely certain that the vast majority of muslims aren't rioting. They're sitting at home, very smug and happy that some of their own are rioting, and causing terror.

    What do you think the chances are of any muslim rioter, anywhere in the world, being excommunicated from their mosque? Be honest.

    We keep saying we want to avoid a "clash of civillizations", but the islamic world just won't let this go. Whether we like it or not, we're in the conflict, and I sure hope we grow the backbone and brain to win it.

    I can certainly tell that the submitter Paul Richard Harris does not "stand on guard for thee". While I would defend his right to say whatever idiotic things he likes, a Canadian patriotic website like Vive is hardly the forum for those kind of anti-Canadian opinions.

    Or perhaps he is the example for us all of what not to do.

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