The politics behind the anti-Muslim cartoons
Date: Thursday, February 16 2006
Topic: Military, Security, and Defence
By Barry Grey
15 February 2006
Common to the statements of virtually all of the pundits and politicians who have come to the defense of the Danish government and Jyllands-Posten in the controversy over the newspaper’s publication of anti-Muslim cartoons is a refusal to consider the political context which gave rise to these ugly and offensive caricatures.
This is not accidental. The attempt to portray the publication of drawings that identify Islam with terrorism and other evils as a crusade for “free speech” and “Western values” collapses as soon as one examines the forces that published the cartoons and the political uses to which they are being put.
Such facts are neither mysterious nor difficult to ascertain. That they are ignored makes it all the more plain that the current campaign in defense of the cartoons—which is increasingly being taken up by so-called liberal as well as right-wing commentators—is bound up with broader political concerns of a profoundly reactionary and anti-democratic character.
The lining-up of leading imperialist politicians behind the Danish government and Jyllands-Posten was underscored by Tuesday’s declaration from the president of the European Commission, Jose Manuel Barroso, who backed the Danish government’s refusal to apologize for the cartoons and told Jyllands-Posten, “It’s better to publish too much than not to have freedom.”
Indicative of the movement of American “liberal” commentators behind the anti-Muslim agitation were the remarks over the weekend of Juan Williams on the “Fox News Sunday” television program. Williams, author of books on the civil rights movement, journalist with National Public Radio, and a regular panelist on “Fox News Sunday,” where he serves as something of the “house liberal,” criticized Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen and Jyllands-Posten for issuing even limited statements of regret for the supposedly inadvertent offense to Muslim sensibilities caused by the cartoons. It was, he declared, an open-and-shut issue of free speech, on which it was impermissible to give any ground.