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Saturday, February 11, 2006

More Mr. Nuance Guy

Posted by on February 11 at 10:51 AM

Dan’s done being Mr. Nice Guy on the Danish cartoon flap. (For those keeping track, his niceness began at 5:39 p.m. yesterday and ended, 40 minutes later, at 6:10 p.m.)

Meanwhile, I’m going to plug along in my role as Mr. Nuance.

Salon has two good pieces that break out of the free speech vs. censorship binary, one of which concerns the reaction in Morocco, a place I lived for a semester while in college. Morocco is overwhelmingly Muslim and was under control of the French during the colonial era, but it’s not an oil state (its biggest exports are phosphorous and hash). Consequently, the post-colonial era has left Morocco feeling more confident (and more chilled out) than other Muslim nations that are still under the thumb of what some call oil neocolonialism.

Which is why people in Morocco sound a bit like the moderate Muslims everyone’s searching for:

“There comes a point when you’ve got to handle your problems yourself — you can’t go on forever blaming poverty and colonialism and relying on your image as a victim.”

But people in Morocco also understand what’s at the root of the outrage in the Middle East:

“At the heart of this discussion is the feeling that America is trying to divide the world into two parts, Christian and Islamic, and now mythologies are being spread, so that everything that is part of Islam is bad, and every Muslim is a terrorist. This is the West’s caricature of the Middle East.”

Or, as the author of the piece puts it:

Perhaps one revelation to come out of all this may be that by drawing Mohammed down to such an earthly plane, you’re fooling with the hope mechanism of millions of believers, just at a time when modernity has never seemed more oppressive and, in many places, the pain of feeling backward has never been stronger.

A second Salon piece looks at the reasons why some regimes in the Middle East have found it so useful to fan the flames of cartoon rage, and the author, in framing how he sees the reactions, again suggests that the legacy of colonialism is at play here:

Muslim touchiness about Western insults to the prophet Mohammed must be understood in historical context. Most Muslim societies have spent the past two centuries either under European rule or heavy European influence, and most colonial masters and their helpmeets among the missionaries were not shy about letting local people know exactly how barbaric they thought the Muslim faith was. The colonized still smart from the notorious signs outside European clubs in the colonial era, such as the one in Calcutta that said, “Dogs and Indians not allowed.”

Indeed, the same themes of Aryan superiority and Semitic backwardness in the European “scientific racism” of the 19th and early 20th centuries that led to the Holocaust against the Jews also often colored the language of colonial administrators in places like Algeria about their subjects. A caricature of a Semitic prophet like Mohammed with a bomb in his turban replicates these racist themes of a century and a half ago, wherein Semites were depicted as violent and irrational and therefore as needing a firm white colonial master for their own good…

It isn’t just about some cartoons. It is about independence and the genuine liberty to define yourself rather than being defined by the imperial West.

To listen to a somewhat nuanced discussion of the cartoon controversy that took place yesterday on KUOW and included me, P-I columnist Susan Paynter, and P-I cartoonist David Horsey, click here, and then scroll down to “Your Take on the News.”

CommentsRSS icon

I maintain that you are the most eloquent speaker in the house on this matter, Eli.

It's frustrating to have this debate repeatedly spun as "bold defenders" vs. "sensitive cowards." It seems pretty clear that the fearful reactionaries are the ones who are magnifying the Islamic threat to "freedom."

I was living in California during, dare I mention it, 9/11. In the days immediately following, the Sikkh who ran the 7-11 down the street had his windows smashed out with a baseball bat twice. Soon thereafter, he hung full-length American flags behind the duct-taped shards of his repaired windows (smashed again), and he wore an oversized baseball cap over his turban.

Those kinds of events are far more likely to be the result of drumming up anti-Islamic sentiment. "Solidarity" with our European bretheren has an ominous tone for me.

Don't you think that burning embassies and threatening to behead cartoonists and demanding restrictions on free speech do more to "drum up anti-Islamic sentitment" than printing a dozen cartoons?

As the result of the actions of Islamic protesters—threatening actions—more people in the West feel threatened by Islam today than they did three weeks ago. I didn’t think that was possible, but here we are. It was idiotic of Islamicists to expect anything else. You threaten people, they feel threatened.Weird how that works, huh?

Responsibility for this crisis must be laid at the feet of the people who are ultimately responsible for it. That would be: the folks disseminating lies about the original cartoons; the people circulating fake cartoons; the Islamic governments demanding deference for Islam that they themselves do not extend to other faiths; and the opportunistic clerics and Islamic activists who have seized on this to force the West to jettison press freedoms.

Oh, and let’s not forget their navel-gazing, self-hating, bedrock-freedom-betraying accomplices here in the West.

Don't you think that burning embassies and threatening to behead cartoonists and demanding restrictions on free speech do more to "drum up anti-Islamic sentitment" than printing a dozen cartoons?


"Colonialism" doesn't explain everything. They're protesting in Indonesia, which is, itself, today, a brutal colonial power. Wahhabi or Salafi Islam is a colonial force in spreading its absolute rigidity and intolerance (you should see the terrible things the Saudis did to the mosques in Bosnia). The most recent experience most Arabs have of colonialism is the Ottoman Empire, which was Turkish and Islamic.
Attributing the reasoning behind the embassy-burners to slights endured by their great-great-grandparents is absurd.
And the human rights records of these countries, BOTH their militaristic governments AND their Islamist movements, is shocking and abysmal.

Right on, Fnarf.

Hey, you want nuance?

Then maybe you might consider the huge number of Vietnamese terrorists.


If you want to find a people who have been mistreated by the West (and especially the USA) you need look father than Vietnam. And yet are they rioting and getting on their high-horse about the West? No way.

So to try to find excuse for Islamic terrorism in history is contrived. The place to look is in the Islamic mind.

The place to look is in the Islamic mind

What, is it a genetic defect? A fault in "the Islamic synapse?" Some special toxin that seeps in from Islamic eyelids or hair? Satanic Ju Ju? Please enlighten us about the true nature of Islamic terrorism.

Dude, phosphorescent hash?!?

I'm so going to Morocco!

Strangely enough, the Vietnamese are very pro-American.


I wasn't trying to make any grand statements about Moslems -- don't be so sensitive. Please.

I was simply trying to suggest that when people do things it's often their own responsibility and doesn't all go back to the actions of the USA and the Zionist Conspiracy. (Which would be a great name for a rock group.) In this case, some Moslems and their culture are responsible for Islamofascism. One can't be so egocentric as to take responsibilty for everything.

Data, it is wrong to characterize my position as "taking responsibility" for Islamic terrorism. I have a hard time taking responsibility for my own existence.

The root cause of a social phenomenon like "fundamentalism" is a legitimate inquiry for social science and logical conjecture based on observable evidence. Trying to figure out what makes it thrive (so that we might be able to do something meaningful about it) might be a responsible position to take, but it isn't the same thing as "taking responsibility."

The west is colonizing them--LOL.Wheres the anger over the way Islam is Battleing for supremacy in Indonesia,India(look at the violence they cause in Bangledesh to establish their right to make Indian woman burn in Acid if she shes another man -thats Islam can say hindus did it to but i beg to differ as many Indians and Pakis will contest to also.Its western blindness over the facts of the fight Hindus and Indians and Arabs all look alike so lets lump there personal fight as not Hindu freedom fighters versus oppressant Muslims in there village-- you liberals are just as blind to media truths and facts as the colonial America you hate.You should Hate what Colonial Muslims for centuries have done -Kill people who arent muslims,Kidnapings and rule their empires in fear enshrouded cloak called a burka and turbon.My fight is for the liberation of man and if thast means defending the little guys like India and Indonesian ,and Sri lankans so be it.And all of of a sudden now Philipenos are jumping on the we'll shove Islam up everyones ass stich like everyother Asian in those parts of the world aND PEOPLE ARE DIEING NOT BECAUSE OF THE WHITE eUROPEAN OR aMERICAN COLONIALISM BUT BECAUSE mEN WANT TO RULE THEIR WOMAN IN FEAR.oR DID YOU all fail to notice that connection.oh yeah Indians and Pakistanis and Arabs all look alike and want to be Muslims voluntarily.Thers rape and murder in those parts of the world and its by the hand of muslims far more than its from colonialism.They respect Americans in India far more than the middleast---Why you do the math.

Pall, I can't tell for sure, but I think you might be confused about others' references to "colonialism."

For the most part people are referring to a period of British rule of Arab and Persian lands in the form of puppet monarchies, roughly corresponding to a period of time following World War I and extending through the first half of the 20th century.

In Iraq, for example, this period of colonialism ended with the murder of King Faisal II in 1958, followed by a few years of a populist dictatorship, which we Americans helped to destabilize in the early 1960s (assassinating Qasim), giving rise to the Ba'ath party that brought Sadaam Hussein to power.

your right .I'm just upset that of the way events have been going in history,its 2006 and people should be gettn along.we should be doing business and trade instead of killing eachother over religion and ideas.I know we all played a hand in thie governments overtheir,but we had enough when we saw their dishonor in attacking us and the truths of sadamms massacre of iraqis so we said thats it its time for be it.What really gets my goat is that walking on eggshells doesn't win wars or understanding from the people.As far as I'm concerned if it takes politics to change religion we better be prepared for the backlash of resentment.Did you know our soldiers are even told to read the Koran and act muslim in order to better battle the insurgents.Well if it works so be it.But i dont understand why we have to be sensitive to a beast i call islam thats just as despicable and intolerant of others a s the americans and English.We are only 2000 somethin years old as a country.England is old but just as young.It was tyhe muslims been conquering for centuries the little man and makeing subjects and slaves of woman far more often and bloodier than anyother religion out their history doesn't make it right that they can continue their onslaught.we welcome them in open arms.but you go there and not one arabs going to back you up if you get kidnap.if you get the rock thrown at you.we are just 2nd class to them wether we are american,chinese,russian,english,indian,and even african.if we are not Islamic and support the annihilation of Israel we are to be beaten down like dogs.Its mean you say to lump them all together.well i know their are good ones out there but like that saying in the Lord of War----we can sit by and do nothing in this fight because we dont't want to pick sides--- but to do nothing is picking sides.And the Islam is oppressing people far more than anyother gruop in Africa and Asia and until they coexist without killing and terroising people in this world I will not trust them as they dont trust us.I'm angry because noone publicly admonished the muslims in pakistan and India and indonesia and sri lanka who have moved in with the Alqeuda and gangster muslims and fueled fear and anger in those countries.Completely wiping out religions daily that were their far longer than christianity or Islam.I dont see christians haveing wiped out bhuddist monastaries and killings of hindus as worse an inpact as have the muslims over there in history.But its brown people killing brown people so who cares.Like i say when it comes to ourshores being hit suddenly everyones responds and.We should have responded in aid of India and Pakistan long ago.but oh yeah it was the nuke issue so we were mad at them over that.Littlre did we know that muslims were systematically killing hindus daily.the hindus didn.t have any backup from any governments on there freedom fighting did one cared.Now Islam is everywhere.I was in Karachi long ago 8 years ago and saw hindus and muslims You cant find one hindu in that country.They are either assimilated (most like;ly through fear)or have fled to India.Now the Muslims are vieing for control of bangledesh with terroism and fear and trying to enforce India to cede control of its capital to muslim athority and rule.So since when in modern time have a religion done this.Only with Islam thank you.The days of getting mad at religions like christianity and catholism are over--its been conquered because we dont want religion ruling our believe but do not force others thats our right.Not so with muslims.So i back up and say the real fight has begun and its against Islam so that it takes the clerics off there high and might ypositions.If muslims believe .let them.but they better do something about there clerics.allowing them to rule is like allowing the pPopo to rule Europe.And look at the dynasty that caused.Thats why we are at war in the middleeast.Besides we make them rich--so what are they mad about.Liberlism is a mental disorder.Savage on Savage nation was right.checkout his websiete and read some truths in links

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