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Sunday, February 5, 2006

We Are All Danes Now

Posted by on February 5 at 9:53 AM

From the Boston Globe:

HINDUS CONSIDER it sacrilegious to eat meat from cows, so when a Danish supermarket ran a sale on beef and veal last fall, Hindus everywhere reacted with outrage. India recalled its ambassador to Copenhagen, and Danish flags were burned in Calcutta, Bombay, and Delhi. A Hindu mob in Sri Lanka severely beat two employees of a Danish-owned firm, and demonstrators in Nepal chanted: ”War on Denmark! Death to Denmark!”In many places, shops selling Dansk china or Lego toys were attacked by rioters, and two Danish embassies were firebombed.

It didn’t happen, of course. Hindus may consider it odious to use cows as food, but they do not resort to boycotts, threats, and violence when non-Hindus eat hamburger or steak. They do not demand that everyone abide by the strictures of Hinduism and avoid words and deeds that Hindus might find upsetting. The same is true of Christians, Jews, Buddhists, Mormons: They don’t lash out in violence when their religious sensibilities are offended. They certainly don’t expect their beliefs to be immune from criticism, mockery, or dissent.

But radical Muslims do.

Go read the whole thing.


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The analogy is not particularly good -- our eating meat is not intended to be a provocation while the cartoons were -- but it's close enough for "The Stranger's" typical sloppy lack of rigor.

That doesn't mean I have any sympathy with the IslamoFascists; I don't. But I do dislike it when my own home folks are careless in their thinking.

That's a lie—the cartoons were not meant to provoke. They were a legit commentary on a culture of fear. Please read more about this issue. From Sullivan:

"One meme that deserves to be nipped in the bud is that the original Danish cartoons were somehow intended purely for offense. Since most American papers and magazines will not publish the cartoons, many people might actually believe this. In fact the context of the publication reveals a much more important point. From Wikipedia's summary:

'The drawings, which include a depiction of Muhammad with a bomb in his turban, were meant as satirical illustrations accompanying an article on self-censorship and freedom of speech. Jyllands-Posten commissioned and published the cartoons in response to the difficulty of Danish writer Kåre Bluitgen to find artists to illustrate his children's book about Muhammad, for fear of violent attacks by extremist Muslims.'

The point was to expose the bullying of Islamists. And boy, have the cartoons succeeded."

And there are plenty of controversies that are better examples of the grown-up restraint shown by other religions. Piss Christ, anyone? Folks screamed and yelled, protested—all good. No embassies were fire-bombed, no beheadings demanded. Serano never had to go into hiding for fear of his life.

Eating meat is a custom which as nothing to do with Hindus -- it is done in the normal course of our diet and is not directed to Hindus.

Drawing a cartoon which uses Muhammad is a commentary which has to -- unless you are trying to kid yourself -- be directed to the only people who would care -- Islamics.

That doesn't mean that what the Dnaes did must not be defended -- hey! I am off to the store to buy some Danish bacon! -- and that we MUST stand with them.

But let's get our arguments clear -- the cartoons were without purpose if they weren't meant to engender (at least) discussion. The problem is that the other guys do not know how ro discuss -- they can only scream and writhe on the ground.

Your position is much stronger if you accept that the cartoons were meant to communicate and that if they don't like it, that is just unfortunate for all of us, including the Moslems, as this is not a battle from which we can back down.

I think we're in agreement, RDC.

Yes we are in agreement; and if you will indulge me I'd like to add another nuance while I am waiting for the Seahawks to appear.

A little historical distance will suggest that indeed the cartoons were rude and insenstive and foolish -- and that's just the point. We have to protect speech which is appears to be rude and insensitive and foolish. It does no good to have free speech only for wise men. It's like allowing Nazis to march in Skokie -- if you don't allow even the truly stupid to speak, you don't have free speech, bearing in mind that it is not allowed to yell "Fire" in a crowded theater.

The current task for diplomacy -- which is not likely to succeed -- is to explain to World Islam that while many of us in the West regret that Moslems are offended, that is simply too bad, that we have traditions of free speech which allows idiots and even viscious Islamo Fascists to _speak._.

earlier I emailed links to petitions to show support for Denmark and to, uh, not show support for Denmark... any chance to get in on here? thanks

Sure, send them to my email address—editor@thestranger.com—and I'll post them.

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