Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Mohammed, Cartoon Controversies, and Unreserved Violence

Enmity sells. Hatred sells.

At the moment, this takes the form of the uproar and brouhaha over the Mohammed/ Muhammed cartoons.

Here is a link to the cartoons.

And here is perhaps the most offensive one:

Image hosting by TinyPic

So, my view on the cartoons.

This is wrong. This is vile, wrong and disgusting. There is no purpose in depicting the Muslims/Moslems' holiest prophet as a terrorist and bomber. If this is meant as social commentary, it is done in the poorest taste.

We wouldn't want anti-semitic pictures about Jews circulating. We would not want to be defined by one radical, extremist faction. So in my opinion, the cartoons are wrong. And although they may be protected by free speech when it comes to the letter of the law, I think that when it comes to the spirit of the law, such cartoons can only provoke enmity rather than any kind of realization that certain tactics are wrong.

Personally, therefore, I don't agree with Israpundit, who states that the Danish Newspaper is "courageous."

However, the reaction of Moslems around the world is unfathomable by the logical mind. It is pure insanity.

Take a look at Jameel's post about Insane Islamic Hatred, and you might wonder what the world is coming to. Or, as I discovered at S (On the Main Line), look at the fact that Iran has stated that it will engage in a Holocaust cartoon contest. Ezzie has a post about it as well, in which he includes a comic that I will show here.

Image hosting by TinyPic

That truly demonstrates how ridiculously out-0f-hand this situation has gotten.

If anything, you would think tit-for-tat; you published a cartoon of Mohammed with a bomb in his turban; we'll publish a cartoon of Moses with a bomb on his head. But instead we head over for the Holocaust- an emotionally-packed issue- in order to get more responses and upset more people. That's a damnable kind of logic.

Dry Bones isn't surprised by the extent of this hatred.

DovBear writes about extremist supporters in the Gaza Strip who don't have anything that matters, but are busy burning Danish flags.

More importantly, this anger over cartoons has run so far that extremists have burned the Norweigan and Denmark embassies. Police don't appear to have done anything about it...

Because when someone accuses you of acting in a terroristic fashion...the best way to disprove them is to *eureka!* act in a violent and terroristic fashion.

The idiots at the Danish Newspaper don't mind running the Holocaust cartoons.

This is disturbing, upsetting and so on and so forth. In the end, I am left with two impressions.

1. I am distinctly glad that I am Jewish, and that Jews (to my knowledge) have never engaged in aimless rioting, destruction and violence in order to protest cartoons/ comic strips, even though many of them have offered quite a lot of provocation.

2. That, as my Art teacher said, this is extremely "disturbing and distressing" and doesn't bode well for the future of our society/ civilization. Or, as my fellow classmate said, "it's not that the world's gone suddenly insane- it's only that people are realizing it now."

In the end, Calvin is right. Enmity sells. Enmity against Moslems, deciding to depict their holiest prophet in unsavory ways. Enmity against Denmark, and a boycott of all Danish goods. Enmity, no matter who it's against. Just enmity.


Halfnutcase said...

unfortunately that is true. i wish people could treat each other decently. and i wish they would stand up when we are misstreated.

The back of the hill said...

As usual, a more nuanced and thoughtful posting than my own.

As I expect from you.

I envy your eloquence.

dbs said...

Unfortunately, you’re right, hate does sell. One can’t help but sense that these riots are being sanctioned, even incited, by politicians and clerics in the Moslem world. The cartoons themselves are designed to inspire hatred and fear, and are exactly the kind of demeaning depictions which Jews have been subject to for so long. Personally, I believe that freedom of the press can have no limits, if our rights are to be protected. Condemn the riots, contemn the depictions, defend free speech.

I do, however, disagree with your Art teacher. I’ve heard so many people talk about how civilization is regressing. The world seems to be getting more radical and polarized. Hate is selling better than ever. In truth, this is an optical illusion, based on a narrow slice of world history. Looked at with more perspective, our planet is making stunning strides forward in human rights, peaceful conflict resolution and tolerance. It’s easy to forget what things were like. Look just at our country, slavery was abolished less than 150 years ago, and that took an incredibly bloody civil war. There are cycles in which hate and fanaticism rise up and then recede, but these are mere ripples in the overwhelming wave of progress.

Tobie said...

I have to say, I don't find the cartoons particularly offensive. Or rather, to be precise, I don't find them unusually offensive. Europe is notoriously anti-religious and these cartoons are quite mild compared to the regular sort of anti-JudeoChristian polemic out there. (I recall one jean manufacturer using an upside-down cross for his logo to protest the Catholic church). Europe tends to treat Islam, however, with kid gloves, because of its relationship with "another cultural viewpoint", the one thing that is truely sacred to liberalism.
What is particularly interesting about this controversy is that it is forcing Europe to re-think what it means to be liberal, anti-religious, and free- how much do they value each one of these, and what do they do when these values conflict? Hopefully, they will emerge from this whole mess with a more clear understanding of morality, liberalism, and the nature of the radical Moslem world.

Jameel @ The Muqata said...

And it continues.

See here:

TIPH TIFF -- How the Palestinians shot themselves in the foot. Again.

Elster said...

It's all the same cycle repeating over and over. Moslems can preach as much hatred as they desire. Howeve, they seem to lack the ability to take what they dish out. And for some reason, they get a free pass from the free world. It boggles the mind how people with such mindless hatred, who respond to all instances with violence first thought later (or never) are allowed to operate in the world with almost no reprecussions.

Anonymous said...

careful!!! you posted the picture - soon you will have cyber-crazies coming after you!! :-)

but the best response was in the NYTimes letters page this week.. and I quote..

"As a Jew I am especially sensitive to the kind of outrage religiously offensive caricatures can inspire, and I empathize with my Muslim cousins. As a liberal American, I am sensitive to the complex interplay between the press's freedom to publish these images and legitimate questions concerning the wisdom of doing so.

Yet, as the same time, I am struck by the inescapable irony of witnessing chanting mobs responding to the insult of being stereotyped as violent, by rioting and burning embassies and threatening to behead those who have offended them. Daniel P Baker, Trumbull Conn"

Well said Daniel!
zsta or xyz?

David_on_the_Lake said...

It's hard to judge because I don't know Islamic law..

If someone burnt a Torah scroll for the sake of freedom of expression or art..we would be beside ourselves with anger and sadness.
While someone who is not Jewish would not really be able to relate to our anger.

Anonymous said...

david, don't agree. sorry. burning a holy item is clearly an act of hatred. anyone in the west (and I suspect most in the east too) can recognise that a political cartoon is meant to be a social comment. some cartoons can be hatred-based, but these weren't. they were fair comment. so it touched a few nerves... they need to learn not to react violently.

If someone drew a caricature of G-d with horns and eating a pig would you get that upset?
Conversely, if the Danes had burnt an effigy of Muhammad, then I could (maybe) understand...(but it still wouldn't justify the violence.)

Tobie said...

David- I have to say, I don't quite see your point either. If somebody burned a Torah scroll, the Jewish community would be horribly offended. We would probably boycott the paper. We might boycott the country. We would quite likely hold rallies to get someone to condemn it. Tops. And if that's what the Moslems were doing, I don't think anyone would blame them in the least. I do not think that Jews all over the world would burn Danish flags, attack American embassies, or engage in any of the violence that the Moslems have given themselves over to.

Jak Black said...

I'm sorry, but I have to disagree with you, and agree with Rav Instapundit. The cartoon you pictured is meant to show that the original seeds for all this violence and hatred were planted by Mohammed himself (who we as religious Jews know to be a false prophet.) That's called commentary. If the Moslems can't handle it, too bad.

David_on_the_Lake said...

burning a holy object to us..can be seen as art by another (remember cow dung on the virgin mary?)

I'm not saying we as a people would react the same way..although we have seen certain elements of our society act out violently in Israel when they feel that shabbos is being violated in their I wouldnt put anything by us.

Chana said...

If you look through the Koran, it's difficult to see your point, jakblak. Where do you see Mohammed advocating violence against Jews?

I will agree with you in that he limits the people you cannot kill to "believers," but I don't think he actually advocates killing Jews.

So do we blame Mohammed as the source of all violence, or do we blame the radical factions that are twisting his words to support them? If there were a terroristic group of Jews, would we blame Moses because of it, or lay the blame squarely at their feet? After all, "the devil can cite Scripture for his purpose."

To David/ Tobie-
As far as burning flags are concerned, I think everyone agrees that this is a symbol of dislike or hatred for the country. The question is, is this legal? We have laws regarding the American flag that regulate how it is raised, etc, but can it be burned? According to free speech some say yes and some say no. I don't think the burning of a flag is cause for absolute uproar- after all, if you've watched the News lately, radical Moslems everywhere are busy burning both Danish and Israeli flags (yes, that was on CNN.) Do they have a reason? No, but of course everything is an Israeli plot! Does this mean Israel has to go on violent rampages? Of course not...and it doesn't.

Muffin said...

You misunderstood the cartoon. Ii wasn't commenting on Mohammad. It was commenting on people's perception of Mohammad. Westerners view Mohammad as supporting terrorism. The cause of the perception is that many Islamic organizations from Al Qaeda to Hamas have used Islam as their justification for terrorism, and the majority of the Muslim world is not willing to do anything more than insincere pro forma condemnations of the actions and justifications of the vocal minority. Mohammad is viewed by the West as supporting terrorism because of the actions of his followers. They've brought shame to their religion's founder, and until they take the proper action, this misperception will continue. The irony is that the violent protesters have done more than anyone to reinforce this misperception.

What I find really said is that the real cause of the hypocrisy here is cowardice. Condemning the West is safe, because the West won't slaughter those who disagree with them. Condemning the Muslim Fundamentalists in the Middle East who pervert Islam and shame Mohammad will get you shot dead. These protesters are afraid to take the steps to undo the misperception, so instead they condemn those who state the obvious truth: Islam is being used to justify mass murder. There is another other possibility that I consider too perverse to even consider. They actually agree with those who use Islam to justify terrorism, and still the need to kill those who recognize that truth.

Read this bottom letter in the NYT.

Jak Black said...


I said nothing in my comment about violence against Jews. In fact, the Jews faired better in the distant past under the Muslim sword than Christian love. But the fact is, Muslims have always been violent, and I've seen many, many quotes from the Koran along those lines. The Mullahs, I think, are actually the purists of their religion, actually believing in the literal meaning, rather than the practically mythical moderate Muslim (much as Orthodox Jews do for the Torah.)

Let's face it: Islam is a violent religion. All infidels (everyone except Muslims) must be converted or killed.

Jak Black said...

You misunderstood the cartoon.

See my above comment, then open a book or two by Bernard Lewis, the great scholar of the Islamic world. Islam has been violent for hundreds of years.

Anonymous said...

the problem is with your phrase "Islam has been violent..."
what exactly do you mean by it? All followers of Islam? Coz Islam is a belief system and thus abstract. Islam cannot be violent no matter how violent its followers are.
it is careless speech like this that begs accusations of 'ethnic prejudice' or even 'thoughless'.

Jak Black said...

I cry pardon.
I meant that Islam is clearly a religion which preaches violence.