Tuesday, February 07, 2006

# Posted 8:39 PM by Ariel David Adesnik  

OXBLOG BURNS DOWN NORWEGIAN EMBASSY: Oh, like you never thought it would be fun to do that.

Anyhow, I decided that I should put down on paper my thoughts about the anti-Danish jihad. Not because there isn't enough commentary already out there, but because writing is often how I clarify my own thoughts.

In the words of Suzanne Nossel,
Until this weekend I classed the Muslim cartoon fracas as an interesting story I didn't have time to follow.
Or just didn't care enough to follow. I mean, how absurd was it that Denmark, the land of cheese and pastries -- whose government had nothing to do with the offensive cartoons -- had suddenly become the focus of Muslim rage?

As one reader over at the Washington Monthly asked, where did they even get all of those Danish flags they burned? (Another reader answered that they got them the same place they got all the American flags they burned: China.)

Although I usually have no appetite for reading the comments on Kevin's site, this time around they were very instructive. Although conservatives often suggest that liberals have a pathological need to sympathize with America's enemies, I read the first fifty or so comments on Kevin's post and found not a trace of this instinct for appeasement. Instead there was moral clarity. Here are some examples:
It's hard to feel sorry for people with such thin skins. And I'm on the liberal team!

If I have to change my lifestyle to avoid pissing off every person who gets up early in the morning to stand in line waiting to be offended, I ain't gonna do it.

It's okay to commit mass murder in his name, just don't draw him.

Catholics need to learn to threaten to blow up embassies, take people hostages, and burn stuff in violent demonstrations. I mean, little prayer vigils ain't gonna get it done. [Yes, that was sarcasm. --ed.]

It's curious how people in other countries simply cannot comprehend the concept of freedom of speech and of the press.

Don't forget Legos! Danes make that insipid symbol of western capitalism: Legos.
I guess this one really is an easy call, even those with bleeding hearts. All the violence is on their side. Our side is represented by cuddly, multilateral Europe. And by journalists. And the principle at stake is freedom of speech.

Of course at Kos, there was some ambivalence. On Friday, georgia10 wrote
What level of deference--if any--should artists accord to religious considerations? The recent controversy is just another chapter in this debate, a debate all nations have engaged in--and a debate without a clear answer.
Well, it is nice to see the folks at Kos showing a little respect for religion, albeit at an unusual moment. Yet after things picked up over the weekend, georgia10 decided to take sides:
Kidnapping and burning embassasies over a cartoon? How incredibly f***ing stupid.
Then there was this comment on a different post about the cartoons:
Blasphemy should be 100% legal, 100% of the time.
And Kos himself endorsed this post, which describes the decision of a courageous Jordanian editor to publish three of the Danish cartoons alongside an editorial calling for moderation.

So, let's savor this while it lasts: Americans, for once, are united.
(7) opinions -- Add your opinion

I disagree with Mr. Adesnik's contention that there is total unanimity of opinion in the United States about the cartoon controversy. Yes, everybody condemns the violence wholeheartedly, and that is good. But there is a difference of opinion about the cartoons themselves. I'll admit that the vast majority of American weblogs on both the left and the right advocate a view opposite to my own. They state that the cartoons are harmless and inoffensive. To me this widely accepted point of view reveals a profound lack of respect for Islam. This is problematic, because the U.S. currently leads the West in a global war against radical Islamist terrorism. Any Western action which needlessly alienates ordinary Muslims hurts the U.S. in its efforts to win this necessary war.
Having spent a fair amount of time in Norway over the past few years I can attest that immigration is putting genuine pressure on the Scandinavian socialist model. How they deal with this over the next ten years will be a telling indication as to whether the governance model is dependant on uniformly distributed oil wealth or can adapt to the future of western Europe.
I dont think everyone is saying that the cartoons are completely in offensive. While many of them are, a few are not. But then there are plenty of offensive cartoons in the Western press. The Independent published cartoon of Ariel Sharon eating babies - given the history of the blood libel, that was pretty offensive. But its part of freedom.

Look at the kinds of cartoons about Israel and Jews that circulate in the muslim world.
The problem with the Muslims argument about respecting anyones beliefs is it loses a lot of its credibility when it is followed by a round of US flag burning, hangings in effigies, embassy stonings etc. I understand that people can be offended by an affront to their cultural beliefs and heritage but maybe we have the pot calling the kettle black. Not a good way to gain respect or international credibility...
This situation reminds me of the Sepoy War (Mutiny) of 1857 where the hindu and muslim soldiers revolted because of the beef and pig fat used in the cartidge for the pattern 53 Lee-Enfield rifled musket. The cartridge had to be bitten open to pour the powderinto the muzzle loaded muskets thus exposing the soldiers to the forbidden fat.
In modern times Denmark has been known for modern furniture, cheese, and the fact that they consume more beer per capita than any other nation on earth. This is their 15 minutes of fame. But I think they need to reconsider that Wacky Mohammed Roller Coaster at Tivoli Gardens.
Why do you have to pick a side here?

It's not a "free speech" issue, in the sense that no one -- apart from a few extremists whom we don't take seriously -- is suggesting that the newspapers shouldn't be permitted to print these cartoons. Given that, I don't understand why the newspapers printed them, given that they will offend quite a few people as blasphemy. It's not like they're particular brilliant cartoons. Their publication surely doesn't warrant violence or the destruction of property, but there are also quite a few people protesting who aren't doing those things.
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