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“Death to Denmark” and Other Cartoonish Islamic Inanities

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Remember the old Looney Tunes cartoons that so many of us grew up watching? Warner Brothers never failed to delight us with its gallery of delightful characters and their wacky antics: Bugs Buggy, Daffy Duck, Porky Pig, Tweety and Sylvester, the Road Runner and Wile E. Coyote, and all the rest.

But none of those silly cartoon characters can hold a candle to the wackiness of the real, live, living, and breathing loony tunes who are animatedly running amuck throughout the Islamic world and elsewhere since a Danish newspaper made the mistake of printing a series of cartoon caricatures of the prophet Muhammad.

Ordinarily, one could live to a ripe old age and never hear the words “Death to Denmark” being chanted by an angry mob. That’s because that tiny, inoffensive, liberal northern European country basically minds its own business, never bothers anyone, and wouldn’t intentionally hurt the proverbial fly. But that was before the great cartoon kerfuffle of 2006. Now, Danes, as well as all civilized peoples, are wishing that those mindless death chants were the worst of it.

Given that any representation of Muhammad in art is forbidden by Islam, it’s not particularly surprising that caricaturing him wearing a turban shaped as a bomb with a burning fuse would stir up a hornet’s nest. The only surprising thing is the degree and longevity of the ruckus.

The situation as it stands now is that thousands have gone on the rampage in cities around the world, rioting, burning infidel flags, torching infidel foreign embassies, calling for the severing of infidel heads, and generally raging at infidels at large shouting things like “Death to the infidels,” “Infidels must die,” and, as has already been noted, “Death to Denmark (which happens to be an infidel country)!”

Some also carried placards with none too subtle messages like, “Annihilate those who insult Islam,” and, my personal favorite, “Europe, take some lessons from 9/11.” A gratuitous repartee to that might be, Islamic world, take some lessons from 9/11 yourself — they’re called Afghanistan and Iraq, but that wouldn’t be very sporting or tolerant.

On the other hand, perhaps the time for tolerance — or at least an extreme degree of inappropriate tolerance — is over. It needs to be said that this cartoonish commotion isn’t happening because something is rotten in Denmark, but rather because something is rotten in a large swath of the planet stretching from Casablanca to Khartoum to Karachi to Kubang. That swath happens to be predominantly Muslim and that can’t be simply a coincidence. Despite the platitudes of multiculturalism, which in the West have become something akin to gospel in recent years and whose main tenet is that all cultures are pretty near equally worthy of respect, the West may finally be starting to wake up and smell the coffee as it boils over onto its lap.

Lord knows, the West has gotten wake-up calls galore over the past couple of decades about Islamic extremism, but has persistently hit the snooze button, rolled over, and gone back to sleep. Now it’s like an alarm that can’t be turned off. The only way to block it out would be with earplugs. Or intellectual blinders, the likes of which rule over some who are so stupefied by the exalted ideal of multiculturalism as to be incapable of perceiving reality. But when the foreign embassies of innocuous countries like Denmark and Norway get torched by Islamic mobs gone bananas over something as inconsequential as a few cartoons, the virulent cultural pathology of Islam is on display for all the world to see.

In this day and age, newspaper cartoonists, however opinionated or tasteless their drawings might be, should not have to go into hiding for fear of their lives as those Danes reportedly have. There’s a cartoonist in the newspaper I subscribe to who ticks me off almost every day. It’s Bush this and Rumsfeld that, every cartoon, every day. Can’t the guy do a negative cartoon about the other side just once? It’s not like he doesn’t have plenty of material to work with: Ted Kennedy, Howard Dean, John Kerry, Hillary Clinton, Nancy Pelosi, Robert Byrd, Michael Moore. Come on, already. It’s a ready-made gallery of caricaturables that no one could invent.

But being a good citizen of the West who is well-adapted to modernity, part of which is the ability to tolerate opinions with which I disagree or even abhor, I’m not overcome with the need to riot, burn down the newspaper office, or behead its chief cartoonist. The problem for the modern world today is that such simple and basic tolerance has yet to be inculcated in the Islamic world and that would seem to make it and modernity largely incompatible.

As the exercise lady with the crew cut used to say in the old television infomercial, it’s time to stop the insanity. Not just the insanity of Islamic extremism, but also the insanity of stupidly placating the insanity of Islamic extremism. So for instance, when a Muslim complains to Burger King that a swirly looking thing on the lid of its ice cream cones resembles the word “Allah” in Arabic script and is therefore offensive, rather than pulling the item off the menu, he ought to be told to buy his ice cream cones elsewhere if he doesn’t like it.

Or instead of a hospital deleting ham from the Christmas day menu because it might offend some pork-averse Muslim, the choice of ham ought to remain on the menu for the benefit of people other than Muslims. Or instead of a school banning books with stories about pigs from the classroom because they might offend Muslim children…

You get the idea. In other words, stop bending over backwards to placate members of the world’s most intolerant culture because it only works against you in the long run. The ultimate paradoxical conundrum of multiculturalism is that its indiscriminate and/or overindulgent application actually encourages more intolerance and, therefore, could simply destroy itself in the end.

And then one day we all wake up and….Poof! No more multiculturalism, and it’s back to intolerance the world over. Who knows what they’ll be rioting about then. Perhaps something even more inane than cartoons.

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About gstrange

  • http://human-interface.blogspot.com/ gazelle

    i am mostly disturbed at the hardening of stances, as you seem to be suggesting. this needs to be rolled back because in my opinion the issue is a false on and its not freedom of expression.

    yes people sometimes use religion to extract concessions, and making others very sel-conscious unpolitely, as has been done by others in the US before – no need to name. this is not justified.

    yes some internal info processing, rethinking, is required to make healthy connections on common ground, mutual likenesses and suitability – not hard to do. But the strong stances against each other are definitely the wrong way to go.

    Getting tired of the issue as an ordinary person i went for humour: Cartoon Jokes – and on a somber note: Freedom Or Passion only if you’d like to read more.

    best

  • Mr Cheese

    Behold the Fondue of the Infidel

    “In the occupied West Bank city of Tulkarm, more than 10,000 Palestinians burned Danish cheese. ”

  • http://leander.blogspirit.com/ Michael Leander

    Dear Mr. Strange,

    As an open minded, educated person, and as a Dane (not a Great one, just a Danish citizen, from Denmark), it gave me great pleasure to read your article. (thanx to Google News)

    Your article deserves to reach a very large audience. I sincerely hope, that you are making an effort to make that happen.

    Thank you so much for sharing.

    Best Regards

    Michael Leander

  • Nancy

    I just posted this info to another thread on this blogsite:

    yesterday I came across an article online from a European news source. I wish I’d noted it, because now I can’t find it again to source it.

    The article stated that the actual cause of the furor is 3 cartoons NOT published with the original 12 back in September, but provided since, by a group of imams sponsored by some germanic islamic groups & some Saudis. The imams have refused to reveal the source of these cartoons, but claim they were part of the original set of cartoons published in September. All 3 of these ‘new’ cartoons are actually very obscene – I was offended just reading the description of them. But where they come from is a mystery that the imams seem to be unwilling or unable to clear up, and a little cursory investigation doesn’t turn them up in the original group of 12. The news column goes on to speculate that this is a deliberate setup by extremist muslim elements precisely to bring about a sort of global muslim riot against western civilization.

    Anyone else read or hear of this? It would certainly put a new twist on things, if even partially true.

    On another aspect of this, I’ve heard it speculated by Talking Heads that these riots are actually flamed less by the cartoons than by muslims reaching a point of frustration about a whole range of subjects. All I can say to that is, this reminds me of the riots in 1930s Germany, directed against Jews and non-Germans, but carefully staged by the growing Nazi movement in order to divert attention away from public resentment against their own incompetence & repression. It seems to me all these imams & leaders of islamic theocracies are simply using this issue as an excuse to direct the dissatisfaction of their countrymen against the convenient ‘foreign’ target, in order to divert it from themselves.

    It’s a pity most humans are too stupid to realize how they’re manipulated by those at the top, all over the world.

  • http://www.booklinker.blogspot.com Deano

    It’s not about the cartoons.

    The thing to remember is where this is coming from – the cartoons are the excuse, they are the red cape to bait the bull.

    Yes, millions of Muslims are offended by the cartoons however the current frenzy being whipped up is one being deliberately exploited for very specific reasons by a number of parties. Across a very wide swath of the Middle East you have a tremendously young population, with very limited educational and economic prospects, living under a theocratic rule that controls their political freedom, their economic freedom and their news sources. It is a population seething under internal pressures, both religious, political and economic. These nations need to find methods to control and direct their own population.

    This type of event serves their purposes by inflaming the people against the west, radicalizing them and uniting them behind their respective governments and religious leaders. The Danish cartoons are not a free speech question – they are being used as a deliberate effort to drive the radical agenda, to focus the festering anger and unease and resentment that many people of the Middle East feel on an external enemy, rather then where it belongs – on the wealthy oligarcical elite that rules the region.

    They want to export their internal nascent rebellions as Jihad and neither deal with delivering true economic growth or opportunity to their own populations. They are exporting blame, and using it to prop up their own inability to deal with their problems

    Is there genuine anger and resentment? – Yes, exacerbated by the recent war in Iraq. Whether you believe it is justified or not, it has fanned the flames of anti-Americanism and a significant part of the Middle East has drawn their interpretation of the events from the images on Al Jazzera of dead Iraqi civilians, not from any belief in global WMD strategic security or 9/11 anti-terrorism.

    There is some serious anger and resentment at the comparative wealth, opportunity and freedom of the west, exacerbated by the perception that the West despises and mocks Islam and its core foundations….This isn’t about the cartoons, it isn’t about freedom of speech, it is about that mounting and expanding chasm between the haves and the have-nots, between those with power and those without. The riots are an expression of that chasm. Unless we find ways to force bridges across it, we aren’t going to ever see the tolerant face of Islam, just the car-bomb, the gun, and the face of terror, jihad and resentment.

  • Aamir Ali

    I am a Muslim and I support the condemnation and protests of these insulting and provocative cartoons. I do not support burning down embassies, on principle and because that has been seized by media and bloggers and exaggerated in order to discredit all Muslim protestors. I will not buy any Danish product since they are an uncultured people who dont respect my basic beliefs.

  • http://www.codexalimentarious,com/ Richard Brodie

    I am a Muslim and … I do not support burning down embassies, on principle and because that has been seized by media and bloggers and exaggerated in order to discredit all Muslim protestors.

    Notice. Not because it is wrong. Your “principle” for not supporting this arson is only because it is “seized upon” and “exaggerated” by the media to hurt the Muslim cause.

    Like you, I have no problem with PEACEFUL protests. I also support the right of Muslims to boycott the entire Western world if they want to – and I wish they would!

    I also notice you avoid mentioning that the Muslim world has “seized upon” and “exaggerated” a few harmless cartoons.

    Get use to it, Because we are not going to stop satirizing Mohammed, The Pope, George Bush, and any other political or religious idiots that we feel like. And neither are we going to refrain from reporting (i.e. “seizing upon”) news of Islamic violence whenever and wherever it occurs.

  • Madsen

    Quote: [i]…I will not buy any Danish product since they are an uncultured people who dont respect my basic beliefs.[/i]

    Enlighten me…Why should Denmark as a state be held responsible for the acts of a private newspaper?…I for one was not asked wether the Jyllandsposten should publish the cartoons.

    “They are an uncultured people”?!…pfff…if I should generalize about muslims in the same way you’ve generalized about Danes, I could very well claim that..”muslims are terrorists who doesn’t respect non-muslims…they kill innocent children (Beslan) and cuts heads of innocent people etc etc”…Come on! Seriously!

  • Muhammad Rahim

    Madsen,

    I agree with you on that one…… Don’t generalize and entire group for the action of some.

    The whole thing is silly and out of control. Peaceful protest-yes. Violent protest-no. It’s wrong.