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The Danish Cartoon Controversy: More Lessons To Be Learned

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What can be learned from the Danish cartoon controversy? The first is that we are surrendering the interpretation of the Koran to the more radical Islamic fundamentalists. After a few days of the controversy, we heard from many Muslims such as Iranian journalist Amir Tahri and blogger Iraq the Model that Muslim drew more controversial pictures throughout their history than what the Danes published. On top of that, the more controversial pictures distributed though out the Middle East were fabricated by some of the Islamic clerics themselves. (If it is heresy for infidels to publish unflattering pictures of Mohammad, what about Islamic clerics themselves? If they fabricate pictures and then distribute them, is that not worthy of at least a stoning or a beheading of a few clerics?) So maybe, we should not automatically allow the more extremists of Islamic clerics to consider what is or is not heresy. To do so only strengthens their hands against the more moderate Muslims.

The second aspect is to quit apologizing to these radical forces. When these pictures were originally reprinted last fall in Egypt, no noticeable wrath came from Muslim clerics. They became political weapons to be used against the democratization process that is proceeding in the Middle East. Sari Hanafi of the American University in Beirut told the New York Times, “These autocracies made use of the cartoons (the most offensive of which were fabrications) as a way of showing that the expansion of freedom and democracy in their countries would lead inevitably to the denigration of Islam.”

What we are seeing is an orchestrated efforts by autocratic regimes colluding with extreme fundamentalist clerics to conjure up Muslim rage for their own political gains. Denmark is scheduled to assume the rotating presidency of the UN Security Council and the Iranian mullahs goal is to intimidate the Danes and other European nations as Iranian nuclear program become an issue for the UN. Self-styled radical Islamic leaders throughout Europe, with close ties to some of the fundamentalists regimes in the Middle East such as Saudi Arabia, are using these cartoons to assert their dominance over Muslim minorities struggling to gain a foothold in the mainstream of European life.

This was not about religion but about politics. When the National Endowment for the Arts used government money to promote a picture of a crucifix in a bottle of urine, there were no massive calls for murder by Christians. The picture of Mohammad with a bomb in his turban was much about the abuse of Mohammad words being used to promote needless violence as anything else. How can anyone truly judge if a picture is truly offensive if it is not allowed to be printed?

The one lesson learned that it is okay to use government money to insult Christians but it is not okay to draw cartoons to make political points about the apparent terrorist activities of some Muslims. Much of the media refuse to publish the pictures and most Americans and Europeans have yet to see the original pictures. One Iraqi blogger estimated that 90% of the Arab world hasn’t see these pictures. So before we declare something offensive, it might be nice if we could preview them. Christian symbols are insulted quite frequently by our own culture. This doesn’t excuse the insults but in an open society, those things that we hold most dear will be satirize.

One aspect of this controversy is that once again we see our enemies for who they are. Many radical Muslims are exporting their Middle East repressive regimes to Europe. Wall Street European editor Daniel Schwammenthal writes, “The Islamists can’t send the journalists to a gulag but they can silence them by threatening to kill them. Bomb threats twice forced the journalists to flee their offices last week. “

And it appears that this intimidation is working. Schwammenthal observed, “Just as was the case with communism, Islamic totalitarian impulses find their apologists in the West. In Qatar, former President Bill Clinton decried the “totally outrageous cartoons against Islam.” EU trade commissioner Peter Mandelson said the journalists “have to understand the offense caused by cartoons of this nature.”

By failing to defend our own ideals, we have conceded the high ground to the most murderous aspects of the terror network. The strength of a culture, a faith or an ideal is how it stands up to scrutiny by its critics. If a faith refuses to allow itself to be challenged or faith to be tempted, then is not faith or ideal that has truly taken root. Christians have seen their own faith mocked in our secular society but many still hold their faith to be the truth. For many, their faith is their bedrock and their identity and no amount of sacrilege will dissuade them. The strength of our culture is that we allow open debate and it is in those debates that our ideals are strengthen.

Blogger Iraq the Model gives the following advice to the European, “One last thing, even if the entire EU apologizes it won’t change a thing; fanatics in our countries here had always considered the west their infidel arrogant crusader enemy and no apology no matter how big or sincere can change that.” Appeasement on this issue will not strengthen our position in the Islamic world but only encourage the more murderous to continue further upon the path of destruction. Fanaticism will not be deterred by appeasement of our own principles.

About Tom Donelson

  • http://www.roblogpolitics.blogspot.com RJ Elliott

    If you insult Muslims (12 Danish cartoonists), you are threatened with death, and are forced to either apologize or go into hiding.

    If you insult Christians (Andres Serrano and Chris Ofili), you make a lot of money and millions of people adore you.

    If you insult Jews (David Irving), you are put in prison.

    A triple-standard?

  • http://ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy in Jerusalem

    RJ wites, “If you insult Christians (Andres Serrano and Chris Ofili), you make a lot of money and millions of people adore you.”

    I don’t care about the adoration any but I could sure use some cash… At least now I know what to do for a living. Thanks for the tip, RJ.

  • http://www.roblogpolitics.blogspot.com RJ Elliott

    Just be sure to utilize a sacred symbol of Christianity and some form of human bodily waste.

    I recommend the “Pus Paul”…or maybe the “Mucus Luke”…

  • http://ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy in Jerusalem

    Mucus Luke? Pus Paul? Hmmm…

    The article’s author writes, “we are surrendering the interpretation of the Koran to the more radical Islamic fundamentalists.”

    If you want to learn something from this mess, lose phrases like “radical Islamic fundamentalists.” These people have names and specific concepts, and you need to specifically name them and the concepts that make them so distasteful in Western eyes.

    “Fundamentalism” is a concept that belongs to Christianity alone. It is not a term appropriate for describing Moslems or Jews, for that matter. There is no such thing as an “Islamo-fascist” either. All these terms divert you from naming the Wahhabi sect of Islam and its offshoots, the Moslem Brotherhood, the Taliban and Al Qaeda. The other point that must be made here is that the Saudi monarchy is Wahhabi and has been funding all of the offshoots of Wahhabi Islam ever since it had the money to do so. The Saudi monarchy has been paying for thousands of madrassas all over the Moslem world, and has been funding “Middle East Studies” departments all over the United States.

    These are your enemies. Look at Moslem violence world wide, and with the sole exception of the Shia, who have a different agenda, if you look hard enough, you’ll see somebody from the Wahhabi sect behind the violence.

    If I had a hundred shekel note for every time I’ve tried to make these points on Blog Critics alone, I’d have a nice bundle of money in my wallet – at least enough to buy a laptop with all the bells and whistles.

  • tom donelson

    Ruvy,

    Good points, but I do disagree on some points. First, is there such a thing as Islamic-fascists? Yes, considering that many of the original baathists were in fact impacted by European fascism as well as European marxism. Saddam is or was a perfect example of this.

    You are right to identify the Wahhabi sect impact on this but Iranians mullahs are of the Shia variety.

    Finally, why not identify those who oppose for what they are and what they will do. If attempting to throw a society back into the medieval period or practice widespread totalitarian impulses is not radical, fundamentalist, fascists- then come up with a better word for those of us in the West can understand.

    The Middle East has been a brew of secular fascists, radical Islamic that has spread from throughout the region with all branches of Islam involved. Shia’s from Iran, Wahhabi from Saudi, Sunni from Iraq’s have all played a role.

    Nationalism has played an role as well as religion. Iranians are not Arabs and many Shites Arabs resent Iranian shites. So combined the nationalist, secular fascism, and various religious sects- you have a widespread pot to choose from.

    The problem is not just Saudi brand of Islam since Iranian version is just as dangerous and Saddam version as well as the present Syrian is more of the secular brand that has roots in fascism and marxism. (Saddam heroes includes Stalin and many of the orignal baathist admired European fascism. Saddam own family members were part of the 1941 coup that attempted to seperate Iraq from Britain and essentially turn Iraqi oil over the Nazis.)

    I will keep with my terms until someone comes up something better and encompasses the whole of the struggle and not just its pieces.

  • http://ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy in Jerusalem

    Tom,

    You have just identified the various pieces yourself. You can’t just lump all Moslems into a “fundamentalist” basket because you want just one basket. That creates a distortion of the data that is dangerous – because the Western reader needs to comprehend what he is looking at. It is, unfortunately, a matter of life and death.

    Also, the influences between Nazism and Wahhabi Islam and its spores go two ways. Haj Amin al Husseini, Yasser Arafat’s uncle, a man who was influenced by the Moslem Brotherhood, went to persuade Hitler to kill all the Jews in Europe rather than deport them to Israel – and then kill them. One of the reasons for the Arab affinity for the Nazis was that they opposed the very colonial powers who kept the Arabs down.

    Syria is now and Iraq was a secular nationalist dictatorship – because the Syrian dictator is part of a branch of Islam that is not fully recognized by the Sunnis in Syria, and because 1)Saddam Hussein saw himself as the new Nebuhadnetzar and 2)the Baathist party in Iraq desired to use Islam to maintain control.

    So let’s be clear for the sake of the readers.

    The real powerhouse that is driving Moslem terror these days are the Wahhabi from Arabia, and the Shia from Iran. The Iranians are on a drive to create an empire. The Wahhabi want everyone in the world to convert to their version of Islam or die.

  • http://ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy in Jerusalem

    Oh, and RJ. If I do make any money insulting Christians, I’ll have to send you a finder’s fee. ;-)