Thursday, February 02, 2006

WWDD (What would Doonesbury do?)

OK, it's not really news that radical Muslims are mad and want to kill people ... that's just every Thursday for Osama and his boys.

But it's kinda funny that they now want to blow up anybody who laughed at a Danish newspaper's editorial cartoon depicting Mohammad with a bomb on his head. In fact, a terrorist mob armed with automatic weapons showed up at the European Union's offices in Gaza City, looking for somebody -- anybody -- to shoot. United Nations officials have been dragged into it. In Pakistan, mobs chanted "Death to Denmark!" and "Death to France!" It's funny to think of Denmark as a threat to Islam, isn't it? Denmark isn't even a threat to Finland.

Muslims consider it sacrilegious and blasphemous to depict the Prophet Mohammad in any way. And out of respect for the religion among most media outlets, you won't see the cartoon anywhere ... except the Internet, where nobody usually cares about anybody else's feelings. (OK, if you don't think Westerners have similarly strong feelings about images of their religious leaders, just ask Sinead O'Connor.)

I wonder: How can a culture that justifies crashing planes into buildings or beheading innocents find a piddling editorial cartoon too offensive?

Hunting for logic in the madrassahs of the Muslim world is fruitless. Logic is a head-thing, and radical Islamists listen only to the sour bile in their guts. We have Muslim media (al Jazeera) airing decapitation videos for the simple reason that radical Islamists know beheadings are highly provocative to Westerners ... but now radical Islamists are going (slightly more) insane over a newspaper cartoon?? Man, they need to cut back the caffeine in that Turkish coffee.

If Muslim countries wish to ban such idolatrous art, let 'em. But most Muslim nations put more energy into organizing "Death to America!" parades than election days. Why waste time debating issues when you can simply blow up the opposition? Why write a letter to the editor when you can just shoot your rival? Face it, terrorists generally aren't good listeners (or cuddlers, for that matter.) But, hey, it's their little corner of Hell, and if they wish, they should be free to set the thermostat on "high."

But a lot of nations in this world still have free presses, free expression, and really wicked editorial cartoonists. Radical Islamists with 12th century sensibilities have already made a too-big dent in the 21st century ... and when they arrive at democratic government offices and newsrooms with loaded weapons, they're no better than the "devil-dogs" they so gleefully decapitate. Haven't they seen how George Bush is portrayed in cartoons? And how long do you think before "South Park" has a Mohammad character dancing nekkid with 72 virgins?

Oh well. Editorial cartoonists' only reason for living is to get under somebody's skin. And now, one Danish cartoonist has found some readers who want to get under his skin ... with a scimitar.

PICTURED ABOVE: A real editorial cartoon from an Arab newspaper. Maybe it's me, but it seems to lack something ... oh yeah, humor. Kill the cartoonist!

8 comments: said...

You can’t kidnap, kill, torture, mutilate, and degrade other religions, then try to take the moral high ground when someone does something that offends you. Maybe they should be more cosniderate of others. I appreciate their respect for their religion but I don’t think more mindless violence helps any cause.
Raymond B

Patty said...

Well I think the sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander and he can't take it.
Everywhere you turn these idiots are killing attempting to kill Christians and Jews alike. So they got their feelings hurt. Bet that don't hurt nearly as much as what they do to the people they kill.
Right now in Iran that jerk they elected is plotting on who?

SingingSkies said...

The desire to wipe off the face of the earth anyone whose religious beliefs are different from mine makes absolutely no sense whatsoever to me. However, I had a randon, early-morning, wild-hare thought which may possibly be worthy of reflection and research: What if this behavior is part of the maturation cycle of a religion?

Christianity has certainly had its unsavory eras where the behavior has been 'my way or off with your head'. Think Inquisition and the Crusades. This in spite of Christ's very clear injuction to his followers, and his own behavior, that his people were to be a people of peace.

And you don't have to look too far into the Old Testament accounts of the entrance into the promised land to find the Hebrew people hearing God tell them that if they don't wipe the previous occupants off the face of the earth (man, woman, and child) that there'd be trouble in paradise.

Off the top of my head, I don't have enough history of Buddhism, Hinduism, or other faiths to test this out further. And don't have the time to do the necessary research. But thought I'd throw it out there for others to chew on and respond.

ShinyScott said...

Well said Ron. The hypocracy of the muslim world is self-evident today. Thanks for the first comment on my brand-new blog.

Patrick Joubert Conlon said...

I'm going to pinch your Arab anti-Jew cartoon.

twba said...

What if this behavior is part of the maturation cycle of a religion?

I wondered why the Danish paper felt the need to offend muslims. After seeing the reaction to the cartoons, I think it was necessary to provoke muslims in order to get them to understand freedom.

Tim Cavanaugh writes: I'm going to go out on a very short limb here and say it's the Muslim community, not the West, that needs to learn a thing or two from this experience. There have been objections that this controversy undermines our own efforts to enlist potentially friendly Muslims in the struggle against tyranny. This is no doubt the motivation of the U.S. State Department in its decision to side with the rioters. But this view is not only unprincipled (free speech is to be defended even if it inconveniences the war on terror); it condescends to the perceived close-mindedness of Muslims and misreads the nature of the tyrannies in question. There isn't a single dictatorship in the Muslim world that isn't solicitous of the religious beliefs of its own population, that doesn't dish out harsh punishments for offenses against Islamic, and sometimes even Christian and Jewish, religious sensibilities. Religious respect, in other words, becomes another form of oppression. If that's the kind of respect freedom-minded Muslims can expect from the West, they're better off getting insulted.

Michael Gillespie said...

It's relatively easy for those belonging to faith traditions that are politically and socially secure to brush aside or even ignore perceived insults or slights coming from without, especially if the insult or slight, and those by whose actions the potential offense comes, are highly unlikely to have any significant negative effect on the life and well-being of the believer who might be offended.

Most American Christians today couldn't care less what believers in Shinto, for instance, think or say about Christianity.

But that was not the case in the days, months, and years after the December 7, 1941, Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, and suddenly Americans felt very threatened indeed by those who believe in the Shinto religion.

Somewhat similarly, many Americans today are suspicious, fearful of, and more likely to be offended by the words and actions of Muslims following the terror attacks of September 11, 2001.

But, let's expand our view of the historical context just a bit. How might we Americans feel if we lived in a country whose borders had been established not by we who live within them, but by the political leaders of non-Christian foreign powers who assumed the right to draw up borders and establish governments designed to suit their own national interests (and their desire to control our valuable natural resource, oil) rather than the legitimate interests of the inhabitants of our country, us? And after decades living, without rights such as freedom of speech, under the rule of despots established and supported by foreign powers, how might we American Christians react to the intentional and provocative smearing of, say, Jesus, by cartoonists who live and work in the countries that drew our nation's borders and established and supported the despots who rule over us, cartoonists and editors who were, they said, simply interested in demonstrating their right to freedom of speech in their country?

I am often reminded of an account I read years ago written by a Lebanese doctor who worked in the emergency room of a Beirut hospital in the 1980s. As I recall it, the doctor wrote of his encounter with a Lebanese Arab father who arrived home after work one day to find that in his absence an Israeli warplane (supplied by the USA) had rocketed the high-rise apartment building in which he and his family lived. His small children, all three of them, had been alone in the apartment after school in the minutes after his wife left for work and before he returned home from his job. The rocket (also supplied by the USA) had entered the living room and exploded, blowing apart and killing the three children. The man had gathered up his children’s remains, body parts and pieces of body parts, and placed them in a plastic garbage bag. He had brought the bag to the hospital, to the emergency room, which was where the doctor talked with him. The tearful, distraught father told the doctor he didn't know what else to do, where else to go.

Some 20,000 Lebanese, mostly civilians, many of them women and children, died violently in Lebanon in the year 1982 alone. They died as a direct result of U.S. support for Israel's invasion of Lebanon--some 20,000--that's roughly seven times the number of civilians who died on 9/11/2001. One wonders, of those Americans knowledgeable enough to locate Lebanon on a map or put a name to the country's capital city, how many were at all troubled by those 20,000 civilian deaths? How many Americans questioned or protested their government's Middle East foreign policy in 1982? For that matter, how many Americans were sorely troubled by the violent deaths of thousands of innocent Afghan civilians who died as a direct result of the U.S. bombing campaign in 2002, or the deaths of thousands of innocent Iraqi civilians who died as a result of the so-called precision U.S. bombing campaign and artillery bombardment during the war to remove Saddam Hussein's regime from power in 2003? Arab and Muslim lives have long been undervalued in the West.

Only now, now that Americans are dying daily on the ground in the Middle East, are serious questions raised regarding American policies and the terrible cost of empire. Why? Because ours is a culture steeped in half-truths and trained in art of selective compassion by the media organizations that provide us with information. For decades we have been bombarded by propaganda that systematically de-humanizes Arabs and Muslims as the evil "other" unworthy of our respect, pity, or compassion. News coverage has seldom bothered to name Arab and Muslim civilian casualties of Israeli or U.S. military actions. Whether the number of dead and wounded is large or small, Arab and Muslim men, women, and children often are mentioned only as nameless and faceless statistics, unless of course they happen to be terrorists, "high-value" targets in America's war on terror. Meanwhile, Israeli civilians, police, and military casualties are more often named, their grieving families are interviewed, their grief-stricken faces flashed around the world on Big Media news programs, while American soldiers are endlessly praised and lauded as heroes, except for "a few bad apples" who were stupid enough to document their own depravity as they reveled in the systematic abuse, torture, and rape of Arab men, women, and children in Saddam's Abu Ghraib prison, a hell-hole refurbished for use by the U.S. military at the expense of U.S. taxpayers.

Democracies find it a great deal easier to muster public support for wholesale oppression, exploitation, and wars of national aggrandizement when they are able portray the enemy in one-dimensional terms, as evil terrorists, killers who have no respect for human life. This is one way our leaders and compliant Big Media talking heads so effectively obscure the fact the USA and its allies have, over the years, killed or subsidized the killing of literally hundreds of times more civilians in the Middle East than Arab fanatics and Muslim extremists have killed in the West. And nevermind the decades upon decades of cruel exploitation and ruthless oppression that we in the West would, were it our lot, certainly resist at least as bitterly, as determinedly, and as bloodily as do some Arabs and Muslims. And nevermind the millions of civilians killed by American bombs in Southeast Asia during the Vietnam era.

Government censors and the media mavens who do their bidding selectively feed us information and disinformation and attempt to manipulate our emotions while they hide from our eyes and from our ears the true horror of war. We are not allowed to see photos of the flag-draped coffins of U.S. troops who die in Iraq and Afghanistan, just as we are not allowed to witness the terrible plight of the nameless Arab, the faceless Muslim, standing in the hospital emergency room holding a garbage bag containing the remains of his children, weeping under the burden of a loss that will forever blight what may remain of his shattered life. Yet somehow we Americans must come to understand that his children are as dear to him as ours are to us. We must come to understand that the inherent value of human life is not determined by racial or religious differences or circumscribed by political boundaries.

We must come to understand that wars fought by wealthy and powerful nations against poorer, weaker ones are every bit as likely to demoralize the victors as well as the vanquished, that we can neither civilize the world nor transform it into a safe, secure, globalized free market with conventional bombs and bullets or with nuclear, chemical, or biological weapons. We must come to understand that modern weapons of mass destruction have made warfare potentially suicidal on a planet populated beyond its optimum carrying capacity. We must come to understand that selfish political sagacity itself is ultimately suicidal, destructive of all those qualities that ensure human group survival.

Perhaps the greatest sacrilige committed against Christianity is the abject failure of some Christians to honor in any meaningful way the core teachings of the founder of the Christian faith, the religion of Jesus, who is reported to have said that the most important law was two-fold, to love God, and to love one's neighbors. When asked who one's neighbors actually were, he replied with a parable about Good Samaritan who stopped to assist a man who had been set upon by robbers, assaulted, and left by the roadside for dead.

twba said...

And after decades living, without rights such as freedom of speech, under the rule of despots established and supported by foreign powers, how might we American Christians react to the intentional and provocative smearing of, say, Jesus, by cartoonists who live and work in the countries that drew our nation's borders and established and supported the despots who rule over us, cartoonists and editors who were, they said, simply interested in demonstrating their right to freedom of speech in their country?

I, an atheist, would welcome the offensive depictions of Jesus. I would want to undermine the despot that has made the criticism of religion a capital crime.

So, some brainwashed fanatics are throwing a temper tantrum -protest seems like a misnomer- because they are trying to impose their oppression on the entire world. Screw them; I plan to continue blaspheming. I support the people who yearn for the freedom to speak their minds. Making fun of Mo is a step on the long journey to individual freedom.