Saturday, February 11, 2006

Cartoon Intifada

The ongoing furor over the Danish cartoon caricatures of Mohammed continues to a source of amazement and amusement. We're expecting any day now to see ads for DVDs of Muslims Gone Wild on our TV.

As we noted previously, the cartoons themselves can hardly be considered offensive in any objective sense. They're fairly standard satirical fare, taking mild jabs at the target (in this case radical Islam) to make a wider point. These are certainly no worse than the barbs aimed at politicians, religions, the rich and famous, etc. every day in the editorial pages of American newspapers.

A very unfortunately side effect of the US MSM self-censorship in deciding not to publish the Danish cartoons is that many people will never know just how much this ado is about nothing. This seems to us to be an integral part of "the story" here, and by obscuring that fact the MSM are failing in their primary job.

Why exactly have the US media taken this approach? One certainly can't discount the Fear Factor in this. Despite the talk on the Looney Left about how "scary" fundamentalist Christians are supposed to be, the total number of beheadings by the Religious Right remains right around zero.

Another reason is certainly the PC notion that certain "victim groups" should not be offended. This "folk Marxism" is a handy justification for double standards, as James Taranto noted:
This ideology sees the world as a series of class struggles--not between economic classes, as in proper Marxism, but between racial, ethnic, religious, sexual or other identity groups, which are defined as either "oppressors" or "victims."

Generally speaking, multiculturalists consider Christians to be an oppressor class, while Muslims are a victim class. A victim class's grievances must be taken seriously and can even trump free expression, while the same is never true of an oppressor class's. (The multicultural worldview sees Jews as an intermediate class--victims of Christians, oppressors of Muslims--which is why liberals can be outraged by anti-Semitic imagery in "The Passion of the Christ" but unperturbed by terrorism against Israelis.)
We wonder if, in at least some cases, there was even a conscious realization that showing the public how innocuous the cartoons really are would undermine the status of Muslims as a victim class. It's obviously a lot harder to draw the story arc of the Rightly-Offended Muslim Community vs. the Insensitive West, when people can see for themselves just how little it really takes to give offense to these "victims."

Even the Danish Imam, Ahmad Abu Ladan (The Islamic Society of Denmark), who brought the cartoons to the Middle East in an attempt to stir up the kind of reaction that has occurred, apparently didn't feel the cartoons themselves were offensive enough. He included three more, fake "cartoons" in his collection. These extras had never been published in Jyllands-Posten or anywhere else. One of them, purportedly showing Mohammed with pig features, turns out to be a grainy photocopy of a news photo from a story last August about a "pig-squealing contest" in France. The Frenchman, Jacques Barrot, who won the contest had donned a pig nose and pig ears for the show, and only months later was Barrot transformed into "Pig Mohammed." Who did it? Was it Abu Ladan and friends themselves for the purpose of fanning outrage? Since Abu Ladan won't say where the "extra cartoons" came from, the only source we know of is his group.

Syndicated columnist Leonard Pitts (always interesting, frequently right) has a fine column on this affair, including The Great Iranian Holocaust Cartoon Contest:
No, the argument is about what happens when any culture anywhere is so bereft and so closed that its people have no way of comprehending or even imagining lives and beliefs beyond their own.

Consider the announcement by an Iranian newspaper of a retaliatory contest seeking cartoons that mock the Holocaust. This, as a means of highlighting the West's supposed hypocrisy, its double standard on the question of free expression. A Muslim website has already posted a cartoon showing Anne Frank in bed with Adolf Hitler.

All of which is so appallingly stupid, misreads the rest of the world so completely, you don't know where to begin pulling it apart.

Perhaps it is enough to ask: Do they really expect this crude attempt at provocation to make Jews riot in the streets of Tel Aviv or Palm Beach?

Dear God, I think they do. That's the pitiful thing. Both for the aforementioned stupidity and for what it says about radical Islam's isolation, its separation, its apartness from the entire rest of the world, mainstream Islam emphatically included.
Amen, Brother Pitts. Amen.

Our friend, PTG, at Plains Feeder notes that the recently discovered Pancake Jesus looks more like a Pancake Mohammed, syrup be upon him. Actually, it looks more like a Pancake Fidel Castro to us, but to each his own.

For those who want to see what a talented cartoonist can do when he actually sets out to offend Muslims, check out The Study of Revenge.

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