This page is from the original Don't Let Me Stop You blog. We have moved to a new site: Visit DLMSY on WordPress.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Misleading Headlines

We saw a short (6 column inch) version of the linked AP article in the Lincoln Journal Star. The headline said, "Imam: Conflict Brings Understanding," so we were very interested in what kind of understanding it had brought. Reading the article (particularly the passage below), it seemed to us that the only "understanding" he was talking about was the West learning not to mess with Mohammed. There was no evidence at all that he had learned that his own role in fomenting the violence has had serious, negative consequences for the image of Islam all over the world.

Perhaps that was in the full version of the article, and that part was just trimmed for the Journal Star? Internet to the rescue: we found the long version on the Washington Post (registration required) under the headline "Danish Imam Condemns Cartoon Violence:"
"The volcano was inside," Ahmed Abu Laban, a Palestinian immigrant to Denmark, said at a mosque in Copenhagen. "Now it's erupting, and after the volcano there will be peace again."

Abu Laban called for more dialogue, saying Muslims do not understand Europe and that Europeans are reluctant to learn more about Islam. "We shall talk in Denmark. We shall talk in New York. We shall talk in Geneva ... and they will listen to us that we believe in God. And most importantly ... do not touch Muhammad."
This was the "understanding" the Journal Star headline referred to. Furthermore we searched in vain in the version on the WaPo for any evidence that Abu Laban was "condemning" the violence as asserted in the WaPo headline.

We saw claims that he and his group were not responsible for the violence, after they "sought outside help because they found it hard to make their voices heard in Denmark." Translation: We couldn't get Danish Muslims to riot over this, so we had to shop around for some goons elsewhere.

A spokesman for the group is quoted as saying, "We distance ourselves from the violence. We still don't think it's because of our protest that people in some places have used violence." That's a far cry from "condemning" it. That's simply another verse of the It's Not My Fault song, sung while cheering on the rioters. There's no call for calm in the Muslim world, no condemnation of killings and firebombings, and certainly no admission of fault for starting the riots.

Interestingly, a large majority of Danes see through Abu Laban's denials (from the same article):
Public opinion in Denmark turned against the group after several of its leaders went on trips to the Middle East in December, carrying a dossier with the cartoons from Jyllands-Posten newspaper and other images they said were offensive to Muslims.

Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen accused them of giving Denmark a bad name, saying he was "stunned" to learn about the trip.

The leader of the anti-immigrant Danish People's Party, Pia Kjaersgaard, went a step further, accusing the group of conducting a defamation campaign against Denmark.
A poll released Friday showed 58 percent of Danes believe the Danish imams bear the main responsibility for the recent violence, including flag burnings and attacks on Danish embassies. The Megafon institute survey said 22 percent of the 1,033 Danes interviewed blamed Jyllands-Posten.
To the WaPo's credit, they did put the whole article up, but why the misleading headline suggesting Abu Laban was opposed to the violence he fomented? Why twist his self-serving denials of responsibility into a peace-making role that he manifestly is not playing?

Update: The same article, still headlined "Danish Imam Condemns Cartoon Violence" is now on the ABC News site and available w/o registration. Still no indication whatsoever in the article of any actual condemnation of violence by Abu Laban. Wishing this worm is a moderate will not make it so. In fact it's just rewarding his bad actions.

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.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Cartoon Jihad

There's an excellent article today about the Danish Cartoon Intifada on OpinionJournal by Bernard-Henri Lévy. He concludes with an exhortation to support the moderate Muslims against the radicals:
The heart of this second triangle? First, the affirmation of principles. The affirmation of the press's right to the expression of idiocies of its choosing--rather than the acts of repentance that too many leaders have resorted to, and which merely encourages in the Arab street the false and counterproductive illusion that a democratic state may exert power over its press.

And second, in the same breath, the reaffirmation of our support for those enlightened moderate Muslims who know that the honor of Islam is far more insulted, and trampled under foot, when Iraqi terrorists bomb a mosque in Baghdad, when Pakistani jihadists decapitate Daniel Pearl in the name of God and film their crime, or when an Algerian fundamentalist emir disembowels, while reciting the Quran, an Algerian woman whose only crime was to have dared show her beautiful face. Moderate Muslims are alone these days, and in their solitude they more than ever need to be acknowledged and hailed.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Holocaust Cartoons

Those wacky, laugh-a-minute Iranian mullahs! What a great idea to hold a Holocaust cartoon contest:
Iran's largest newspaper on 7 February upped the ante by announcing a competition for what it called "Holocaust cartoons." The daily "Hamshahri," which is run by Tehran's municipal government, said it wanted to see whether freedom of expression extended to mocking the Holocaust, in which 6 million Jews lost their lives during World War II. The newspaper invited foreign cartoonists to enter the contest.
It is revealing, too, that the response to a European "insult" to Islam is to be a round of Jew-bashing. How did Isreal get blamed for this, even in Tehran? Oh, yeah, everything that happens in the world is part of a Zionist conspiracy. Right.

It should be interesting to see the outcome of this contest. It's bound to reveal lots more about the Iranian regime than about Europe or Israel.

To my recollection the only thing at all funny ever made about Nazi Germany was The Producers, and that movie ignored the Holocaust completely. There's just nothing funny there unless you're the kind of person who takes delight in the slaughter of millions. They're about to shoot off their own foot at the knee.

Who knows? Maybe the UN will even do something about the Iranian nuclear weapons program if the mullahs keep making their true nature this obvious.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Mohammed Cartoons

Thousands of Muslims around the world got all worked up about 12 cartoons published back in September in a Danish newspaper, Jyllands-Posten. Outraged that some of the cartoons dared to suggest that Islam is a violent religion, many of the "faithful" have poured into the streets threatening to kill those who would utter such a slander. Others went right to the killings of random Westerners, the burning of any buildings associated with Denmark, and so on, all in the name of the Religion of Peace. Some slightly less nutty groups began a boycott of Danish goods. Gee, a person might get the wrong impression about Islam from the way its adherents overreact to such small things. Well, it's not the "wrong" impression, we guess, but a bad one anyway.

We have to admire the Danish government and the people of Denmark for refusing to cave in to the worst elements of Islamofascism. We certainly plan to keep an eye out for Danish products to buy from now on. Our favorite French politician, Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy, also stood up for the principle of free speech:
[Sarkozy] said he preferred "an excess of caricature to an excess of censorship."
Sarkozy joined journalists in rallying around the editorial director of France Soir, who was fired by the newspaper's Egyptian owner. France Soir and several other newspapers across Europe reprinted the caricatures this week in a show of support for freedom of expression.
Unfortunately, the US State Department opted for dhimmitude and submission over the defense of free speech:
While recognizing the importance of freedom of the press and expression, State Department press officer Janelle Hironimus said these rights must be coupled with press responsibility.

"Inciting religious or ethnic hatred in this manner is not acceptable," Hironimus said. "We call for tolerance and respect for all communities and for their religious beliefs and practices."
Time was when State was only openly opposed to freedom in places where it was inconvenient for the the "principle" of Realpolitik, but apparently that now includes the entire world.

Despite the big news surrounding the reaction to the cartoons, finding them in print in the US has proved fairly difficult. Fortunately, today we have the internet, and MSM self-censorship is not as big a barrier to information flow as it used to be.

Although this is the first post addressing the topic, we have been doing our small part to fan the flames by posting the 12 cartoons on our Flickr account. The link is to a "set" containing the cartoons, and some comments.

Much has been made of the turban/head bomb, but many of the cartoons are completely innocuous. It has been asserted that any depiction of Mohammed at all is forbidden, and by nature blasphemous. The definitive word on this lie is provided by Zombie's collection of depictions of Mohammed over the centuries, many of which were done by Muslims. Zombie's page also includes the inflammatory "extra" pictures that a group of Danish Muslim clerics circulated through the Middle East with the 12 real cartoons. These phony pictures were not published by Jyllands-Posten, or any other paper, and seem to have been included with the aim of causing the kind of uproar that has occurred.

Overall, the quality of the cartoons is mixed, some are sharp and humorous jabs at the kinds of people that will gleefully behead someone in defense of Islam's "good name." Others fall rather flat for us, but perhaps it's a Danish/American thing. Our overall favorite of the 12 is this one:
Cartoonist at Work
Since it took us awhile to "get" this one, we'll point out that the cartoonist is in the process of penning a perfectly harmless drawing of Mohammed. He's in a dark room, sweating profusely, hiding the drawing with one hand, and glancing furtively over his shoulder in fear. That gets right to the heart of the matter, with subtlety, sharpness and humor.

You may be wondering why 12 obscure cartoons published in September suddenly ignited an Islamic firestorm in January after being ignored for months. Good question. It's fairly obvious that "spontaneous" demonstrations in Syria (and probably Lebanon) have the hand of Baby Assad behind them. This Wall Street Journal article (subcription only, but see here for an excerpt) digs into the connections to and motives of Our Friends the Saudis and Our Good Friend Hosni in sparking the violence.

Congratulations, boys, you've made your entire religion look like nothing but a bunch of bloodthirsty idiots. When will the majority of Muslims, who aren't lunatics, take control of their religion away from those that are?

Our friend, PTG, at Plains Feeder created his own cartoon, which is the funniest we've seen on this topic.
UPDATE: See also Sobek's Piss Mohammed parody picture. Cruise the rest of his excellent blog while you're there.