Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Monotheists run amok

Some of my favorite liberal bloggers have been a tad bit incoherent, in my opinion, or just plain wrong on the infamous Danish cartoons and the riots. It must just be the cultural bigot in me, but I'm always going to find it difficult to make excuses for violent rock-throwing mobs even they are the downtrodden "other" (and given the zeal with which some of them oppress women and girls, I'll never be able to see these bastards as being oppressed). By golly, if it's OK to make fun of Jesus and His followers (and it IS OK by me), then it's OK to make fun of the prophet Muhammed. And of those of his followers who see nothing wrong with blowing civilians to bits.

It's certainly predictable that many Muslims would be offended by a cartoon showing Muhammed with a turban made of bombs, but that could be seen as fair commentary on those who blow civilians up in the name of Allah, not as a dig at Islam itself. Just as Patriotboy's Republican Jesus makes fun of supply-side Christians, not Jesus.

I've read that the cartoons traffic in racist stereotypes, depicting hook-nosed swarthy Arabs (I've seen a clear reproduction of only one of the cartoons; I've just seen fuzzy low resolution versions of the others). If that's the case, in my opinion the Danish paper shouldn't have run them (though the mob violence is entirely unjustified in any event). Of course plenty of American editorial cartoonists routinely traffic in such racial stereotypes. I give you, for example, The State's Robert Ariail (prime example here). Not that, mind you, the fact that many editorial cartoonists do it makes it OK. Such cartoons should be condemned by decent people, and decent editors should refrain from running them. Decent people, and indecent ones as well, should be permitted to stage peaceable mass protests. But enough with the rock-throwing and the burning already!

Lest I descend deeper into incoherence myself, here's my position: What Josh Marshall said.

Update: Oh, for God's sake. Rice is now blaming the administration's evildoers du jour, Syria and Iran, for stoking the riots.

Update no. 2: Ah, here's a link to the cartoons, if you haven't already seen them. A couple of them are, in my opinion, borderline racist (though no more so than some of the cartoons that are shown routinely in the editorial pages of American newspapers). The others are, again in my humble opinion, relatively innocuous. But the newspaper ran them all at once, and I can see now how the effect of all of them together would look to many Muslims like a calculated affront. Still doesn't justify the violence that ensued, but it looks like it was really callous of the newspaper to print them all as it did. I'm afraid I've descended hopelessly into incoherence here (that will teach me to post more than two or three lines about anything). For the record, I still agree w/the Josh Marshall post cited above.


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