I am Spartacus
The first effective counterstroke in the cultural confrontation between the West and Radical Islam has been fired by Europe. The Guardian reports:
Two leading German newspapers and one of France 's biggest dailies today reprinted the cartoons of the prophet Muhammad that have sparked furore across the Middle East. The 12 drawings were first printed in the Danish daily Jyllands-Posten in September, sparking protests by Muslims against Denmark in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and other countries in the region. The offices of the newspaper were evacuated last night following a bomb threat - a day after the editor in chief apologised to the Muslim world for publishing the cartoons.
Islam forbids the human representation of the prophet. Many Muslims were also angry that some of the cartoons appeared to ridicule Muhammad. Die Welt printed on its front page today the drawing of the prophet wearing a turban with a bomb about to explode.
"Democracy is the institutionalised form of freedom of expression. There is no right to protection from satire in the west; there is a right to blasphemy" the paper said in an accompanying comment piece.
Michael Crichton characterized complex systems in the following way.
We live in a world of complex systems. The environment is a complex system. The government is a complex system. Financial markets are complex systems. The human mind is a complex system---most minds, at least. By a complex system I mean one in which the elements of the system interact among themselves, such that any modification we make to the system will produce results that we cannot predict in advance.
Furthermore, a complex system demonstrates sensitivity to initial conditions. You can get one result on one day, but the identical interaction the next day may yield a different result. We cannot know with certainty how the system will respond. Third, when we interact with a complex system, we may provoke downstream consequences that emerge weeks or even years later. We must always be watchful for delayed and untoward consequences.
The first significant notice of the Danish cartoon controversy was carried by Samizdata in November, 2005. The subject was repeatedly touched on in the Brussels Journal, whose Paul Belien describes how an issue on the periphery rapidly gained center stage.
Four months ago to the day, on September 30th, Jyllands-Posten published its twelve Muhammad cartoons. Over the past four months The Brussels Journal, an internet publication, has posted 19 stories about the affair, but the mainstream media (MSM) have – until today – remained conspicuously silent. In the Belgian newspapers and magazines not a single letter has been published about this important story. And when the MSM finally decide to devote some attention to the case it is amazing to see how they manage to get basic facts wrong despite having had loads of time to do their research. The Australian networks SBS reported today that one of the twelve cartoons shows a pig-snouted Mohammed, while our readers know from our article of 14 January that Muslim hate mongerers had added this particular cartoon (and two others) to the original twelve because they did not deem the original cartoons offensive enough. Why do Western journalists repeat the lies of these anti-Western fanatics? Out of incompetence, or worse?
But something unexpected happened. An individual act by a little known Danish politician provided the twist which changed the course of the whole affair.
Meanwhile, one can but admire the courage of Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen. He is one of the very few European politicians with guts. If anyone deserves a prize for his valiant defence of freedom of speech and freedom of the press, it is certainly Mr Rasmussen. He did not give in to pressure from Muslim fanatics, nor from the appeasers at the UN, the European Commission and the Council of Europe. In the past weeks Denmark has shown that all is not yet lost in Europe. If something is rotten now it is not in Denmark.
Today conservative Americans have started a “Buy Danish” campaign in support of Copenhagen’s valiant stand. The Danes deserve this. The sale of Danish products in the Middle East has come to a standstill.
When little Denmark stood firm the global Jihad probably believed it was simply another punk European country that needed to be put in its place. Danish ambassadors were summoned to Arab capitals. Fatwas were issued. A boycott of Danish goods was organized. It should have led to predictable results, but as when nearly a hundred years ago "some damn fool thing in the Balkans" happened -- in the least consequential place in the world -- the results were unexpected. The two day old article in Brussels Journal continues:
Meanwhile, today’s raid on the EU offices in Gaza has dragged the EU into an affair it has so far generally tried to ignore. The European ministers of Foreign Affairs discussed the cartoons in Brussels today and condemned threats against Danish and Swedish citizens – since they are EU citizens. “We have expressed a spirit of solidarity with our northern colleagues, as well as our belief and attachment to the freedom of press and the freedom of expression as part of our fundamental values, and the freedom of religious beliefs,” Austrian foreign minister Ursula Plassnik said after the meeting. Her French colleague, Philippe Douste-Blazy added: “We have all declared our solidarity with the Danes.”
The EU is also considering bringing the boycott of Danish products before the World Trade Organisation (WTO) because a boycott of Danish products is also a boycott of EU products. EU trade commissioner Peter Mandelson told the Saudi minister of Trade to “convey the seriousness of this issue to his government.” “Any boycott of Danish goods would be seen as a boycott of European goods,” Mr Mandelson said.
Europe discovered how to recognize shame all over again, but it was not the shame which the fatwa issuers had envisioned. Now the choices before the global Jihad are as follows: up the ante and humble Europe in its entirety or back down and eat crow. If they push forward the likeness of Mohammed will probably be plastered on thousands of newspaper and Internet websites before the week is up. It's a no-win situation for the Islamists which no one -- not the Danish cartoonists, nor Ramussen, nor Muslim clerics, nor even the startled Europeans themselves -- could have predicted.