Thursday, February 02, 2006

The cartoon crisis continues

More developments on the Mohammed cartoon crisis.

Muhammad cartoon editor is sacked
'No one will draw the Prophet'
London Islamists target Israel, Denmark
Muslim Cartoon Fury Spreads
Anger as papers reprint cartoons of Muhammad
European papers ignore Muslim fury over Danish cartoons
Danish news editor: Dark dictatorships have won

And from the Financial Times, the first warning that this cartoon will lead to more terrorism.

President Hosni Mubarak said the reprinting of the cartoons – originally published by Danish daily Jyllands-Posten, they were reproduced this week in newspapers across Europe – would lead to serious repercussions, inflaming sentiment in the Muslim world and among European Muslim communities. Insensitive handling of the issue, he said, would give more pretexts to extremists and terrorists to carry out attacks.

In Saudi Arabia, Prince Nayef, the interior minister and staunch conservative, said the cartoons were an insult to all Muslims, and suggested the Vatican should intervene to put an end to the spread of the cartoons.

Tayyip Erdogan, prime minister of Turkey, a European Union candidate country, deemed the cartoons an “attack on our spiritual values”, and called for a limit on press freedom.


The statements of Hosni Mubarak and Tayyip Erdogan indicate how deep this cultural division is. At the same time many Europeans -- not most, but many -- are suddenly aware they stand on the edge. If they let Islamic clerics determine what Europeans can and cannot print in their own press through a process of intimidation and force, the Old Continent will have surrendered a large part of its independence and sovereignty. The holy grail of every agitator is to find an issue on which both sides are unalterably opposed. Radical Islam has found it the blasphemy of Mohammed and ironically gave those who would rouse the West a mirror issue of their own: the blasphemy of censorship and the extinction of freedom of speech.

Both sides now are in too deep to climb down without damage. For the European press the path to this confrontation has been imperceptible, absentminded and catastrophic. Yet all so terribly familiar. The old warnings come naturally to mind.

... descending incontinently, fecklessly the stairway that leads to a dark gulf.
It is a fine broad stairway at the beginning, but after a bit the carpet ends.
A little farther on there are only flagstones, and a little farther on still these break beneath your feet.

The fine, broad highway to Hell that is political correctness which has achieved the opposite of its intent: not the universal chorus of harmony but religious conflict at its most primitive level.

And do not suppose this is the end. 
This is the beginning of the reckoning. 
This is only the first sip, the first foretaste of the bitter cup, 
which will be proffered to us year by year, 
unless by a supreme recovery of moral health and martial vigour, 
we rise again and take our stand for freedom as in the olden time.

But the words are only memories. The men who said them are gone and their heirs are not yet found.


Blogger Jamie said...

I have the strangest feeling... It seems to me that I'd feel this way if I were waiting for biopsy results: the tension would drive me to say foolish things like, "Even if it's bad news, I just want to know!" right up until the phone call. Then, when I'm told that the tumor is malignant, I'd immediately look back on the minute before the phone rang with desperate longing for the uncertainty I was living in before.


2/02/2006 12:01:00 PM  
Blogger buddy larsen said...

How apt that in a world where groups have been metaphorically cartooning each other, that battle lines would be 'drawn' on actual cartoons.

2/02/2006 12:25:00 PM  
Blogger RWE said...

A comic book I recall from the early 60's had brave USAF aircrews crossing into Warsaw Pact airspace in their B-66's to parachute Sears and Roebuck catalogs and U.S. newspapers into Communist nations.

Maybe we should do airdrops with comic books that deliberately abuse Islam.

And throw in a few Playboy magazines, too.

2/02/2006 12:26:00 PM  
Blogger Meme chose said...

They may wish they had never made their sensitivity on this issue so clear.

I'm speculating, but it's interesting that such a cheap and effective way to hurt Islamists has emerged from this. It opens up the possibility of a new, devastating form of asymmetric warfare in which Western citizens can engage.

All it takes is a campaign to mail a flood of these cartoons to addresses in areas where Muslims live.

Nobody would be mortally offended except the Islamists.

The deluge of incoming mail might at last begin to tell them something important about the society in which they live, a salutory message which our politically correct politicians, media and public officials have sadly been too timid up to now to utter.

2/02/2006 12:41:00 PM  
Blogger Marcus Aurelius said...

I have gone back and forth on the issue.

Over at the Jawa Report they are creating their own cartoons in a deliberate attempt to get a fatwa issued against them. The JR has went over a line I think good taste and manners puts down.

However, with the Danish cartoons I am all for publishing them. I think it silly clerics and rulers who P&M every time a Western leader criticizes them are now trying to dictate something as fundamental as the limits of sovereign nation's freedom of speech.

I wonder what the futures contracts on bombings in Denmark and Norway are priced at?

One last note. I recall reading somewhere most of the MSM in Europe is still looking the other way, that they have most people in Europe convinced this is yet another bad thing the West is doing to the poor oppressed Mulsim.

We will see.

2/02/2006 12:43:00 PM  
Blogger wretchardthecat said...

Meme Chose,

It is the inflammatory effect of the cultural weapon that is most deadly. Radical Islam depends above all on gradually disarming the West which is physically more powerful. The cartoon issue and others like it accelerate this process to the point where it approaches an explosive reaction. The Islamists drop the mask before they are ready and it works against them.

2/02/2006 12:43:00 PM  
Blogger enscout said...

Mubarak and Erdogan have defined themselves by making such naive statements about their expectations of our culture. As national leaders their behavior is disgraceful. So much for Turkey's acceptance into the EU.

This should make all the lefty-multi-culti moral equivilancy crowd sit straight up in their chair. It will take some spin to blame this one on conservatives - but blame they will.

He continues to use the deceiver to separate His people.

2/02/2006 12:52:00 PM  
Blogger wretchardthecat said...

Marcus Aurelius,

The Jawa cartoons are an example of a explosive chain reaction effect. Even the distasteful will emerge. The real problem with the Islamists demands was they are almost impossible to implement. First, there are laws against censorship; due process for shutting down newspapers; the financial interests involved are huge. Then there are the technological problems. How do you shut down the Internet? There are servers in Russia and China. Can Denmark or the US shut them down there? How on earth do you keep cartoons depicting Mohammed suppressed?

Because this a nondiplomatic incident de-escalation is very difficult. The arrow of escalation on this is one-way. Now it may peter out by exhaustion. But I doubt anything that any Western politician does can appreciably reverse things. They must either ride it out or prepare for the possible effects.

2/02/2006 12:53:00 PM  
Blogger Eleanor © said...

And they have no idea of the rage that is rising in Westerners. We will not allow these people to dictate or usurp our rights and freedoms...

2/02/2006 12:53:00 PM  
Blogger desert rat said...

The really funny thing is that they believe the Pope can order what the papers can print.

Just as Mr Putin thinks that the President can fire reporters at the NY Times.

How little they understand the nature of our Society.

2/02/2006 12:57:00 PM  
Blogger A Jacksonian said...

A speech I would *love* to hear from Danish Prime Rasmussen:

"Our answer to those countries that wish to silence us: Our people were Vikings and we remain Viking still. We have trod the lands of the Mediterranean once, do NOT incite us to return as we will return as Vikings."

I am sure that will *never* be said, but there are ancient roots in Europe that go back far and some few still honor those roots. The job of trying to make Europe clean, sanitary and homogeneous looks to be coming to an end.

I hope enough remember still who they were, lest they lose all that they have.

2/02/2006 01:10:00 PM  
Blogger Jamie Irons said...

Wretchard and others,

The indispensable Melanie Phillips has an interesting bit of history and some subtle analysis on this issue...

Cartoon Jihad

Jamie Irons

2/02/2006 01:22:00 PM  
Blogger diabeticfriendly said...

Maybe we should do airdrops with comic books that deliberately abuse Islam.

And throw in a few Playboy magazines, too.

seems I said something about this WEEKS ago...

time to humilate them...

only when they are emotionally destroyed can they be rebuilt

2/02/2006 01:22:00 PM  
Blogger Charles said...

This is a double edged sword guys.

Nor is the chorus from the moslem world over the danish article a sign of strength.

Rather it is a mirror of European weakness.


Consider the constant hammering the moslems -- especially the wahabbists-- are taking about their teaching in school.

consider what the beards are thinking

wadya wadya mean I can't teach jihad in my own school. jihad is islam. jihad is the way. jihad is my past. jihad is my present. jihad by allah will be mine and my pupil's future.

but the tide has turned against these men. so at minimum they're looking for a quid pro quo.

except that there is no religious freedom in the middle east. and the moslems have been steadily driving out their religious minorities for decades as well as pushing moslems into non moslem countries.

basically the moslems are over playing their hand.

2/02/2006 01:23:00 PM  
Blogger Derek Kite said...

This is a truly fascinating issue. Salman Rushdie was the precursor to this event. Somehow the writers and cartoonists are again expected to shut down their creative processes to appease the unappeasable.

The Muslim world has been able to threaten and scare the west before. This isn't a crisis of Europe. This is a crisis of the Muslim leadership. What happens if they can't scare people anymore?

A very common mistake in conflict situations is to assume that the other side thinks like you do. This situation brings home how different the cultures are, and how the two can never meet.

The Europeans and the west in general is sometimes criticized for appeasing or ignoring obvious threat. I think it is as simple as people and the western culture not caring. The US didn't really care about Islam before 9/11. Europe didn't really care before this and the riots in France. Now everyone cares. Beware.


2/02/2006 01:34:00 PM  
Blogger buddy larsen said...

Maybe it will dawn on the Muslim fundies that the mark of a great religion is durability. I wish I understodd the Far East better, but over on this side of the ball, Judaism and Christianity both have adapted to the needs of their adherents. No brittle facade will ever again be needed by either of those faiths.

2/02/2006 01:37:00 PM  
Blogger buddy larsen said...

Doug Santo--I don't often say it, but I agree with you--this president will be--or belong on--Mount Rushmore someday. In some ways, his challenge--the one inside his country, the explosion of energetic nihilism--is more deadly that anything since Lincoln had to heal up a nation split only slightly more.

2/02/2006 01:45:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Every president since Eisenhower has been driven to distraction.
(Carter is auto-driven)
Bush is, like Churchill, exceptional in his ability to stay his course.
...for better or worse.
(I picture W in prayer, and Winston sipping Scotch!)

2/02/2006 01:49:00 PM  
Blogger enscout said...

Speaking of European weakness; Olivier Guitta over on The Counterterrorism Blog has posted the story of the absence of Al Quaeda on the EU's list of terrorist organizations.


2/02/2006 01:50:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Heloise said...
"Of course I am by nature an optimist. "
When my eye first scanned Wretchard's latest, I thought:
"Great, they fired Toles"
(and drooled at the prospect of Kevin's outrage)
Then I read.
Hope springs eternal.

2/02/2006 01:53:00 PM  
Blogger Engineer-Poet said...

Doug, that's only an admirable trait when the course is right.

Look at the nonsense just from the SOTU speech:
- More "religion of peace" rhetoric.
- Not one word about the natural gas crisis in N. America, and nothing about conservation.

Bush could easily dispel the notion that he serves the oil industry and not the country.  He reinforces it.

2/02/2006 02:03:00 PM  
Blogger RWE said...

Meme chose: yes, relative to hurting Islamics, my thoughts exactly, as you might have surmised.

But are we hurting them? I think not. We are enraging them, but unfortunately I am sure that they will not emulate Walt Disney lemmings and pitch themselves off some precipice.

What Wretchard means is what they will do is reveal their true nature - appear not as poor oppressed that elicit the sympathy of the Left - but rather show themselves as unreasonable lunatics that not even a Ward Churchill could embrace - or a Howard Dean ignore.

In any event there will no doubt be those cowards in the West who will apologize profusely, and be willing to give up a little thing like drawing some pictures in order to keep the "peace" - but many others will see the true nature of what they will finally recognize as The Enemy.

On the other hand - if you are planning a battle with Islamics, then put up a billbord with suitable cartoons and site your guns accordingly.

2/02/2006 02:13:00 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Re: "Tayyip Erdogan, prime minister of Turkey, a European Union candidate country, deemed the cartoons an “attack on our spiritual values”, and called for a limit on press freedom."

Well, if anyone had any doubts as to why Turkey should be denied EU membership, Mr. Erdogan has just confirmed them.

2/02/2006 02:18:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Ever hear someone speak when they've been breathing Hydrogen?
...that's REALLY funny stuff.
Almost makes one forget we could cut our consumption by 30% nearly immediately w/efficiency improvements alone.

2/02/2006 02:28:00 PM  
Blogger Fat Man said...

So far only Ann Coulter is correct.

2/02/2006 02:42:00 PM  
Blogger buddy larsen said...

I think the French riots probably doomed Turkey's EU entry. A mixed result for either side, as Turkey has that Islamic democracy record, and its geographical position as the gateway to the east.

2/02/2006 02:49:00 PM  
Blogger Robert said...

engineer-poet - did you even watch the speech? Bush said, "This country is addicted to oil" and went on and on about ethanol and methanol. I wish he'd said something about drilling offshore and in Alaska. To my mind he's too conciliatory about our failure to use our own energy resources, including nuclear and coal.

2/02/2006 03:37:00 PM  
Blogger John Aristides said...

These Muslims have broken the bedrock rule of teasing: don't react, or you will only encourage more teasing.

The difference, of course, is that on this playground and with these actors people could end up dead.

I agree with Wretchard, I think we are seeing just the beginning of the Offensive Offensive.

2/02/2006 03:52:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Offshore Oil would provide quick relief, as would efficiency.
All the rest will be ready when they are ready, and the government will probably just get in the way.

2/02/2006 04:04:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Reuters reported a big Tanker Spill in Alaska,
Turned out to be 5 barrels, 3 of which were confined on deck.

2/02/2006 04:05:00 PM  
Blogger buddy larsen said...

Ah, but those two spilled barrels, just wait 'til they get the dead microbes counted. It'll be a billyun wrongful deaths to curse in between cursing gas prices in between making scary shadow pictures of the wrong boogymen around tonite's bonfire of the vanities.

2/02/2006 04:59:00 PM  
Blogger Utopia Parkway said...

This article at le Monde shows an image of the front page of France Soir with the cartoon of the four gods where it says "Yes, we have the right to caraciture God" and "Mohamed, everyone here has been caracitured."

This article at Der Speigel , in English, talks about the mood in France over this issue.

2/02/2006 05:03:00 PM  
Blogger Moneyrunner said...

I agree with Wretchard that the Moslems are overplaying their hand.

The surest way to lose a war it to stumble into one.

However, I am uncomfortable about being allied with people who believe that the highest good is insulting someone’s religion. Remember Piss Christ?

2/02/2006 06:02:00 PM  
Blogger Karridine said...

(Tayyip Erdogan, prime minister of Turkey, a European Union candidate country, deemed the cartoons an “attack on our spiritual values”)


hiring Billy Zane and Gary Busey to act roles of American uniformed Muslimoid thugs and a Jewish organ-harvesting lunatic IN ABU-GHRAIB is somehow NOT an "attack on OUR spiritual values"?

2/02/2006 06:51:00 PM  
Blogger Karridine said...

Reverend Rat say:"How little they understand the nature of our Society."

And furthermore, when we TELL THEM, STRAIGHT UP, in writing and in words and in deeds HOW IT IS...

they DO NOT BELIEVE us! They CANNOT believe us BECAUSE of the habitual lying THEY were taught! "The world is like US, liars, therefore America and the West is lying!"

"How little they understand the nature of our Society."

2/02/2006 07:00:00 PM  
Blogger felix said...

Great stuff, Wretchard. It looks like the pace of events in the clash of civilizations is speeding up.

2/02/2006 07:07:00 PM  
Blogger John Aristides said...

However, I am uncomfortable about being allied with people who believe that the highest good is insulting someone’s religion.

Not highest good, but it is the gold standard of protected speech qua unpopular speech.

You are right in one respect: its utility resides almost entirely in its availability; 'good' rarely follows its execution.

However, when 'availability' itself is being attacked, its time to start exercising some rights.

2/02/2006 07:19:00 PM  
Blogger Judith said...

"Freedom of speach is of critical importance, but no one in his right mind would insult another's mother and expect them to be amused. Blaspheming another's God is an order of magnitude worse."

There is a huge gap between not being amused and threatening to kill people who offend you.

2/02/2006 10:46:00 PM  
Blogger Engineer-Poet said...

Doug:  30%?  About 2/3 of US oil consumption goes to transportation.  We could get 10% in that sector by changing driving habits, but I'd like you to explain how to get 30% even in transport without replacing the vehicle fleet.

Robert:  I listened to it live, I've read the transcript, and read about the administration's back-pedalling yesterday.  While Bush was touting wind and ethanol in the SOTU, guess what's happening at NREL?  Layoffs in the wind and ethanol programs because their budget was cut (see item 15).

We're likely to lose more gas production in the next hurricane season, among other looming problems.  There are a bunch of civil-defense things we could do, like insulating the heck out of every leaky old building so that we don't need as much gas and the loss doesn't become a crisis.  But did you hear the word "conservation" pass Bush's lips?

I'll believe the administration has its head on right when it calls for repeal of the accelerated depreciation for heavy vehicles used in a business, which prompted doctors and real-estate agents to buy 12-MPG Hummers instead of Cadillacs.

2/03/2006 01:39:00 AM  
Blogger Towering Barbarian said...

A Jacksonian,

' A speech I would *love* to hear from Danish Prime Rasmussen:

"Our answer to those countries that wish to silence us: Our people were Vikings and we remain Viking still. We have trod the lands of the Mediterranean once, do NOT incite us to return as we will return as Vikings."'

In my admittedly limited experience tough talk like that only works if you are able to back it up. In what sort of shape are the Danish armed forces? With that in mind, Rasmussen is correct to speak softly for the moment. In his place I would do so too. I'm enough of a Hamiltonian that I would arm quietly while doing so but I would still speak softly until the moment came that my nation's soldiers could do the talking.

And if he doesn't intend to arm? Then speaking softly is even wiser.

2/03/2006 01:47:00 AM  
Blogger A Jacksonian said...

"In my admittedly limited experience tough talk like that only works if you are able to back it up. In what sort of shape are the Danish armed forces? With that in mind, Rasmussen is correct to speak softly for the moment. In his place I would do so too. I'm enough of a Hamiltonian that I would arm quietly while doing so but I would still speak softly until the moment came that my nation's soldiers could do the talking.

And if he doesn't intend to arm? Then speaking softly is even wiser." - A Towering Barbarian

The problem with that solution is that there may not be a Denmark worth saving if the long-view is taken. Whate does it mean, today, to be a Dane? How well have they integrated foreigners into their society? Do these that have come to their land believe in the openness and toleration of the Danes?

A Hamiltonian/Jeffersonian mix *only* works if you have a coherent people who understand the danger and believe that they, as a people, are worth fighting for.

I am all *for* seeing Denmark put forward a defense budget that takes 5-7% of their GDP to prepare for hard times ahead (latest from 2003 is 1.6%). They can train their military with some of the finest, though they may have to do so in Iraq to prove their commitment and prepare for a new place to fight. Danes have fought above their weight category in elden times, they may want to think on what it takes to do so again.

Teddy Roosevelt could "Speak softly and carry a big stick", because he *had* a stick to use. If the Danes do not bring themselves to realize the danger, and continue with a cultural status quo, will there *be* a Denmark in a slow 10 year build-up? How *DOES* the Prime Minister push his point home?

In a fight with a culture that believes that it has long-standing quarrels going back to the time of Byzantium, they best be reminded of the Varingians. And that many others took that name as the poor Byzantines could not see a difference between Northern Peoples. The Danes *can* demonstrate toleration, but they can also demonstrate what it means to be a Dane. And if they want to arm, they best do so quickly as the western portion of Europe begins to feel the shaking of their cultural roots.

A tolerant and peaceful people, are the Danes. To speak softly today runs the risk of not having a People and society that has an identity. If their neighbors to the south do not speak out and find solutions, Denmark may be faced:

"To be, or not to be: that is the question:
Whether ’t is nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,
And by opposing end them? To die: to sleep:
No more; and by a sleep to say we end
The heartache and the thousand natural shocks
That flesh is heir to,—’t is a consummation
Devoutly to be wish’d."

I misdoubt the Danes will 'Go Gentle into That Goodnight'. If they are still *Danes*.

2/03/2006 04:57:00 AM  
Blogger Sissy Willis said...

Some religions are more equal than others

2/03/2006 10:50:00 AM  

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