Friday, February 10, 2006

Danish Cartoons, Take 2

I need to follow-up on the post below. At the time I read the column below, I thought it was one of the better ones I'd read in terms of summarizing the events, and it made a couple good points, particularly in reference to Denmark, that I hadn't seen anywhere else.

By the time I finished writing my post however, and in retrospect, it became clear that I disagree with the Lessenberry's overall point—that a free press can, and should, do whatever the fuck it wants. It's still a good column and his opinion and point are valid, just not shared by me. I think Lessenberry is treating this whole thing as too academic, with no regard for real-world consequences. It's irresponsible. Especially for him to think his own paper had an obligation to print them, or for him to be annoyed that they didn't. On this point I disagree with him strongly for the reasons stated in the previous post.

Today, Ezra links to an excellent piece at and makes this point:
It is the case that other, more politically efficacious religious movements, have no problem bringing down massive pressure on media outlets that offend them. Think the Jewish Anti-Defamation League, or the Catholic Church. But since they have electoral/financial clout and can use accepted institutional levers, few get worked up over their blatant attempts to silence critical or derogatory speech. The Danish cartoons, which projected, during a tense time, anti-Muslim stereotypes on a continent already bristling with them, aroused the same sort of opportunistic religious leaders we're used to, but it their organizations deploy riots and flag burnings rather than boycotts and political pressure. Different, sure, but only in degree, not in kind.

Precisely. European Muslims are already feeling persecuted, and are not only powerless to protest in an effective or "acceptable" manner, it is patently obvious that the situation is ripe for trouble on the street and exploitation from the pulpit. Outside the Middle East, this is a population that feels oppressed. Within the Middle East they are often oppressed as well. It is no wonder that this stuff explodes. To be clear—I'm not excusing—just making a point.

The slate piece, written by a Muslim [link], acknowledeges the Muslim role in this, but also does an excellent job expressing the offense and rage in text, that overseas has more often taken the form of a rock or flame.


S.W. Anderson said...

My strong belief in the golden rule has much to do with my strong belief people shouldn't be discriminated against or oppressed on the basis of their race, religion, skin color, ethnic origin and so forth.

Behavior is a whole 'nother matter.

From what I've read, a big reason Muslims in Europe are such unhappy campers is that they've largely taken a pass on tackling the gritty job of assimilating into the societies and cultures they have chosen to take up residence in. This is a lot like the attitude of a kid who prefers to lick the icing off several cupcakes, rather than just eat his fair share of one whole cupcake.

As long as they persist with that attitude and reject assimilating, there's going to be growing resentment leading to violent eruptions.

By assimilating, I don't think any reasonable person expects Muslims to give up their faith, their cuisine or even their preferences in wardrobe and such. But they do have to accept laws, customs, a new language and be tolerant of other differences in the dominant culture.

That means reacting to newspaper cartoons they don't like the same way their European neighbors do — by refusing to buy the offending papers, boycotting advertisers in those papers, writing letters of protest to the editor and things like that. The bad behavior of rioting and mayhem is something they should have left behind in the Middle East as elsewhere.

If European Muslims refuse to assimilate and persist in causing big trouble for their adopted countries, I think those countries at some point have a right to oblige them to leave.

Mr Furious said...


I should point out, I have NOT followed this issue closely at all. From my limited exposure it seems the trouble seems to be in the Muslim countries (at least in terms of riots, police firing on crowds and killing people, etc.)

If you as a Muslim, and come to the U.S. or Europe, it is fair to expect you, not necessarily to "assimilate," but at least abide by the rules of the new culture you belong to. No chopping the hand off a shoplifter you catch in your store, and no burning down newspaper offices.