Thursday, February 09, 2006

From a Jordanian newspaper:

"This one is anti-semitism ... This one is racism ... But these all come under free speech!"

Lenin's Tomb:
"Free speech". What a lugubrious phrase. It's a logocentric fallacy, for what is under discussion is a form of expression that is not speech. The phrase invites us to think of such expression as being nothing more serious than words falling into offended ears. But, okay, let's call it speech, then - what do these cartoons "say"? That "these Muslims are bloodthirsty, sword-wielding, limb-choppers, suicide-bombers, fanatics, sand-dwellers, despotic, lazy, corrupt, hidebound, medieval (for in 'Asiatic' history, there is no progression, unlike in Europe)". This is being presented as a mere religious jest - why shouldn't we "make fun" of others' beliefs? Malicious, racist slander is, then, nothing more serious than comedy. Get a sense of humour (racists always seem to believe themselves to be uniquely blessed with that quality). In what environment did the editors of a Danish newspaper commission these depictions? is one in which Pia Kjærsgaard, as leader of the far right Danish People's Party - which in the last elections took 13.3% of the vote to become the third biggest party in Denmark - is encouraging people to heed a "call-to-arms" against "Islamism", which they describe as a "world revolutionary movement" seeking to impose Shari'a all over the globe. [....] Similarly, Queen Margrethe in her recent authorised biography urged the Danes to "stand up" to Islam. Louise Frevert of the DPP suggested that Muslims believe that it is their right to rape and assault Danish people and asserted in a pamphlet that the Muslims were conspiring to take over Denmark.
We should not forget that the publication of the cartoons in Denmark took place in the context of a political situation in which Islamophobic sentiments enjoy legitimacy. But to deplore the role that the cartoons have played in the local Danish situation, and to deplore the way in which they, and the ensuing controversy, will be used by racists in the UK and elsewhere, should not lead us into the invidious position of defending Islamism, a creed, which, as Houzain Mahmoud and Nadia Mahmoud will tell you if you doubt it for even a moment, is bigoted, brutal and inherently hostile to egalitarian aims. Islamophobia is noxious not because it attacks Islam but because it racialises Muslims, treating them as an amorphous subhuman scourge, whose rights and lives can be stripped away. But defending Muslims from racist attacks should not entail defending Islam as a religion, still less should it involve defending Islamism as a political position, any more than rejecting anti-semitism should mean supporting Judaism and Zionism.

Two idiots from The Age's letters page:
I find it incredibly hypocritical that Muslims are outraged by the publication of cartoons in light of their intolerance of other religions and the atrocities that have been performed in the name of Islam. It is Muslims who perform such despicable acts as destroying the World Trade Centre, who video cutting off the heads of innocent people in Iraq to be broadcast on al-Jazeera television, who perform countless bombings of embassies, churches, bars and other buildings, who blew up the Buddhist statues at Bamiyan in Afghanistan, who murder members of the Bahai faith in Iran, etc, etc, etc. Yet they think their religion should be above being lampooned or caricatured.

Surely if they want respect then it must be earned. Tolerance has to be a two-way street.

Bryan Lawrence,

Once again the outrage of the Muslim world stuns us in the West into disbelief. I ask myself what is in the minds of people who cannot tolerate any questioning of their ways, their society and their religion? How can people hold whole nations to account for the actions of a few newspaper editors? Where is the balance in their judgements, where is the reason without emotion?

As a formerly tolerant and open-minded Australian who used to believe that we can accept and live with each others' differences, I now strongly believe that Western traditions, beliefs and freedoms are incompatible with the Muslim world. I ask now, why do Muslims wish to live in Western societies if they find our freedoms so abhorrent? I ask, what do they bring to our society but venom and anger? I ask, why should we allow them into our tolerant society?

I am now a racist.
James Collette,


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