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Sunday, August 06, 2006

Danish Cartoons: Racist Provocation or Free Speech?

Ever wondered what the Danish cartoon controversy was really about? This article from Green Left Weekly gives an interesting perspective on the controversy.

1 comment:

adam_taylor said...


This is an interesting article to say the least. I would go so far as to call the article detestable. Let me try to a case for that conclusion.

1) Mr. Karadjis tries to score PC-cuteness points by equivocating between modern Islamophobia in Europe and (presumably) the US and European anti-semitism pre-WWII.

This equivocation is groundless for at least two reasons. a) European Jews were not actively engaged in acts of terrorism (like the London and Barcelona subway bombings and Munich kidnappings) prior to (or indeed even after) the holocaust. b) Jews were not gathering in Synagogues and Hebrew schools calling for the overthrow of of the States they claimed citizenship of prior to the holocaust. They were by-and-large law abiding and prosperious members of their communities.

Now, not every Muslim in Europe is engaged in terror, far from it. By and large they are also law abiding and peace loving people. But in European Mosques people are calling for revolution, and they are recruiting terrorists. The picture is not pretty.

1) Mr. Karadjis repeatedly accuses the danish papers of racism.

I hate to split hairs, but this seems like hyperbole. After all Muslims are not (to my knowledge) "a race." Islam is a religion and an ideology, something people are free to chose to follow, whatever their race.

He charges that the paper is linked to a couple of pro-Danish, "anti-immigrant" "virulently racist" political parties.

Now I am not sure if this is indeed true. Even if it is, it does not mean the paper was wrong to run the images. this seems to me like a "guilt-by-association" ad hominem. Being anti-immigrant, while unfortunate, can take many shapes. Sometimes it can stem from rational self interest. it is not always wrong or evil.

3) Finally, My Karadjis argues insinuates that were similar cartoons published, depicting Moses (or maybe even Jesus?) as a terrorist, in the Islamic world, the resultant move in the West would be to censor the speech, or to be otherwise outraged.

This speculation is wrong. Offensive images of Jesus are frequent in western soceity (somewhat less the case with moses). Take Kevin Smith's "Buddy-Christ" in Dogma, or the work of Avante-Gaurd artists like Maplethorpe, or Jim Caveziel in The Passion. Sure such images are offensive to many christians, and they are often decried, but as the JP editor quoted in the article says, in a secular soceity nobody gets a free pass. All of our beliefs are open to insult and ridicule, and we have to learn that other have a right to say what they want.

That is as good a case as I can make against Mr. Karadjis. If I may, I invite folks to check out my personal website, for more of my (gladly uncensored)thinking on this subject: