...And boy were they a letdown! Hell, I have had members of my own immediate family portrayed far worse than this in political cartoons. I have just about lost all patience with those who try to "understand" and "explain" and "sympothize" with the violence that has erupted, ostensibly due to the publication of these cartoons. There is no excuse for the recent violence, and I am tired of tiptoeing around the sensibilities of Muslims who are quick in their own turn to denounce anything Western in the most inflammatory and grotesque of terms.
I am particularly flabbergasted that those who lead the charge to soften the criticism of Muslim violence are the same people who are most flipped out about the influence of fundamentalist Christians in this country. I'm not particularly thrilled with the legislation that some of the Christian right tends to propose, but my God even the often egregious Pat Robertson is a bastion of secular reasonableness when compared to many Middle Eastern Muslim leaders.
Anyway, the controversy may at least serve some purpose, in forcing Western media to confront its own double standards in criticizing or not criticizing religions (as a note, let me make clear that I am for having an open season on anyone believing anything, as long as one has his facts straight).
Jeff Goldstein is always a good read, particularly on this topic:
you have Kos commenters contorting themselves
into positions of self-righteous progressive onanism that are a wonder
to behold"”suddenly, free speech is not a universal right worthy of the
crafting of puppet heads and the defacing of Starbucks' windows, but
instead is a culture-specific gift that needs to be filtered through
the religious precepts of the culture of the Other. Unless, of course,
that "Other" happens to be, say, Evangelical Christians. In which
case, such extremists MUST BE SHOUTED DOWN with free speech.
Pretzel logic, clearly"”and the dilemma that is at the root of an
incoherent philosophical system that favors the sociology of group
identity over the universality of individual rights. Ironically,
George Bush, each time he argues that freedom is universal, is acting
in a manner far more progressive than self-styled progressive
Again: note the crux of the debate, as framed by the voices for
Muslim protest, and take care to listen for the broad-stroked
rhetoric"”usually this kinds of gambit is more carefully crafted by
those who have, through years of experience, perfected its vocabulary,
cadence, emotional appeals, and key words"”of the "tolerance" movement,
the justifying force that cynically underpins all identity politics:
12 cartoons ... have caused an uproar in the Muslim world and drawn a
new cultural battle over freedom of speech and respect of religions."
"Free speech is good so long as it tolerates our right, as an identity
group, to dictate which free speech is authentic and allowable.
Otherwise, y'know, we get to torch shit."
But of course, freedom of speech"”reduced (for purposes of this
debate) to its core, animating mandate and protection"”is PRECISELY the
ability to look religion in its pious face and flip it the bird.
Freedom of speech includes the freedom to criticize religion, just as
freedom of religion is supposed to protect the rights of the religious
not to have their religion established for them by a government"”a
counterbalancing right that is lacking in theocratic states and in
religions where pluralism is denied legitimacy.