earth has no sorrow

2/5/06

My buddy Salem wrote to me today trying to sort out his thoughts on the Mohammed cartoon brouhaha in Europe – as far as I can tell, some European newspapers ran a cartoon that had a caricature of Mohammed, and some of the more extreme Muslim youth around the world (but especially in Denmark and England) took to the streets, screamed bloody murder, burned down two embassies and carted signs that said “Europe, your 9/11 is coming.”

There is something inherently disgusting in that sort of nihilism, especially over a fucking cartoon, and I think most Americans looked at these people while shivering with disgust. Prominent Muslim leaders stressed this was not how most people in their religion felt, but man, it’s hard not to feel the white-hot crazy rage of their rank-and-file members.

Growing up, whenever I heard the “Death to America” chants covered on television, I never gave it much pause: I figured these were dirt-broke, uneducated teens with no job prospects and nothing else to do but become radicalized. Besides, we had it so good here in America – let’s just stick to our business and let them say whatever they want.

September 11 changed that for me, as it did a lot of people, as many of us looked inward to see what America was doing to make people so angry. But it also did something else: it made me fairly intolerant.

You hear enough about any religion, and it all starts to sound a little crazy, but like anything else, there is crazy and then there’s CRAZY. Even though it was a long road, I have largely made my peace with Christianity: I believe 25% of Christians are fully nuts and evil, but there is a warm benevolence to the religion that still beckons to me as a child.

But even nutty Christians would not put a fatweh on Salman Rushdie. They would not gather in the streets and wish the fiery deaths of thousands of infidels over a cartoon. They don’t publicly behead women for adultery, nor do they saw off the heads of Washington Post reporters for being Jewish. Oh, and Christian woman are usually allowed to vote, even if I don’t like who they’re voting for.

I am trying not to let these inner – and surely racist – demons get the best of me. I’m sure my view of their religion has been tainted by the media, by not truly understanding the Arab psyche, by my own prep-school WASPie cinnamon-latté whiteness. I’ve heard that it is a “religion of peace,” that there are thousands of charitable groups at work, and it provides spiritual solace for untold millions. One of my favorite people in the world converted to Islam and remains one of the most fiercely wonderful, independent thinkers I know.

But still, I’m unmoved at best, and scared shitless at worst. Are Islamofascists going to plague us for another fifty years, or am I just another world-class American asshole?

Unbelievable double-standards abound: Muslim sharia law demands death for those who leave the religion, yet Muslims are free to proselytize all over the world. They will try to kill cartoonists who draw Mohammed, yet their papers are filled with cartoons depicting dirty Jews, especially Ariel Sharon as Adolph Hitler(!) The way they treat women should be a worldwide emergency human rights issue.

I don’t know. I’m interested how the rest of you feel about it, because, like Salem, I’m having trouble stomaching so much of what I’m seeing.

0 thoughts on “earth has no sorrow

  1. kent

    This for me sums up the sadness and weirdness of this latest thing:
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/4684652.stm
    The headline is “4 Killed In Cartoon Protest.” To which my initial response was “Little Lotta, we hardly knew ye.”
    Islam is a religion that has its quirks, viewed from the outside. So is Christianity, and to any religious person, the modern agnostic materialists look pretty sad and weird. In a tolerant world, you don’t judge any religion by its most obnoxious proponents. The fact that one nutso sheik in Afghanistan got a handful of guys to do something heinous on 9/11 has absolutely nothing to do with the billion or so Muslims who weren’t on those planes.
    It doesn’t take a genius to know that mocking Islam and Mohammed is a sore spot for Muslims. I learned that much 30 years ago when I had a room mate from Iran at BYU. It would seem to me that in a tolerant society you’d avoid insulting other people’s religion, so I’m not terribly sympathetic to the free speech arguments over these cartoons.
    It doesn’t justify the violence that resulted, but for every hothead out burning embassies, there are hundreds of thousands of Muslims who are sick at heart, both over the insult to their religion, and over the resulting violence.
    This is a situation where a little common courtesy and respect could have prevented a lot of ugliness.

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  2. Jason Savage

    From what I saw on the news, it was a rendering of Mohammed with a bomb fuse sticking out of his head. Maybe there were others, but that’s the one I saw. This, to me, goes beyond caricature. Or, maybe it is simply caricature, but then it is caricature in the most pejorative sense. I mean, by equating Mohammed with a bomb that cartoon maligns the entire religion.
    The violent reactions are insane and desperate, but I don’t think the cartoon should have run. The balance between free speech and hurtful speech is important, and i don’t think that the mainstream media is the place for irresponsible free speech.

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  3. Aaron

    What about Andres Seranno’s ‘Piss Christ’? It doesn’t get much more debasing than that for Christians than to submerge a picture of Jesus in good ol’ Andres pee?
    There were some protests in Congress, (primarily because the freaking NEA sponsored it, the govt itself), but nobody got killed. And now, people are disgusted, but ultimately, I feel the final analysis on it is, correctly, ‘who gives a shit.’
    We seem to be a long way from ‘who gives a shit’ here. There is a fundamental difference, doesn’t there? In this country, even if it pisses someone off, or pisses off (or on) an entire religion, we seem to get over it.

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  4. X. Plain

    I’ve heard this comment too often:
    ‘It might make me feel a little more at ease to hear from the supposed greater number of Muslims who denounce their extremist counterparts.’
    Is some Muslim kid living in Edison, NJ supposed to hold a press conference?

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  5. joan

    The problem isn’t Islam or Christianity, per se, but fundamentalism in any religion. The fundamentalist Jews are as nuts as anyone.
    And Christianity, lest we forget, is the religion that brought us the murder of doctors who provide abortions, the bombing of women’s clinics, and the Olympic Park bombing (the Olympics, after all, represent the co-mingling of the races, which is deeply offensive to at least one former resident of western North Carolina, the Christian Erid Rudolph).

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  6. Frequent Reader

    This doesn’t translate well to Christianity, because it’s OK to depict Christ.
    (Forgive me while I ‘think out loud’ for a few minutes).
    “Piss Christ” is about as offensive as it gets in Christianity, but try to imagine it was a sin merely to draw a picture — any picture — of Christ, and then consider the effect.
    I don’t even know the cartoonist’s intent. Certainly the prevailing image of Islam in the West today *is* one of violent extremism. Was the cartoonist trying to show the ridiculousness of that image, or was he merely saying ‘out loud’ what millions think every day?
    Either way, I think the statement has value, but is it worth the price?
    Also consider that the riots have taken place in countries with repressive governments, where media censorship is a constant reality. The rioters believe that the cartoons’ message *must* be tacitly approved by the governments that have allowed their printing.
    Consider the effect on fundamentalists here if, say, Saudi Arabia allowed (and thus, endorsed) the printing of cartoons depicting the following:
    – Jesus riding an atomic bomb, á la Slim Pickens in Dr. Strangelove;
    – Jehovah gleefully driving a bulldozer over Palestinian children;
    – the Virgin Mary taking it up the butt from GWB.
    Actually, although I’m sure fundamentalists would get upset, write angry letters, threaten boycotts (et cet), I doubt seriously there would be any violence. But we are so much a part of our society that it’s hard for us to imagine curbing free speech, even that which might deeply offend us.
    It just doesn’t translate well.
    CNN recently posed the poll question: “What is more important? Free Speech or Respect for Religious Beliefs?” I answered “Free Speech,” along with 2/3 of respondents.
    But I don’t know. While I’m grateful for the freedom to call my neighbor a cocksucker, I refrain from doing so, and if I did call him that, I wouldn’t be surprised if he got violent about it.
    It seems that once again, cooler heads did *not* prevail, on either side. Are there any cool heads left?

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  7. Salem

    On a less serious note, I am also a little scared of any culture that routinely requires massive unorganized gatherings where you hardly ever get to return home without at least a few body bags. Is there one guy who is always responsible for bringing the gasoline? Does he keep spares on the back porch or does he just run really fast when he hears a stampede? I want to see a protest video in it’s entirety just to see if there is a point where everyone is looking around for Suleiman the gasoline boy. Does everyone cheer when he gets to the front of the crowd? The middle east needs a Muslim Don King. If there was a profit motive (not Prophet, profit) things would be a little more organized and fewer deaths. I don’t like to feel this way, but my sympathies for the extended Muslim community are fading. Just so you know I’m not genetically programmed to condemn Muslims. I have always been sympathetic to the Palestinian cause, but that is fading as well. As white as I am (courtesy of a Scotch Irish Mom) before 1903 my father’s side of the family was herding goats in Palestine. My name is Arab. My last name is an Ellis Island version of “Saubra”, a cactus indigenous to ancient Palestine. I actually learned about the cactus at Tessa and Ian’s wedding from a friend of Tessa’s.

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  8. Salem

    I am embarrassed to confess that I am not as receptive to the “few bad apples” argument anymore. I am seeing the same message of “death” on multiple continents, in multiple languages, in a broad range of socio-economic levels, in really large numbers.

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  9. Aaron

    GWB and Mary, that one would be tough. Jesus riding on the bomb, that one I think some folks would actually sign up for. I can see it on the back of a leather jacket, or maybe a bumper sticker.
    Anyway, I agree with your comments, primarily the not translating well. That is what I was thinking as I was writing, but maybe it came out differently. The not translating well is what I’m having trouble understanding.
    Why would some Arab kid not want to do the same things kids all around the world do? Pick up chicks (however it’s done), pick up boys, watch tv, whatever.
    One of the things that is so perplexing is trying to figure out who is fomenting this anger and why. Bottom line has to be money and power, right? (I hope)? It’s relatively easy to eventually overcome and expose greedy, power hungry goons, (Nixon, DeLay, Dems in the 80s), but it’s f’ing hard to go up against real religious fervor.
    And if it is true religiosity, do they really think that they are going to make all of us sign up for it?

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  10. kaz

    i think that part of the reasons many of us are losing patience with being sympathetic to the larger, non-violent islamic population is that there is NO real condemnation of the violence by the leaders in the communities or at a state-level. the apologies and calls for peace are whispered, and it’s hard to feel like that isn’t a complicit position.
    while mobs of angry people are not directly controllable by the mosques and heads of state (when there is an official head of state on whom to call), i think it would go a long way in the eyes of the evil west and towards the self-respect of those peace-loving muslims who just want to live and let live to have some leadership step up an denounce the violence. no caveats. no distancing themselves from it.
    and, joan, only because i feel that i must, as crazy as the orthodoc jews are, i’d challenge you to name an instance in which they are out bombing or crusading for the religion. i’m perefectly fine indulging fundamentalists, as long as they’re not attacking my freedoms and my life.

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  11. Piglet

    It’s ironic to me, to see the American Republican party having to be at war with fanatical Islam, because ideologically, the two are soulmates, especially concerning their mutual desire to end American civilization and everything that makes this country great. The only differences are that they worship different gods, and that the muslims are far more up front about using violence against us.
    Seems to me, if you aren’t interested in “tolerating” the Republicans who want to destroy us by turning America into a cultureless, scienceless police state, there’s not much reason to tolerate those who would destroy us with bombs.

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  12. craighill

    until the so-called “leaders” of islam publicly, loudly, and consistently renounce the violent actions of the supposed few, they shouldn’t and can’t be trusted.
    many of them want to kill you and your family and have already done so. don’t ever forget it.

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  13. xuxE

    i’d like everybody get their white ethnocentric heads out of their asses please. and i mean that with love.
    if a racist cartoon of MLK had run in newspapers there would of course be riots.
    out of a billion muslims worldwide you better believe there are a few who aren’t gonna stand for this disrespectful shit, so don’t go standing around wringing your hands when a few of them get *uppity*.

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  14. joan

    Kaz, I don’t mean Orthodox Jews (forgive the cliche, but I had many Orthodox friends in high school–I even dated one, so maybe he wasn’t that Orthodox…). I’m thinking more of zionism, Israeli settlers, Palestine, etc. when I say fundamental Judaism.

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  15. Neva

    Ian, this is a very timely post for me as I am currently reading The End of Faith by Sam Harris. He is pretty down on organized religion in general as the cause of most suffering in the world, but he’s specifically quite negative about Islam. He spends a very long chapter providing evidence from the Koran for his statemtns. Here are his quotes from page 150-153 (the end of the chapter on Islam).
    “In thinking about Islam, and about the risk it now poses to the West we should imagine what it would take to live peacefully with the Christians of the fourteenth century- Christians who were still eager to prosecute people for crimes like host desecration and witchcraft. We are in the presence of the past. It is clear that we have arrived at a period in our history where civil society, on a global scale, is not merely a nice idea; it is essential for the maintenance of civilization. What constitues a civil society? At minimum, it is a place where ideas, of all kinds, can be criticized without the risk of physical violence…
    Is Islam compatible with a civil society? Is it possible to believe what you must believe to be a good Muslim, to have miliatary and economic power, and to not pose an unconscionable threat to the civil societies of others? I believe that the answer to this question is no. Islam must undergo a radical transformation if peace is ever to be achieved between Islam and the West. To be palatable to Muslims, this transformation must appear to come from Muslims themselves.”
    I found this book depressing because I don’t see that change coming and his argument is that if the change doesn’t come soon that our “newspapers will begin to read more and more like the book of Revelation”.
    Neva

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  16. Chris M

    At bottom, this struggle is not really about Islam (although the masked dimwits with the burning flags probably think it is). This is yet another extremist political movement with leaders that use a belief system (here, a perversion of Islam) as cover and a diversion to preserve and gain power. Like other such movements it manipulates and harnesses the anger and resentment of young men to induce them to commit atrocities.
    The constitutents of power are the same always and everywhere: territory, wealth, and weapons. Although they are a minority of all Muslims, the Islamofascists can inflict serious harm because included among them are the rulers of nation-states that have significant (oil) wealth and weaponry. They use this power to “terrorize” reasonable Muslims into silence and non-Muslims (infidels) into a defensive posture. Ask Theo Van Gogh.
    That is why attacking Saddam’s Iraq made sense and moving on Iran and Syria in some manner makes even more sense. I know this whole conflict totally sucks, and everyone reading Ian’s blog really hates war, but there is no avoiding this struggle — they will not be appeased. The best course is to accept the fight, agree on a plan to win it, and get it over with before they kill a lot more innocent people.
    The good news is that they really aren’t that formidable an enemy if we all (left, right, and center) unite against them. I’m hoping that Ian’s readers might be open to at least considering this line of reasoning now that the entire nation of Denmark — a land that brought the world such evils as Havarti cheese — is getting the full jihad treatment because *one of its newspapers* ran these cartoons.

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  17. LL

    With regard to this phenomeon, I would like to stand up for free speech despite the consequences. If anyone could shut down your right by claiming you aren’t “reasonable”, “sensitive” or “wise”, we would lose this right totally. We should distinguish in our arguments the difference between personal behavior and constitutional public policy. On a personal level, it’s often not a good idea to provoke someone, but on the other hand, compromising and silencing one’s self in the face of violent intimidation isn’t a good idea either.
    Free speech is placed at the core of human rights, and I hope we’ll all be alert to extremist views seeking to weaken this commitment.

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  18. xuxE

    hold on now, so all the folks lambasting james frey are now on the side of free speech without accountability? i mean, fuck memoirs, i am way more concerned about what gets into newspapers than i am about what is in paperback.
    newspapers cannot go running racist cartoons, period. remember the cartoons about the japanese around world war 2? come ON.
    the anglo establishment cannot go around tromping on other cultures and races with impunity. for a lot of disinfranchised people in the world sticks and stones and blood is recourse, not civil litigation.
    anybody wonder if they ran the cartoon in france?
    oh, and by the way – denmark is SOO not the warm and rosy cheese loving place of goodness and light. http://www.american-pictures.com/gallery/denmark/index.htm

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  19. Matt

    “…nor do they saw off the heads of Washington Post reporters for being Jewish.”
    I believe Daniel Pearl was a Wall Street Journal reporter.
    “And Christianity, lest we forget, is the religion that brought us the murder of doctors who provide abortions, the bombing of women’s clinics, and the Olympic Park bombing…”
    Which is so widespread that you can (and do) cite the person responsible by name. And isn’t the following pretty much a left wing version of J. Boogie?
    “It’s ironic to me, to see the American Republican party having to be at war with fanatical Islam, because ideologically, the two are soulmates, especially concerning their mutual desire to end American civilization and everything that makes this country great.”
    When I read stuff like that I wonder if we understand each other at all. Now, this might scare Ian, but I mostly agree with him today.

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  20. Laurie from Manly Dorm

    Ian, don’t apologize for your “prep-school WASPie cinnamon-latté whiteness.” I agree with Craighill: “many of them want to kill you and your family and have already done so. don’t ever forget it.” So true.
    And, by the way, news events like this one make me glad that I live HERE in the US, and not ELSEWHERE. How about you?

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  21. Matt

    Mark Steyn on provocative art:
    “We should note that in the Western world “artists” “provoke” with the same numbing regularity as young Muslim men light up other countries’ flags. When Tony-winning author Terence McNally writes a Broadway play in which Jesus has gay sex with Judas, the New York Times and Co. rush to garland him with praise for how “brave” and “challenging” he is. The rule for “brave” “transgressive” “artists” is a simple one: If you’re going to be provocative, it’s best to do it with people who can’t be provoked.
    “Thus, NBC is celebrating Easter this year with a special edition of the gay sitcom “Will & Grace,” in which a Christian conservative cooking-show host, played by the popular singing slattern Britney Spears, offers seasonal recipes—“Cruci-fixin’s.” On the other hand, the same network, in its coverage of the global riots over the Danish cartoons, has declined to show any of the offending artwork out of “respect” for the Muslim faith.”
    http://www.suntimes.com/output/steyn/cst-edt-steyn05.html

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  22. Andy

    To me, the biggest problems occur when you mix religion and politics. The terrorists who made 9/11 happen were bred and trained in Afghanistan while the Taliban were in power. Didn’t Hitler use a perverse interpretation of Christianity to kill Jews?
    On a seperate note, we see extreme versions of different types of religions all over the world, but it seems that Islamic extremists are the ones turning to bombs and violence. Growing up in Western North Carolina, I thought New Manna Baptist Church members were nutjobs but I didn’t fear that they were going to show up at the Twin Cinemas with bombs strapped under their shirts.

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  23. Laurie from Manly Dorm

    You know, the more I think about it. . . the way you pussyfoot around your point (well, I don’t know much about the Arab psyche, I know a wonderful Islamic convert, etc.) is the kind of thing that drives me nuts about liberals and their politically correct thinking. CALL A SPADE A SPADE, For Christ’s sake! It IS what it IS! The protesters have gone berserk! They want us all dead! They have killed/destroyed/and will continue to do so over a cartoon! This is not a good thing, Ian!
    And to think, like Xuxe pointed out, you were so quick to rip my man James Frey a new one over his interpretation of a memoir. And to criticize the evils of the Republican party. But, you take the long, convoluted trip to let us know that the protestors are, perhaps, wrong. (but then again maybe they are really “misunderstood” by the non-Islamic world).

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  24. xuxE

    damn, this spewing of rush limbaugh lite xenophobia is tripping me out. what happened to the nice stories about college and the trials and tribulations of an up and coming writer/director?
    but i guess this blog and the ensuing discussion today is a lot like carolina itself – nice feel-good liberal intellectual surface with a blue velvet-esque undercurrent of racism and white privelege.
    sigh.

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  25. caveman

    just so that everyone is clear on the main issue here…..Coach Krewshwejerksky drew the cartoon and must be dealt with appropriately

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  26. Brattwurst

    Ok, you’re disgusted.
    Multiply that disgust by the crusades of the middle ages, the second world war’s-We-hate-jews and so on and so on ad nauseum.
    What you get is an idea that no matter what culture people are from or when they lived, they’re ignorant. People tend to tolerate these behaviours if they don’t affect us directly. Truth is, the world’s getting too small for such idiots to have weapons and for us to pretend not to notice any more.

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  27. CP

    my question is, when are those bald, lazy buddhists gonna take up arms and fucking kill someone already in the name of the laughing fat man and tibet? if it’s good enough for righteous christians, muslims and jews (and our/their governments) surely any religion worth its salt is worth defending with killing and bloodshed and centuries of hatred. fundamentalism sure seems like fun, like really worth it, and not at all mental.
    the cartoons sound funny. firebombing, not so much.
    “Death to them and their newspapers!”

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  28. Salem

    xuxE, I think you are slightly understating the reaction of thousands of Muslims all over the world to this cartoon. When these large numbers of Muslims participate in outrageous behavior in the name of Islam, they put Islam in play for satire. If a cartoon uses satire to capture the insanity of those who have “hi-jacked” Islam, then the true believers should be bringing those Muslims to justice, not the cartoonist that illustrated THEIR crime against Islam.

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  29. Chris M

    Salem makes a key point. If I understand them correctly, the cartoons are not making light of Mohammed or Islam, they are making fun of the murderers themselves for making an absurd claim: “we are the true Muslims.” No wonder they are so angry; maybe some of them get that the joke is on them.
    I am not an expert on Islam by any means, but I am pretty sure there is no one Islam just like there is no one Christianity or one Judaism. There is considerable disagreement and variation. For example, I understand that not all Muslims have a problem with depictions of Mohammed. There are old books that respectfully and reverently depict Mohammed at prayer, etc. These extremists are pretending that these cartoons are an outrageous insult to all Islam, when the truth is rather different.

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  30. Salem

    xuxE, with all due respect your indictment of Carolina leads me to believe that you use the terms “racism” and “white priveledge” way too often for a white person. Kinda reminds me of GWB calling someone un-patriotic.

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  31. CP

    btw, just looked at the danish pictures xuxE linked. yikes. aren’t the danes supposed to be all cute and timid and melancholy? like always meekly complaining about taxes and rain and the salt-cured fish they have to eat?

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  32. Piglet

    “btw, just looked at the danish pictures xuxE linked. yikes. aren’t the danes supposed to be all cute and timid and melancholy?”
    Consider the source. One might as well link to the website of the American Communist Party and a few of the more flamboyant showups at an anti Bush protest as evidence that the United States is the most leftist country there is.

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  33. CP

    piglet, I was just making a stupid joke about the intensity of those photos vis a vis my general perception of denmark (if I even have one beyond hamlet, taxes, rain, salty fish, this guy I know named per, and my dad’s friend nancy from copenhagen.)
    that’s pretty much it. that said, I take your point.

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  34. Laurie from Manly Dorm

    I’m back. Your comments about Islam and its treatment of women reminded me of Betty Friedan’s passing. In my opinion, she was one of the most influential people of the 20th century. “The Feminine Mystique” knocks my socks off every time I read it. What amazes me is that her book is just as relevant NOW as it was in 1963. Hopefully it will seem more dated when our daughters read it, but for now, it is right on target in 2006. Have you read it? You should. The Problem that Has No Name, indeed. Rock on, Betty!

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  35. badbob

    A lot of talk around the edges. Floating.
    WAKE UP!!!!!
    You ask: “Are Islamofascists going to plague us for another fifty years,…”
    Answer- Yes, and it started over 30 years ago.
    We have ignored, dismissed and compatmentalized it in the past but we do so at our own peril. This is not a personal safety issue, a legal issue or something you can run from or drink yourself away from. This is about survival of OUR western civilization- a long time in the making. Defeating this menace will take a stout heart and possibly a generation. This ain’t an episode of “The Brady Bunch”.
    Nothing hard is ever easy. You all claim education here, what has history taught you?
    B2

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  36. kent

    OK now I’m pissed.
    1. Michelle Malkin is fucking awful. That video is insulting not just to Muslims, but to jews, and to anyone with a damn brain. She’s part of that despicable crew that seem to think we’ll gain something by declaring war on all of Islam.
    2. If someone else draws a conclusion about Islam based on 15 second clips of burning Danish flags on Cable News, I’m going to hurl.
    I said everything I needed to say in my initial response. I understand that what’s going on might make you feel uncomfortable, might make you feel less than charitable to Islam. It’s OK to feel things — Mr. Rogers taught me that. But then you have to fucking begin THINKING, mmmkay?

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  37. Cap'n Cynical

    Many of you seem to be saying the only way to deal with radical Islam is to ERADICATE it. Is that what you’re saying?
    So… what do we do, kill them all? Round them up into camps?
    Great. Where do I sign up for the Crusade?
    Or should we just call it perpetual war?

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  38. Matt

    Well, we didn’t have to eradicate all Germans to defeat Nazism, or eradicate all _________ to defeat _________ (fill in the blanks).
    The point is, fellas, there is a problem with Islamist and we can’t continue to ignore it or look for ways to capitulate. One doesn’t have to want war to have it thrust on him.

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  39. Cap'n Cynical

    ‘Islamic Terrorists’ don’t wear uniforms. They don’t have the authority or organization of a government. They don’t always even ‘belong’ to any organization at all in any tangible way.
    The problem is, Matt, every time we kill an ‘Islamic Terrorist’ we create more ‘Islamic Terrorists. Even more so when we kill innocent men, women and children while we’re trying to kill ‘Islamic Terrorists.’
    The GWOT is the perfect formula to feed Eisenhower’s Military Industrial Complex for decades, or to create Orwell’s perpetual war.
    No one wants to ‘ignore’ or ‘capitulate’. No one wants terrorist attacks. But the best ways to prevent terrorism don’t involve waging war. Waging war makes the problem worse, AS WE HAVE SEEN OVER THE PAST SEVERAL YEARS.
    That is, if ‘we’ have been paying attention.

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  40. Salem

    Don’t confuse my concern that a HUGE number of Muslims are commited to perpetual war, with being on the side of some lunatic right wing ideologs. Everyone keeps saying these actions do not represent the Muslim community. Well I have some news. George Bush and Carl Rove don’t represent much of the US Community, but they are still actively destroying our future. I am not calling for war on Islam. Was war with Japan purely racist? Didn’t rational people have to face the reality that the Japanese had to be stopped by military force. I fear that we are doomed to war with multiple Muslim countries. I believe that total capitulation to terrorist demands and the Muslim conversion of GWB cannot stop these radicals from perpetuating war on the west.I am interested in this discussion because I feel quite hopeless. Why is it so important for so many people to pretend this is ALL our fault? Can’t we blame the guy with the poster that says “England, your 9/11 is on the way” or “Behead offenders of Islam”?
    Kent, I have a question. Without re-hashing the past USA evils that contributed to our current situation, what action would you take to reduce the number of people being killed by Muslim radicals all over the world? Is there a point at which you might feel military force in a foreign country might be required? I am not attacking your previous opinions, I’m just wondering what action you would take in the face of escalating violence.

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  41. Matt

    “‘Islamic Terrorists’ don’t wear uniforms. They don’t have the authority or organization of a government. They don’t always even ‘belong’ to any organization at all in any tangible way.”
    True, but that doesn’t mean they haven’t been waging war against the West generally and the US specifically for over a decade.
    “The problem is, Matt, every time we kill an ‘Islamic Terrorist’ we create more ‘Islamic Terrorists.”
    I don’t buy the argument that there will always be a net increase in Islamic terrorists so long as we continue to fight back. (“Don’t try to kill us — while we’re killing you — or you’ll just breed more of us to continue killing you!”)
    I’m sure some Islamists become more radicalized when we take offensive measures, but there’s not much we can do about that. I mean, the alternative is to just not fight back. You write that “the best ways to prevent terrorism don’t involve waging war”, yet don’t offer any specifics. At least not here. I’m certainly open to ideas, nobody prefers war, but complaints that we’ve somehow brought the terrorism on ourselves through our foreign policy is a non-starter.
    “Even more so when we kill innocent men, women and children while we’re trying to kill ‘Islamic Terrorists.’
    There’s a big difference between the accidental killing of innocents and the intentional infliction of mass casualties of them, which is what we’re trying to prevent. Indeed, foreign fighters in Iraq are becoming just as unpopular with locals in Iraq as they were/are in Afghanistan. They kill many times more civilians than the rare errant missile.

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  42. xuxE

    big UP! i’m on kent and mister roger’s team.
    it’s not an either/or. it’s not either “all our fault” -or- “all their fault” and that’s the false dichotomy which the racism in the discussion drives us to. that is bush’s *with us or against us*.
    anti-racism 101 will tell you that it is not up to us white folks to decide what the brown people *should* or *should not* take offense to. you don’t tell people to lighten up, like, “it’s only a joke or cartoon”. if that’s what we’re doing, then we’re just looking through our own cultural viewfinder instead of with empathy. that’s just never going to get us past our own experiences to a place of understanding.
    i think what we need to do to really make a change is focus on what we CAN do. we CAN elect leaders who have a shred of cultural understanding and ability to resolve conflict through diplomacy and non-violence.
    and we CAN recognize our own biases and change them. by doing that we can spread a different message and attitude to each other and to the rest of the world, instead of the same old hypocritical propaganda.
    now can we get a kum-ba-ya up in here or what?

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  43. Salem

    O.K. I promise this is my last outburst on this topic, so I’m going to make it as insane as possible. If GWB was intent on having the world despise the USA he could have ended the war on terror much more effectively by launching a full scale war on Syria and Iran by inlisting Saddam to rule the newly established region. Anyone who thinks Saddam hated the US more than he loved power has not been paying attention. Anyone who demonstrated the slightest willingness to lead or organize would have been handled very effectively by Saddam. Who did we find assasinated in his Bagdad apartment before the war? Abu Nidal. Not only are Rummy and Saddam old friends anyway, Saddam is not going to let a little thing like religeon get between him and his power. AS long as I am being absurd, maybe all the nasty oppresive regimes we supported to breed all of this hatred were the only things that kept this war from starting fifty years ago. This whole democracy thing might be overated after all.

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  44. badbob

    hey jif- re your “sorrynorwaydenmark”
    Click the link. It’s a Palestinian hate organization pandering misinformation as a front for more hate against Jews.
    Face the truth (you too Cap’n Cynical)- they want to take away your freedom and make you “submit” to Islam…or cut your head off if you resist.
    As I said before “this ain’t about personal safety” nor about the the law, how well you rant on a blog or how you frame your arguments in a debate.
    This is reality folks. WE have a common enemy. It is us or them. We need to change them or they will change us. Simple.
    B2

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  45. Salem

    Hi Jif! If this is jif as in Jiffer as in wonderwoman middle east photographer and Peace Corps African adventurer. Your opinion would mean a great deal to me. Are we at the point where the bad apples have multiplied to the point of inevitable war with actual Muslim countries? Believe me, I want to be talked out of my current position. If this is THE jif, I remember being distinctly un-nerved that everyone let you take the subway home alone when I visited NYC for Ian’s “Preview Premiere”, then the next time I saw you was in a photo of you alone in an Afghan market surrounded by somewhat intimidating men. It’s mis-judgements like this that compel me to seek other perspectives. I also had a big laugh at my own expense.

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  46. Lindsay

    I decided not to send the long rant I wrote yesterday, because I don’t really want to lose real, actual, flesh and blood friends over this.
    But I’m ashamed of most of what I have read here. Being wrong-headed is one thing, Matt abd badbob, you are excused on account of being hopeless. But being lazy dupes for hatemongers is quite another.
    What do Jyllands-Posten and the Pat Buchanan clan have in common?
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jyllands-Posten
    Five minutes of research will show you that even some of the artists who sent in drawings that got published thought that Jyllands-Posten was up to no good.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jyllands-Posten_Muhammad_cartoons_controversy

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  47. Matt

    Hopeless, eh? Well, that’s easier than trying to refute my argument, I suppose. Ever think of running for Congress, Lindsay?

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  48. Lindsay

    I see no argument from you to refute, Matt. Just factoids and predilections. On other comments sections you have made arguments, some of them sound. Sometimes you more or less cut and paste, it seems, from right-wing websites (cf. Wal-mart). But you didn’t do either here. You’re a hopeless conservative. Like a hopeless romantic. There is no changing your mind, and I don’t care to try.
    This whole thing is about freedom of speech like the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth was about veteran’s affairs. But “Swift Boat” for you probably has amusing connotations. So I’m not even trying to speak to you.
    You won’t care that Jyllands-Posten are a bunch of ultra-right wing reactionaries working for a paper with a history of fascist sympathy and anti-immigrant stances. Or that they know who knew exactly what they were doing.
    But I was hoping that some other people who weighed in with easy and casual racism might actually do a little research or even think about what they are saying for a minute before letting ignorance and fear do the better angels of their natures in the Abner Louima with a broomstick.
    Those are the people I am ashamed of. My friends and fellow alums. I was addressing my peers, who oughta know better.
    I have no idea who you are, beyond some faceless party-line debate club bozo. We’ve never met and never will, so I could care less what you think. But dispense with the tiresome zingers, thank you very much.
    You’re the equivalent of some random guy who stumbled into a party. You’ve been here so long, you’ve forgotten that some people here knew each other before the party started. And now I have something to say to my friends and neighbors. So just stand in the corner and drink your beer, thank you very much.
    If anyone is still reading this, besides the Debate Club:
    A good person has been deeply insulted by many of the comments here and I stand with that person, and against the soft-headed hand-wringing bullshit I’ve read. Any one of you who with a heart needs to consider apologizing to said person if you know her/him and think you might have contributed to the offense. Or do some research or even some considered thinking if you think Said Person might be a merely a friend of a friend.
    The rest of you can suck it. I’m through with this blog for now, either way. You have your own consciences to answer to.

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  49. Salem

    Lindsay, If my poor attempt at humor offended anyone, I ask that they accept my sincere apology. The situation is not funny and my weak attempt at humor was more a reaction to the stress than anything else. I do reserve the right to be angry about any demonstrations over the cartoons that involved premeditated violence. I also am begining to believe that we will end up at war with several Muslim countries even if our next six Presidents are Nancy Pelosi, Cat Stevens, and an American born cousin of Osama Bin laden. I am becoming the most egalitarian of racists. I am prejudiced against the human race. I am serious about the apology. Forgive me.

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