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Rantings of a Sandmonkey

Be forewarned: The writer of this blog is an extremely cynical, snarky, pro-US, secular, libertarian, disgruntled sandmonkey. If this is your cup of tea, please enjoy your stay here. If not, please sod off

Sunday, February 05, 2006

How the other side thinks

I have been trying to get people here to understand how this Cartoon Global Crisis will be viewed by the west, and I have found this excerpet of Christopher Hitchens latest column "the case for mocking religion" to the be the best example of just that. Islam makes very large claims for itself. In its art, there is a prejudice against representing the human form at all. The prohibition on picturing the prophet—who was only another male mammal—is apparently absolute. So is the prohibition on pork or alcohol or, in some Muslim societies, music or dancing. Very well then, let a good Muslim abstain rigorously from all these. But if he claims the right to make me abstain as well, he offers the clearest possible warning and proof of an aggressive intent. This current uneasy coexistence is only an interlude, he seems to say. For the moment, all I can do is claim to possess absolute truth and demand absolute immunity from criticism. But in the future, you will do what I say and you will do it on pain of death.

I refuse to be spoken to in that tone of voice, which as it happens I chance to find "offensive." ( By the way, hasn't the word "offensive" become really offensive lately?) The innate human revulsion against desecration is much older than any monotheism: Its most powerful expression is in the Antigone of Sophocles. It belongs to civilization. I am not asking for the right to slaughter a pig in a synagogue or mosque or to relieve myself on a "holy" book. But I will not be told I can't eat pork, and I will not respect those who burn books on a regular basis. I, too, have strong convictions and beliefs, and value the Enlightenment above any priesthood or any sacred fetish-object. It is revolting to me to breathe the same air as wafts from the exhalations of the madrasahs, or the reeking fumes of the suicide-murderers, or the sermons of Billy Graham and Joseph Ratzinger. But these same principles of mine also prevent me from wreaking random violence on the nearest church, or kidnapping a Muslim at random and holding him hostage, or violating diplomatic immunity by attacking the embassy or the envoys of even the most despotic Islamic state, or making a moronic spectacle of myself threatening blood and fire to faraway individuals who may have hurt my feelings. The babyish rumor-fueled tantrums that erupt all the time, especially in the Islamic world, show yet again that faith belongs to the spoiled and selfish childhood of our species.

As it happens, the cartoons themselves are not very brilliant, or very mordant, either. But if Muslims do not want their alleged prophet identified with barbaric acts or adolescent fantasies, they should say publicly that random murder for virgins is not in their religion. And here one runs up against a curious reluctance. … In fact, Sunni Muslim leaders can't even seem to condemn the blowing-up of Shiite mosques and funeral processions, which even I would describe as sacrilege. Of course there are many millions of Muslims who do worry about this, and another reason for condemning the idiots at Foggy Bottom is their assumption, dangerous in many ways, that the first lynch mob on the scene is actually the genuine voice of the people. There's an insult to Islam, if you like. This whole stupid thing, as far as I am concerned, is a battle of the sacreds. For the muslim population, Islam and Mohamed are sacred, while for the west, Freedom of expression and speech are what's sacred, and now the sacreds are butting heads. And while it seems for the muslim side that they are "winning"( there really is no wining here btw, only degrees of losing) for now because of the apologies that the Danes are giving, sooner or later the blowback will start in the west, and it will get really ugly for the muslim world pretty quick. So please, muslims of the world, hear me out: Europeans, while big on tolerance and cultural understanding, are not going to tolerate the your intolerance for their way of life for long, and sooner or later they, too, will turn on you. The more you push them, especially with the kind of shit you people say at protests in their countries, the more they will start viewing you as a group of people that they can not co-exist with, and believe me, that's not good. You think your boycott of Danish goods is smart? Wait till the EU reacts and ceases trade with every country that boycotted Denmark in return. They won't do it to spite you; they will do it because it's part of the EU's trade policy and they will have no problem doing it too. You may think you are ready for this and that it wouldn't really affect you, but you really aren't. And this is not your biggest problem. Your biggest problem lies in the fact that Europe has been taking your side on most conflicts so far (Palestinain Israeli conflict and the Iraq war for example) and because of this they may very well re-think their position, for very logical reasons. I mean, am I the only one who thinks that the fact that palestinain millitants are threathening to kill any Danes, french, norwegian or german people they may find in retalliation for the cartoons being printed in their country, is a little counter-productive to the efforts their leadership has been making to urge the governments of those same countries not to cut their aid and trying to assure them that the money will not go into funding terrorist attacks? Am I the only one who finds it a little funny that they are saying :"If you don't apologize we will kill your people, but please give us aid and you have our word that it won't go to terrorist attacks!"? You think the people in any of those countries will support giving the palestinian's aid now? You think danish people will continue taking the palestinain's side on this after viewing their flag repeatedly burned over and over by angry crowds because of a cartoon in one of their Newspapers? You think you are winning because you are burning cheese and boycotting LEGO? Are you people HIGH? Rest assured that this won't go well with them at all and it will not help any just cause you may have. If anything, you have given enough ammo to your enemies that will allow them to silence their critics-people on your side- for years and years to come. In every country whose flag you burn the parties that advocate discrimination against muslims and arabs- who are fringe minority parties- will now gain more credibility and support. You are doing your enemies the biggest favor here and you are hurting your cause and image in the process. Stop it. The Danish newspaper has apologized repeatedly, the danish muslim community has accepted their apology. End of Story. Let it go. Get over it. Escelating this will only harm you in the end, and you don't need the extra damage to your reputation and image. Please stop going crazy over this, because I am sick and tired of watching you lose it over a cartoon.


At 2/05/2006 05:03:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Sandman,

I am impressed with your understanding about how we in Europe thinks, it is exactly how I experince it.

I am from Sweden, next door neigbour to Denmark. My mind has been conditioned by a country that has not participating in any war for 200 years, even if there is a shame among many Swedes that we were neutral during war world II. During the last 1000 years Sweden has participated in 133 wars, 33 against Denmark and 30 against Russia, we were once a little "super power" culminating in 1632, I belive it was.

But for the first time in my life, I am feeling such an anger over the Islamic reaction towards Denmark over a cartoon, and I want to go to war for the first time in my life and I am born in 1954. It scares me, the next terror attack in Europe and I belive Europe and NATO will attack. The French President has sad that he will use nuclear boms on any country that supports and terror attack against France.

You are also right about how the peoples sympathy will change. Look about the strong outcry against the Irak war in Europe and the strong support of the Palestinians and peace between them and Israel, EU is by far the largets contributor to Palestina, three times more than alla of the oilrich Arabic countries themselves
gives to Palestina. My attitudes have changed, now I feel that Israel and USA is absolutley right, it is impossible to co-excist with this Islamic religious fanatics who are prepared to kill us over a cartoon. We must kill them before they kill us, it is impossible to live with theese absolutley mad people, is my thinking now. I am not a calm and peaceful human being any longer, I am blind of anger and I want to go to war to protect our lifes and our freedom and democracy from theese murdurous people.

I saw a sigh i the London demonstration, "Behead them who say Islam is a violent religion" and it is not a Danish joke, it is what theese people are saying, it is unbelivable.

In Sweden religion is nearly dead now, less than one percent of the population goes to church on a regular basis, and they are mostley old ladies. I only go to church on baptists, weddings and funerals and so does most people here. I do not know of any Swedish person who is religious and prays to God. There is churches all over Sweden, the smallest village has one, so Jesus was very big here for over 100 years ago, but today no one goes to church anymore. Most peolpe view the christian priest as somewhat retarded or superstious for beliving in fairytales of old bibel. We belive in Nature, sience, technology, democracy, human rights, freedom om speach and can not understan how anyone can get upset about a cartoon in a newspaper. We are chocked and furious now, you are absolutley right about that.

I admire your currage and understanding in this matter and letting me speak my mind.


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