Wednesday, 15 February 2006
in the Liberty Bell
This will be more of a brief outline of my thoughts and I reserve the right to revise and extend my remarks at a later date.
There was once a company, whose policy was freedom of information and who in its beginning vowed never to censor Internet searches.
It's Motto was "Do NO Evil" and it was called Google.
Recently there was some amount of comment on Google's Cooperative agreement with the People's Republic of China to adjust their software so that the Chinese People would be protected from the results of Internet searches with such dangerous keywords as
Democracy, Tiananmen Square.
It was about this time that Google's Promise never to censor Internet searches disappeared from their websites.
Replaced by words like "In accordance with local laws etc etc"
That was their justification and indeed they had ALREADY abandoned their principles regarding freedom of information and freedom of speech at the bequest of the EU to censor searches in Europe for Neo-Nazi websites and other Fascist polemics.
Nobody much really likes Nazis or Fascists so no one really noticed or commented when that ethical Rubicon was crossed.
If they had they would still probably not thought the same restrictions should or would be applied to search terms like, Liberty, Democracy, Freedom.
Such are the results of compromise.
At the time I thought of writing an article as a warning of what could happen in the Future.
My concept was that if they were willing to censor searches coming out of China they might be willing to censor Internet searches ABOUT China.
I intended it as a warning about what could happen in the Future, since Google was willing to compromise
and abandon their original policy of no censorship of information searches.
It would appear I should have written this sooner, because Google is already censoring and filtering what we can search for with their software.
Just not at the behest of the PRC.
A few hours ago I read this on Little Green Football.It's In the Koran
Google Video (beta), like Angelfire, has submitted to radical Islam and removed it from view
You are now at one of the only remaining sites on the web
that will let you see it
Google won't let you see it. Probably they think it is not in our best interests.
Maybe they should change their name to Gaggle?
First they came to censor the Nazi Websites
And no one cared, because who likes Nazis?
Then they came to censor the Chinese Web searches
And they said some information was better than none.
Now they have come to censor what WE can search for.
Does anyone care?
In the very first post I ever made on this Blog I made the claim that the The Blogs were the 21st Century "Committees of Correspondence" in the Second American Revolution which would be one of Ideas.
Friends those words were never truer, It is WE who are the Guardians of Information.
Google has joined the side of the Forces of Suppression and Oppression.
Other websites on the Google Issue include
The English Guy He also has other information about Google so look at his main site and not just this post link
Tiger Hawk relates a very dangerous IMO legal reaction to the Google-Gap (a take off on Credibility-Gap and I think appropriate in these later days) in Don't regulate the search engines, except in one small way
"The subcommittee's chairman, Representative Christopher H. Smith, Republican of New Jersey, plans to introduce legislation by week's end that would restrict an Internet company's ability to censor or filter basic political or religious terms ? even if that puts the company at odds with local laws in the countries where it now operates."
I must agree with Tiger Hawk Trashing the First Amendment is no way to perserve Liberty and Freedom.
Google is a private enterprise they can adjust the services they offer any way they want,
I DO support public awareness of their censorship and support of Totalitarian and Oppresive Regimes.
Another poster points out a even greater danger, one that to my eyes Yahoo is already guilty of,
"I only have one problem with your counterproposal, but it's a big one: What's to prevent China from responding by ordering Google et al not to comply with the new law if they want to keep doing business in China? (Remember, suppressing information is just half of the point of political censorship. The other half is maintaining the illusion that the apparent lack of dissent is not the result of censorship, but simply because there's no dissent to be found.) Once that happens, everyone involved is back to square one.
By Joshua, at Wed Feb 15, 09:35:09 AM
As for "Informancy is the worst transgression. China would pay for info on people's searches, and within China it would be legal, maybe even mandatory."
How do you know they are not doing that? Because they say so?
As I recall they USED to say that they would never censor internet searches.
That should tell you how good their word is.
And your word is not like a bone, once you break it, it never grows back stronger.
Monday, 13 February 2006
Ik Sta met Denemarken!
Now that ought to confuse some of my readers who only speak English. ;-) It is Dutch forI Stand with Denmark!
This is prompted by two things. The flood of Dutch readers who have graced my website recently via.The Dutch Disease Report
You are most welcome.
The other reason I discovered at No Pasarn!
in one of the comments about a a demonstration
on Saturday 25 February at Dam Square in Amsterdam.
I see No Pasarn! has also put up a post on thisWe (heart) Dutchmark
You are invited to a demonstration
on Saturday 25 February at Dam Square in Amsterdam.Directions
This information from Balder Blog
in English."Call for demonstration at Dam Square on Holland!?s Remembrance Day (Feb 25)
Compiled and translated from the weblog Nekklachten
Monument for fallen Dutch Resistance Fighters during the Nazi occupation of Holland.
Situated in the centre of Amsterdam a ten minutes walk from the main railroad station Centraal Station. In the sixties a rendez vous point for flower power hippies, later a favourite spot for African and Arab drugdealers and hustlers.
Everybody who wants to support Freedom of Speech:
Come to Dam Square in the center of Amsterdam on Saturday February 25 at 13:00 o!?clock.
The purpose of the demonstration is to show the politicians that the Dutch are sick and tired of the religious frenzy around the famous Jyllands Posten Cartoons, and even more tired of the demands for restrictions of our Freedom of Speech.
We shall not tolerate as much as 1 millimeter of restrictions of our rights to free speech.
The demonstration will be a signal of solidarity with the people of Denmark, and is also a message to Xavier Solana that we will not accept that the EU top bowes down to Middle Eastern dictatorships in a so called !?dialog!? about freedom of speech. We have that freedom, and it we will keep it. That!?s final.
Demonstrators are being urged to bring Danish flags, and it is being discussed if books from H.C Andersen, the famous Danish storyteller, as well as the newly composed Danish / Dutch Solidarity flag in order to emphasize the support for Denmark and Jyllands Posten."
and in Dutch at Nekklachten
There are also comments on this on the website of the heroine Ayaan Hirsi Ali
We will be with you in Spirit if not in Body on that day.
You will be supported by some and reviled by others.
Do not despair, you are not alone.
We too in the Past of our Republic had those who would prefer to place their necks under the Heel of Oppression, rather than to face it.
One of our Founding Fathers Samuel Adams had this to say to such persons.
"If ye love wealth greater than liberty, the tranquility of servitude
greater than the animating contest for freedom, go home from us in peace.
We seek not your counsel, nor your arms. Crouch down and lick the hand
that feeds you; May your chains set lightly upon you, and may posterity
forget that ye were our countrymen."
I STAND WITH DUTCHMARK!
In the struggle for Freedom of Speech.
Sign the Petition NOW!
Rasmsussen Rechecking Math?
It is almost 5:00PM CST.
The Rasmussen website states "Updated Daily by Noon Eastern"
So why does the Bush approval rating text say--"President Bush Job Approval
Updated Daily by Noon Eastern Bush Job Approval
Strongly Approve 25%
Somewhat Approve 24%
Somewhat Disapprove 13%
Strongly Disapprove 36%
Sunday February 12, 2006--Forty-nine percent (49%) of American adults approve of the way George W. Bush is performing his role as President. Fifty percent (50%) disapprove.
The President's ratings have been higher over the past week than they were for the week before. However, it is impossible to determine if the current peak reflects lasting change or merely statistical noise."
Particularly when I could SWEAR that earlier today I saw TWO days at the top of the chart with
Bush Job Approval
49 Approve 50 Disaprove
Where did Monday Feb 13 go to? I mean I saw it earlier, and it is about 6 hours after it is supposed to be up.
Maybe Rasmussen wanted to recheck his math?
I also recall last week there was one day where Bush's Approval Rating was 50%
and the Disapproval Rating was 49%.
I'll just bet you did not hear THAT reported in the Legacy Media!
In other News the Hillary Meter
"February 9, 2006--Support for Hillary Clinton's Presidential bid has slipped over the past month to the lowest levels recorded in two dozen surveys over the past year.
Today, just 27% of Americans say they would definitely vote for the former first lady while 43% would definitely vote against. Still, 59% of Americans believe it is somewhat or very likely that she will be the Democrat's nominee in 2008.
Among Democrats, the number who would definitely vote for Clinton dropped 11 percentage points over the past two weeks.while 43% would definitely vote against."
Let's See Bush's Approval Rating is 49%
Hillary's is 38%.
And this is not News.UPDATE
While I was putting this up the Monday figures came back online.
"Monday February 13, 2006--Forty-nine percent (49%) of American adults approve of the way George W. Bush is performing his role as President. Fifty percent (50%) disapprove.
The President's ratings have been higher over the past week than they were for the week before. However, it is not clear if the current peak reflects lasting change or merely statistical noise"
Don't you just Love this part?
"it is not clear if the current peak reflects lasting change or merely statistical noise"
You know? I could be mistaken, but I don't ever recall seeing verbage like that when Bush's Approval Rating goes donwn
The Open Trackback Alliance XIV
For your listening pleasure while you browse
"Der er et yndigt land" (There Is A Lovely Land)
Words by: Adam Gottlob Oehlenschlager
Music by: Hans Ernst Kr?yer
"Derer et yndigt land" was first performed for a large gathering of Danes in 1844, and became popular quickly with the Danish people. It was adopted later that year by the Danish government as a national anthem, but not the sole national anthem. This anthem is on equal status with "Kong Christian",which is both the national and royal anthem.
When the Danish anthem is usually performed or sung, the first verse is played in its entirety, then it is followed by the last four lines of the last verse. (This is true whether the lyrics are sung or not
Recentlty I have been posting music to Illustrate the Diversity of America, this week I have a different motive to express Solidarity with DENMARK
I maintain my Support of Denmark, and will later today, post links to and my thoughts about a Danish Editorial "We are being pissed upon by Per Nyholm "
I think I shall title my Post, "There is no "But" in "Freedom of Speech".
When I first started upon my journey through the blogverse I created a Statement of Purpose
Now upon reading it, one can realize that I did not hold to every detail of that original statement, but from it's basic premise, I have never swayed, in my belief that the Blogs are in fact the Committees of Correspondence of the Second American Revolution.
And that it is a Revolution of Information, no longer can we afford and allow elite gateways to control what we can see, hear and discuss.
For I believe that those bloggers who find their way, here and in particular from the Blogs associated with Sam.
HAVE SOMETHING TO SAY.
Some of us are more Serious, some of us are more lighthearted and some post the common ordinary things that make one smile and recall that Life without the simple things to treasure is meaningless.
And it is important that all have a platform from which to speak.
As I understand this process you can link to this post and trackback to this post on ANY subject or post you think important. It is open. I will repeat this every Monday.
The Committees of Correspondence welcomes your intelligent comments. And also welcomes you to join the
OPEN TRACKBACK ALLIANCE
This week I also have shortened my usual introduction for a more inportant message.
In it's struggle for Freedom of Speech.
Sign the Petition NOW!
30956 Total Signatures 8:27 AM CST 13 February, 2006 We can do better pass the word~!
Blogs that Trackback to this Post:
Because you can doesn't mean you should from Mark My Words
Y'al come back now, Y'heah? ;-)
Sunday, 12 February 2006
They are Provoking US!
I am at a complete loss for words.
During a demonstration of some 4000, two lone figures stood up for Freedom of Speech and with the Danish Flag.
You HAVE to read this and watch the video!
From No Pasarn! Islamic Protesters in Paris Come Face to Face with an Unexpected Counter-Protest
"An eye for an eye! A tooth for a tooth!". Protesting Denmark's cartoon scandal and wearing all kinds of costumes from the Middle East and the Muslim world, 4,000 Islamic demonstrators marched through Paris denouncing the cartoons and the alleged lack of respect towards Islam.
When they arrived at La Nation, they were met with two figures wearing slightly different costumes and slightly different signs.
One, in red and white, was silently wearing a sign with the Danish flag saying "Support Denmark, Support free speech". Besides silently wearing a sign reading "Free Cartoonist" on it, the other, the founder of the BAF protest-warrior-type organization, was holding a (fake) severed hand, a pen among its fingers.
READ the Article, you don't have to Wait for the Movie, they have a link to the video!
I can only say, "Shai Dorsai!"
(The phrase, "Shai Dorsai!" ("real" or "true Dorsai"), is a salute to those who embody the Dorsai ideal of the ethical warrior,)
Many more photos and information at
The BAF (Brigade for the money of the French Taxpayers)
(note the English version is underneath the French language version)
Linked toSunday's Best at Don Surber
The Valentine Jihad
Hat Tip The Politburo Diktat with Islamic Values in KashmirDukhtaran-e-Millat activists burn Valentine’s Day cards in Kashmir"Nearly two dozen black-veiled Muslim women stormed gift and stationery shops Friday in Kashmir, burning Valentine’s Day cards and posters to protest a holiday they say imposes Western values on Muslim youth.
No one was hurt in the half-dozen or so incidents, and police cordoned off the area to prevent the women from marching through Srinagar’s main shopping district to continue their ransacking.The women were from the Kashmiri Islamic group Dukhtaran-e-Millat, or Daughters of the Community, Kashmir’s only women’s separatist group, whose members are also known for their fiercely conservative social views.
“We will not let anyone sell these cards or celebrate Valentine’s Day,” said Asiya Andrabi, the group’s leader, as she held a burning poster in her hand. “These Western gimmicks are corrupting our kids and taking them away from their roots.”
You know, I really do not care what other's believe or what Holidays they wish to celebrate, unless
they decide to tell ME
which ones I get to celebrate or what I have to believe.
Some have made the claim that we must go to extreme measures not to offend.
Where does this all end?
Where is the definitive list of items we must avoid?
The List is in the Quran of course. All we have to do is say the Shadada
Submit it Islam and the Mullahs will be happy to tell us what to do think and believe.
We could Submit to the Pact of Umar
and again the Mullah's will be happy to tell us what to do think and believe.
Is an Assault on Valentine's Cards an Attack on Western Civilization?
As petty as it may sound the answer is Yes.
It would seem there is no area of thought, belief or action that Salafah Islam
does not feel it has the right to decide for all.
But never fear, we are told, the Quran is a perfect way of life, and includes instructions for all and for everything.
Those who do not believe and submit? Why once their heads are severed from their bodies they will not utter any objections.
As for me? I choose NOT to Submit. Here is my Valentine's Card for all of you.
Pass it on. Awesome Cards
As usual Michele Malikin is on the cutting edge of this topic with NEXT, THEY CAME FOR VALENTINE'S DAY
OTA Weekend And Open Thread at The Crazy Rants of Samantha Burns
Saturday, 11 February 2006
The Return of the Worship of Molech.
While reading the events concerning the recent Cartoon Jihad a passage in Captain's Quarters
caught my eye and stuck in my mind."The police finally withdrew and allowed the crowd to burn down the Danish embassy. Although they set the building alight, they had time and the forethought to bring a large banner to place on the building before it burnt down, announcing that the protesters were ready to offer their children in sacrifice to Mohammed."
Now Human Sacrifice, is not unknown in History, the Sacrifice of Children is not unknown, particularly in that region, though it has been almost 3 millennium since it reared it's ugly head and it was considered an abomination by all Cultures save the ones who practiced it.
The Adherents of Molech"Molech was a fire-god and many things were sacrificed to him by burning. Ancient sources mention food and drink, birds and animals, and of course, humans occasionally. However, the practice most spoken of was the sacrifice of young children to the fires of Molech. This practice was especially abhorred by the ancients, and not just the Jews. The Greeks and Romans also mention this inhuman rite in derogatory terms. "
The Bitter Irony of this all is that the very rationale for the fanatic response by Salafah
Islam to these Cartoons rests in part on an iconoclatic
world view that rejects totally the deification of anything and anyone save Allah/God.
In all Cultures Children are considered precious to be cherished and protected. A Warrior will willing to lay HIS
life down to defend them because they are the Future. Only pallid things more like that found under a rotten log would be willing "to offer their children in sacrifice to" another Mortal.
We can have respect for the Man, but all religions reject the Deification of Mortals even those in the service of the Divine.
There is an old story of a sale of odd second hand goods. On one table was a battered and worn violin.
People picked it up, but it had no physical beauty and it was out of tune.
An old man lifted it, twisted a few knobs, and played music that was so lovely it transfixed all who heard it.
The lesson was, that even the most humble instrument in the Hands of a Master can play divine music.
The Glory is not to the instrument, but to the Master.
To Deify a Mortal is a Blasphemy in all Religions. To Sacrifice Children to such a one is an Abomination in all Religions, Islam included EXCEPT
The Worship of Molech, which is a Darkness not seen for some 3 millennium.
It would appear it has returned.
Linked to OTA Weekend And Open Thread at The Crazy Rants of Samantha BurnsMooseTracks Open Weekend Trackbacks. at The Bullwinkle Blog The *PIAPS Factor (Redux) Trackback Party & Linkfest: Weekend Edition at Stuck On Stupid Weekend Open Trackback Party! at The Uncooperative BloggerSaturday Open Trackbacks 02.11.06 at Gribbit's Word Pride: Open Trackback Post at the 7 Deadly SinsWeekend Open Trackbacks Downward Spiral Edition at Point FiveInto The Great Wide Open at Stop the ACLUWeekend Open Trackbacks at Right Wing Nation
Friday, 10 February 2006
?Culture, Civilization & Humanity?
. from the Pen of Tarek Heggy
Tarek Heggy, a renowned International Scholar brings a unique voice on MidEastern Issues.
I recently recieved this email from his office.
"To the recipients of Tarek Heggy’s articles, lectures and speeches.
Tarek Heggy gave, earlier t`is month, two lectures at the 38th Cairo International Book Fair. The first was on 21st January on the impact of the political and economic facets of globalization on Cultures. The second (1st February) was on his writings in English. The attached document is an extract from the second lecture.
N.B.: I shall forward to you soon Mr. Heggy’s article on the Islamic world reaction to the Danish cartoons. It is probably the only piece in Arabic that condemns the reaction with no single sympathy or justification. "
A complete word doc with images
___ The Archives of Tarek Heggy
This year, it was the first time that Egypt’s Minister of Culture to invite me at the 38th Cairo International Book Fair. During my second lecture (in which I covered ten subjects) one of the topics I touched upon was a comment on the title of my book “Culture, Civilization & Humanity”. The following is the English translation of what I improvised in Arabic concerning this particular point (Culture, Civilization & Humanity).
From Tarek Heggy’s lecture
At the Cairo Book Fair on
1st February, 2006.
The core idea of this presentation i.e. the relationship between Cultures, Civilizations & Humanity:
(1) At the bottom I put “Cultures”. And that is exactly where they should be. They are the foundations on which civilizations are built. But what is a culture? A culture is hard to define, but it involves social norms, taboos, literature, religion, expressive arts, folklore and the way people live. In my book that had the same title of this lecture, I explained that the great Muslim Andalusian Civilization was based on the proper interaction between Islamic and Judaic thinking with Aristotelian philosophy. Three different cultures that complemented each other or collided like sub-atomic particles do, not knowing that their quarrels will form atoms and release energy... The result was a great Civilization. But then came the Al Moawahed Dynasty from North Africa. Ibn Rush (Averoess) was (morally) persecuted for his views, and the Jews for being Jews. Two legs of the tripod that produced the glorious Muslim Civilization of the Iberian Peninsula, were knocked out. Civilization soon found itself limping in the once glorious Muslim Spain. Unfortunately, the problem with a limping Civilization is that; for fear of falling it can only look back. Progress is thus seen as dangerous. The result: Civilization arrest.
The same phenomenon was seen with the Copts who built a great culture on which a great Civilization could have been built (they could not build their own civilization since they were a subject Nation). But that cultural ascendance faltered after 451 AD, when the Copts repudiated a Byzantine religious dogma after the Chalcedon council of 451 AD. The tragedy is that they also proceeded to divorce themselves from all forms of secular Greek thinking. Moreover instead of being opened to Judaic culture (I am thinking not only of Philo, but of all the Rabbinic wisdom of Judaic Alexandria), the Copts became anti-Semitic “activists”. As a result the Universalism of the School of Alexandria could not and did not survive, and the School of Alexandria closed its doors, after fanatic Copts murdered Hypathia, the last woman philosopher.
Thus after institutionalization of anti-Semitism, the lynching of Hypathia in415 AD and the tragedy of Chalcedon in 451, Coptic Civilization was deprived of the Judaic and Hellenic limbs of its cultural tripods. Coptic civilization did not limp, it did worse: It closed itself in! The result: Civilization arrest.
(2) Civilization therefore is built on the proper use of superior cultures. But again what in the world is Civilization? The term itself seems to have its root in civics for a city citizen. That is why civilization is essentially urban, and comes to mean today a situation of urban comfort in which people experience refinement of thought and manners. But I prefer to call it an ideal for all citizens to live in a society that offers peace, prosperity, freedom of expression, freedom to worship, freedom to think, equal rights, as well as high cultural and technologic development.
But there is more to civilization than that. For example a society that does not offer good medical care, proper amenities, hygienic rules, cleanliness or discipline; may fall so low on the scale of civilization that it may be called uncivilized.
Kenneth Clark wrote a whole book (which he called “CIVILIZATION”) to answer the question of what is Civilization, but failed to give it a definitive answer. That is why we are free in some degree to define Civilization. That is also why we need to follow Voltaire’s advice, and define what it is before we discuss it. I have defined Civilization by describing its roots, and built a powerful argument that cannot reverse my symbolic pyramid because I crowned it with man (Humanity). And that was a logical way to define the indefinable.
(3) At the top I put HUMANITY i.e. MAN. That makes sense, especially if one espouse the view that man has been made steward of Creation who participate in the ongoing evolution of the world. But even without accepting that view, cultures come from man, and civilizations are built (or destroyed) for men and by men.
Thursday, 9 February 2006
The Cartoon Backlash: Redefining Alignments
By George Friedman
There is something rotten in the state of Denmark. We just couldn't help but open with that -- with apologies to Shakespeare. Nonetheless, there is something exceedingly odd in the notion that Denmark -- which has made a national religion of not being offensive to anyone -- could become the focal point of Muslim rage. The sight of the Danish and Norwegian embassies being burned in Damascus -- and Scandinavians in general being warned to leave Islamic countries -- has an aura of the surreal: Nobody gets mad at Denmark or Norway. Yet, death threats are now being hurled against the Danes and Norwegians as though they were mad-dog friends of Dick Cheney. History has its interesting moments.
At the same time, the matter is not to be dismissed lightly. The explosion in the Muslim world over the publication of 12 cartoons by a minor Danish newspaper -- cartoons that first appeared back in September -- has, remarkably, redefined the geopolitical matrix of the U.S.-jihadist war. Or, to be more precise, it has set in motion something that appears to be redefining that matrix. We do not mean here simply a clash of civilizations, although that is undoubtedly part of it. Rather, we mean that alignments within the Islamic world and within the West appear to be in flux in some very important ways.
Let's begin with the obvious: the debate over the cartoons. There is a prohibition in Islam against making images of the Prophet Mohammed. There also is a prohibition against ridiculing the Prophet. Thus, a cartoon that ridicules the Prophet violates two fundamental rules simultaneously. Muslims around the world were deeply offended by these cartoons.
It must be emphatically pointed out that the Muslim rejection of the cartoons does not derive from a universalistic view that one should respect religions. The criticism does not derive from a secularist view that holds all religions in equal indifference and requires "sensitivity" not on account of theologies, but in order to avoid hurting anyone's feelings. The Muslim view is theological: The Prophet Mohammed is not to be ridiculed or portrayed. But violating the sensibilities of other religions is not taboo. Therefore, Muslims frequently, in action, print and speech, do and say things about other religions -- Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism -- that followers of these religions would find defamatory. The Taliban, for example, were not concerned about the views among other religions when they destroyed the famous Buddhas in Bamiyan. The Muslim demand is honest and authentic: It is for respect for Islam, not a general secular respect for all beliefs as if they were all equal.
The response from the West, and from Europe in particular, has been to frame the question as a matter of free speech. European newspapers, wishing to show solidarity with the Danes, have reprinted the cartoons, further infuriating the Muslims. European liberalism has a more complex profile than Islamic rage over insults. In many countries, it is illegal to incite racial hatred. It is difficult to imagine that the defenders of these cartoons would sit by quietly if a racially defamatory cartoon were published. Or, imagine the reception among liberal Europeans -- or on any American campus -- if a professor published a book purporting to prove that women were intellectually inferior to men. (The mere suggestion of such a thing, by the president of Harvard in a recent speech, led to calls for his resignation.)
In terms of the dialogue over the cartoons, there is enough to amuse even the most jaded observers. The sight of Muslims arguing the need for greater sensitivity among others, and of advocates of laws against racial hatred demanding absolute free speech, is truly marvelous to behold. There is, of course, one minor difference between the two sides: The Muslims are threatening to kill people who offend them and are burning embassies -- in essence, holding entire nations responsible for the actions of a few of their citizens. The European liberals are merely making speeches. They are not threatening to kill critics of the modern secular state. That also distinguishes the Muslims from, say, Christians in the United States who have been affronted by National Endowment for the Arts grants.
These are not trivial distinctions. But what is important is this: The controversy over the cartoons involves issues so fundamental to the two sides that neither can give in. The Muslims cannot accept visual satire involving the Prophet. Nor can the Europeans accept that Muslims can, using the threat of force, dictate what can be published. Core values are at stake, and that translates into geopolitics.
In one sense, there is nothing new or interesting in intellectual inconsistency or dishonesty. Nor is there very much new about Muslims -- or at least radical ones -- threatening to kill people who offend them. What is new is the breadth of the Muslim response and the fact that it is directed obsessively not against the United States, but against European states.
One of the primary features of the U.S.-jihadist war has been that each side has tried to divide the other along a pre-existing fault line. For the United States, in both Afghanistan and Iraq, the manipulation of Sunni-Shiite tensions has been evident. For the jihadists, and even more for non-jihadist Muslims caught up in the war, the tension between the United States and Europe has been a critical fault line to manipulate. It is significant, then, that the cartoon affair threatens to overwhelm both the Euro-American split and the Sunni-Shiite split. It is, paradoxically, an affair that unifies as well as divides.
The Fissures in the West
It is dangerous and difficult to speak of the "European position" -- there really isn't one. But there is a Franco-German position that generally has been taken to be the European position. More precisely, there is the elite Franco-German position that The New York Times refers to whenever it mentions "Europe." That is the Europe that we mean now.
In the European view, then, the United States massively overreacted to 9/11. Apart from the criticism of Iraq, the Europeans believe that the United States failed to appreciate al Qaeda's relative isolation within the Islamic world and, by reshaping its relations with the Islamic world over 9/11, caused more damage. Indeed, this view goes, the United States increased the power of al Qaeda and added unnecessarily to the threat it presents. Implicit in the European criticisms -- particularly from the French -- was the view that American cowboy insensitivity to the Muslim world not only increased the danger after 9/11, but effectively precipitated 9/11. From excessive support for Israel to support for Egypt and Jordan, the United States alienated the Muslims. In other words, 9/11 was the result of a lack of sophistication and poor policy decisions by the United States -- and the response to the 9/11 attacks was simply over the top.
Now an affair has blown up that not only did not involve the United States, but also did not involve a state decision. The decision to publish the offending cartoons was that of a Danish private citizen. The Islamic response has been to hold the entire state responsible. As the cartoons were republished, it was not the publications printing them that were viewed as responsible, but the states in which they were published. There were attacks on embassies, gunmen in EU offices at Gaza, threats of another 9/11 in Europe.
From a psychological standpoint, this drives home to the Europeans an argument that the Bush administration has been making from the beginning -- that the threat from Muslim extremists is not really a response to anything, but a constantly present danger that can be triggered by anything or nothing. European states cannot control what private publications publish. That means that, like it or not, they are hostage to Islamic perceptions. The threat, therefore, is not under their control. And thus, even if the actions or policies of the United States did precipitate 9/11, the Europeans are no more immune to the threat than the Americans are.
This combines with the Paris riots
last November and the generally deteriorating relationships between Muslims in Europe and the dominant populations. The pictures of demonstrators in London, threatening the city with another 9/11, touch extremely sensitive nerves. It becomes increasingly difficult for Europeans to distinguish between their own relationship with the Islamic world and the American relationship with the Islamic world. A sense of shared fate emerges, driving the Americans and Europeans closer together. At a time when pressing issues like Iranian nuclear weapons are on the table, this increases Washington's freedom of action. Put another way, the Muslim strategy of splitting the United States and Europe -- and using Europe to constrain the United States -- was heavily damaged by the Muslim response to the cartoons.
The Intra-Ummah Divide
But so too was the split between Sunni and Shia. Tensions between these two communities have always been substantial. Theological differences aside, both international friction and internal friction have been severe. The Iran-Iraq war, current near-civil war in Iraq, tensions between Sunnis and Shia in the Gulf states, all point to the obvious: These two communities are, while both Muslim, mistrustful of one another. Shiite Iran has long viewed Sunni Saudi Arabia as the corrupt tool of the United States, while radical Sunnis saw Iran as collaborating with the United States in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The cartoons are the one thing that both communities -- not only in the Middle East but also in the wider Muslim world -- must agree about. Neither side can afford to allow any give in this affair and still hope to maintain any credibility in the Islamic world. Each community -- and each state that is dominated by one community or another -- must work to establish (or maintain) its Islamic credentials. A case in point is the violence against Danish and Norwegian diplomatic offices in Syria (and later, in Lebanon and Iran) -- which undoubtedly occurred with Syrian government involvement. Syria is ruled by Alawites, a Shiite sect. Syria -- aligned with Iran -- is home to a major Sunni community; there is another in Lebanon. The cartoons provided what was essentially a secular regime the opportunity to take the lead in a religious matter, by permitting the attacks on the embassies. This helped consolidate the regime's position, however temporarily.
Indeed, the Sunni and Shiite communities appear to be competing with each other as to which is more offended. The Shiite Iranian-Syrian bloc has taken the lead in violence, but the Sunni community has been quite vigorous as well. The cartoons are being turned into a test of authenticity for Muslims. To the degree that Muslims are prepared to tolerate or even move past this issue, they are being attacked as being willing to tolerate the Prophet's defamation. The cartoons are forcing a radicalization of parts of the Muslim community that are uneasy with the passions of the moment.
Beneficiaries on Both Sides
The processes under way in the West and within the Islamic world are naturally interacting. The attacks on embassies, and threats against lives, that are based on nationality alone are radicalizing the Western perspective of Islam. The unwillingness of Western governments to punish or curtail the distribution of the cartoons is taken as a sign of the real feelings of the West. The situation is constantly compressing each community, even as they are divided.
One might say that all this is inevitable. After all, what other response would there be, on either side? But this is where the odd part begins: The cartoons actually were published in September, and -- though they drew some complaints, even at the diplomatic level -- didn't come close to sparking riots. Events unfolded slowly: The objections of a Muslim cleric in Denmark upon the initial publication by Jyllands-Posten eventually prompted leaders of the Islamic Faith Community to travel to Egypt, Syria and Lebanon in December, purposely "to stir up attitudes against Denmark and the Danes" in response to the cartoons. As is now obvious, attitudes have certainly been stirred.
There are beneficiaries. It is important to note here that the fact that someone benefits from something does not mean that he was responsible for it. (We say this because in the past, when we have noted the beneficiaries of an event or situation, the not-so-bright bulbs in some quarters took to assuming that we meant the beneficiaries deliberately engineered the event.)
Still, there are two clear beneficiaries. One is the United States: The cartoon affair is serving to further narrow the rift between the Bush administration's view of the Islamic world and that of many Europeans. Between the Paris riots last year, the religiously motivated murder of a Dutch filmmaker and the "blame Denmark" campaign, European patience is wearing thin. The other beneficiary is Iran. As Iran moves toward a confrontation with the United States over nuclear weapons, this helps to rally the Muslim world to its side: Iran wants to be viewed as the defender of Islam, and Sunnis who have raised questions about its flirtations with the United States in Iraq are now seeing Iran as the leader in outrage against Europe.
The cartoons have changed the dynamics both within Europe and the Islamic world, and between them. That is not to say the furor will not die down in due course, but it will take a long time for the bad feelings to dissipate. This has created a serious barrier between moderate Muslims and Europeans who were opposed to the United States. They were the ones most likely to be willing to collaborate, and the current uproar makes that collaboration much more difficult.
It's hard to believe that a few cartoons could be that significant, but these are.
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Wednesday, 8 February 2006
Don't be intimidated!
By way of Free Thoughts
Iranian feminist: Don't be intimidated! - On the row over “offensive” cartoons
"The charade by Islamists over the publication ofthe cartoons depicting the Mohammed (prophet) as a suicide bomber is being taken too seriously by many. Apologies after apologies are being delivered to Islamic governments and thugs. Any apology makes them more vicious and more daring. The only weapon they have is hostage taking, bullying, intimidating, killing, maiming, and offending any human values and any libertarian rights.
We should not apologize to these reactionary forces who have organized the most sophisticated machinery of oppression and intimidation, who have organized and mobilized an army of terrorists world wide, who have been terrorizing the citizens of the Islamic ridden countries as well as citizens of the world, who have the worst criminal record.
This is their weapon: resorting to terror while appearing as victims. They kill, maim, stone to death people for wanting their rights, for wanting freedom, for wanting a better life. They humiliate women daily, deprive them of their rights, torture them for not observing the rule of Islam, and when someone dares to tell the truth about their atrocities, they become offended, they cry for their “violated dignities”, they become “sacred”. This is nothing but blackmail. Just the same way as they take innocent people hostage daily, by crying for their “sacred” beliefs, they take our conscious hostage. This is their method of survival.
The world without unconditional freedom of expression and criticism will be a very doll and scary world to live. These values are result of long and hard fought battles. We have to preserve the right to unconditional expression and criticism. Nothing is sacred for everyone. Thus everyone must have the right to criticize or ridicule any “sacred” concept, object or belief. The only way we can build a better and more humane world is to safeguard with all our power these sacred values. Unconditional freedom of expression and criticism is the sacred value, we should maintain.
Islamists become offended and hysterical too often. They should learn to be more tolerant, more respectful of libertarian rights that have been won through long struggles by humanity and progressive forces. We should teach them to respect freedom and civil rights. We should teach them to respect women’s rights. We should teach them not too readily resort to terror and intimidation. How? By standing firm to their face, and say no apologies are due. If any, it is your turn to apologize for all your crimes against humanity.
Azar Majedi is Chairperson of the Organisation of Women's Liberation. and producer-presenter of "No to Political Islam" an NCTV programme.
Seldom heard voices from behind the Quran Curtain.
Certainly not heard much via the Mainstream Media.
AUDIO INTRODUCTION IN PERSIAN
The Glorious Frontiers Party) was founded on July 8th, 1998 in Tehran. It was established by a group of Nationalist secular writers and journalists.
Marze Por-Gohar was one of the most active groups present at the pro-Democracy uprising of the University students in July of 1999. On the fifth day of the uprising, on July 13th, MPG leaders and members were arrested and sent to the notorious Towhid, one of Islamic Republic’s secret prisons. Due to constant harassment of the Islamic elements, some members of this organization were forced to flee the country.
We gladly announce the continuation of Hezbe Marze Por-Gohar in exile. May our efforts never cease until Freedom, Democracy and Secularism prevail in our country
Collection of Essays
On the row over “offensive” cartoons 2006/02/062 years jail sentence for criticizing Islam Azar Majedi 5/10/25Ban all religious schools! 2005/05/17Is Canada next? 2005/01/10They are asking for tolerance! We say this is hypocrisy! 2004/12/16 A Threat To Humankind Political Islam VS. Secularism 2004/11/06
Azar Majedi is the head of the Organisation for Women's Liberation.
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