February 06, 2006
Intolerance masquerades as tolerance
It was, of course, never about freedom of speech and tolerance for divergent opinions. What it was about was to test the limits that intolerance and xenophobia can be carried to. It seems that those limits have finally been reached and breached.
I think Europe may come to regret this latest shameful indiscretion. Its attempt to humiliate Moslems has backfired, revealing instead some of its own deeply-entrenched hypocrisies. The Empire has no clothes.
While touting the "tolerance" of their societies, Europeans have been busily defending, nay celebrating, the intolerance exhibited by the Danish newspaper. If this kind of bigoted insensitivity is an example of European tolerance, then give me the "narrow-minded intolerance" of the Moslem protesters. They, at least, have the clarity of mind to see what is right, along with the courage to fight for it.
• My other posts on related topics:
Truth as a higher degree of deception
Myth and Myth-take (with Update)
What do you care?
When it comes to Iran, it's NOT the same as with the Danish comic. The Danish comic was not intended to offend, at least, not to this extent. The Irani comic IS INTENDED to offend. I'm not jewish, but I would care a heck about it.
Well, I hope to have illustrated my point of view, and congratulations for your blog.
It especially galls me when I'm hearing people saying, "They publish cartoons with Jesus all the time. What's the problem with Muslims?"
That's the thing about multiculturalism -- you have to try understand that different cultures have different norms. It's not about treating everyone equally; it's about understanding that people of different cultures may react differently to your actions.
Now the Right gets to provoke the world's Muslims AND gets to point out how savage their response is. The Right wins.
I wonder, what might have happened if following the initial local reaction within Denmark the editor - sorry, idiot - had sat down with senior members of the local Muslim community and worked out a similar apology.
But then there would be nothing for the racist right to swing on would there...
Europe is not in any way superior to the rest of the world. The idea that it is superior was invented in the 19th century in order to dehumanize the rest of humanity, and therefore to justify colonialism. And the idea that it is superior is racism, pure and simple. All human cultures have their own sets of values and beliefs that they live by, which are the product of their specific historical and economic circumstances, and no set of values and beliefs has inherent superiority over any other one. On the contrary, I would propose that the recent events seem to have demonstrated a certain inferiority on the part of European culture, in that it imposes suffering for the sake of imposing suffering, and then tries to pretend to have had the highest motives. This is a historical European pattern of behaviour.
You say “we are against the death penalty, against charging for health services, etc.” Yes, quite right, Europeans are opposed to killings in Europe and they wish to maintain high health standards in Europe. The policies of their governments and corporations, on the other hand, have brought and continue to bring untold death and suffering to the rest of humanity.
You say “The problem here is that one sensationalist tabloid published offensive images.” I am sure you have heard by now that a large number of other European newspapers have also published the images, despite knowing full well the amount of hurt and offence that the original publication has brought to the Moslem community. Is this the exemplary civilized behaviour of Europeans?
I think the equivalence you have proposed between the exploiter countries and the exploited ones, although rather an original idea, is without foundation. If there is tyranny in Moslem countries, it is because the West has crushed all movements towards liberation in those countries. If there is economic backwardness, it is a legacy of colonialism and neo-colonialism.
By the way, you have probably heard that the Danish newspaper had earlier refused to publish some Jesus cartoons. I think that tells the whole story about why they decided to publish the Mohammed ones. It had nothing to do with the supposed European ideals of freedom of the press, and everything to do with deliberately wanting to hurt the feelings of Danish Moslems.
In other words, the real issue here is not the giving of offense. Rather, it is the political games that are being played against and at the expense of Moslems. I know you are, or have become, aware of this. As you say in response to a comment on your own blog, there are “those who have taken the Muslim response to promote and further their own bigotry and political ends under the cover of ‘freedom of speech.’” And, as you say in your comment above, the path of early apology was not taken in Denmark because “then there would be nothing for the racist right to swing on.”
Yet I disagree with you about the nature of the apology scenario in NZ. I suppose I am Freudian in that I believe there are no motive-free acts. The act of publishing the cartoons, whether in the Danish or the NZ case, must have had a substantive material motive, rather than the declared motive of exercising the freedom of the press. All newspapers have specific political lines and political interests. I strongly believe that the motive, in both cases, was to advance a Right-wing agenda, though in different manners. You might ask “How was the Right-wing agenda advanced in NZ?” I think it was advanced by apologizing without apologizing, that is, without moving even a fraction of an inch from the papers’ original position. The unspoken points that the newspapers have thus tried to make by their apologies is that: (1) Western ways are superior to other ways; and (2) Westerners are generous and compassionate. Had Western ways or people been, in fact, superior or commendable, this whole business would not have occurred, though, would it?
The cartoons were opposed not only because the depiction of prophet mohammed is prohibited but because the only motive behind the cartoon seems is to spread hatred against Islam .
It says (loudly) that Islam is a Bomb that was planted by mohammed.
It says that the oppresion of women is right according to islam.
It says that Islam glorifies suicide bombing.
But the reality is that Islam considers suicide as one of the worst sins that one can commit and according to Qur'an any one commiting suicide is destined for hell.
I just want to say that Islam should not be judged by the wrong-doings of a group of people.
The recent step by EU for inter-cultural debate in this regard is laudable.
All three issues are legitimate in that they make for a civilized world. However, the current controversy with the cartoon asks us to rank the three issues in order of importance and that for me is undoable. In a civilized world those three have to co exist and in a mutually non threatening way. For anyone to take sides on the issue would mean choosing anarchy over peace and civility.
As far as the radical Islamists go, it's my view that something like this was due, the cartoon just afforded them a vehicle to rally against. If it hadn't been that, it would have been something else.
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