Strength in numbers

Mohommed bombheadTwo German newspaper have joined a leading French newspaper in reprinting the controversial Danish caricatures of Islam’s prophet Mohammed. They are acting in solidarity with the Danish paper whose actions provoked an international boycott of Danish products. This is how collective action is supposed to work. Speak out, and if you’re threatened, be joined by another voice and then another, until there would be too many voices to silence.

Isn’t it interesting that the U.S. is speaking out against the unified actions of the Europeans? Perhaps it is not surprising that American fundamentalists are coming to the defense of Islamic fundamentalists.

A survey of Newspapers shows that Western voices are dismissive of the notion that the cartoons should be found so offensive. Muslim papers demand apology yet do not condone the violence. Perhaps surprising to many, Palestinian papers are calling for moderation among Muslims.

I worry that this entire tempest is going to be used to show the volatility of Islam. This will be fuel for the argument that Iran must under no circumstance be allowed to have nukes.

The Americans and British are now accusing Iran and Syria of inciting the violence. Meanwhile a French paper is printing additional provocative cartoons.

Now the Islamic voices are labeling this provocation as Zionist. An Iranian paper is retaliating by soliciting contributions from cartoonist to lampoon the greatest -and perhaps only- Western taboo, the Holocaust. While I deplore this escalation, the cartoons should prove interesting. They certainly have hit on a taboo which the West cannot countenance.

Since the Enlightenment I think to the western mind freedom of expression is revered. We can tolerate our Jesus depicted as a bald transvestite. We can burn our flag, even piss on it. We have no image that is sacrosanct, except the victims of the Holocaust.

It will be interesting to see if Europeans or Americans can get a dose of what it feels like to be injured by a cartoon. Can you even imagine making fun of a Holocaust victim?

When Anne Frank is depicted at the wheel of a bulldozer, crushing Palestinian children, even maybe unwittingly (hopefully), then we’re probably going to see escalation.

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