Battlepanda: Both sides of the Cartoon Jihad can go to hell


Always trying to figure things out with the minimum of bullshit and the maximum of belligerence.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Both sides of the Cartoon Jihad can go to hell

I've already weighed in on the Danish cartoon controversy -- but here's a bit more of a roundup of thoughts around the blogisphere, especially in the wake of the appalling news that Danish embassies have been torched in Syria and Lebanon:

First, Jeff Goldstein writes a post calling out the left side of the blogisphere for not reacting to the story, which completely baffled me given the amount of coverage I've seen as a left-leaning blog reader. Then he clarified in the comments that he is not complaining about the lack of coverage per se as much as its nature -- he thinks that we are "squeaking" rather than "roaring". We're not thumping the table and rending the garments enough, we're not calling for increased consumption in Danish butter. We're not joining their side of the "cartoon war", so we must be against them. Well, excuse us for not abandoning our rationality for blood-eyed rage even when the other side is behaving very badly indeed.

At the risk of quoting something that will cause Jeff's head to explode if he actually processed it because it is neither a polemic calling for the escalation of the "clash of civilizations" nor the kind of timid appeasement piece Jeff like to imagine liberals writing, I'm going to quote what I think is the best take on this whole situation yet, from Richard, The Peking Duck. :

Two years ago, China was whipped into a frenzy of anti-Japanese rioting, ignited by a skit by some Japanese students at a university in Xi'an.

[Description of the incident here: Basically, some Japanese students did a silly (but completely non-racial) skit which somehow got interpreted as an insult to the Chinese nation, igniting mucho hatred and rioting..]

Like this week's explosion of Islamic outrage over some ill-considered Danish cartoons, the reaction was nothing short of bizarre when seen in relation to the "crime." As a Jew, I get offended by anti-Semitic cartoons, crosses painted on synagogues, hateful rhetoric from the president of Iran, etc. Do I riot and attack Moslems? Do I allow myself to indulge in a self-immolating orgy of hatred and violence? (In case you haven't figured it out, the answer is "No.")

In both cases, I believe the raw, blind rage is rooted in insecurity and a sense of inferiority. (Note, I said a sense of inferiority, not that Chinese or Moslems are inferior.) I think it's correct for the US to voice disapproval and I think the cartoons were ill-considered, to say the least. (In the case of the Xi'An incident, I am less charitable; the Japanese skit was not intended to offend, dumb as the young students may have been in not taking into account the unique sensitivities of their hosts.) But the reaction....

No people who are secure about who they are and aware of their accomplishments and worthiness behave like this. Mature people channel their outrage constructively and never burn things down and attack innocents. People who see themselves as perennial victims, however, are always vulnerable to being incited to violence by the smallest catalyst. Like a silly college skit, or some offensive cartoons. The rage feeds on itself, and the catalyst is blown out of all proportion, transformed into something Meaningful when it was nothing more than dumb.

Note that Richard is capable of being rightly tough and frankly contemptuous of the madness of the Muslim crowds without giving the Danish cartoons a pass. I know it might be a difficult concept to grasp, but the correct reaction to every crisis is not a swift alignment of everything and everybody into "for us" and "against us" camps. It certainly should not be taken as an opportunity to take swipes at some random agenda percieved to be on the otherside, as Tigerhawk does:
The real reason the left is quiet is that this crisis is a lance at the heart of modern identity politics. It has exposed the stupidity of hate crimes legislation, and made us all aware that our devotion to "tolerance" -- the true god of the Western lefty -- cannot be reconciled with an allegedly victimized group that is itself intolerant.
Wha? More hate crimes exposes the stupidity of hate crime legislation? On what planet...oh. I see. Tigerhawk is addressing the favorite strawman of the right -- the lefty who thinks western governments are responsible for all evil in the world while everybody else is pure and good.

Finally, Roxanne brings up a really good point that right-wingers, in their rush to condemn the Muslim hordes, fail to notice...our whole plan when it comes to Iraq is the idea that handing the keys over to the muslim hordes is a really great idea.