Skip to comments.Russian editorial on the 'caricature war'
Posted on 02/12/2006 9:27:39 AM PST by struwwelpeter
The 'caricature war' has certainly resulted in a wave of urgent commentaries. In Russia they essentially are reduced to the theory that the Moslem world is displaying unity in the face of a weakening and de-Christianizing Europe. In the Russian liberal media regret prevails about the 'sunset of Europe', while our nationalist-patriotic press shows approval of the Moslem behavior and complain about a lack of unity among our own Orthodox. Here and there one detects a slight nervousness: what if the dusky merchants at the Cherkizovsky market decide to burn cars in front of embassies and editor's offices in Moscow?
An amazingly short historical memory is characteristic of modern-day Russia. Only fifteen years ago a newspaper commentator (if not him, then the editorial staff that supplied his script) considered it his duty to inform us that attacks on an embassy, and on foreigners in general, were a method on the part of the urban poor in less civilized societies to express their negative reactions to events in the outside world. As examples he listed the seizure of our embassy and the murder of envoy Aleksandr Griboyedov in Teheran in 1829, the seizure of hostages at the US embassy in the same city in 1979, the seizure of the Soviet consulate in Harbin, China, in 1929, the tossing of ink bottles at the Chinese embassy in Moscow 1967, and the egging of the US embassy in Peking in 1998. All these were cheap methods by the various governments to arrange political entertainment for their respective peoples.
A younger yet already arrogant fellow, with not too satisfactory a life compared to what he sees in the American cinema, finds it okay to vent his anger at tiny Denmark. He does not bother the real interests of his big, Mid-Eastern uncles, since mutually advantageous contacts can be renewed in half a year without much fuss. For this very reason the embassies of Denmark and Norway underwent attacks and protests, not those of France, Germany, Russia and dozens of other states whose newspapers printed the caricatures.
Religion here is not the essence of the conflict. The Mid-East is intensively westernizing. This is not due to external factors, as it was in colonial times, but due to the internal need of nominally Islamic societies to become more industrial and urbanized. This concerns the political structure, and it is not without reason that Palestinian, Iraqi, Iranian, Algerian, Sudanese, and Pakistani gangs of 'Islamists' fight for seats in parliament, but do not try to find a king as they would have but half a century ago. It also concerns the social structures, and it goes without saying that this in turn affects the economy and the culture. Any process of change meets with some resistance, and many demonstrate to prove to themselves their independence and competence. Suicide bombers, Iranian atoms, and anti-Semitic cartoons are their answer to the West and its civilization's expansion into the Mid-East. No one, however, really wishes to disrupt fundamental relations with the West.
The relatively calm perception of the Mid-East's stormy emotions (to say nothing of its inability to unite in anything other than setting the price of the oil) in this and other similar conflicts (it is sufficient to recall the mass protests against the war in Iraq) does not mean that Europe is showing 'weakness'. Strength lies in that it is reasonable to evaluate the amount of damage and then wage war to protect vitally important interests. A pair of burnt buildings and a few hundred million dollars less profit for one company is not very large scale.
Russian analysts, as one can assume, view the events from their own belfry. Our political elite, after encountering the large-scale movement of nominally Muslim immigrants into traditionally 'Russian cities', have tried to grasp the size of the problem. Modern Europe's real level of acquaintance with the Mid-East, not the health-resort tourist level, is scandalously low. Therefore, all events connected with 'Islamic activity' or immigrants in the European community are viewed through the prism of reports they receive via the media, which howl about the latest burst of violence, but not about a Turkish erotic movie filmed in Germany, or Pakistani dandies prancing about England.
France's 2004 law prohibiting religious symbols in schools and its 'Arab riots' last November, and the present 'confrontation of the Christian and Moslem worlds', are hypertrophied objects of attention in Russia and have a serious effect on our internal situation. Instead of concentrating on the positive aspects of immigration that impel the West to encourage it at moderate levels, the average Russian only has negative emotions.
Meanwhile, European society maintains its calm. In its immigrants and their descendants it does not only see adolescents prepared to burn cars in the streets (how many of today's 60-year-old managers and university teachers did the same in 1968?), but also department store cashiers, public transport drivers, and even specialists, freely conversing in the official state and literary language and often in the regional dialect. These are people with another color of skin, who perhaps have somewhat different interests, but in this case they are valuable members of society together with everyone else who pay taxes to a state that ensures a satisfactory social order for the majority of the population. As to the 19-year-old kids from the working quarters, well, if they do not want to study, let them be a little rowdy before their decades of standing at the assembly line, or sitting behind the wheel of a garbage truck. Their children will know better.
The caricature war: chronicle
September 30, 2005: Danish newspaper 'Jyllands Posten' publishes anti-Islamic caricatures.
October 19-20: The ambassadors of 11 Arab countries in Denmark request a meeting with the prime minister of that country, Anders Fog Rasmussen. He refuses.
December 7th: The first anti-Danish demonstration is held in Pakistan.
December 19th: Former Danish envoys in Moslem countries criticize the position of Rasmussen's government.
January 1st, 2006: The Prime Minister of Denmark apologizes to Danish Moslems during his New Year's address.
January 10th: Norwegian publication 'Magazinet' reprints the caricature.
January 26th: Saudi Arabia recalls its ambassador from Denmark.
January 28th: The Kuwaiti foreign ministry and other Arab countries recall their ambassadors from Denmark. Libya recalls its ambassador from Copenhagen.
January 30th: Gunmen break into the offices of the European Union in Gaza and demand apologies.
January 31st: 'Jyllands Posten' apologizes. The Prime Minister of Denmark officially rejects apologies from Moslem countries.
February 1st: A number of newspapers in France, Germany, Italy, and Spain publish the caricatures. The owner of 'France Soir' fires editor in chief Jacques LeFrana. Leader of the Chechen rebels (terrorists) Shamil Basayev criticizes the caricatures.
February 2nd: A German citizen, who was mistaken for a Frenchman or a Dane, is taken hostage on the West Bank. The editor of the Jordanian newspaper 'Al -Shihan', which reprinted a number of caricatures of the prophet, is fired.
February 3rd: Anti-Danish protests break out for the first time in the Indonesian capital of Jakarta. In many Arab countries demonstrations take the form of anti-European protests. In Iran ten thousand demonstrate. In Jordan the editors of the newspapers 'Al -Shihan' and 'Al -Mehwar', who reprinted caricatures of the prophet, are arrested.
February 4th: Palestinian protestors raid and burn a German cultural center in the Gaza strip. In Denmark there are street fights between Moslems and neo-Nazis.
February 5th: The Danish embassy in Beirut is destroyed.
February 6-7th: At least eight people are killed in battles between police and protesters in Afghanistan. In Lebanon one demonstrator dies from wounds obtained in the assault on the Danish embassy. In Somalia there is fighting and a teenager is killed. Iran breaks off all commercial contacts with Denmark. Many thousands protest in Niger.
February 8th: UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, EU Foreign Policy Coordinator Javier De Solana, and Islamic Conference head Ekmeletdin Ihsanoglu sign a joint declaration on the anti-Islamic caricatures with a call to solve the crisis peacefully. George Bush expresses support for Denmark in a telephone conversation with Prime Minister Rasmussen.
February 8th, 2006
Article on the theme
Caricature war: opinion
The global conflict, which ignited because of images of the prophet Mohammed in European newspapers, is a blasphemy for the Moslems and shows no sign of abating. Was it possible to avoid this explosion of anger and violence? Orientalists, human rights and religious activists give their opinions.
February 7th, 2006
Copyright © 2005 grani.ru
As in 'bats in the belfry'?
The chronical beneath the article seems to contradict the author's thesis, but I thought it was interesting to look at another point of view for a change. Of course, when viewed from their 'belfry', Western Europe probably looks like a prosperous island of stability.
Neo-Nazis aren't my first choice to go to battle against fanatic Moslems, but, at this point, I'll take whoever has the balls to do it.
I kind of doubt there was a clash of neo-Nazis with the Mooslims, it was probably more like 3 or 4 skinheads holding a banner while surrounded by 300 journalists.
So, I guess you really mean that the end DOES justify the means, if the end is what YOU want. The means, however, AREN'T justified if the end isn't what YOU want.
Put another way: the road to hell ISN'T paved with good intentions.
Or, it's not what you do OR how you do it.
Is that what you mean?
Why are the DANISH neo-nazis fighting the German battle? The Germans never did anything for the Danes (except give them Danish).
Also, if the neo-Nazis had REAL balls they would have street fights against the Muslims in GERMANY. Now, there would be a show of balls.
I wouldn't go there. neo-Nazis are scum. They'd be great for fertilizer and that's about it.
I liked this article btw. I tend to agree: the riots aren't about religion. Anything will do as an outlet for islamic extremists.
Oh..my God... now that's a keeper.
No, you did it on purpose!
It is a complex topic, what can you say? What can offend someone is not always understandable, and in that sense if someone really wants to be offended, he will find a reason.
Recently I was in the Moscow Metro and in a big hurry. In my haste, I accidentally bumped into a man. I immediately apologized, but at the same time I was excusing myself there followed a blow to my back. "What's that for?" I asked, dumbfounded. "Why did you push me?" he replied. "But I apologized." "And why should I care that you apologized?" "But I didn't do it on purpose!" "No, you did it on purpose!" Exhausting my reserves of arguments, I went on my way.
I think that it is reasonable to be offended if the offending party did it consciously. To be offended by awkwardness or tactlessness is neither practical nor smart. In general, the more confident a person is that he is right, then the less touchy he is about something.
Cultural differences and traditions should also be remembered. Let us assume that a word in some language means something like holiness or virtuousness, but in another language it sounds like something very indecent and insulting to someone's national feelings. What can you do?
To depict a prophet in a very foolish context is a great sin in Islamic tradition, but not in Christian tradition, or at least sometimes. There are even atheistic traditions, but these too have won for themselves the right to exist.
So, some Viking joker drew two or three pictures (and not very good ones, by the way), and they got published in some local newspaper over there. So what? Who would have noticed, had it not been for the cries of the offended?
And so it went. The offended now threaten and rattle sabers, demanding apologies and sanctions, demanding clampdowns and punishments. Others, just to spite the offended, reprint these pictures in their newspapers, this defending their right to this freedom. That is also pretty silly, but it is more intelligible and nearer to me personally. I understand that people, whose profession and work are connected with speaking, writing, drawing, singing, and filming, are inclined to be nervous whenever the discussion turns to putting limits on creative freedom.
I am not justifying it, but I understand. I understand, because I am one of those, who hold the concept of freedom no less piously than someone else may hold sacred something else. They say, however, that religious feelings are a special subject. No joking. But why are they special? Why no jokes? If it was a case of 'in a hanged man's house don't mention a rope', then I could understand, but why here? Is it an unhealthy topic, in this sense? But why is it unhealthy? That is, I understand, that this topic can be unhealthy for those who do not have strong faith, but if they do believe strongly, then why?
I am not a very religious person, but it seems to be that if I were, then I would discuss the matter this way: say a person said, drew, or sculpted something that in one way or another insulted my religious sensitivities. Yes, he is committing sacrilege and blasphemy, but he is an unreasonable, unhappy heathen, who does not know or understand what I know and understand. I have faith and I am happy. He does not have faith and he is wretched and deprived.
I would pray for him and for his straying soul, since he does not know what he is doing. If he is worthy of punishment, then I, as man of faith, know that it is for someone other than myself to punish him.
February 3rd, 2006 17:52
This is exactly what I was talking about - thanks for the post.
The first one was interesting, and it is probably valid to look at what is going on as a response to change or the lack of it. However, that does not make it right or even tolerable.
Exactly! I won't lose a wink if both destroy each other. If given the chance, I'd even do what I feel the CIA should be doing, antagonise them against each other.
This is an interesting sentence. No worries about culture or history, nations reduced to their governments and citizenship reduced to the obligation of paying tribute to the central elite in hopes that they will maintain "satisfactory social order." A new feudalism and perhaps capitalism's final development. It makes nations, or at least nations as they presently exist, rather unnecessary since that state is defined only by its ability to keep order. All too clever by half since no matter what this nitwit thinks it will make a difference when France, say, is majority Muslim and African.
Guys that had to guard them said the Iraqis had no problem gobbling down the infamous 'pork patty' MRE, and loved that UHT room-temperature milk too.
That's just what I'd love on a blistering, dusty day in the desert. A big old cheese-spread sandwhich washed down with warm milk... chocolate... barf.
There's only one USA, and unfortunately the USA hovers around 51% USA and 49% European.
Someone gave me a link to a Russian site: A short dictionary of a liberal superman. Though it's tongue in cheek, it sort of gives an insight:
WORK - that, which BYDLO (sort of a crude form of 'sheeple') don't know how to do.Apparently Russian liberals and American ones are two different birds entirely. The last thing our liberals earned for themselves was the gold in the 100-meter Oldsmobile freestyles at Chappaquiddick.
OLIGARCHY - the highest form of DEMOCRACY
TO TAKE EVERYTHING AND SHARE IT the dream and main slogan of BYDLO, NATIONALISTS, COMMUNISTS, AND PATRIOTS.
BYDLO - a creature that is neither a member of the SPS or Yabloko parties. BYDLO is guilty of all the problems in RASHKA.
RASHKA - the country where BYDLO lives.
TO EARN IT YOURSELF - the lifestyle of liberals. It resists the tendency of BYDLO TO TAKE EVERYTHING AND SHARE IT.
Perhaps there's something even more evil than Nazis loose on the earth theses days :-(
You are preaching moral equivalency.
It is a BASIC concept of Christianity and ALL religions that the ends DON'T justify the means EVER, in any circumstance.
That is one of the very cornerstones of all philosophy and it's an absolute morality of Christian (any religion) ethics.
Evil monsters throughout our history have believed the way you do.
You must be very young. Take a look at my tagline.
I don't know what Churchill might have said. But, he was a moral equivocator sometimes.
The THEORY is that in war, enemies and friends sometimes blur in the heat of moral equivalency.
Prime example of U.S. moral equivlancy, that is, backing a monster because it was convenient (Jimmy Carter foreign policy, continued by Reagan):
The U.S. back the monster Sadaam Hussein against Iran. The U.S. knew full well what a monster Hussein was and were reminded of it by every Arab nation in the area. But, the U.S. wanted to get Iran more.
Result: after 9 years of fruitless support, both financial, moral and armaments, Iraq won not one inch of Iranian land and had to sue for peace.
Iran was the hero nation of Islam because they fought U.S.-back, supported, financed and armed Iraq....and beat back the Butcher of Baghdad. That has ALWAYS been Sadaam's nickname, way back from the 1970's.
Worse than Hitler? Oh yes. Stalin was worse, only because he had MUCH more time.
Worse than Stalin? Oh yes. Mao was worse. He wins the title of most people killed, tortured, imprisoned, experimented on, massed graved, etc.
In those two countries, you saw evil personified. The DIDN'T do it all alone, either. Sad thing: Mao is still a HERO in his country. How warped is that?
Usama bin Laden and Al-Qaida are evil too but they simply don't have the numbers ... yet. They need several tens of millions to kill, torture, imprison, experiment on, etc., to catch up to Stalin or Mao. They won't catch up with them, of course, because they aren't nations, are just individuals, have no national armies and incur the anger of their own.
bin Laden was stripped of his Saudi citizenship years ago and awaits a head-chopping if he ever goes home. No one will take him in....except, of course, Afghanistan and Pakistan, both Muslim nations....neither of which are Arab countries.
The 'Putin is bringing back the USSR' crowd maintain that behind all our enemies stands a Russian. The 'Putinists' regard him as the least evil of a whole lot of evils, which in essence summarize Russian history.
Looking forward to your reply :-)
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