Debaters Speak Out on Cartoons

Debater Chris Ford points to the hypocrisy of the response to the cartoons being directed at Europeans (and America and Israel, because let's face it, a flag burning is the Middle East just isn't a flag burning without an American and an Israeli flag.) Chris notes that the blogs Rantings of a Sandmonkey and Freedom for Egyptians provide scans of an Egyptian newspaper that published the Mohammed cartoons back in October and met with no violent protest.

On the subject of whether Western newspapers should reprint the cartoons, your reasoned debate has demonstrated that there is no one right answer to that question.

It's a valid decision to publish material that some find grossly offensive; it's also perfectly reasonable to refrain from gratuitously insulting a particular segment of the population. But fear of violent retaliation is not sufficient reason to keep potentially offensive material out of print; in fact, that is arguably all the more reason to run it.

Debater Will explains why in his well-formulated answer to the "fire in a crowded theater" criticism. "If the offended have the ability to determine whether or not certain expressions are deemed off limits, don't we empower them in a truly terrifying way? Don't we encourage them to burn buildings and kidnap people to prevent this language?"

Consider it the lesser-known cousin of "We don't negotiate with terrorists." We simply do not give in to those who use violence as a form of intimidation.

Freedom of speech is fundamental for our liberty. Treating our fellow human beings with respect is vital to our happiness. Newspaper staffs must balance these considerations as they make their daily judgments about what information and analysis will best serve their readers. This is just such a choice.

Debater ErrinF looks at it this way: "Personally, I think the cartoons should be printed merely for the sake of thoroughness, but I completely understand if a newspaper editor or owner would like to take a pass on reprinting cartoons that are antagonistic and disrespectful." I would add that since space is limited in newspapers, it would be reasonable to trust that those readers for whom the news article descriptions are not enough could pretty easily find the cartoons on their own.

It is interesting to note that, assuming the translations are correct, the Mohammed cartoons betray the artists' knowledge that what they were doing was provocative. (See in particular the chalkboard one.)

Look at what Chief Justice Hughes wrote in the De Jonge v. Oregon decision:

The greater the importance of safeguarding the community from incitements to the overthrow of our institutions by force and violence, the more imperative is the need to preserve inviolate the constitutional rights of free speech, free press and free assembly in order to maintain the opportunity for free political discussion, to the end that government may be responsive to the will of the people and that changes, if desired, may be obtained by peaceful means. Therein lies the security of the Republic, the very foundation of constitutional government.

In other words, when violence threatens our freedoms, that is when we must be most vigilant in protecting them.

For more on this, check out the story anchored by Kevin Sullivan exploring the role of technology -- particularly text messaging and blogs -- in turning "an incident in tiny Denmark into a uniting cause for protesters around the world in days or even hours." Want something lighter? Outlook serves up this amusing strip lampooning the recent cartoon controversies.

By Emily Messner |  February 10, 2006; 11:15 AM ET  | Category:  Misc.
Previous: Should U.S. Media Reprint the Cartoons? | Next: The Administration and the Law


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A long entry, but I need to vent.

The Post's editorial and some of the columnist opinions on the cartoon imbroglio were beyond disappointing--they were crushing. Here were two of the supposed bastions of freedom of the press, the Post editorial and op-ed pages, working themselves into a projectile sweat trying to deny what is patently clear: that radical Islam--combined with the multiculturalism that labors so hard to appease it--poses a mortal threat to our freedoms.

Here is an excerpt from the Post editorial:
"According to an account in the Wall Street Journal, Egypt's ambassador in Denmark worked with local Islamic clerics as they prepared an inflammatory propaganda campaign about the cartoons for dissemination through the Middle East last fall."

The Post, questioning the rationale behind the creation and re-publication of the cartoons, goes on to assign most of the blame for the presence of those radical Islamists in Denmark not to the radical Islamists, but to the Danish voters, whom the Post accused of bigotry by their being worried about unfettered immigration and voting in a (gasp) conservative government. Then the Post takes the Europeans to task for publishing the cartoons because doing so played into the hands of the radical Islamists and their goal of stirring up trouble. It doesn't seem to occur to the Post that by condemning the publications IT is playing into the hands of the radical Islamists and their REAL goal of imposing restrictions (nothing even remotely critical of Islam allowed) on freedom of speech in places where such freedom (and secularism--religion not dictating thought) is supposed to be paramount.

No threat to freedom of speech in Europe? Tell that to the family of Theo Van Gogh. Europeans are the bigots? What about the enormous amount of incredibly hate-filled, anti-Semitic books and films put out by Middle Eastern media sources(many of them government-owned). A good bit of that material, along with tracts expressing hatred toward the West, has been distributed by European mosques.

The fact that there is a substantial cadre of radical imams in Denmark and elsewhere in Europe, and who seem to have more than insignificant followings, gives the lie to the idea that by being open and tolerant we spread openness and tolerance. Eugene Robinson's op-ed response was to hand the Europeans a tired, cliched, flaccid piece of groupthink advice from the PC warehouse: "embrace multiculturalism." Does he mean the multiculturalism that allows those Danish imams and tens of thousands of European Muslims to not only reject but actively oppose for others the freedom that they so loudly demand for themselves? The reality is that in the name of tolerance we're tolerating intolerance. Here is part of a column from Slate Magazine:

"Last Friday, Muslim zealots demonstrated in London over the Danish cartoon affair. One man was dressed as a suicide bomber, and a small child held a placard that said, "Whoever insults a prophet kill him." Other slogans read, "Behead those who insult Islam," "Europeans take a lesson from 9/11," and "Prepare for the REAL Holocaust."

"On Monday, the BBC program Newsnight gathered several Muslims, among them Anjem Choudary, who had organized that demonstration. (There's a link to view the debate on this BBC page.) He verbally abused the other speakers, denouncing one highly intelligent and personable woman, a Conservative candidate at the last election, as an unbeliever because her head was uncovered, and a man because he was clean-shaven."

"No, of course England didn't belong to the English, Choudary insisted, or to any human inhabitants, "It belongs to Allah, the whole world belongs to Allah." He prayed for "the domination of Islam" ("hopefully peacefully") and looked forward to the day when "the black flag of Islam will be flying over Downing Street."

These radicals, invoking their right to freedom of speech, openly and in no uncertain terms demanded the end of that and other rights when it comes to topics they deem offensive and disrespectful, and the eventual end of all of our rights. If a group of Christians or Jews or what have you put on a demonstration like that, they'd have been rounded up and investigated for "hate crimes." But because these were Muslims, and PC forbids the enforcement of laws that might somehow or someway offend the protected minority du jour, the government of Britain (which is supposed to protect its citizens from threats to their freedoms) did nothing.

So the Post, which is about as secular as you can get and which has vigorously defended the separation of church and state and freedom of the press, is prepared to acquiesce to the imposition of boundaries to our freedoms because some speech might be offensive and disrespectful to some of the adherents of a particular religion? Funny, the Post or NYT or other major dailies didn't seem to take that stand when the "manure Mary" or whatever it was called was exhibited in Brooklyn. If I recall correctly, there was a hue and cry for freedom of speech when the inevitable Christian protests came pouring in, mostly in the form of letters, not torches. But the Post is willing to do differently when some of the adherents of the offended faith resort to rioting, arson, murder, and the threat of destruction in response? This is what the Post has sunk to? God (no pun intended) help us all.

Posted by: | February 10, 2006 01:46 PM

Permalink's comments are well taken. The Muslim response is out of proportion to the cartoons, the Danish government has no control over the press and so has nothing to apologize for, and we definitely need to stick to our guns (proverbially) about preserving a free press.


I would still not reprint these cartoons. The Danish newspaper knew full well they were doing something offensive to Muslims. They were essentially taking a stick and poking it in the eye of the Muslim community. I'm sure they did not expect an international response, but they must have expected a local response. A free press means we must tolerate any jerk that publically expresses an opinion, but it does not absolve me of responsibility if I repeat it and spread it further. The fact that the protesters are being manipulated by their leaders is irrelevant. To publish the articles because the response is violent is just as much playing into their hands as not publishing because of it. I agree with the Post's decision.

And just to make sure I am not misunderstood, each paper must make its own decision. I am not, repeat not, calling for any US government intervention in such a decision.


Posted by: dal | February 10, 2006 02:35 PM

First Thank you for catching my story and blog for having the precedent to talk about the Egyptian paper that published those cartoons four months ago! I cannot believe how fast my story was to spread all over the internet!

The cartoon rampage is but a long living technique that dictators use to absent their peoples from standing on the critical issues that determine the course of their lives. However, this time those undemocratic governments used the cartoons to intimidate the western world; due to the continuous pressures to apply reform polices and bring democracy and freedom into the Middle East.

The magnitude of destruction of anti-Danish protests and boycott is just a small bite in comparison to the amount of destruction those undemocratic governments are causing to our lives in Egypt and everywhere in the world. They play their people very well. In a country like Egypt, where illiteracy percentage reaches around 40%, it is very easy to play the people who do not know whether Denmark is a country or a company.

Posted by: Freedom for Egyptians | February 10, 2006 03:09 PM

Freedom of the press. Of course, why didn't I think of that. The WP tomorrow on its front page can print two cartoons: one showing the Virgin Mary being deflowered by a hook-nosed Jew; while the second depicts Jesus giving a blow job to a particularly well-endowed black man. That will show those stupid America-hating, freedom crushing, fanatical Muslims how we respect freedom of speech here in America. You mean the WP would not do this? Because it would be gratuitously offensive to Christians? Gosh I never thought of that.

Posted by: Eric Yendall | February 10, 2006 03:11 PM

Freedom of speech comes with a price. In the 1930s Father Coughlin said horrible things about Jews on the radio while millions were being gassed in Europe. Yet they were not incited to violence. I believe Bush and his administration epitomize feculence. But the wordwide Muslim reaction was inexcusable. A pre-text for violence that should not be condoned by anyone.

Posted by: Intrepid Liberal | February 10, 2006 03:29 PM

I think there is a basic misunderstanding that goes further then has been stated. It would seem that the moslems in the middle east still are living in the middle ages. They have had no era of enlightenment in order to progress to democracy. The american policy of trying to make democracy in the middle east seems to forget the requirements needed for that to happen. Where we separated church and state for good reason. This separation of religion from politics has not happened in the middle east. What is now happening with moslems there is example of this problem. When a moslem Volture shows up than maybe some progress will be make to democracy, but I would not hold my much hope for improvement until that time occurs. Each country will continue to have their strongman and that goes for Iraq.

Posted by: Arthur Gittleman | February 10, 2006 03:30 PM

Arthur Gittleman,

It is simple as such, we are living in the Middle Ages because the region has been ruled by totalitarian regimes for half a century! Peoples are totally crushed by oppressive regimes that do not allow them to stand at the critical issues that touch their lives.

Egyptian Blogger, Freedom for Egyptians

Posted by: Freedom for Egyptians | February 10, 2006 03:36 PM

I like today's column by David Ignatius; I thnk he gives a perspective that might more easily be able to understand. I was never a fan of the cartoons; sure, they're clever, but a lot of people thought Piss Christ and elephant dung Mary were clever as well. I see it as the same basic thing and a continuation of a theme;we offend because we are free to offend. What a tired, infantile, vapid view of art.

I think it's clear that we should not and cannot censor simply because it offends a religious group, and no way should we allow a foreign entity to force us to censor. All that being said, I don't think that the Danish cartoonists are heroes. As a few people pointed out above, they knew they were being provacative, and had to have known that the cartoons would elicit a response.

Now that it's done, somebody else has to deal with the consequences, and in the end, what was achieved? We already knew we had a free press; this is nothing new.

Posted by: Mack | February 10, 2006 03:38 PM

And so what would be the proper response of Christians and Jews after seeing the cartoons you described on the front page of the Washington Post? To throw grenades at the LA Times headquarters? The burn down the New York Times? This whole incident just shows how completely ignorant the western world is of the middle east and vicaversa. Newspapers ignorantly publish highly offensive cartoons, and protesters ignorantly attack people who had nothing to do with it. Would it even be possible for a worse misunderstanding?

Posted by: Jeff | February 10, 2006 03:43 PM

This whole episode goes to show that there really is a HUGE difference between Islam and the West in the way each envisions democracy. If Palestinians voting terrorists into national political power didn't drive that point home to us, this should.

Frankly, if I was an editor at a major daily like the WP or the NYT, I wouldn't know whether or not to reprint the cartoons. Reprinting the cartoons, as a show of solidarity for their brethren across the pond, or to show the rioters that we will not be cowed by their violence, has merit. But so does not reprinting the cartoons so as not to gratuitously insult the moderate muslims who denounce this violence, as ErrinF points out.

But until Islam gets its head wrapped around the fact that freedom of speech is a two way street, then I think any future attempts to develop democracy in the ME is bound to end in failure.

Posted by: JK | February 10, 2006 03:46 PM


Now Western countries are recanting their earlier claims and condemning the Danish newspaper. The EU is going to set sensitivity standards. One month ago the Danish Press was free to print offensive images of Islam. Today they are not.

The Danes will not forget the price they pay for standing up against threats of physical violence (nor will they forget the "allies" who spuriously defended that country only to a) refuse to print along with them or b) later condemned them for it).

And Islamic radicalists and the silent "moderates" won't forget either how little it took to bring the Western Press to its knees.

I need to buy my girlfriend a burka.

Posted by: Will | February 10, 2006 04:13 PM

" And so what would be the proper response of Christians and Jews after seeing the cartoons you described on the front page of the Washington Post?" Jeff. The response would be intimidation and violence. The Christian right would demand an economic boycott of the WP unless it got a complete retraction and apology. Nuts would make death-threats against the management of the WP. Maybe the offices would be fire-bombed (like some churches and abortion clinics). Congress would be up in arms and there would be a lot of huffing and puffing about making the press "more responsible" with proposed curbs on press freedom. Doesn't this sound a lot like what we are hearing from the ME? It's just a matter of degree: the sentiment is the same.

Posted by: Eric Yendall | February 10, 2006 04:22 PM

Here's a question for a reporter to ask the President. On his list of the 10 foiled terrorist attacks that Mr. Bush released yesterday, none of them were against the US in 2004. Does that mean that the terror alerts in 2004 were merely politically motivated scaremongering?

Posted by: Turnabout | February 10, 2006 04:25 PM

The cartoons were just an excuse for violence. As a French colleague told me, "If you bring them (Muslims) to your country, they will try to kill you. Leave them alone in their country and they will kill each other." His cynicism is proving to be more prophetic all the time.

Posted by: DC in Europe | February 10, 2006 04:45 PM

Just an aside-

I remember a comic strip "Non Sequiter" by the genius Wiley, consisting of just one panel. Two gentlemen with wings are standing on clouds looking at a sign that says "Welcame To Heaven. Please Keep Your Religion To Yourself". One of the gentlemen observes' "Ironically, that's what keeps things so peaceful up here."

If only we could be that smart.

Posted by: wiccan | February 10, 2006 05:10 PM


"Jeff. The response would be intimidation and violence."

You'd be correct, because now the Religious Right has the perfect opportunity to scream hypocricy if the Formerly Free Press of the United States of America refuses to publish hurtful messages of Islam but not of Christianity.

Which is really one of the biggest problems with this whole thing: It isn't secluded to Islam, this funds religious radicalism for ALL denominations.

But as a matter of fact, you would've been wrong mere weeks ago. Terrance McNally's play, Corpus Christi, depicted Jesus as a homosexual with Judas. No biggie. He did receive a few death threats that were summarily ignored because, as you know, Christians rarely if-ever follow through on ridiculous death threats. They boycotted the play with little fan-fare, and the show did go on. No big deal.

This embodies the perfect protest scenario. Free Speech offended a religious group. The religious group, well within their rights, boycotted the show. A *TINY* minority of people threatened violence but never backed it up. Free Speech, even if grossly offensive to a millions of Americans, pervailed. Gay Christ? Nothing's off limits in the United States baby! (As a matter of fact, Islam is not off limits in the United States).

I'm sure The Washington Post and The New York Times did reviews of the play.

But never you worry, Eric, that shan't happen in the future. Now that we have a precedent of voluntarily suppressing free-religious expression you don't need to lose any sleep over a Gay Jesus or Mohammed telling a bunch of suicide bombers "Sorry, no virgins left!"

Now... about that little thing you called "matter of degree"... isn't the "matter of degree" you explicitly listed in your post what differentiates between Lawful Protest and, in the case of Dutch Embassies, Arson? Or, more importantly, isn't that miniscule "matter of degree" what differentiates between Lawful Protest and, in the case of Theo Van Gogh, Murder? But it's juuuuuuust a matter of degree, right Eric?

Posted by: Will | February 10, 2006 05:15 PM

Correction: As a matter of fact, Islam *is* off limits in the United States.

Posted by: Will | February 10, 2006 05:17 PM

The riots were planned and orchestrated. Young men full of seething anger, fear, and xenophobia against the west, were one again corralled handily by leaders wishing to manipulate public opinion. I don't think they expected the US to behave like adults and refuse to play along. I daresay this disappoints them that they have only been able to fan the anger against Europe and not the US over this issue. They missed a big opportunity to win more converts against the Great Satan.

Posted by: p | February 10, 2006 05:21 PM

I don't believe the satirical nature of the cartoons was meant to reflect on all Muslims, just the radical fringe. And the radical fringe may have defended Islam, but in the process proved the cartoons to be true, at least as a representation of themselves.

Posted by: DC in Tennessee | February 10, 2006 06:02 PM

Its time to take a step back, take a deep breath, and think this through.

Its clear these riots were manipulated, maneuvered, orchestrated, whatever you want to call it, merely winding up angry young men and them watching them go.

We are told it was a blatant attempt to intimidate. So who was the target? The US? Not hardly. We could bomb their countries into the ground in 48 hours if we chose. Of course the aftermath would be world war III, but its ludicrous to believe that the masterminds behind the riots thought they were intimidating us, personally, even if that's what they fed the rioting masses into believing.

So perhaps they thought they could intimidate Denmark, but that's a pretty pitiful target to waste such lovely rage on.

I don't think the true basis of the riots was about intimidation (albeit it may have been a secondary local goal in Europe). I think it was an attempt to:
1. Create new sparks to keep the fires of the angry young men stoked at the west, instead at the cesspool if injustice at their own lives, and
2. egg the US and the west into further inflaming the situation, so they could use our response to gain further support that the Muslim people must be protected from the imperialist Americans. They put a chip on their shoulder and dared us to knock it off. Mercifully, for the first time we acted like the adult and didn't rise to the bait. I totally agree that we deprived them of any significant victory as far as fanning the flames of anti-Americanism is concerned.

It keeps coming back to the moderates, who I think haven't yet decided which side best serves their own interests. I think these riots were directed at the moderates, who were supposed to be incensed at the disrespect that the West shows them, driving them ever closer to the fundamentalists as the side that will best serve their interests. In a stunning move of actually getting it right for a change, the BA did the right thing and asked us to ignore it.

Now the next question is , who is behind the push to tweak us into looking at these riots as another excuse to declare war in Islam (vs the terrorists)? Its clear to me who the target is - the same 70% Americans who believed Saddam was allied with al Qaeda simply because Bush paired them in speeches. Now the question is what are they hoping to accomplish? Here is my perceived answer - The drumbeats of war are getting louder and louder every day, aren't they?

Posted by: patriot1957 | February 10, 2006 07:04 PM


After reading many of your posts, am I right that you consider these "drumbeats of war" to be the overture of the tragic opera "Operation Iranian Emancipation"?

Posted by: wiccan | February 10, 2006 07:44 PM

You got it.

Posted by: patriot1957 | February 10, 2006 07:45 PM

yeah- when I heard the BA was talking about troop withdrawals from Iraq I thought they wouldn't be withdrawing that far. I figure the next terrorist on American soil will probably be around August or September.

Posted by: wiccan | February 10, 2006 07:57 PM

next terrorist attack

Posted by: wiccan | February 10, 2006 07:59 PM

This one, from Oman's Al-Watan published July 12, 2005. The "joke" is a jew, standing on the United Nations Resolutions, cuts the IV from a helpless, bed ridden "Palestine". Get it? Embassies burned: 0.

Interesting cartoon published April 21st, 2001 in Al Ahram (Daily Egyptian newspaper:

The "joke" is that two Jewish soldiers are putting an arab into essentially a two wheeled cement flattener while two Jews drink the blood from the mill. Get it? It is a *little* less nuanced then a bomb in the turban, but you get the message: Jews enjoying drinking the blood of Arabs. Embassies burned as a result: 0.

Sincerity of Islamic condemnation of "offensive" Danish cartoons? Highly unlikely.

Posted by: Will | February 10, 2006 08:07 PM

Isn't it about time The Hague Tribunal released President Slobodan Milosevic for him to bring his expertise to the War on Islamo-fascist Terror and, at home, to preserve Judeo-Christian values in Kosovo?

Posted by: Bohdan Balzic | February 10, 2006 09:49 PM


Where are the embassies that were stormed? Syria, Iran, Afghanistan, Lebanon...

Now think for a minute about the message in that.

If you wanted to intimidate, say, France, would you stage a riot in, say, Syria?

You all are carrying on about the "intimidation" factor here. Since when is a riot staged in Tehran or Syria to intimidate, say London or the US?

These riots are staged events held in personal live action full view of the Muslim population, the Western world only sees them on TV. The target of these riots is the Muslim world.

Moderate Muslims get to pick between the imperialist Americans and their "crusades" vs the fundamentalists who promise to save their Muslim faith and heritage from the imperialist Americans. I think that many thought they could use the fundamentalists to get rid of us and then they could control them.

That's why I think the riots backfired on them. It has not had the intended effect of making the West show their disrespect and desire to conquer. Now the rioters just look like out of control bullies. In the long run I believe events like this help moderate Muslims to see that maybe their trust would be better placed with us.

Well, at least until we start bombing Iran... Then there will be formerly moderate Muslim behind every grain of sand.

Posted by: patriot 1957 | February 10, 2006 09:51 PM

correction last sentence

Then there will be a formerly moderate Muslim with an IED behind every grain of sand.

Posted by: patriot 1957 | February 10, 2006 09:53 PM

The contention offered in this section that "there is no one right answer" re publishing these "offensive" cartoons is incorrect for the simple reason that their "offensive" component has been wholly manufactured by fundamentalists who have used them for propaganda purposes.

1) A totally unrelated color image of a pig squealing contest was converted to a black and white "fuzzy" by Denmark's top imam then renamed as a caricature of Mohammed. Telling "porkies" comes naturally to some folk. 2) The "most offensive" cartoons had already been published in an Egyptian newspaper during Ramadan - without protest. For these items to suddenly become offensive when repeated in a foreign newspaper betrays a strong element of deceit, not to mention racial and or religious prejudice. 3) The entire scam appears to have paid off handsomely for the perpetrators: if Muslims can be made to attack western people and property on the basis of a fraud, what can we expect if a genuine source of outrage should ever occur?

Time to get real, suckers!

Posted by: Rick Clarke | February 10, 2006 09:56 PM


it's all about becoming more mature.

dogma is dogma, and that is what "religion" is made up of, not truth.

sufis are the muslim equivalent of mystical would rumi have responded to the cartoon...probably with laughter...

he used jesus as an example of an "enlightened one" in his poetry as easily as he used mohammed...

don't confuse the rustics/dogmatics with the "friend"

maturation is a process, not an "aha."

Posted by: measured response presumes some external ethics that are... | February 10, 2006 10:49 PM

what complexion does that put on everything?

what are they trying to sell you?




and you're part of it, you've got to convince the rubes that they need to do something....

you create drama, intrigue, need...

your "leaders" are the people in need, they need your resources.

and so they frame things...

much as the islamic leaders are framing things to create a climate of "listen to me."

there are people that run for office

and look for more power than their neighbors to put their vote first...

but they all belong to the same fraternity or sorority, the debutante balls...

but I doubt very much that there is any one on the "inside" that really thinks that the democrat republican thing is any realer than wrestling...

why is it that one person hasn't stood up in congress and said:

"oh, by the way, since there isn't a war going don't need these _war powers_"

IF there were really opposing powers in congress, someone would have said that...

it's kind of obvious don't you think?

no connection between 9/11 and Iraq...

there is some connection between 9/11, bush(s), the saudis, and the cia/fbi...

but noones mentioning that are they....

think they're afraid,

or in on it?


NSA wiretapping at you...

Posted by: Regarding "war powers".... | February 10, 2006 10:59 PM

"The entire scam appears to have paid off handsomely for the perpetrators"

I'm not so sure I agree with you on this. The people that were played for suckers are the ones the perpetrators got to riot over a "scam". The word is now widely available that it was a scam. The reasonable educated Muslims who at first glance saw only another experience with the West dissing them, now see they have egg on their face.

The perpetrators thought the moderate Muslim world would erupt in anger at being "used" by the West. I dont' think they counted on the moderate Muslims figuring out they were duped by their own.

Posted by: patriot 1957 | February 10, 2006 11:01 PM

This whole thing is horse dung. This contrived outrage some 5 monyths after the episode has been organized by a hndfull of muslims living in Denmark, is demonstrably malicious. I am loathe of all the so called moderate muslims, who standby muslim atrocities against non-muslims in their countire or countries of birth, bu complain about slightest of the provocations. You muslims, moderate and otherwise grow up. What the hell are you acieving by rioting. You are destroying, whatever little infrastructure you have in your miserable countries. Every building you burn down or a bus destroy, it will take your governments 10 or 15 years tpo replace. In trhe meanwhile your masses are still languishing in squalor. Who the hell are you Imams and mullahs to relegate your own folks to such misery, in name of this awfull superstition called religion. Can you based on your knowledge of your scripture predict anything that is of use to humankind? You miserable wretches, the clergy of muslime, you ought to be ashamed of your selves.

Posted by: Secular | February 10, 2006 11:21 PM

This conversation illustrates perfectly how complicated even apparently simple issues are. We can more appreciate, I think, the founders' intuition as we attempt to unravel the surrounding interests and options revealed by the Danish publication of political cartoons.
Not only do we have to consider our own Constitution, but those of other nations as well. We must try to discern the intents of those documents. We must try to discern the intent of the various publishers who have now reproduced those images. We can also see that there are several understandings within the Islamic community regarding how the action of the initial and subsequent publishers may reflect understandings of Islam. Compounding the circumstances are the voices of public officials representing (or not, as the case may be) governments and peoples of the world.
In all that discussion, it seems that it remains difficult to see our own (U. S.'s) path. What are our truths? What are our principles? Can we see direction by clearly understanding how our guidelines have been stated from founding principles? I think we can.
Speech (including music, art, and other expression) encompasses a society's symbolic imagery. Such imagery usually combines both "universal" and culture-specific elements. The latter set make common parlance for members of the society, but may seem alien - even threatening - to others. Our symbolic imagery is accidental; that is, every society develops it's symbology over time and experience so that it becomes unique to that society in any given time in history.
Symbols play an important role in setting out society's arguments and mores. We grow up with a basic set, and changes over time add and delete from the set. Some symbols provide comfort to some while agitating others, even within a relatively stable functioning democratic community. Most societies have mechanisms to allow for these different views to co-exist in some low-friction mode most of the time. Again, that is something society evolves through time.
If a society cannot find ways to discuss it's differences, eventually the tension grows and society splits - often violently and destructively. We know first-hand how this works in villages, towns, cities, states, and nations. What we don't know, but are starting to learn is how it works in a global setting.
For us, the balance of our First Amendment rights seems to contain the core of the matter. In each democratic society, the issue rides on similar but not necessarily identical understandings of these rights: expression of ideas and faiths. However, to those new to our western sensibilities who have not grown in our symbols and ideologies may not as easily as we digest the implications of censorship as we understand it. They may tend to balk at the constructs of balance that we have struck (mostly) on the practices of faith and expression. And they may tend to expect governmental control in areas where we have essentially said we do not want government to exercise authority.
Islam has the right to make determinations for its practitioners regarding symbols and practice. Each individual has the right to determine his/her religious practice. Governments, by consent of the governed, have the right and duty to propound their principles and to uphold individual and group rights as defined in the tenets of governance. In this instance, making clear statements regarding principle and practice make sense. Publishing in an already incendiary atmosphere may be challenging prudence.

Posted by: Jazzman | February 11, 2006 12:05 AM

Dear Mr or Ms Secular - " I am loathe of all the so called moderate muslims, who standby muslim atrocities against non-muslims in their countire or countries of birth, bu complain about slightest of the provocations."

Did you ever stop to consider that moderate muslims are loathe of all the so called moderate christians who stand by while we drop bombs on innocent muslim children, start wars under false pretenses that kill tens, maybe hundreds of thousands of innocent muslims, torture and degrade muslims, and yet go on a rampage remaking the world because a few terrorists killed less than one fourth of the Americans killed by gun crimes every year?

Get a clue. America is not the center of the world.

Posted by: | February 11, 2006 12:26 AM

Posted by: | February 11, 2006 12:59 AM


U.S. vs THEM(uslims)


and neither side is "doing it" for the people of their countries...


good luck on growing up...


Posted by: looks like leaders on both sides want power by pointing out it's...... | February 11, 2006 01:02 AM

Someone said a new contest is being held to depict the role of Jesus in relation
to the ills affecting western society at present.

This is an interesting way of promoting understanding between 2 civilizations - probably the worst of the ways.

When will man learn from his mistakes, or is there there more profit in conflict than in peace?

Posted by: John Smith | February 11, 2006 01:31 AM

Islamoid apologists and possible Islamoid ball-lickers "patriot" 1957, ErrinF, gkc, all love to emphasize the vast number of "moderate Muslims".

But the "vast number of moderates" is absolutely meaningless in any society if the extremists have the power and get their way. That "moderates denounce" this or that is little or no consequence unless they set societal norms that extremism will not be tolerated and will be punished by the full might of society aimed at ending violent extremism.

A. There were plenty of moderate Southerners disgusted with the activities of the KKK and the now and then lynch mobs. They were denounced and deplored as lower class vigilantes. Pictures of dead Negroes swinging in trees were published lynchings were and called un-Christian, immoral in church pulpits. But......No one called the evildoers out publically, no one was arrested. So dead Negroes still swung from trees for decades until society changed. The Southern "moderates" were complicit. By tolerating it, just saying a few disparaging CYA words - they still let it happen - they let the extremists rule.

B. In "moderate" civilized Germany, the vast majority of peaceful, nice Germans were shocked, shocked at the excesses of Krystallnacht - which only involved a minutely small fraction of the Germans - bands of roving thugs and extremist Nazi brownshirt hallroom boys. At the end of the war, "moderate" Germans near concentration camps "knew Nothink" and were shocked that a miniscule number of Germans totally unrepresentative of the peaceful German Volk could do such things...though interrogators soon found out that the "moderates" all knew a neighbor or two or a relative "forced" to do bad things..

All along Islam's bloody borders with it's neighbors, in country after country, the ability and oh, so far more imporantly the WILL of our American Lefties favorite people - "the moderates" - to deter and marginalize extremists isn't happening. And an argument can be made that Islamic rulers and the average Abdul have always found terror a useful tool for the propagation of Allah since the 7th Century, punctuated by periods of peace before a new wave of Islamoid terror falls on targeted infidels.

*************In this the average Muslim is like the average German or the average post Reconstruction Southerner. They "deplore" the method of dealing with the enemy Negro, Jew, infidel...but deep down they still think the enemy must be dealt with, so they acquiesce to extremists, with ruinous consequences.*****

And two special problem with Islam exist:

1. They have a faith that honors the most extreme who go on Jihad as purer, braver, and holier than the "moderates". They may think the extremists are "going to far" but do not question that many of the motives and personal attributes of the extremists are "admirable".

2. Which adds to their other special problem that unlike Christianity and other religions, the dominant view is the Koran is the literal, unchanging, absolute dictate of God on how to live their lives - or else. They never "got" the prevailing logic of other religions that man is a flawed instrument for interpreting God's will and theology involves the need to debate and discuss. With Islam, there is no interpretation of God's will, only the imperative to submit and obey Gods will as written in the Koran and Hadiths.

Pope Benedict mentioned the same themes in an address in which he openly questions the influence of moderates or the ability of Islam to do the reforms other religions have made in order to create a freer modern world.

Ed Morrissey of Captain's Quarters adds that the problem is even worse because Islam is a temporal religion that says the Koran is the final word in the structure and conduct of the state.

Morrissey points out that many Western liberties and rights fly in the face of Koranic strictures imposed on Muslim States. Freedom of speech exists in Muslim countries in certain spheres, but not in others, especially in areas dictated by the words of the Qu'ran.. This makes political reform extremely difficult unless a major new movement comes along like nationalism or communism - and both those movements have long since crested in the Muslim world where being a Muslim defines the people more than being an Egyptian or a Saudi, or thinking communism is preferable to capitalism - given how communism directly refutes God. The other change mechanism besides a different dynasty coming to power is the infliction of massive trauma on Islamic peoples.

The Crusades led to reform and moderation in much of the Islamic world. The "Golden Age" of Islam followed the challenge of the Crusades. The Mongols made them revert to being more warlike. The profound shock inflicted on the Turks by destroying their Ottoman Empire led to Attaturk, the orientation to the West, and separation of religion and state for 80 years - though Islam is again reasserting it's primacy in Turkey over all matters spiritual and temporal.

And even abstracts like "freedom" are seen differently. To an Arab, "freedom" implies being like their cherished "Ideal Muslim" - the desert-dwelling bandit ancestors...When you were free to charge across the desert with shouts of joy and the wind in your face as you hunt and chop down fleeing Jews and rape and enslave their wives. And spread the Faith of Allah to the House of War and convert pieces of it to the House of Islam, and Submission to Islam.

I don't see us having a new movement like communism to reform Islam. Muslims are capitalistic, like the West. And removing dictators like the Shah and now Hussein may only allow the radical Islamists they repressed to reassert the primacy of Islam. I fear the only way Islam will reform is by way of infliction of a massive trauma on a level the Turks suffered - and that means devices other than peaceful dialogue...

Posted by: Chris Ford | February 11, 2006 01:42 AM

In response to Chris Ford,

I totally agree with you that extremist Islam betrays something about "moderate Islam". I will not revert to moral theory to prove this point; rather, let's take the best indicator of a people's will: elections. In the three most recent Muslim free elections, those in Iran, Iraq, and Palestine, Islamist parties were swept to power in each case. Where are the moderate Muslims on election day?

Indeed, those bastions of "moderate" Islam: Turkey, Pakistan, Malaysia, and Indonesia, are all ruled by authoritarian, pseudo-democratic regimes. And let's not forget the outright oppression in Saudi Arabia and Egypt. It seems to me that the only way to make a Muslim country interface successfully with the outside world is to have it controlled by Western-educated elites, i.e. colonization by a different name and darker skin color.

I wish this were otherwise, as I would just as well let everyone live as they choose. But if Islam needs a political baby-sitter until the much-touted and increasingly fantastical Muslim Reformation reaps its dividends, then so be it. I'll vote to do so.

By the way, I fear also that any Muslim Reformation will be preempted by poisonous post-colonial rhetoric, arguing that to follow the white man's path is to admit that you are on the same path as him and indeed, that you are five-hundred years a laggard. Islamism is, in retrospect, an attempt to avoid confronting this reality by creating a second path, one paved with sacred verse and the blood of the infidel. This saves face for the uber-macho Arab man.

Posted by: Jack | February 11, 2006 06:07 AM

I have to believe moderate Muslims exist and that many do see the hypocracy of the cartoon response. Their problem is, as you observe Chris, that they are not in power, and also I would go on to say, that they are not organized. This gives them no powerful voice within their societies. With organization they would have the encouragement of like-minded people that could discuss issues and form more informed and well thought out responses to issues like these.

Another problemis the super-charged environment of the post-9/11, post-Iraq invasion world. These types of events serve to polarize people in an exaggerated way.

Is it possible that we either directly or through intermediaries could work to organize moderate Muslims so they can start having a stronger voice and greater influence in their countries?

Chris, while your post seems to be well backed up with facts and historical documentation, I find your conclusion to be hasty. I'm not willing to give up on developing a more constructive atmosphere and trying to give carefully thought out moderate Muslim positions a chance to sway public opinion in Islamic societies.

Posted by: DK | February 11, 2006 07:58 AM

ww3 over a cartoon?

Posted by: | February 11, 2006 08:23 AM

The cartoon rampage is but a long living technique that dictators use to absent their peoples from standing on the critical issues that determine the course of their lives. However, this time those undemocratic governments used the cartoons to intimidate the world; due to the continuous pressures to apply reform polices and bring democracy and freedom into the United States

Posted by: | February 11, 2006 08:25 AM

y'all are being played like a fiddle or is it fidel?

Posted by: | February 11, 2006 08:26 AM

Is the cartoon "row" about freedom of speech? Is it about respect for religion? Or, is there a deeper, more entrenched issue at the heart of this? To me it is clear; it is something else. Freedom of speech and respect for religion are certainly part of the debate, but they only
serve to mask the true cause of the current explosive passion (on both sides) over the publication of these cartoons.


Yes, oppression. What happens when any group of people is consistently and routinely oppressed over a lengthy period of time? They rebel. They fight back. They riot. We have seen it in the US. Starting with the Boston Bread Riots in the early 1700s to more recent riots. Think
about Detroit, LA, and Newark. Other countries are not immune from rioting either. It is not a Muslim world phenomenon.

What's the common thread amongst all of these riots? Oppression. Systematic Oppression. Regarding the Middle East specifically, the constructed public knowledge about the region is overwhelmingly biased against them and promotes resistance, sometimes violent, to change the status quo.

And then we blame the victims. Islamophobia is ingrained into the Western psyche, so much so, that we don't even recognize it

Stephen Biko, South African activist, said: "With their characteristic arrogance of assuming a 'monopoly on intelligence and moral judgment', these (white liberal) self-appointed trustees of black interests have gone on to set the pattern and pace for the realization of the black
man's aspirations...Not only have they kicked the black, but they have also told him how to react to the kick."

Now change a few of the parameters and you get: "With their characteristic arrogance of assuming a 'monopoly on intelligence and
moral judgment', these (Western) self-appointed trustees of Middle
East/Muslim interests have gone on to set the pattern and pace for the realization of the Muslim man's aspirations...Not only have they kicked the Muslims, but they have also told him how to react to the kick."

The West continues to kick the Muslim world and we certainly don't like being kicked back, do we? The publication of the cartoons in Denmark was one kick too many.

Posted by: C Sinclair, VT | February 11, 2006 08:50 AM

neural linguistic programming or NLP is how to manipulate people using speach to make subtle linkings of emotions to an object.

I learned about at You can use it to pick up girls or destroy the world.

Cheney and Bush use it all the time.

They are trying to seduce the public like the sirens calling Ulysses to the rocks.

Posted by: | February 11, 2006 09:24 AM

Cheney's whisper campaign about Plame is just one example.

Posted by: | February 11, 2006 09:28 AM

it was done in the same "off-hand" manner by a number of white house officials to numerous press reporters.

Posted by: | February 11, 2006 09:30 AM

1984 a few years late

Posted by: | February 11, 2006 09:31 AM

LA "terra" plot foiled

Don't you watch 24? LA terror plots have been foiled at least 4 times now!

Photos Of George WMD Bush And Jackoff (Super Zionist) Abramafia
"Say Jack, you got any Arabs hanging out on your casino ship we could use as a patsy for a fake terror attack?"

Americans say president shouldn't suspend rights
The whole purpose of the domestic spying program is to scare YOU into not talking with friends and neighbors about what you think is going on. The one thing Bush is most afraid of right now is Americans suddenly realizing that there is no 30% who still supports Bush, that nearly 100% of Americans (ignoring those who sell their souls for a government paycheck) know that they were lied into a war of conquest against an innocent people. Bush is afraid that what happened in Romania will happen here; that a minor spark will trigger a massive uprising against him.
Want to know who is terrorizing the American people? The American government! They used terror to trick you into a war and now they are using terror to keep you from complaining about it.
Don't be afraid. They cannot watch everyone at the same time. and the fact that we have elections in this country, rigged though they may be, is tacit approval to hold opposing viewpoints.

Posted by: UBL - RIP | February 11, 2006 09:44 AM

boom! Torino Boom! Denmark Boom! Iran, etc

"By way of deception, thou shalt do war"
Motto of the Mossad

"Evidence linking these Israelis to 9/11 is classified. I cannot tell you about evidence that has been gathered. It's classified information."
US official quoted in Carl Cameron's Fox News report on the Israeli spy ring.

Posted by: Zionist Hoodlum | February 11, 2006 09:47 AM

Chris Ford: Islamoid apologists and possible Islamoid ball-lickers "patriot" 1957, ErrinF, gkc, all love to emphasize the vast number of "moderate Muslims".

But the "vast number of moderates" is absolutely meaningless in any society if the extremists have the power and get their way. That "moderates denounce" this or that is little or no consequence unless they set societal norms that extremism will not be tolerated and will be punished by the full might of society aimed at ending violent extremism.

It's strident and presumptuous opinions like yours that attempt to derail any genuine attempt on the part of "moderate" PEOPLE to create an environment in which some kind of balanced dialogue can be achieved. Ppl keep clamoring for the voice of moderates--- only here's the catch. When moderates speak up, they are denigrated, shut out. So--- for the three of us whom you named in your post--- how do you suggest the THREE of us change the world? For unless we can single-handedly "set societal norms that extremism will not be tolerated" we should just sit down and shut up?

It's obvious that your understanding of Islam is skewed and subjective--- I'd be surprised if you've actually ever spoken to a Muslim without a premeditated agenda. And it seems to me that if the fundamentalists had the same access to the internet that we do, they might engage in the same sort of misguided dialogue about the Jews, Christians, and people of the West, including the "moderate" Muslims whom they believe betray their color of Islam.

Those like yourself who are unwilling to accept the "moderate" viewpoint are akin to the fundamentalist Muslims who are also unwilling to accept it. So... you tell me, Chris, what would it take for you to listen to a moderate- to shed your pre-programmed belief that all is as YOU believe it to be. Because that's the same obstacle that all moderates face against fundamentalist facets of society- whether they be Jewish, Hindu, Christian, etc...

Another thing--- why is it that the entirety of Muslim society is held responsible for the actions all of its members. Why is not every fundamentalist Christian blamed for the incendiary comments of their leaders? Why are not all Jews blamed for Zionist actions of some of their compatriots? Why do moderates' opinions yield such softening effects while the Muslim moderates' opinions are deemed "clandestinely" false and fabricated for public relations purposes only?

The double-standard and hypocrisy is unnjustifiable (though somehow I think you'll try to justify it). It makes these types of conversations exasperating because in the end nothing changes.

And I don't believe that's acceptable. I have friends in the military. We were at the Naval Academy together and most of us never believed that we would be sent off to war. Playing pretend war with our rifles over cargo nets was cool--- not foretelling. After graduation, my best friend went to Dubai. Her first foray into anything Middle Eastern, and her first introduction to Islam (which incidentally we had no exposure to at the Academy). Initial reactions were judgmental, instinctively filled with disgust. But, now, years later, she has achieved a balance of opinion regarding the ME after having become familiar with the locals.

Same goes for a good friend that was in charge of a company of Marines in Iraq. It's these people's opinions I respect. They've been in the field without presuppositions--- they're experiences aren't based on what some website claimed about such and such. They had the intention to bridge what should be a natural gap between humans. Most humans want the same very basic things- love, health, shelter.

As Americans, it's so easy for us to make snap judgments based on- guess what- what WE know, how WE were raised, what WE believe. We use these things as the control in the social experiment. Thing is, that on the other side of the world there's a group of people who are having the same experiment with a control group of what THEY believe, what THEY know, and how THEY were raised (I'm not talking about fundamentalists and radicals with for whom nothing is sacred). That experiments' results will always be tainted until a balanced control is achieved. From the sounds of it, we're a LONG way off.

Posted by: gkc | February 11, 2006 09:52 AM

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Posted by: Boom Goes The Dynamite - USA! USA! USA | February 11, 2006 09:53 AM

Not to disabuse C Sinclair too much in his post-mod, whitey = Evil Oppressor, "Victim Races = Good, notions.....


The pattern of the 20th Century was Islamoid massacres of non-Muslims, not the other way around. Starting with several million Greeks, Balkans, Armenians from 1903-1919, and ending with the extermination of 1/3rd of the Christian East Timorese...with several million Hindis killed in Partition and in East Pakistan in the middle years.

When you go past the "marquee" Muslim massacres, you get Muslim aggression and killing along every border they share with other peoples and against minorities within various countries.

C Sinclair -

"The West continues to kick the Muslim world and we certainly don't like being kicked back, do we? The publication of the cartoons in Denmark was one kick too many."

How can you be sure it was the cartoons? Perhaps it was another provocation on top of other Oppressor Race machinations that just added to the entirely justified Victim Race seething rage that got them further foaming at the mouth....

One too many Western woman in bathing suits?
A ROP immigrant thoughtlessly offered a hot dog?
Coors beer ads on their satellite dish TV programming?
Refusal of Westerners to bow when a Muslim passes, as they are made to in certain countries where Muslims rule?
The humiliation Asia & the West inflicts on Islam from us inventing and producing everything?
The refusal of Israel to fail in conflict with Allah's armed messengers, as they should?
The children of Beslan looking at them cross-eyed?

A hallmark of an Islamoid apologist and possible ball-licker is the insistence that Islamoid violence which has gone on in every century since the 7th against the infidel is the cause of:

1. The insults of every nation bordering the Religion of Peaces "House of Islam" just forcing them to attack what they call "the House of War".
2. Uppity East Timorans kicking them. Uppity Chinese in Indonesia (600,000 butchered) kicking them. Balinese tourists kicking them. Black Africans kicking them. Filipinos kicking them. Hindis kicking them. Danes kicking them.
3. Refusal of inferior people (meaning non-Muslims) to submit to rule by Islamoids.
4. Persistence of unclean people in countries where Muslims are a minority to think they are Muslim's social equals or betters.
5. The insult of attempting to modernize the world when the Holy Qu'ran tells Muslims what to do, and the modern world is not what is told - therefore it must be fought.
6. The Crusades of 1,000 years ago to reclaim lands lost to Islamoids...incredibly rude and arrogant since non-Muslims have no right to retake land conquered by Muslims. Same with Andalusia. Same with Israel.
7. Perhaps it was an unclean infidel (read US soldier) who gravely insulted a Religion of Peace terrorist by touching a Holy Qu'ran with his or worse her unclean infidel hand - defiling the book. (Yes, US soldiers are actually under orders to wear gloves handling captive Islamoid's goodies so the paraphenalia is not cootied or contaminated by the filth of an infidel body).

Actually the list of "seething rage" causing affronts are legion, in Islamoid eyes. And they actually go past non-Muslims. Moderate Muslims "kick them" too, and just like Balinese tourists, deserve to die...or was it the neutral Swiss tourists in Egypt offending? And nothing except a Jew gets an Islamoid more riled than a heretic Muslim, so Sunnis have to kill Shiites when they just cannot check their seething rage any more.

It is funny that our oppression has taken the form of allowing Muslim refugees and job seekers in and imposed no constraints on free expresion of their culture and religion.....Unlike the treatment we get in return when visiting or working in certain Islamoid countries. And the payback has been the hatching of Islamoid conspiracies of Brit, American Islamoids out to kill their fellow citizens and Danish Islamoids going to the ME to urge other Islamoids to boycott and attack "their country".

But everyone knows the Danes are Oppressor People...Sorta like the Beslan kids or the East Timoran tribal people hunted down for Jihadi sport...

Posted by: Chris Ford | February 11, 2006 09:58 AM

TO MACK: No, freedom of press was not a given. It was under threat and that's why the cartoons. Theo van Gogh was critical of how islam treated women and was murdered for it. Then publishers of an innocent children's book on islam in Denmark (to spread this so craved understanding I gather) found it impossible to get illustrators who were all afraid for their lives. The editor did not wake up one morning and go: "Wow, I feel like insulting some muslims today!". They wanted to test how many people would dare defy these fanatics and the cartoonists just did their jobs. And political cartoons are political cartoons. Of course they were meant to provoke: discussion. Just like gruesome anti drink-driving or anti abortion ads they were a bit of a shock-tactic that maybe wasn't smart but certainly had a valid point. The cartoons were ordinary satire in very secular scandinavia.
AND TO WILL: Someone did suggest setting up new standards in the EU but the idea was thrown into the garbage.

Posted by: Scandinavian | February 11, 2006 10:16 AM

And by the way, the fact that the newspaper refused some Jesus cartoons a few years ago is not hypocrisy. These were not ordered by the newspaper and maybe the cartoons didn't carry a particularly valid/important/interesting/urgent message. Christianity has been lampooned so much over there the cartoons certainly could not have worked as a means to test freedom of speech. Newspapers would certainly look interesting if they had to publish every unsolicited article or cartoon (maybe they would look like phonebooks). Just like Iran and holocaust cartoons: the Danish paper does not lose face if it chooses not to print them. If the Iranian laws and public allow it then by all means, go ahead. The difference is we are not telling them they shouldn't be allowed to print them, we only state our opinion that we find them tasteless and irrelevant to this case.

Posted by: Scandinavian | February 11, 2006 10:40 AM

I find it rather amusing that we in the West--and particularly in America--are always putting out the unmistakable messageto Islam that we are culturally, morally, and economically superior to them. And, in a fit of delusionary hypocrisy, we always end up sending the false message that the highly tolerant, devoted to moderation, equisitely sensitivesociety that we enjoy in the West was achieve through peaceful democratic means.

The truth is that we came to our present state of affairs in the West after quelling our own violent, intolerant, bigoted and hate filled factions who demonstrated the same sick dedication to violence and murder that we see among militant Islamic zealots today. We endured the same sort of religious persections, the same sort of mindless violence against minorites and nonbelievers, the same sort of terrorist activity that we are seeing Islam suffer through today.

It took centuries of enlightened thought and action to gradually, through evolutionary means, move us toward the more liberal, tolerant society we have in the West today. It did not come about by some authoritarian declaration of war against evil, terror and bigotry. It came about through the free expression of outrage against injustice. It was often bloody and violent, but it happened because of the enlightened dedication of men and women with courage, dedication and a sense of outrage against injustice and tyranny.

Not to say that we didn't have wars, we did of course. But the wars were fought on legal grounds and to defend ones own homeland against attack. We were fighting just wars in opposition to tyranny. But, the present tendency in the West to portray ourselves as morally superior to Islam is grounded in an ignorance of our own history.

In the final analysis, it is Islam itself that is going to have to correct itself just as Christianity and Judaism has corrected its own tendencies toward zealtry, violence and tyranny.

Posted by: Jaxas | February 11, 2006 10:59 AM

Chris Ford you are so FOS I can't stand it any longer.

We invaded their people. We put thousands of innocent people in prison and then tortured and abused them. We whisked them off to gulags. We dropped bombs on them. We killed thousands of their kin. We told them we'd be deciding how their countries are run and that WE know what's best for them.

And then you are idiotic enough to proclaim they should be falling all over themselves to please us? Get a clue. The fanatics are all that stand between them and US domination.

The only way to "win" over the moderate Muslims is for them to believe we have their best interests at heart, not ours. Until that happens, every time we bring our fist down to crush them, we will just drive more and more over to their side.

No one responsed to a comment patriot made, that when we invade Iran there will be a formerly moderate muslim with an ied behind every grain of sand.

Posted by: former rose colored glasses | February 11, 2006 11:00 AM

"Rose" posted:

"The only way to 'win' over the moderate Muslims is for them to believe we have their best interests at heart, not ours. Until that happens, every time we bring our fist down to crush them, we will just drive more and more over to their side."

Winning their hearts is something that will never occur. That notion sounds so nice, but in reality we are dealing with a group whose hearts are unwinnable to our points of view. I can understand that, because I feel the same way about them. I do not want to convert them to my code of living, but when they cross the Rubicon and attack, or even threaten to do so in the name of Islam, is unacceptable because it is a threat to my code.

I believe control can only be maintained through the use of overwhelming force, so the consequences continuing their fight becomes unthinkable.

Posted by: johnnyg in NE DC | February 11, 2006 11:31 AM

In all probability most of those riots were staged. Who benefits from them? First, all the repressive governments we prop up in the Middle East (Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia), then the straw men we love to hate (Iran, Syria). Of course it also plays into the hands of the Likkud party in Isreal and the Likkud party in the United States(Republican, Democratic). Who doesn't benefit from it? Everyone else. Whoever we elect in 08 we will be voting against our own interests.

Posted by: darby1936 | February 11, 2006 11:52 AM

I think there are a lot of moderates who are very torn, kind of the same way if your family member committed a serious crime: you don't agree with the crime but feel terrible about turning them in. Also, the oppressive regimes are very skilled in manipulating situations to their benefit -as we have seen. As we know, it's been very convenient for these political and religious leaders to encourage people to find a release in religion instead of seeking political change. Opium for the masses. You may feel a degree of sympathy towards these uneducated fools yet you are still right to criticize their actions in this cartoon issue. The solution is really to seek out these moderates, seek out to learn the true dynamics of these societies and give the type of support that will chip away the possibility of these regimes to keep power. Like in the case of South Africa and apartheid, they did it on their own but had the world turned a blind eye this might not have happened.

Posted by: Scandi | February 11, 2006 11:59 AM

A scenario to consider re: historical anger by a group over mistreatment and injustice to that group -

For many thousands of years, my group has been cruelly oppressed worldwide. We have been marginalized, laughed at, made into slaves, told we couldn't own property, required to marry to have a way to live,
portrayed by major religions as weakwilled seducers and betrayers, treated as if we weren't as good as half the population, and have been consistently intimidated, harassed, stalked, beaten, raped, murdered by those far bigger and stronger than we.

All of this continues every day all over the world.

Since females as a group have far more cause than anyone else to claim historical anger, as well as current anger, should it then be okay, since, for example, a rape happens every few seconds to one of our group - for us to burn embassies, murder, make death threats to all men, etc.? How does that 'righteous response' strike you when placed in that comparatively valid but unexpected light?

Now that I think about it, that sounds like a great response. I suggest that, using this scale of victim relativity, women are actually justified - but Islamic fanatics are not.

Posted by: Cynthia M. | February 11, 2006 12:13 PM

This whole fiasco was started to facilitate further Western Christian/Zionist warmongering. Iran and Syria is already in the crosshairs. Denmark is part of the Coalition of the Willing occupying Muslim lands and hugely profiting from Muslim misery. Of course they want more. How to get their dirty little hands on Muslim resources while grinding the "turbans" into the ground.

Posted by: | February 11, 2006 12:21 PM

While, I agree Islamic newspapers publish anti-west/jewish propganda. I challenge anyone to show me any rhetoric,insults or jokes directly towards Jesus or Moses from these islamic countries.

Posted by: Dr. KK | February 11, 2006 12:41 PM

Look, we just want to purchase your countrys' oil. Those in charge are willing to sell it. If you don't like that, lead a revolt, a movement etc. from within to change the status quo.

When we try to exert influence to change inequities within your system, it only creates more problems. Why should we worry about your Islamic justice, horrible treatment of women, and hatred amongst yourselves. If that is what is acceptable to you, then so be it. However, no exports of these things please.

Those in power exploit pressures from the outside for change to rile up the uneducated masses, such as with this stupid cartoon issue, but more importantly, to further their support for terrorist acts against our country.

If you as a group are successful, you can choose to stop selling your oil and maybe concentrate on matters you deem appropriate. I suggest setting aside your hate for us, holding your nose, and continuing to sell us oil so that you can educate your people. For example, set up a university system avaialable for all. Learn to design and/or make things, such as semiconductors, flat-panel displays, cars, and so on, with a touch of your Islamic pride. If they are good, I will buy them! On the other hand, if you sqander the opportunities your resources offer, in a hundred or so years, you will be back to living in the stone age.

You will not win against us.

Posted by: johnnyg in NE DC | February 11, 2006 12:58 PM

this is the lesson....

reactivity is refusal to learn,
to evolve....

those who don't learn the lesson repeat it until they get it right...

having feelings is not the same as "acting them out."

an eye for an eye is reactivity....

at it's simplest.

that's what children do on the playground....

The penduluum models a system of reactivity....

It is a natural model of an undamped system.

this is the cycle of reactivity, that drives the primitives....

a damping of the swingin of the penduluum is "paying attention" and not "acting out" is....

predator/prey algorithms are similar....

the harmonic, penduluum, undamped model is a real model for explaining most things that are reactivity based....

damping is the solution....

understanding is the damping agent in this situation....

there are many unevolved calls to ignore damping, understanding....

you might notice that these hecklers don't get involved in wars themselves...

chris ford, johhny g., george bush, dickles cheyney, rumsfield......

all big swingers of the hammer of dysfunction.....

cowards all.

most beggining posters are like that, most emerging civilizations are like that....

children go through developmental stages easily if they have good parents....

the parents of the united states in this case are abusive, selfish, and're leaders are in it for themselves...

the islamic crowd is similarly oriented.....


thanks for your kind attention to this matter, I hope you choose to grow the *uck up, and quit being moronic children led by cowards....


Posted by: hello children...... | February 11, 2006 01:54 PM

Islamophobia is alive and well in America. This entire cartoon affair is just the media preying on the fear of radical Muslims among Americans. Lucky for them, Iran and Syria plays along by providing bogus riots depicting the worst elements within Islam, then the media plays it over and over again more so than any peaceful protests against the cartoons (of which there were many).
To be honest, the Washington Post has done a weak job of discussing this issue, including Emily, I'm afraid. I expected a better follow-up than this shallow effort. Disappointing.

Posted by: ErrinF | February 11, 2006 02:04 PM


"If you wanted to intimidate, say, France, would you stage a riot in, say, Syria?"

Yes, because that's where all the militant muslims are. But, as a matter of fact, protests were staged in London (is that close enough to Paris for you?). And, as a matter of fact, if you wanted to intimidate, say, the United States' Washington Post (which has even fewer Muslims and is even farther away) you *could* successfully do so from Syria, as the Islamic world just illustrated for us.

"You all are carrying on about the "intimidation" factor here. Since when is a riot staged in Tehran or Syria to intimidate, say London or the US?"

As stated, you would intimidate London by staging a protest in London, which is exactly what they did. To intimidate the US, who's Muslim population is actually quite reasonable and non-violent, you would have to protest in Syria. And you could successfully curb the Free Press from Iran/Afghanistan/Syria, as the Islamic world just did.

"These riots are staged events held in personal live action full view of the Muslim population, the Western world only sees them on TV. The target of these riots is the Muslim world."

I agree these events were staged. But these "staged" events shook a bees nest of people so vitriolic about the free western press that they were willing to burn buildings/die in protest of it. We should take note. I agree with your sentiment, though, that these were targeted at the Muslim world. And we sent a chilling message to the Muslim world as well: The best way to intimidate the west is to light buildings on fire.

"Moderate Muslims get to pick between the imperialist Americans and their "crusades" vs the fundamentalists who promise to save their Muslim faith and heritage from the imperialist Americans. I think that many thought they could use the fundamentalists to get rid of us and then they could control them."

You can play psychology with the Ever Evasive Moderate Muslim population all you want. I'm more concerned about my fundamental 1st amendment rights which are promised me by a social contract signed by my ancestors and renewed with each and every consenting generation of Americans. If winning the hearts and minds of Moderate Muslims means I have to submit to Shari'ah law, then no thanks.

"That's why I think the riots backfired on them. It has not had the intended effect of making the West show their disrespect and desire to conquer. Now the rioters just look like out of control bullies. In the long run I believe events like this help moderate Muslims to see that maybe their trust would be better placed with us."

You have a funny way of defining "backfired". The Muslim world protested a Danish newspaper's portrayal of the prophet. The Western world censored itself. That would make it a successful protest.

Posted by: Will | February 11, 2006 02:18 PM

Islamoid apologists and possible Islamoid ball-lickers... Posted by: Chris Ford | Feb 11, 2006 1:42:35 AM

Only Chris Ford could find a way to combine his homophobia and his Islamophobia into one sentence. And what's up with the oral fixation in your posts lately, Chris? Here I thought you were more of a Joe McCarthy, but perhaps you're more like a crossdressing J Edgar Hoover.
Speaking of Joe McCarthy, here's a dictionary definition of McCarthyism: "The practice of publicizing accusations of political disloyalty or subversion with insufficient regard to evidence and the use of unfair investigatory or accusatory methods in order to suppress opposition." Sound familiar? It pretty much sums up every post Chris Ford makes.

Posted by: ErrinF | February 11, 2006 02:20 PM

Freedom for Egyptians -

I forgot to congratulate you earlier on your big contribution to the Blog world and hopefully to the MSM. I marked you and I hope that America will get past Israel, China + the nation du jour as focus of our attention. Egypt is a strategically HUGE country. I wish to learn more about the economic factors, the Brotherhood, how stultifying the present regime is, and how the environmental vs. population growth clash is going. I found a Syria Blog about a year ago - - and track that country. My fascinations overseas are Syria, Thailand, Italy, and Iran. Syria, Thailand, and Italy from brief visits I wish to extend, Iran because of all the Iranian pilots my Dad trained that I'd love to meet if they don't die in the interim....And see for myself if the Moon on the Caspian pics taken from pistacio and olive groves I know from one of the Iranian officers is entrancing as it looks.....

Johnnyg in NE DC -

"On the other hand, if you sqander the opportunities your resources offer, in a hundred or so years, you will be back to living in the stone age. You will not win against us."

Indeed. There is a window where Muslims can parlay oil wealth to can join the technological or societal acceleration made by Western and Asian nations - or fall further behind. The alternative - more terroristic assaults might mean Islamoids and a number of the proverbial "moderate Muslims" - may be smashed down by a world SICK of Islamoid attacks on the innocent.

"Rose" said : No one responsed to a comment patriot made, that when we invade Iran there will be a formerly moderate muslim with an ied behind every grain of sand"

In case you missed it, we are not weak East Timorans or Sudanese shuddering and waiting for the mighty Islamoid sword to fall on our necks. Invincible Islamoids hiding behind every grain of sand with an IED matter only if we are constrained not to fuse glass.

Truthfully, Rose, the choice is with the Islamoids.

Join the modern world or be ornery and do WMD attack....which will result in us having to thermonuclearize and sun-kiss the Islamoid centers as consequence to more Islamoid mass slaughter.

Posted by: Chris Ford | February 11, 2006 02:32 PM

The entire reaction, on both sides, to the cartoons is stupid. Why anything should bother people enough to cause themselves to be killed is unclear. On the other it seems odd an entire set of newspapers needed to republish the very same cartoon after they had ignited problems - if they felt the need it should have been easy enough to come up with different, less offensive, cartoons.

We often forget that the media is a business - causing the explanation of freedom of expression to be a little weak. The media often censors its content due to the sensibilities of it audience, the government and advertisers - Bill Mahers departure from Comedy Central, US newspapers unwillingness to keep a running tally of civilian deaths in Iraq (information on US military deaths is available practically everyday), etc., come to mind.

Posted by: funny man | February 11, 2006 05:37 PM

I am not advocating this, but I wonder whether we need to look back to WWII here. The Axis totalitarian regimes were bent on world domination. The populations that supported those regimes were largely destroyed in order to stop those regimes in their quest for forcing the world to submit to their supremacy. The Empire of Japan and Nazi Germany were ruthless and murderous.

How is the current radical Islamism different now? They are now in our midst, and are working hard towards obtaining nuclear weapons. It is clear they intend to use these weapons, or blackmail the world with them.

Do these radical Islamists need to be destroyed en masse? Must Iran be wiped out for fear of them obtaining a nuclear weapon and using it? Must western societies root out the Islamist leaders and destroy them and their flocks?

I fear that radical Islam is about to commit mass murder again, and that the West will respond with overwhelming force, and millions of people will die.

Can we be brought back from the brink?

Posted by: Wonderer | February 11, 2006 05:56 PM

"Moderate Muslims get to pick between the imperialist Americans and their "crusades" vs the fundamentalists who promise to save their Muslim faith and heritage from the imperialist Americans. I think that many thought they could use the fundamentalists to get rid of us and then they could control them."
Doesn't anyone recognize that it is unfounded and completely subjective presumptions like these that serve as perpetual kindling of this fire we have on our hands. It seems that you take pleasure in guessing the thoughts of millions of people you've never met and do not know and presenting your equivocations as factual proclamations.

It's a shameful representation of the tenets of the forefathers of this country. I've read ppl's crass comments reviling the radical Muslims' attempts to force their beliefs upon the entire non-Muslim world. I agree that personal and national sovereignty are rights that all people and nations should have.

But the US sends such conflicted messages to the ppl of the ME- with financial support for despotic regimes, and support for national sovereignty to particular nations of its choosing. As unjust as I believe this to be, I happen to understand that this is the nature of politics and self-preservation. But I have the luxury to understand this; I do not suffer for it. In fact, I gain from it.

The majority of the ppl in the ME have no such luxury. Those that are wealthy and well-educated, which are inexorably related, either have the ability to migrate to a better land for a better life, or are in cahoots with the governments that cater to the upper crust.

The haughtiness that has been displayed throughout these posts are diametric to the notions of an equal and just society. They are the same characteristics that radical Islamists have--- a propensity and pleasure in making incendiary and inflammatory comments to the benefit of no one. And an American making these types of comments is no more justified than an Arab making these types of comments.

As for the violent pronouncements--- what a dishonor to those who have been engaged in war in YOUR name--- those who have seen the faces of our collateral damage, the innocent women and children who had the misfortune of been an Iraqi or and Afghani, at the wrong place at the wrong time.

BTW, Chris Ford, in case you haven't heard--- there were no WMDs!

Posted by: gkc | February 11, 2006 06:08 PM

Johnnyg you posted this earlier today: "I believe control can only be maintained through the use of overwhelming force, so the consequences continuing their fight becomes unthinkable."

That stuck in my head all day. I found it really depressed me. There will always be Archie Bunkers, er, Chris Fords around, but you and Cayambe and Jazzman and a few others really seem to have a thoughtful, well educated point of view that represents a genuine slice of Americana.

I do not believe crushing the countries of the ME is the solution. I think the more aggressive we get, the more terrorists we will make until it escalates into WWIII. I would certainly fight to the death to defend my country from anyone coming in to remake it in their image, and I just can't imagine them being any different, especially when the fight is outside their front door.

Further, once burned twice shy. Even with the Rovian fearmongering and revisionist history machine I think it will be hard for Americans to give up the image of the US as the good guys in the white hats in order to become the kind of first strike nation we always believed we were defending the world from. I don't think America's heart and sould would be with the kind of no holds barred wanton destruction of millions of innocent lives such a war would require. A few more large scale terrorist attacks on our soil might well change that, however. But next time we really do need to invade the place that attacked us if they expect the American people to give up their children to the fight.

But even though I do not think aggressive full scale war is the answer, neither can we stay on the road we are on.

The only solution I can see is to fight with money instead of bombs. The truth is, we really DON'T need their stinking oil to keep our economy running, unless you happen to be in the Bush family and your personal fortune is sunk into those imports.

It would take so pitifully little effort to cut back our imports by the 2.5 million barrels a day that we currently import from the ME. California alone puts a BILLION plastic water bottles a year into the landfill - bottles that took a shitload of oil to produce. If we recycled half the plastic, paper, glass and aluminum that we currently put into the landfill we wouldn't need any more ME oil. If everyone drove a 2007 Sienna minivan (40 mpg) we would need only a fifth of our current ME imports. If manufacturers made minimal plastic refill containers for shampoo, soap, detergent, etc, we could cut oil use dramatically.

It wouldn't even require any sacrifice to do this.

I also believe money speaks louder than bullets. I think even a 10% decrease in our oil orders would effect a change in attitude that they need to be a little nicer to the customer. I think our hard line needs to be that if we are attacked we will no longer purchase their oil. Period. And it needs to be backed up by aggressive government action - increasing CAFE standards, putting a recycling bin next to public trash cans, engaging manufacturers and consumers in stragegies to reduce packaging, etc. Hell, if people are willing to throw away their civil rights for the war on terror, I can't believe they won't be willing to toss their newspaper and water bottle in a recycle bin and buy products with less packaging, go to online billing, etc....

If it doesn't work there is still war as an alternative.

Back in a few hours.

Posted by: patriot 1957 | February 11, 2006 06:15 PM

I can't believe we are being cowed by these Islamics into not being able to do what we want. If they believe in this myth of Muhammad good for them. To me its a fairy tale and if someone wants to draw cartoons about it good for them. Just like I'm free to call this whole religion thing a bunch of hooey myths with the blind leading the blind. All I know is you have a bunch of people blowing up innocent people with bonds and say they're doing it for Muhammad. If someone wants to draw a cartoon about that -- good for them. I get it.

Posted by: Anarchy Lives | February 11, 2006 07:48 PM

Today, 11/02/2006, it is reported that two eminent clerics stated the following:-
All Muslims believe in free speech - except when it insults Islam.
This shows their rampant arrogance in all dealings with other religions.
One comment, above, stated that Muslims adhere, strictly, to the Qran and Hadith. This is not the case as - in Hadith No 5 it states that Allah does not allow any other person/being to be venerated on a par with himself.
There is no such animal as a 'moderate Muslim'for they all share the ambition for the black flag of Islam to fly from the standards of all countries - and all countries to be governed under Shia law.
To think otherwise is to assist them in their destruction of the civilised world.

Posted by: Brian | February 11, 2006 07:58 PM

Well thanks to the reaction to the cartoon caper I see why and these other groups are wrong about what's going on. I now see how WWII started. We can't ignore the fascists who want to challenge those of us who hold different beliefs.

Posted by: Left Wing Luigi | February 11, 2006 08:00 PM

To make things clear -- the bad guys are the Radical Islamists and I think they're numbers are bigger than we realize. Krauthammer opened my eyes with his column the other day.

Posted by: Left Wing Luigi | February 11, 2006 08:01 PM


Such an action, if it were to occur, should not result from a hastily made decision.

We are in conflicts now, but is this so-called "endless war" a desirable choice? When we realize after the next mass murder of civilians takes place here that our present situation will most likely not improve over time, we will be faced with a decision. Should we live with this scourge forever, appease them, or attempt to tame them for a good number of years by way of one or more massive retaliatory strikes.

They see us bogged down in a long war, release tapes promising more death and destruction, and incite riots over such frivolous things as cartoons. This could lead one to believe they are not impressed with our present response. However, I sense they worry that our patience is approaching the brink. That is why I believe terror is doled out in carefully measured amounts and is designed to so continue as long as basic foundations of Western civilization (e.g., free speech) remains intact.

Rather than enduring a very long and expensive war, we could resolve to inflict very great harm to those who attack the US. The very will to do so may have positive results, but it must be genuine. I would hope to see many other Western-styled societies stand with us.

As an example, we can resolve:

If it is found that facts support a country financially supported, supplied or harbored those who struck against our homeland, we are prepared to annihilate most of that country's infrastructure. There would be no rebuilding of structures or governments. We should, of course, make this resolve well known in advance. Those willing to stand with us would be afforded our full support and a same response on their behalf. It may be that such resolve will cause the citizens in unfriendly places to pause and rethink whether there is need for a change in leadership.

Countries having trouble controlling terrorists within should seek out help and should generally be spared if they were truly attempting anti-terror measures, but could not get a handle on it.

You may think I'm crazy, but will not after another major attack. I would rather prevent that attack.

Posted by: johnnyg in NE DC | February 11, 2006 08:27 PM

It's amazing how much Islamophobia is being generated by a bunch of hyped-up cartoons, and the overemphasis by the American media of a small number of riots that were most likely staged by foreign governments. And yet, the American press turns a blind eye to how much they've instigated the current rash of anti-Muslim sentiment in the US, such as what we see in this current Debate blog and the one before it. Not that Emily seems to want to address all the unfair stereotyping of Muslims going on here. I've seen plenty of condemnation here for moderate Islam not countering radical Islam more, and yet, I don't see much effort from moderate Americans against the Islamophobic elements within our own country. It seems hypocritical to hold Muslims accountable for not being more proactive against the anti-Americanism in their society, while at the same time not holding American citizens to the same standard when it comes to fighting anti-Islamicism in our society.

Posted by: ErrinF | February 11, 2006 08:36 PM

ErrinF: I challenge you to show me the Islamophobia that you so allege against American society. And if what you consider Islamophobia is reporting a relatively small fraction of what is being said by Islamic leaders in Saudi Arabia, Iran, Egypt, the Palestinian Authority and elsewhere throughout the Arab world, I then frankly don't know what you're talking about. Frankly, Islamophobia may be a perfectly rational response to the naked anti-semitism, anti-Christian, anti-gay, anti-woman , anti-permissive societey rhetoric heard too often in the mosques, demonstrations, government and non-government Islamic media and on the "Arab street". When I see signs at demonstrations in London calling for the death of cartoonists and painting all Danes with the same brush because of the actions of a single Danish newspaper, I shudder.

Posted by: Anarchy Lives | February 11, 2006 08:50 PM

Try challenging Emily to address the issue instead of me. I've addressed it plenty in this blog and the last. I challenge you to not be in denial about Islamophobia within America ever since 9/11. American Islamophobia is what our media has taken advantage of and propogated with their recent 'cartoons-put-forth-as-an-excuse-to-show-rioting-Muslims' campaign. The press's silence in defending itself as to this matter is deafening.

Posted by: ErrinF | February 11, 2006 09:13 PM

The point of the matter ErrinF is that Islamophobia -- Fear of Islam -- is a perfectly rational response when you have the leaders of Islam, be it the President of Iran, the religious heads in Egypt and Saudi Arabia and elected governments in the Palestinian Authority spouting anti-semitic screeds unheard of since the days of Hitler. And these screeds of hatred, destruction of Buddhist shrines, baiting of Christians happened before the cartoons and before 9/11. I agree we have to understand Islam better, but understanding Islam better does not necessarily mean that we whitewash the destructive elements within it. I was of the belief that deep down much of the Islamic world was much like me but after the cartoon incidents and the reactions its engendered, I'm afraid that I'm willing to pay more heed to writers like Krauthammer, Robert Spencer and others who say explore Islam, but do it with an open mind, not a naive one.

Posted by: | February 11, 2006 09:18 PM

Rather than enduring a very long and expensive war, we could resolve to inflict very great harm to those who attack the US. The very will to do so may have positive results, but it must be genuine. I would hope to see many other Western-styled societies stand with us.
As an example, we can resolve:
If it is found that facts support a country financially supported, supplied or harbored those who struck against our homeland, we are prepared to annihilate most of that country's infrastructure.
Posted by: johnnyg in NE DC | Feb 11, 2006 8:27:39 PM

Johnnyg's plan involves blitzkrieg and genocide. Sounds familiar.

Posted by: ErrinF | February 11, 2006 09:22 PM

Phobia in any form is a rational response? I don't think so. You are irrationally blaming all Muslims for the actions of a few. At least you stopped trying to deny Islamophobia exists in the U.S.

Posted by: ErrinF | February 11, 2006 09:28 PM

At least I have an idea, ErrinF. It may not be the best one, but it is more constructive to put on the table for debate than simple cartoon-like rantings about Islamafamafobiamma and Hitler.

Posted by: johnnyg in NE DC | February 11, 2006 09:30 PM

Just like Islamics are blaming the country of Denmark for the acts of a few (i.e., a newspaper) ErrinF? Face it ErrinF, unfortunately last century we had the Nazis who wanted to take over the world, this century it looks like their heir apparents are the Radical Islamists.

Posted by: Anarchy Lives | February 11, 2006 09:45 PM

Your views are destructive, not constructive, johnnyg. You just don't want to face facts that you are advocating iron fisted fascism as a way to respond to terrorism. Sorry if Islamophobia is a big word for you, but it exists despite your denial. How telling that you have used this cartoon farce as a springboard to put forth your desire to excessively persecute all of Islam for the extremist actions of a minority within it.

Posted by: ErrinF | February 11, 2006 09:50 PM

Not all of Islam blamed Denmark or rioted Danish embassies. Here you go again equating all of Islam with the radical minority within it. Is every German a Nazi? No. So why do you act like every Muslim is a Jihadi?

Posted by: ErrinF | February 11, 2006 09:59 PM

ErinnF, that resolve mentions nothing about Islam. If any country were sponsoring any group intent on attacking the United States, I would feel the same way. After support dries up, the threat will quickly fade.

Posted by: johnnyg in NE DC | February 11, 2006 10:12 PM

ErrinF: I am starting to think the way I am because when I hear the Ahmadenijad's spouting off about Jews and Israel and how this whole cartoon episode was orchestrated by the Organization of Islamic States I begin to wonder. The fact cartoons can trigger these violent reactions scares me too -- I've seen them and the quotes today about the Holocaust and Muslim's committing genocide against the Jews from Iran's leader are a lot worse than that and I don't see the Jews rioting in the streets.

Posted by: Anarchy Lives | February 11, 2006 10:19 PM

The real issue isn't blasphemy or free press but civil rights. In this case it's the Muslim in Europe. I don't doubt that immigration and Turkey in the EU had more to do with the original publication of the cartoons than anything else. After the civil rights movement American papers are far more sensitive about stereotypes than European papers. They can also be brought to court. Deal with the problem in Denmark as an issue of civil rights and use the proper tools. Muslims must sway public opinion in Denmark not Islam. In this case they should express their concern over the support that a business is lending this newspaper by its advertisements. You can't let these businesses off the hook. You picket and boycott if they refuse to support your position on this injustice, committed by the newspaper. Of course it's easier to burn an embassy than change public opinion but the cartoon war is only confirming the idea of the Muslim as a religious fanatic not only in Denmark but throughout Europe. It's time to call on the Muslim leaders in Denmark to account for their actions and why they so easily quit.

Posted by: DTL | February 11, 2006 10:30 PM

I don't see the Israeli government orchestrating riots in their own country, AnarchyLives. What I do see is footage of our own Secretary Of State saying that the Iranian government is doing such with the riots within it's country, as is the Syrian government with the riots it's instigated in it's borders. You fall for those governments' manipulations hook, line, and sinker.

Posted by: ErrinF | February 11, 2006 10:31 PM

DTL, did not the reaction to the cartoons prove the point of many of them. And the continued ramblings of Ahamadenijad, who was an accepted, welcomed and esteemed member of the group who met in Mecca with the Organization of Islamic Countries, not further reinforce the points of some of the cartoons. The rhetoric of Ahamdenijad and the continued silence from the Muslim world speaks volumes when the Europeans are falling over themselves apologizing for the cartoons.

Posted by: Anarchy Lives | February 11, 2006 10:34 PM

You advocate punishing the many for the actions of the few, johnnyg. Your idea of 'drying up support' is blowing them all to smithereens, like fishing with dynamite. You don't have to worry about a few bad apples if you blow up the whole tree, is what you seem to be putting forth. That kind of thinking is unacceptable and won't lead to anything but needless death and destruction in the name of fighting terrorism.

Posted by: ErrinF | February 11, 2006 10:38 PM

ErrinF: I also see the signs at "protests" in London England, Pakistan, Indonesia, and elsewhere. I see thugs in Gaza attack Europeans only because they are Europeans. While there are many Muslims who decry the acts of these so-called protestors, there are many who support those seeking death for the cartoonists. We can't be fools and ascribe our moralities to others when they don't share the same moralities. No matter how corrupt my government was, I could not bring myself to vote for a Hamas or Moslem Brotherhood with their Charters of Hate -0- however Palestinians and many Egyptians felt no qualms about supporting these groups and unfortunately when we talk about letting others who are currently governed by autocrats express their choices -- their choice is the Radical Islamist.

Posted by: Anarchy Lives | February 11, 2006 10:38 PM

"You may think I'm crazy,"

Actually I don't think you're crazy. And that scares the hell out of me.

I think that you are 100% correct that the people that support the terrorists ought to feel consequences for their actions. But I think the paltry effort we put into rooting out the mainstream support for terrorism was completely undone by the invasion of Iraq. I truly believe the nations of the ME thought they could use the terrorists to keep us at bay, and then they could later control the terrorists. I believe the cartoon riots will help disabuse them of that notion that the monster they're feeding will be controllable later. It is, after all, Muslims who are dead in those riots, not Westerners. The question is, do they still care, or is "not the US" enough now if we seem to be killing them faster than the terrorists?

But we really do have a big non-military weapon that we should try before bombs. They need us to buy their oil. And the truth is, with very little lifestyle changes and really no personal sacrifice within a year we would not need to buy it. Truly, just google plastic, oil, import and recycle. America put 40 billion oil-requiring plastic bottles in the landfill in 2005 - 15,780,091,857 beverage bottles and cans went into our landfills or incinerators so far this year ( ) (Interestingly the government websites on recycling list only the "energy" saved, never the "barrels of oil saved" - you have to dig for that yourself but its there).

If we did it all - A federal bottle bill at 10cents per bottle (including all PET bottles), raised CAFE standards to 40 mpg, recycled phone books, newspaper and junk mail, and simply had a president ask for a national consciousness about reuse/recycle (without even the reduce part), even without making any sacrifices, we could not only cut out the ME, but start cutting into Chavez's profits enough to change his tone a little too. (We actually import the most oil from Canada).

Money talks. If they saw we meant business that we weren't going to buy any more of their oil until we had the head of OBL, Zarquai, Zawahiri, and a few more, and saw mainstream funding cut for terrorism, and if they saw we meant it (that means the bottle bill, the CAFE standards, a presidential call for "patriotic recycling", etc) I think we'd have the heads on a silver platter ASAP.

There is still always war if it doesn't work. And then we'll still need the bottle bill and the recycling and the public campaign because the taps will be off when the bombs fall. So why not try it first?

If only our President and his friends and family didn't have their personal fortunes tied up in the oil business we'd be doing this already

Posted by: patriot 1957 | February 11, 2006 10:48 PM

No riots in Jordan, Anarchy, and no riots in the places you named, only peaceful protests that have not erupted into violence. How convenient that you ignore the peaceful Muslims to dwell on the violent Muslims, and how you ignore that the violent Muslims were putting on an orchestrated show in this cartoon affair. The false riot evidence you are trying to use to indite all of Islam was planted.
And voting for Hamas to be government is not voting Hamas to commit terrorism. Hamas didn't take over the Palestinian government by violent overthrow; It was peacefully elected. That's something else you choose to turn a blind eye too.

Posted by: ErrinF | February 11, 2006 10:50 PM

Actually ErrinF, my eyes aren't blind -- Palestinians peacefully elected a party that's Charter is pretty much Mein Kampf updated -- too much of the world has turned a blind eye to that. And Jordan is on high security alert because of Al Qaeda whichis opposed to the oppressive Jordanian government -- Jordan would never allow the masses to demonstrate. Besides, it goes beyond whether there are riots or firebombings - I read the signs people are carrying and what the message is there is enough for me. When I'm at a peace protest and I see hateful crap, I confront the person about that and how it defames the cause and the people around me join in and we convince the person to get rid of the sign. I don't see that in any of the pictures of the hateful signs I see.

Posted by: Anarchy Lives | February 11, 2006 10:58 PM

It's obvious you don't want to be rational about the matter, AnarchyLives. You just want to hate and fear all of Islam as being under control of a radical minority; It isn't. Your view is one-sided and small-minded.

Posted by: ErrinF | February 11, 2006 11:07 PM

"I can't believe we are being cowed by these Islamics into not being able to do what we want. "

Oh Anarchy that's crap from some right wing talking points. Did you, personally, feel threatened by a riot thousands of miles away? Did you think they were going to burn down the WP building? Would you be in it if it burned? Did you survive the Rodney King riots? Do we not have enough bombs to flatten them to a pulp in the time it takes a Tomahawk to fly? They may have "demonstrated" in London, but they rioted and burned at home.

"Cowed" my ass. This is neocon propaganda tweaking you into further inflaming things so we can create a reason to send more bombs there.

Leftwing Luigi - "We can't ignore the fascists who want to challenge those of us who hold different beliefs."

Better start with the fascists right here at home before you worry about the ones overseas.

Posted by: patriot 1957 | February 11, 2006 11:09 PM

shit still smells like old dead, shall I say....chicken?

presidential material, I'd say.

inflammatory comments, heckling, emotional ploys....

children's toys....go to war, go to war....

first there needs to be one twit......

there is a difference between an occupation and a war....

look it up.

call it what it is, and get paid for it....

give your lives so the bush family keeps the price of oil predictable.....thank you amerika....

the land of the clueless...

Posted by: actually leftwing luigi is chris ford, with another alias since I nailed his spotted hide to the bar | February 11, 2006 11:53 PM

I'll be eating some wigglers tonight....

hee hee hee.

Posted by: as well as anarchy, slithers... | February 11, 2006 11:55 PM
interesting oped on the cartoon riots

Posted by: | February 12, 2006 02:19 AM

Went and read the aforementioned Krauthammer column. Quoted below:
"The worldwide riots and burnings are instruments of intimidation, reminders of van Gogh's fate. The Islamic "moderates" are the mob's agents and interpreters, warning us not to do this again. And the Western "moderates" are their terrified collaborators who say:"

"Worldwide" riots and burnings? Did he actually read the news reports or did he just swallow Karl Rove's filofax? Does a handful of riots all confined to Muslim countries qualify as "worldwide"? How does he expect to be taken seriously when his "spin' is so outlandish it can't be separated from, well, in a word, lies.

Terrified collaborators? Oh GMAFB. Were you really terrified of riots thousands of miles away? Doesn't say much for American courage. Were Londoners "battle-hardened" after years of IRA bombings quaking in their boots,, rolling over and exposing their jugular? Hardly. Where were the riots? Who was killed? They're going to kill their own to teach us a lesson? Doesn't pass the smell test.

Posted by: patriot 1957 | February 12, 2006 02:38 AM

Hi Chris, I'm catching up.
First this post: Posted by: Chris Ford | Feb 11, 2006 1:42:35 AM

I like this one quite a bit. People should note that you are pretty unbiased when it comes to the application of caustic language to subjects. Hypocrisy is not one of your sins. :o)

I quite agree with your points about "moderates". We moderates do bear responsibility for what we permit to be done by our nation or in our nation. Your examples A and B reflect shameful things done in the nation. I would argue Iraq reflects a shameful thing by the nation. In all cases the relevant societies failed in their responsibilities and cannot escape with the excuse of "helplessness". People make a nation and must be held accountable for what that nation does. You are quite right to rub our noses in our failures as well as German noses in their failures. And there are more than enough of those to go around, so no one need be so proud or their failures might also be dredged from the swamp.
"And an argument can be made that Islamic rulers and the average Abdul have always found terror a useful tool for the propagation of Allah since the 7th Century, punctuated by periods of peace before a new wave of Islamoid terror falls on targeted infidels."

I don't know of any period of history where terror was not used in one form or another by every nation, empire, state, whatever. It is not particular to Islam so there really is no moral high ground to be gained with this sort of charge.

"1. They have a faith that honors the most extreme who go on Jihad as purer, braver, and holier than the "moderates". They may think the extremists are "going to far" but do not question that many of the motives and personal attributes of the extremists are "admirable"."

Actually, I'm not convinced that they DO think the extremists are "going to far". Its pretty clear that the Jordanians thought Zarqawi was going to far when he bombed that wedding in Amman, but not when he was blowing up Humvees in Iraq. We certainly like to think our soldiers in Iraq are purer, braver, and more patriotic for their service in protecting us more weenie types and that their motives and personal attributes are "admirable". Actually this is largely true. Still, they have no business being where they are and doing what they are doing. It's the orders they are following that are extremist orders.

"2. Which adds to their other special problem that unlike Christianity and other religions, the dominant view is the Koran is the literal, unchanging, absolute dictate of God on how to live their lives - or else. They never "got" the prevailing logic of other religions that man is a flawed instrument for interpreting God's will and theology involves the need to debate and discuss. With Islam, there is no interpretation of God's will, only the imperative to submit and obey Gods will as written in the Koran and Hadiths."

Why is that a problem? And if it is, isn't it their problem? I find the very idea of God quite absurd and most of the Christians and Jews and a few Muslims I know think I have a problem and I'm going straight to hell in a hand basket. I think they have a problem. But I know it's a harmless one because they will never find out how wrong they are, because when you are dead, you are dead. On the other hand, if I'm wrong and they are right, I will be one cooked goose and know I'm cooking; discussing the baking temperature with most of those friends that didn't make the grade either.

It seems to me that the "imperative to submit and obey Gods will" is present in all three religions, each using a different text to define God's instructions as to his will. Interpretation is inherent in the process of reading a text, it is unavoidable, as true for Christians as it is for Muslims. I fail to see the distinction you seem to see.

"Morrissey points out that many Western liberties and rights fly in the face of Koranic strictures imposed on Muslim States. Freedom of speech exists in Muslim countries in certain spheres, but not in others, especially in areas dictated by the words of the Qu'ran.
This makes political reform extremely difficult unless a major new movement comes along like nationalism or communism - and both those movements have long since crested in the Muslim world where being a Muslim defines the people more than being an Egyptian or a Saudi, or thinking communism is preferable to capitalism - given how communism directly refutes God. The other change mechanism besides a different dynasty coming to power is the infliction of massive trauma on Islamic peoples."
snip snip.........
I don't see us having a new movement like communism to reform Islam. Muslims are capitalistic, like the West. And removing dictators like the Shah and now Hussein may only allow the radical Islamists they repressed to reassert the primacy of Islam. I fear the only way Islam will reform is by way of infliction of a massive trauma on a level the Turks suffered - and that means devices other than peaceful dialogue...

Chris, why do you see it as our imperative to reform Islam? Why must we impose Western values and political structures on them? Lets understand that we have been attempting to do this for a long long time, before Bin Laden was even born. The birth of Islam seen as a threat came with the establishment of Israel as a state in 1948, the thing that unified all of Islam. That singular point has been the focus of all Islamic active aggression against the "West" since. In the "East" it was over Kashmir against India. In the "Far East" we had a struggle over Singapore (Chinese vs Muslim Malays), settled without a lot of bloodshed. In the "North" they defended themselves from Russian aggression in Afghanistan. Every thing else was pretty much internal, until Saddam came along and threatened our oil supply. I just don't see in this hordes of Muslims pouring out pillaging and raping infidels to enlarge their empire.

Bush I did not make a mistake in not going to Baghdad. He abided by the assurances he had given to the rest of the coalition not to do that, to his credit. This enhanced our reliability in the eyes of others. The mistake that was made was the failure to destroy more of Saddam's military assets in the process so the Iraqi's could get rid of him themselves. We underestimated his staying power and his ego. It's been a real trip watching him at his trial. He ain't called Saddam for nothing. What Bush and everybody else wanted was for Iraq to stay intact to serve as a check on Iran and to keep the Kurds from screwing up Turkey, and to that end they wanted to leave Iraq sufficient military resources to play that role but not enough for Saddam to remain in power. They cut it too fine and here we are.

Even if your view that radical Islamic ideology and Western ideology are inevitably conflicted, why should we care? The most fundamentalist Islam is in Saudi Arabia. Somehow we have gotten along just fine for several decades. If in Arabia, do as the Arabians do has worked just fine. They come here, do as we do, and that works fine. Why do we have to change that? Where the ideology issue is perhaps most relevant is in Europe, and the Philippines, where in some countries Muslims make up a significant minority of their population. To the extent that they wish to impose their Islamic values on the host country, yeah, that country has a problem. But that is their problem, not our problem, isn't it? We don't have that particular problem........yet; unless you want to bring up the Mexican wish to recover their homelands in California and Texas through their right of return.

Where Muslims are a significant minority in a given nation or are a majority and have significant minorities of other religions or cultures I will grant you Islamic ideology can be a significant problem, but this is not really the case in most of the Arab nations. Why then should we be focusing on "reforming" their religion or their governments? I just don't get it.

Posted by: Cayambe | February 12, 2006 03:03 AM

"patriot" 1957 recites some Greenie gibberish as a solution to terrorism.

"They need us to buy their oil."

No they don't, only idiots that do not understand how a global commodity is sold spout that nonsense. With the world's lowest lift and production costs, ME oil will be sold even if price drops and forces competitors out of the market...

A price drop which won't happen because global demand for oil is voracious. If the USA makes a point of never buying ME oil, it has no effect on petrodollars flowing to ME countries because ME oil just keeps flowing into the common "pool" of oil and is gratefully bought up by Rising China, India, and many more nations whose demand for oil grows with their GNPs.

"And the truth is, with very little lifestyle changes and really no personal sacrifice within a year we would not need to buy it. Truly, just google plastic, oil, import and recycle......If we did it all - A federal bottle bill at 10cents per bottle (including all PET bottles), raised CAFE standards to 40 mpg, recycled phone books, newspaper and junk mail, and simply had a president ask for a national consciousness about reuse/recycle (without even the reduce part), even without making any sacrifices, we could not only cut out the ME, but start cutting into Chavez's profits enough to change his tone a little too."

More Greenie pipe dreams.

America uses 107 Quads of energy, 40 Quads of which are oil. 16 of those Quads are private transportation. Full recycling is projected to have the ability to "save" 1/3rd of one Quad of energy, and less than 1/15th of a Quad of Oil. Nor is plastic able to be easily recycled, same with newspapers and phonebooks. The most economical use is burning it in trash to electric energy plants.

We actually use considerably less oil per capita than in 1970. But our energy use is up 35% because of massive legal & illegal immigration driving our population explosion. Something the Greenies are entirely loath to talk about on PC grounds.

Any miniscule conservation savings from plastic bottle recycling or even the more substantial savings from raising CAFE standards (2-3 Quads) will be eaten up by 20 million Juans and Pedros driving their Ford F-150s. US population is projected to grow from 300 million to 363 million by 2030 accoding to Census Bureau projections.

Now Patriot talks like a Cuban exile saying boycotting all Cuban trade will eventually drive castro to his knees, despite 44 years of a failed boycott ----
"Money talks. If they saw we meant business that we weren't going to buy any more of their oil until we had the head of OBL, Zarquai, Zawahiri, and a few more, and saw mainstream funding cut for terrorism, and if they saw we meant it (that means the bottle bill, the CAFE standards, a presidential call for "patriotic recycling", etc) I think we'd have the heads on a silver platter ASAP."

Yeah, sure...

Just like Castros head.

"Patriot"1957 continues - "There is still always war if it doesn't work. And then we'll still need the bottle bill and the recycling and the public campaign because the taps will be off when the bombs fall. So why not try it first?"

Well, because it's mostly a stupid idea to impose a 10 cent Federal tax on every plastic bottle or milk jug if they all end up just being chopped and burned, or made into plastic park benches anyways. CAFE standards do matter, but will ultimately have not one iota of effect on oil demand if China continues it's mighty rise and immigrants negate any conservation savings.

The choices actually boil down to two rather stark ones - Either the Muslim world gains control of it's Islamoids, or the rest of the world will have to come in and control and manage the oil for them in any emerging "problem country" where Islamoids have power. Nor will an insurgency be a problem if all Muslim natives are driven 25 kilometers or so away from oil supplies and pipelines in any country where the modern world must come in and provide rational leadership and oil resource management. I only see this as possible for 2 countries - Iran and Saudi Arabia - and in both countries, most of the oil and infrastructure is well away from major population centers. Other war action may ultimately be necessary if Libya or Algeria or Iraq backslide, but not likely. Same deal if Islamoids gain control of the Suez or Straights of Malacca.

"Patriot"1957 - "If only our President and his friends and family didn't have their personal fortunes tied up in the oil business we'd be doing this already."

Which of course explains why Clinton didn't do it in his term! Might have something to do with the old Dem warhorses from auto making Rustbelt states - folks like Dingall and Bayh who opposed CAFE under Bubba and Bush. And you may wish to add the granola munching enviroweenies crowd of the Blue States who are afraid to say a single peep about America adding 3 million new energy-hungry immigrants and kids of immigrants every share in the blame.

Posted by: Chris Ford | February 12, 2006 03:14 AM

Morality and religion seem to be hardwired into the human brain, so neither will ever be eradicated.

Dear Visitor,

Happy new year, been a while....noted a few of your posts and I thought I'd respond to the point you made above, which in a parallel aspect, I've been considering for a long time, as one of my interests is anthropology.

Got a theory on the origins of religion....kind of touches on the DNA thing, but only in the sense that man became sentient, with an "Id" ...I think therefore "I am" and all that.

First question sentient man asked himself was "where am I?", and the second was "Oy ve, why does this s-hit keep happening to me?" ....chuckle....I'm paraphrasing of course.

Where? , why? and what is responsible for the things man experienced in the world, but couldn't grok.

generally if someone doesn't understand something, two reactions take place...curiosity and fear.

So then perhaps some 200,000 years ago...and probably longer than that....lightning was one of those natural phenomena that man instinctively was fire....

So one day a man (or a woman) was out and about...doing their daily hunting or gathering....and it was cold out....storm came up...took shelter under some trees....lightning struck and started a fire....afraid but curious, the human noticed this fire, but it was small and knew he/she could run faster than it could.

so curiosity overcoming fear caused approach , and noticing that he/she was no longer cold, and the fire among the branches in the downed tree was actually he/she came closer and reached out....ouch! Hot! run away! but not too far, becoming cold, he/she returned and was warm again....

What gave this human the inspiration to pick up a branch and carry the fire to the cave to show his/her tribe was probably the cold itself, knowing that the others were cold, and in doing so remained warm during this short journey.

This human had no idea what would come of this, for when he/she came back, those she had known all his/her life were shocked and amazed, and treated her as someone special because he/she was holding, and in control of, something that was a force of nature....something they did not they, in their quest to understand this event....decided that the force of nature had caused this human to become it's messenger of fire.

Human nature being what it is, everyone wanted a "fire stick" to keep warm, so they gathered branches and eventually they figured out that if they put the branches together, the fire would spread to everyone's stick...but eventually they could not hold them....too hot! so they tossed them down in a pile, and low and behold, the first bondfire was built.

And being warm, they were happy with the gift the messenger had brought, so the danced around this fire, and eventully this became ritual, a comunication with the fire in thanking it for it's warmth.

Next day, the fire seemed dead, so they strirred it with a stick to see if it was, sparks flew up, and the stick was dropped in surprise, something was glowing where the branches had been, eventually the stick burst into flame and these humans reasoned that fire was a living thing, which is why ritual in communication with it was eventually deemed nessesary to the tribes survival. The fire kept predators away they found out, and so it became a great protector of the tribe, with great power and the ability to hurt if a human "angered it" or came too close.

The human that brought fire to the cave was in fact the first "prophet" in a sense, messenger of a living force in nature...and so it has been down the ages that teachers arise among humanity, special in a connection with something that eventually was regarded as "God" for lack of a better explanation.

And in a sense you are right, it is "hardwired" just as fire changed man's eating habits, and his dental structure as a result.

One creates their own reality, and sometimes by accident.

There's any number of ways to look at the question of "loony-toon madness", and the story above for that matter....interpret from it what you will, as you please.

There's an awful lot of humor in the human condition....folks tend to take God way too seriously....Frankly speaking, if God made man, or if man made God.....the element of humor (and irony) was very much incorporated into the process.

Therin lies mankind's inherent capability to laugh at himself....and that my friends is how we can heal the dysfunctional human condition.

It is the forgetting how to laugh at one's self that creates so much distress in the world.

Posted by: Eric Jette | February 12, 2006 03:21 AM

Patriot.........your post:
Posted by: patriot 1957 | Feb 11, 2006 6:15:17 PM
I do not believe crushing the countries of the ME is the solution. I think the more aggressive we get, the more terrorists we will make until it escalates into WWIII. I would certainly fight to the death to defend my country from anyone coming in to remake it in their image, and I just can't imagine them being any different, especially when the fight is outside their front door.

They aren't any different. That is one thing we have actually learned from Iraq.
Nor is anyone trying to remake our country in their image, not even Bin Laden. What they seek is to keep our country from trying to remake their country in our image, and is not that exactly what we are trying to do?

But even though I do not think aggressive full scale war is the answer, neither can we stay on the road we are on.
I suppose this depends on what "road" you think we are on. Consider this, just suppose we got out of there and let the Iraqi's do whatever they wanted. Suppose we just stayed in Afghanistan as long as we remained welcome. Suppose we just sat back and let the EU deal with Iran. Suppose we just let the Israelis and the Palestinians work out their own problem. Would the world collapse? Think Iran is going to hit NY with a nuclear bomb? As someone said, maybe you, they still have to sell their oil to someone.

Do me a favor. Follow the link below and take a look at how Muslims view the Israeli thing. Yes, it is their side of the argument; but they do have more than one leg to stand on and it is not an unreasonable point of view. This history is important to all ME countries and they look at the West through this lens. Until we understand that we are just going to go on talking past each other instead of to each other.,-The-Palestine-Problem/Story719.html

Posted by: Cayambe | February 12, 2006 04:21 AM

Cayambe writes: "Chris, why do you see it as our imperative to reform Islam? Why must we impose Western values and political structures on them?"

I could almost care less what Islam does in it's own lands as long as they don't blow us up, fly planes into large concentrations of civilians, or kill tourists they admit as guests. (The exceptions of course are using violence on their insubordinate women, continued practice of slavery, killing homosexuals, and the 2nd class citizenship imposed on non-Muslims in majority Muslim countries all violate the Human Rights treaties all the Muslims signed) But Muslims are now out of those Ummah homelands and attempting to dictate limits on non-Muslim rights globally and trying to use violence to get their way. Which leaves 3 solutions:

1. Perform the "submission" their Islamoid "tip of the spear" demands, in order to spare us violence.
2. Demand that Islam reform because elements of their norms, including many that are direct instructions from the Koran, are completely incompatible with peaceful coexistence with other peoples.
3. Expel all Muslims from the West and Asia if they refuse to reform and impose a quarantine on any WMD development even if that means keeping Islamoids in a 16th century infastructure. No more Muslim "refugees" admitted to Western or Asian countries despite how much they foul up their own nests. I admit the Will to do this to the Islamoids and the ineffectual "moderate Muslims" is dependent on a WMD attack on us - but I expect that attack one day because the lure and ecstasy of killing 100's of thousands, even millions of infidels is too hard for them to resist.


Cayambe - "The birth of Islam seen as a threat came with the establishment of Israel as a state in 1948, the thing that unified all of Islam. That singular point has been the focus of all Islamic active aggression against the "West" since.."

Not really true, in that Islam was seen as a high threat after the Armenian genocide and the mass butchery of Greeks and Balkan peoples in the years prior to WWI and during WWI. Israel is just one unifying factor. The disintegration of the Ottoman Empire "disunified" the Arabs as well, and it has taken them 80 years to coalesce again as Muslims 1st, tribal people 2nd, Arabs 3rd, and citizens of _______nation 4th. Any country bordering a Muslim nation or "blessed" with a Muslim minority sees them as an age-old historical threat where Israel formed no antecedent to wave after wave of irrational Islamoid attacks - Huntingtons famous "Bloody Borders of Islam" observation.

Cayambe - "I just don't see in this hordes of Muslims pouring out pillaging and raping infidels to enlarge their empire."

No, they are using demography and the "plausible deniability of terrorism" gambits, not trying outright military invasion. They would if they could - but the West and Asia are really not easy prey like East Timorans. But once Islamoids get in, they do indeed like the rape and pillage routine. Europe and Australia have noted a growing Muslim crime wave, and in many countries, Muslims, at 5% of the population, commit half the recorded rapes.

Cayambe - "If in Arabia, do as the Arabians do has worked just fine. They come here, do as we do, and that works fine. Why do we have to change that?"

They come here, and don't do as we do. That is the problem.

A problem that France, UK, Spain, Austria, Denmark, Sweden, etc. are now facing. Even a few Islamoids are capable of enormous damage, as the 19 9/11 hijackers proved. In hard economic terms, the 100s of billions in economic damages, and the annual 35-40 billion in security costs just to watch out for other Islamoids here planning other attacks - negate the economic benefit of Muslims being here in America. Without introducing the 9/11 3,000 butchered or the 3,100 Americans butchered elsewhere by Islamoids into the equation.


Cayambe - " I will grant you Islamic ideology can be a significant problem, but this is not really the case in most of the Arab nations. Why then should we be focusing on "reforming" their religion or their governments? I just don't get it."

I would argue to the contrary that the Islamoid ideology is already a huge problem in the case of most Arab nations. Those nations are the fever swamps that breed the Wahabbis and Madrassahs and Head-choppers. They are the paranoid, homicidal remnants of a decayed civilization.

I think you would argue that reform is a better alternative than the option of expelling, quarantining, and then -controlling rogue Muslim states ability to make and use WMD through warfare that cripples their technology and infrastructure so they stay weak and harmless. Islamoids who have pledged to sacrifice 10-15 million Muslims to Paradise so they can send 5 million Jews to hell simply cannot be trusted with nuclear weapons or let alone to become an enemy to all global civilization. No different than other great evil movements like the Aztecs, Thuggees, Nazis having nuclear or biowar megadeath capacity.

Posted by: Chris Ford | February 12, 2006 05:36 AM

Emily Messner misses the point of the Danish cartoons, based on her following comment:

"It is interesting to note that, assuming the translations are correct, the Mohammed cartoons betray the artists' knowledge that what they were doing was provocative."

Of course the artists knew that the cartoons were meant to be provocative. According to the Editor of the Danish paper, the cartoons were meant to provoke debate over the issue of self-censorship, which has arisen when the author of a children's book was unable to find an illustrator who was willing to provide the artwork for a book on the life of Muhammad.

Most of the commissioned cartoons were benign, in that they did not depict Muhammad in a derogatory manner. A few of the cartoons did comply with the stipulation to depict Muhammad, but only as a way to poke fun at the Editors for being provacateurs. This includes the cartoon of the boy at the chalkbord, that Messner references. There, the modern day boy is labelled as "Muhammed" (just as many boys are so named in the Islamic world). However, that is not an image of the Islamic "prophet".

If one looks at the cartoon, there were at least 3 or 4 that would not cause any offense, except insofar as the violated the most extreme interpretations of the iconoclastic imperative.

Will the Washington Post now refrain from showing ALL images of Muhammad, including those that are represented by over 5 centuries of serious art, which can be found in museums and galleries?

The Post and other major papers have been craven in their response to the cartoon controversy. At the very least, the major US papers ought to have listed direct links to webpages that show the controversial cartoons, so that their readers needn't have had to spend time searching for the images that had become such a focal point in the news.
Moreover, at least one of the Danish cartoons should have been republished, even if it was the blandest of the bunch. Without seekling to cause undue offense to Muslims, it is equally important to establish a precedent that Western media will not be bound to adhere to the taboos of Islam, or any other religion. Christianity has also had its iconoclasts, and there are some sects of Christians who also believe that icons of Christ and Mary are objectionable. Are we to believe that the Washington Post will now seek to respect the sensibilities of the iconoclasts over the iconodules? Sheer silliness.

Posted by: Iconoclast | February 12, 2006 06:12 AM

A "provocative" cartoon in print medium. How can this be? It's not a handbill, a billboard, or even a 15-second TV spot.

Newspapers are purchased by individual readers who select them. In Western culture they inform or entertain but rarely if ever provoke anyone, except to clip a coupon.

Violent malefactors in the streets are the ones arousing and provoking anger. That is their intention and they are fully aware of it.

Posted by: On the plantation | February 12, 2006 09:24 AM

It's been 1,609 days since GWB said he'd catch UBL 'Dead or Alive!'

Military analysts say price of war with Iran could be severe
Nah it will be a cakewalk!

AN explosion was heard in Occupied Baghdad today and smoke was seen rising minutes later from the Green Zone, headquarters of the Iraqi Government, the US military and diplomats, witnesses said.

About 100,000 Iraqi civilians - half of them women and children - have died in Iraq since the invasion, mostly as a result of airstrikes by coalition forces!,2763,1338749,00.html
Talk about terrorism and violence!

Some whore on the CNN keeps asking why the muslims are so violent! burning down those 2 embassies last weekend. The US has bombed a few embassies in its day, no? The US has bombed a few things. We don't know how many people have been killed by smart bombs,DU, and sanctions in the last 16 years during the territorial pissings in Iraq. Somehow the US Forces have never killed anyone, according to Scott McClellan. The local news?paper has been running cartoons this week of muslims blowing up weddings, not like the US has ever bombed weddings in Iraq or Afghanistan. The hypocrisy is getting pretty glaring when it comes to force, terrorism, violence, WMDS, nookular WMDS, etc. When is this shithouse going to go up in flames? Smart bombs don't decapitate people? I'm so god damn sick of hearing talking points about Islamo Fascist Raghead Islamoid Violent Extremist Rejectionist Saddamist Sadrist Disruptors! We are the terrorists!

Posted by: CIA + Mossad + MI5 = AlQueada | February 12, 2006 11:23 AM

who cares what someone else did....

on what level do you think,

somebody else did it and they were in the opposing party makes it right for anyone, nor does trying to get people involved in your imbroglio...

your entire ability to address something is to tarbaby an issue...

you don't talk from a space of knowledge you talk from innuendo....and you only handle one side of the situation...

if you were a news reporter I'd fire you for bias...

if you were a project manager I'd fire you for lying...

if you were an intelligence agent I'd fire you for destroying the ability of people to tell the truth when they see it as you are like a chef that uses HUGE amounts of spice to hide his bad cooking...

which in this case amounts to matter how much spice you put in bullshit soup it's still bullshit....

there are a lot more really primitive muslims than there are primitive Europeans or Americans....that is true...

they haven't been through inqusitions, beheading kings, defenstrations of royalty....give them time, give them information....

but try the truth instead of your bushwacker spin based mentality, ala Bill Reich-Wiley, I'd kick his ass in a new york minute if I had control of the mikes and sound....

bully sandwiches for everyone...

the rules of debate specifically prohibit

1. appeal to emotion
2. fabrication

neither of which can you or Bill Reich-Wiley work an honest debate, you'd forfeit....

be there or be sixed.

Posted by: you clueless moron..... | February 12, 2006 02:01 PM

if you're wondering....

I hate bad writing, and I hate bad logic even more so....

I also hate cowards writing or talking heroically.....

they always yell "charge" turn their horse around and go to a hill and pull out the binocs...

they relish watching what they've created,

I did that: I made a bunch of clueless jerks go out there and get killed by talking about test tosterone based issues...

I say prevent them from breeding by catching a clue.

take them out of the gene pool, don't invite them home.

Posted by: that was to the chris ford gang... | February 12, 2006 02:07 PM

There has been a lot of speculation on this blog about Muslim moderates. Charles Krauthammer, in his recent column 'Curse of the Moderates' decries Muslim moderates as hypocritical. He points out that even though they denounce the violence and embassy burning by Islamic protesters, they still support a peaceful protest. That would be all right, he argues if they supported protests against insulting portrayals of Christians and Jews in Islamic media.

OK, point taken. Moderate Muslims, reacting to a specific set of events (Mohammad cartoons), supported protesters right to protest in the spirit of free expression. In so doing they overlooked similar insulting portrayals perpretrated by Muslims, and failed to protest those incidents. I hardly think this is an intentional omission. It is likely the result of a reactive response as opposed to the creation of a proactive statement.

If they were to organize themselves into a coherent block with a single strong voice and develop some proactive views, I would be interested in hearing what they had to say.

I would hope that they would denounce terrorism. I would hope they would denounce burning embassies, I would hope they would affirm the rights of all people to protest insults to their faith and nationality. Finally I would hope they would denounce the insulting portrayals of Christian and Jewish religions as they would denounce insulting portrayals of Islam. If such a body of statements were formed and made public in a high profile manner, I would think it would benefit our side in the war on terror, since we are the ones that stand for things like freedom of expression.

If moderate Muslims were organized and secure enough to say those types of things, they might not want to stop there. It wouldn't suprise me if they had a thing or two to say about some of the policies the Bush Administration has used to prosecute the war on terror. Perhaps they would take issue with the posibility of being arrested and held for months without being charged and without seeing an attorney. Perhaps they would question the definitions of torture penned by members of the Executive Branch's Justice
Department as justification for using certain coercive interrogation techniques (e.g. waterboarding). Would they protest secret prisons in Eastern Europe? Warrantless wiretapping? They might have good reason to protest those activities since they are the first to be under suspicion when those activities are being implemented, and if anything goes wrong or if there are any misunderstandings, they are the ones that could easily end up sitting in a cell for months on end with no access to an attorney to straighten things out.

I would also think that moderate Muslims would be feeling a certain level of intimidation by the radical fundamentalists that seem to have the spotlight in the Islamic world right now. They may feel repressed and their views unwelcome. More than that, its possible they could feel that to espouse their views within their nation could be dangerous to themselves and their families.

Does anyone besides me think that moderate Muslims might be between a rock and a hard place?

The rock comes in the form of the U.S. and other western governments poised to cart them away to who knows where(if they reside in a western country) or put them under surveillance if they seem to support radical Muslims, either by anything they say or through associations.

The hard place comes in the form of terrorists and Islamic fundamentalists that hold sway in the home countries of many of these moderate Muslims where they have family and where they would like to occasionally return for visits. Its easy to see why they might fear reprisals if they made a highly public stand.

It seems likely to me that if Muslim moderates really were to speak out on this entire conflict, they would have critical things to say about both sides, and there is a good chance that those critiques could be useful to both sides, if anyone was willing to listen. Unfortunately with uncertainty and pressure felt from both sides, I question whether they feel secure enough to develop and make the clear, strong statements that could have impact on the situation we all face.

As with many of the posts in this blog, there is a lot of speculation here, but I don't think its such a stretch to see how these dynamics could be at work. If they are taking place, I think its unfortunate because a strong, organized block of moderate Muslims could be one of our greatest allies in the struggle against radical fundamentalism that supports terrorism, the repression of women, and the destruction of Isreal.

So I've stated a problem, as I see it. Now, what could be done about it? How could we harness these potentially influencial allies. There are several things I would suggest:

1) The U.S. must hold to its ideals and values. We need to stand up for the founding principles of our nation. I was brought up to believe that the U.S. stands for human rights. We don't do torture, and we don't hold people for long periods of time without access to legal counsel. We don't set up secret prisons in other parts of the world so we can avoid our own laws. If wiretapping must occur, then do it according to our laws! If laws are inadequate, then go to Congress and get them changed!

2) The Bush Administration should be willing to listen to criticism. They should use criticism as an opportunity to engage in discussion and build trust. Listening does not mean that they have to change their policies in response to criticism. It just means they they should listen and discuss, explaining their positions in constructive ways, while considering other points of view that they might not have considered previously. It may be that policy modification will occur as a result, but not in any knee-jerk fashion. Rather, knowledge and insights can be incorporated into policy planning and how those policies are implemented and presented. Listening to criticism is a two-way street. If we listen to them, they will be listening to us as well and their positions and statements will likely be influenced by our ideas.

3) Once a greater level of trust has been established, reach out to moderate Muslim scholars and leaders beginning in the U.S. and other western countries to form some sort of "Advisory Counsel" This group could be consulted on a regular basis to hear moderate Muslim views on incidents and events and to explain U.S. goals. The Counsel could provide extra foreign policy input, much like many think-tanks do currently. The difference would be that they wouldn't only be middle eastern experts, but religious leaders and scholars with followings. Once again the two-way street of dialog could help us if we discuss issues with them in good faith, influencing them even as they influence us.

4) Along similar lines as # 3
the U.S. should sponsor a series of conferences - "Freedom Summits" - I would call them, although the name doesn't matter as much as the content. These summits would touch many more Muslims than those included in the "Advisory Counsel". Middle eastern scholars, experts, religious leaders, and political leaders could come together to hear presentations and participate in panal discussions regarding how freedom and human rights mesh with the doctrine of Islam. I suspect that western observers at these summits would learn a lot about the middle eastern concepts of freedom, and why they are often so hostile to the west. I would also hope that the participants would come away with a better understanding of our concepts of freedom and the paradoxical situations that often arise where we stand up for many things that we don't always personally approve of to protect our right to engage in our own activities.

5) Set up scholarships and funding for centers of Islamic and middle eastern studies in universities all across the nation. The more people with learning about the middle east, the greater our overall understanding as a nation and the better equipped we are to have a constructive set of policies.

In short, we need to give the moderate Muslims some daylight. Lets form some trust with moderate Muslims starting with those residing here in America. Make them a part of the policy-making process, even if its only to listen to them. By empowering them and making them feel secure enough to speak out with a higher profile voice, they can at least give Muslims a choice between the ways of the west and Islamic fundamentalism. Slowly those new choices will seep into the consciousness of Muslims everywhere and some of the fundamentalist support may be eroded. Moderates will still face the dilemma of crossing the fundamentalists within their own countries, but with a clearly defined moderate agenda as a focal point to rally around, there is a better chance that they will stand up to the fundamentalists in their midst.

Posted by: DK | February 12, 2006 02:28 PM

I was infuriated with the "holier then thou" commentary by Krauthammer. It's this venomous characteriation of "moderates" that prevents them from being effective. And, the media and the administration just needs to admit that the moderates are just plain boring. Don't do much for spicy news; don't do much for the "fight against terror" campaign. So label them apologists with surreptitiously evil thoughts. GMAFB---

Remember when there were hundreds of thousands of Muslims peacefully protesting around the world, trying to protect the women's right to wear the headscarf in France? Nobody gave a shit then, did they? There were no passionate blogs and columns about the freedom of expression for Muslim women in the Western world.

So why all the hoopla now? When the moderates protest the way WE WANT THEM TO they're not worth the paper the news is printed on or they're lying apologists waiting for the perfect time to enact their nefarious, dormant plan. When they don't react the WAY WE WANT THEM TO, they're silent accomplices and guilty by religious association of heinous crimes of terror and carnage.

So I'm incredulous when ppl jump up on the Western moral high horse when speaking about the 5 billion Muslims in the world. When did we become the standard for morality? It's laughable...

Posted by: gkc | February 12, 2006 02:30 PM

the paid bush employees...

"I love karl rove, he sold me my house which I made 10,000 dollars on in a month", and "I have these fat-burner pills that I've lost 40 pounds from in 2 weeks", and "oh yeah he sent me a golden issue of "Oral Roberts best"....."along with George Bush's personal christmas musick for 2001, "deck the halls with 9/11", "take me to the bank on time", "I'm dreaming of a White Man's Antichrist, Mass"......

go jim dandy go...

Posted by: oh, you're right this is john, or alex ham one of | February 12, 2006 02:35 PM

killing 10,000 Iraqis so he can control their oil....

Posted by: family values.... | February 12, 2006 02:59 PM

Government figures on oil use and energy are cloaked in ways to make them very difficult to interpret. But with patience and high school math skills it can be done.

Here is a hint in dealing with these figures - when you multiply exponentials, multiply the base and add the exponents. To divide, just divide the base and subtract the exponents. Example- 2 times ten to the first power (i.e. 20), times three times ten to the second power (i.e.300), equals 2X3 (multiply the base) times ten to the 1 plus 2 power (add the exponents), or 6 times ten to the third power, or 6000. Reach back, its in there)

Mr Ford's figures that the US uses about the equivalent of 40 quadrillion BTU's of oil each year is roughly accurate. About 58% of that oil is imported (that is, about 23.2 times ten to the fifteenth power BTUs is imported). About 20% of that is imported from the Persian Gulf, or 4.64 times ten to the fifteenth power BTUs per year.

So, if we don't want to import any oil from the ME we need to reduce oil use by 4.64 times ten to the fifteenth power BTU's per year. Or, as Mr. Ford put it, by four and a half quads per year, or about four and half percent of our total annual energy use. Sounds pretty daunting, no?

One barrel of oil, if burned for heat, would produce 5.8 million BTU's (5.8 times ten to the sixth power).

So, if we need to reduce by 4.64 times ten to the fifteenth power per year, and if each barrel gives 5.8 million BTU's, we need to save 8 times ten to the eighth power number of barrels of oil per year. In plain and simple terms that is 800 million barrels of oil per year.

800 million barrels of oil per year is the equivalent of 2.19 million barrels of oil per day.

How do I know I did the math right? Because other government figures say we import about 2.4 million barrels a day from the Middle East, the number given by patriot.

So, thus far, both patriot and Ford agree about how much oil we would need to save to be free of ME oil imports.

Mr. Ford gives an estimate at how much full recycling could save - one fifteenth of a quad he says. If you do the math, one times ten to the fifteenth (one quadrillion) divided by 15 equals 6.7 times ten to the thirteenth, or 6.7 trillion BTUs per year. At 5.8 million BTU per barrel of oil, that would be a savings of 11.6 times ten to the eighth barrels of oil, or 116 million barrels. Only one eighth the amount. But Mr. Ford did not cite his source so we do not know where the numbers came from. I found no such numbers on my search.

What kind of evidence can we find on line about recycling? Just by using a search engine for recycling sites? Could we save 800 million barrels of oil per year just from recycling or not?

America uses 85 million tons of paper per year. Each ton of paper recycled would save 9.05 barrels of oil. If all this paper were recycled we would save 769 million barrels of oil per year. Of course it can't all be recycled, used paper plates, sandwich wrappers, diapers, used kleenex,etc are non-recyclable.

What could be recycled? How about the 14.7 million tons of paper just for newsprint. Phone books, junk mail? So far we're up to about 170 million barrels. And the 4 million tons of office paper that still goes into our landfills, or another almost 40 million barrels (in addition to that already saved by office recycling). So at least a fourth of what we need, just in paper.

What about plastic? America empties 2.5 million plastic water bottles every HOUR, and 25 million beverage bottles every hour, only about 10% are recycled.

Recycling one ton of plastic saves about 10.2 barrels of oil. If we recycled every plastic bottle we used we would keep 2 billion tons of plastic bottles out of our landfills every year. Two billion tons times 10 barrels per ton is, hmmm. lets see, 20 billion barrels of oil. Just in bottles. This doesn't include the approximately 25% of plastic that is used for just packaging - it isn't even part of the useful product. Maybe we don't need such fancy packages after all.

Glass and aluminum are not even considered. We still trash over 40% of our cans. Ford says 75% of their cars are recyclable. Every little bit adds up.

So, without getting a lot more creative amd intrusive about recycling its unlikely we could recycle our way out of ALL ME oil imports. But we could make noticeable dent in them. Certainly enough of a dent to get their attention that we're serious that unless they control their terrorists they'll be slowly waving byebye to our business.

The coup de gras of course would come from raising CAFE standards. The technology exists to make comfortably sized, heavy enough for safety hybrid cars and minivans that get at least 40 mpg. By the time most of today's cars were too old to drive (10 to 15 years), we'd be saving over 700 million barrels.

It would in fact take a multi-faceted approach and a national will to get off ME oil imports. There would have to be a short term component, recyclng, used to get the attention of Saudi Arabia that we are serious, followed by CAFE standards and other things.

Yes, the US population is growing, but per capita consumption is falling. What would it take to continue this trend to keep our oil thirst down while new hybrid cars catch up?

It would take the government asking us to burn less oil - walk, take public transportation, cut back on recreational vehicles, etc. It will never happen because it would cut into the Bush family oil profits. The exception to this is when we begin "operation save Iran". With the taps off there will be "rationing", but with supply cut Bush and friends will be able to jack up the price to whatever they can get like we saw in Katrina.

So, Ford is right we can't get rid of ALL ME oil just by conserving. But it doesn't mean we can't get their attention as a part of a total strategy toward ME reduction.

And patriot is right - we can conserve enough today to cut imports by at least 25%, and more if the president made it patriotic to do so. And we really can be ME oil free in 10-15 years.

Shame on Bush for already backing off his SOTU goals.

Posted by: Greenie | February 12, 2006 04:51 PM

"Sequence and consequence do not always follow the same logic: The publication of the gratuitously offensive cartoons against the Prophet of Islam (you can translate that, literally, to the Prophet of Peace for Islam means peace) has already resonated through contemporary events. It will also echo far into the future. Any single day's newspaper was sufficient to indicate that simmering resentment against the presence of foreign troops in Afghanistan, for instance, found a reason to escalate into anger. There are too many questions around this conscious provocation by an irresponsible Danish newspaper, fueled by a less than comprehensible Danish government, and not enough answers.

"The first question must surely be the simplest one: Why? More than one answer has been offered. One editor of the paper appeared on European television and said, so primly that he was on the verge of sounding pompous, that the cartoons were not meant to hurt Muslims but only to represent, through an image, that a number of Muslims had become terrorists. This is the sort of argument that sounds reasonable to a neutral mind until you pare open the first layer of deception. If that was the purpose, why not use an image of Osama Bin Laden? Why use the image of the Prophet, which by itself is offensive to a faith that rejects, very strongly, any iconography or deification? We have published cartoons on Osama fairly regularly in our papers without anyone raising any objection.

"This is buttressed by the "freedom of press" argument, a view endorsed so strongly by the media of continental Europe (but not, repeat not, by British media) that sensible publications like Le Monde have reprinted the cartoons twice.

"Far be it for me to decry press freedom. It is my bread and butter. But I have yet to come across a nation or society that offers freedom of expression without the qualification of libel or similar safeguards. One of our editors asked the Danish Embassy in Delhi to let us know if they had any libel laws. They promised to get back to us. We are still waiting. But text is not difficult to find in the age of Internet. I quote from Section 266B of the Danish penal code: "Any person who publicly or with the intention of dissemination to a wide circle of people makes a statement or imparts other information threatening, insulting or degrading a group of persons on account of their race, color, national or ethnic origin, belief or sexual orientation, shall be liable to a fine, simple detention or imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years." Section 140 adds, "Those who publicly mock or insult the doctrines or worship of any religious community that is legal in this country, will be punished by a fine or incarceration for up to four months."

"This is as civilized as it gets. The reason for such legislation is not a history of abuse against Islam, but a history of virulent anti-Semitism, for which Europe holds some kind of pernicious record. I warmly applaud such laws that protect Jews from verbal and image-barbarism. There are laws in Europe by which anyone denying the Holocaust can end up in jail, and a poor British historian is in an Austrian jail at the moment for doing so. Excellent. Then why is Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen pleading helplessness? He did not have to convict anyone himself, for the very good reason that he cannot. But he could have easily referred the matter to his own country's judiciary and awaited their decision. During the long months when nothing happened over the cartoons this would have been sufficient to calm Muslim unease over the insults. The cartoons appeared on Sept. 30. There was no public reaction in October, November, December and most of January. But there was official reaction. The Saudi and Libyan governments withdrew their ambassadors. The Danish prime minister, who is desperate for a peaceful dialogue now, held no press conferences then. Eleven ambassadors of Muslim countries wanted to talk to him. They got a polite letter that they construed as a snub.

"One reason for the anger is the conviction of gratuitous bias against Muslims. It has now emerged, thanks to a story in the Guardian, that the same Danish newspaper rejected a series of cartoons against Jesus some three years ago because they were deemed to be offensive.

"It was the correct decision. Journalists like the editor of the German publication Die Welt, who has gone on record to say that the publication of the cartoons is "at the core of our culture" would not find enough freedom in his press to publish a cartoon (produced in a British newspaper, the Independent, in January 2003) showing Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon dining off Palestinian babies. I am a journalist too, and would not publish it either. But the editors of continental Europe have suddenly broken into paroxysms of moral indignation at any attempt to question their right to publish offensive cartoons against Islam. Freedom of press was not trotted out to defend nastiness against Jesus or indeed Israel's prime minister. To do so now is mendacity.

"The International Herald Tribune of Feb. 9 reported that Fleming Rose, cultural editor of Jyllands-Posten (the Danish newspaper that started the controversy) told CNN that his paper was ready to publish cartoons of the Holocaust that were being encouraged by an irresponsible Iranian newspaper, as if two wrongs added up to a right. His newspaper, however, quickly denied any such intentions.

"I was in Britain last weekend when this storm was raging. I don't think that British newspapers have any less desire for a free press than their Continental counterparts. And yet, none of them published the cartoons, although there was doubtless pressure to do so. The BBC (more accurately known as the British Boredcasting Corporation) did a typical weaselly sort of fudge, showing a bit and then removing the image so that it could claim to have it both ways, but no one was very impressed.

"Instead, newspapers from across the ideological spectrum, from the Observer on the left to the Sunday Telegraph on the right, published powerful and moving accounts of what it meant to respect the faith of the other. The British media, which is not wimpish and which can be the most aggressive in the world, can today claim the respect of Muslims because of its restraint. British Muslims today feel closer to their country.

"Hindus and Muslims have lived with one another as long as Muslims and Christians have. You can go through the literature, popular songs or journalism of India and you will not come across a Hindu writer insulting the Prophet of Islam or a Muslim writer insulting a Hindu deity. This does not mean that either has changed his faith. It merely means that in India we have a culture that respects the right of another to believe in a different creed, and values a neighbor's sentiment as much as his own.

"The Danish prime minister began to perspire only when Muslims across the world started to boycott Danish products. His object of worship is commerce, so the only retribution he understands is an insult to that commerce.

"Muslims who think that violence is the answer, have got it wrong. Violence is wrong in itself, and counterproductive. A boycott of Danish products is far more productive.

"Who did we Indians learn this from? Mahatma Gandhi, of course. His challenge to the British Empire began with a boycott of British goods. It is only when he made a bonfire of the colonizer's cloth did the world's mightiest empire begin to shiver. It is not too difficult to live without Danish cheese, or even Bang and Olufsen. One would, in fact, like to extend the logic. If you have to buy a European product, buy British. That would be a nice way of saying thank you.

"The Danish prime minister is searching for answers. But in order to get the right answers you have to ask the right questions. Here is a suggestion, Mr. Prime Minister. Do not worry about the enemies Denmark has made. Worry instead about the friends Denmark has lost.

Posted by: M.J. Akbar | February 12, 2006 05:15 PM

We here know that this was a deliberate ploy on the part of right wing Jews here to mock and humiliate the Muslims but it would have been better left undone. Now, the Muslims are putting out, often hilarious, cartoons about Jews of the type not seen since the days of Julius Streicher. They are also rejecting Danish pastry and burning their embassies.

Of course Jewish groups are screeching for federal action (of course the Bush administration has utter control over all foreign publication, or would like to think it does) and abject apologies. Like the Christians, the Jews are Special People who are permitted to dish it out but cannot take it.

In this case, our Hebrew friends have opened a real Pandora's Box and are now frantically trying to find some way to close it again. Apparently this is not to be for the Arab world is now attacking the Sacred Holocaust and from the privately-commissioned White House internal polls, these attacks are falling on very fertile ground.

He who plays with fire will most certainly be burnt, won't they?"
It seems that in rural Alabama, a number of Right Wing Christian churches have been, and are being burnt to the ground. This is not a racial act because most of the churches (Baptist) have white congregations. Black people have more respect for churches than to burn them down so they can't be stuck with this one.

The FBI has submitted a study for review here in the White House that states its growing belief that growing numbers of non-aligned Americans are becoming very angry with the rantings and attempts on the part of the Religious Right to enforce their own somewhat peculiar beliefs onto the rest of the country...probably by force or Presidential Order. Not only in Alabama but in six other states there have been burnings of Pentecostal and Evangelical churches.

The total to date is twenty seven, only a small portion of which have been given any publicity.

Further, some of the more strident ministers and pastors of these outspoken and demanding churches have received "very serious" death threats. In an atmosphere were an astounding number of equally serious death threats against the national leadership is reaching epic numbers, the orders to the media are to say nothing.

The rationale? That it would only stir up more and more such eruptions and the church people are howling for protection from the White House. "We support you and now you must support us!" reads one letter that has been making the rounds.

The Rove people now suggest that the evil gays be blamed for this by O'Reilley or the odious Ann Coulter. The Christian Right has been begging the leadership here to somehow ban homosexuality on the grounds of 'Hate Crimes' but considering the large number of very active gays in the upper levels of this Administration and the Republican Party, such an action would not go very far although the pathetic Gonzales is no doubt preparing a brief even as I write that would allow his beloved President to assassinate all the florists, hair stylists, professional athletes, Republican leaders, Congressmen, naval and airforce personnel in sight.

The White House is demanding immediate arrests of "anyone involved" even if it doesn't consist of anyone involved.

The Christian Right is now distancing itself from Bush, rightly blaming him for rising hatred against them although in their hubris, they instigated it.

Posted by: Crusade + Nookular WMDS = DAATH | February 12, 2006 05:35 PM

Mr. Akbar,

"Hindus and Muslims have lived with one another as long as Muslims and Christians have. You can go through the literature, popular songs or journalism of India and you will not come across a Hindu writer insulting the Prophet of Islam or a Muslim writer insulting a Hindu deity. This does not mean that either has changed his faith. It merely means that in India we have a culture that respects the right of another to believe in a different creed, and values a neighbor's sentiment as much as his own."

That is an interesting statement. We live in a culture that respects the same right and yet we are in conflict with at least some elements of the Muslim world, while Muslims and Hindus for the most part coexist peacefully in India (I suppose Kashmir might be considerd an exception to that rule, but there is probably more involved than Hindu vs. Muslim there. Actually, I'd be interested in your perspective there.)

Obviously Al Qaeda terrorist attacks, including 9/11 and our invasion of Iraq are fueling the hostilities right now, but how did it get to such contentiousness prior to that? I have heard many reasons over the years:

1) U.S. and western recognition and support for Israel.

2) Muslim anger at exposure to western immorality (sexuality, materialism, godlessness)

3) Independence and empowerment of western women,

4) Western meddling in middle eastern affairs - peacekeepers in Lebanon, first Gulf War, support for the Shah of Iran

5) Exploitation of middle eastern countries to get cheap oil

6) Troops stationed in Saudi Arabia after the first Gulf War

And there are probably others, but what out of all these things is the root of all resentment? I can't help thinking that some of these reasons are more significant than others.

Posted by: DK | February 12, 2006 06:36 PM

I am not a Muslim; I don't wish to be one.I don't worship Allah: I don't wish to.
I don't follow Mohammad; I don't wish to.
Islam is not a religion to me. The Koran is not a holy book to me.The star and crescent are images anyone can use. I
am not offended by the cartoons. The concept of globalism and multiculturalism
is certainly being proved unrealistic all
over the world. If we can't treat each other in a civil way with tolerance for our
differences and without malice, we will never be able to live together in a multi-cultural society. You certainly can't live
in peace with others if you are constantly
feeling offended by them and why would you want to? My perception of Muslims and Islam, from all I have read, seen, and
heard, does nothing to commend it to me.
I may be wrong,but from what I have read from the Koran, there is extreme punishment for different sins against Allah
and there is a goal to make Islam the law
of the world with different laws as to the treatment of non-muslims should this happen, and I'm not talking about any
Bill of Rights. It seems to be very repressive, intimidating, intolerant, closed, unforgiving, excessive, and reactionary. It's followers seem to be motivated by fear instead of peace and love. If all Muslims have to follow the same beliefs, why is there violence from some and not from others? If some Muslims think violence is wrong, why aren't the violent ones punished according to their laws, within their religion? Why are their Iman's preaching hate and annihilation of infidels instead of peace and understanding? Maybe the reason they have no one to speak out against these violent protests is because they really aren't against it. I would like for them to make themselves very visible and very often on a regular basis to stop this insanity, if they are against it. Until I see an effort to quell these violent outbursts, I can't believe they mean what they say. I can't believe the twelve cartoons I saw could have been the only reason for such an extreme and savage outburst.

I sense an underlying animosity toward the
president,in particular,and the Republicans
,in general, as the cause for all the problems in the world, no matter what they are.I doubt,through the annals of history,
that one single country,a little over 200 years old could claim that distinction. We bear our fair share, however, there have always been issues between different countries and their people. Some are still with us that have never been resolved. The
Muslims didn't just develop these teachings and laws since 2000. Using the
President as a scapegoat for everything wrong in the world is unreasonable, at
the least. I am not being political here
because I don't agree with most of his policies, but the extreme hate of him is
causing too much division in our country.
In that respect, those who hate him are not so different from these protestors,
only in the way they react.

I see no solution to the division between Islam and the West. They are too strong
and resolute in their beliefs. Are we?

Posted by: RedRose | February 12, 2006 06:37 PM

you know it's not about needing oil, it's about being able to predict the economy....

that goes triple for Europe....

the president of the united states is using our military to support his


not america


for being there....listen closely...


IF THE SAUDIS own as much land mass as the state of Massachusetts.....they're an investor.....

IF you're an oil magnate, right now, you're in control....




Italian, French, German, Japanese, Kuwaiti....affluent.

you are not his friends.

you he manipulates by appealing to homophobia while shipping your asses off to another country to control resources that his friends want contained while you get your ass blown apart by roadside bombs....

YOU are not his friend.

HE DIDN'T support you in vietnam, he aint' doin it now....

his daddy is all about the money, and that's what he knows too....

if you think different, LOOK AT WHAT IS GOING ON.

could you be president with his background?


you'd be laughed off the front page of any newspaper....

why did they and his opponents stay their hands?

they wanted someone who would come in and with no questions asked do what they wanted done.....

an idiot to drive the car on their bank heist....

hello hello helllooo anybody home?

Posted by: to the fellows talking about oil.... | February 12, 2006 07:10 PM

Buenos Dias Chris,

"I could almost care less what Islam does in it's own lands as long as they don't blow us up, fly planes into large concentrations of civilians, or kill tourists they admit as guests."

By "blow us up" I assume you are referring to nuclear weapons. I'm sure you will agree that geography makes that extraordinarily difficult for them to attack us here on the American continent. They would need to develop considerable submarine based delivery technology to even think about it. And, of course, who ever made such an attempt would know they would be committing national suicide. So I don't take this seriously as far as we are concerned. Israel must, Europe must, Russia must (a little), China must (a little), Australia must, and most of the Muslim world must. As for 9/11 type attacks or tourist massacres we go after the individuals or specific organizations that do it with a vengeance. In the case of the tourist slaughter we saw in Egypt, the Egyptians chose to take care of the matter. In the 9/11 matter the Taliban wouldn't so we did and are still doing; and Iraq is not part of that. It's our judgment on a case-by-case basis as to how to respond to these kinds of provocations. Personally, I think the responses during the Clinton era were not nearly implacable enough. The response to 9/11 was excellent until distracted by Iraq. There is room for argument that even in 9/11 in Afghanistan we were too risk averse putting boots on the ground, and depended too much on the Northern Alliance War Lord Club, in the end game.

Of course this is not really a solution to the problem as you outline it. It is a measured response to the specific symptoms of the problem you outline. Measured is an important word here because we really shouldn't wish to make the general problem worse.

The exceptions you list are perfectly legitimate issues, but not ours to address unilaterally. Lets face it, we have too many people here using violence on their insubordinate women, and even occasionally women on there insubordinate men to which I can personally attest. It is the function and domain of the United Nations to pursue these kinds of issues by whatever means the world can agree on. We can cooperate in its endeavors by applying appropriate diplomatic and economic pressures. If the Security Council gets involved and concludes force is required we may supply resources for that, or not, as we choose. It's a slow cumbersome process but it's all we have. I certainly wouldn't want to get into the business of telling another nation that they can't kill homosexuals while we can execute children and the mentally retarded. This is not yet a global village, it remains still a globe of villages and each village must be free to its own self-determination.

On your three solutions to the problem...
1. Submission is not an acceptable option period.

2. I agree.

3. Ain't going to happen because you are right. It would take a WMD attack on us to develop the Will. As to your future expectations, even were the lure and ecstasy so great, it would have to overcome their own desire to keep living on this earth instead of heaven. It has always puzzled me why believers (all such) don't seem to want to get to heaven as quickly as possible, but the vast majority doesn't. Odd, isn't it?

So I think we are left with: "Demand that Islam reform because elements of their norms, including many that are direct instructions from the Koran, are completely incompatible with peaceful coexistence with other peoples."

As a practical matter, this requires some dialogue, some argument with Islam over the specific elements of their norms that we might see as incompatible. It does seem to me that it does matter how you frame that dialogue. If you approach norms in a political sense you really don't care what the source of them is, you only care what the political expression of them by the nation is. If you approach norms at their religious source then you have a dialogue between religions. The former admits that the political structure of a nation selects and interprets some of its norms from its religions. The latter does not. The former admits separation of religion from state; the latter does not. If we are to have this dialogue between nations I would suggest that it is best to frame it in political terms, not religious terms. When this dialogue is internal within a nation, it is becomes their job to decide what will be the source of their political norms and how to express them. Your approach seems to require a dialogue between "The West" and "Islam". My approach requires a political dialogue between nations. It admits national differences in how they incorporate Islam into their individual political systems. It admits that reform, as you might see it, to happen, not globally, but locally. I believe it the better approach to the problem you outline, if a less dramatic one.

Not really true, in that Islam was seen as a high threat after the Armenian genocide and the mass butchery of Greeks and Balkan peoples in the years prior to WWI and during WWI.

Yes, I can agree with you here. We still have the remnants of both Armenian and Balkan affairs going on and on in those areas today. These things endure for centuries and centuries. But I still say that the creation of Israel, this relatively dinky parcel of land and relatively tiny population, has, in the modern era, been the outsized boil on the body politic of Islam, used and reused for every political purpose imaginable, and not just in the Islamic body politic but also the western body politic. It's really kind of amazing when you think about it.

"They come here, and don't do as we do. That is the problem."

I was thinking in terms of the thousands of those who have been through our colleges and universities over the years and the relatively small concentrations of Muslim immigrants in places like Michigan and so on. I would and did concede that the Europeans have a more substantial problem to the extent that they have had a difficult time assimilating their relatively larger populations of Muslim immigrants.

"I think you would argue that reform is a better alternative than the option of expelling, quarantining, and then -controlling rogue Muslim states ability to make and use WMD through warfare that cripples their technology and infrastructure so they stay weak and harmless."

No, I should be quite happy to argue for reform. We differ a bit as to how best to go about it. Independent of reform, and required whether there is reform or not, I don't like the alternative option you have spelled out. As you know, I have my own less intrusive notion of how best to take the nuclear element of WMD off the table, for all practical purposes in its entirety. Expulsion, quarantine, and control introduce significant barriers to reform as a practical matter and the option I have outlined previously removes those coercive elements with respect to nuclear weapons at least.

You probably have to add the Mayans to the Aztecs, and the Incas had there way as well. The sad truth is that evil, as we think of it, is present in all of us and has rarely not shown itself in one form or another, even in the gentle land of Cambodia. It's a really fundamental mistake to think the Nazi experience is or will be a one-time event unique to the Germans. It can break out anywhere, anytime, even here.

"I fear the only way Islam will reform is by way of infliction of a massive trauma on a level the Turks suffered - and that means devices other than peaceful dialogue..."

This is from your original post. I certainly hope that massive trauma is not the only way. So far it doesn't look all that promising in Iraq. We may have a better chance actually in Afghanistan of all places; but it is hard to say since it gets so little attention outside of catching the Great Whale. In any case, you really can't have both trauma and dialogue at the same time.

I think we have to recognize that the exceptions you outlined would seem to them as the imposition of your culture on them, just as we see in this cartoon thing the imposition of their culture on us. All of us are going to have to be tolerant of differences between cultures and for a long long time. These differences have lasted for centuries and will last for centuries. Its relatively slow going to work them out. As I said before, don't push the river, it flows by itself. That is in reality what happened with communism. It just didn't work as well. Eventually, given time, the Islamist vision you fear won't either. Iran and the newly constituted Palestinian Authority are examples of that vision. I think they deserve a chance to make it successful and while I have my opinion of the outcome, they should still be free to pursue it and decide that for themselves. The same goes for Chavez and company down in South America. They have not had great success following our political and economic model over the last 20 years so they are making their own changes. So long as they keep doing that by democratic means we really have no cause to bitch about it. So far democracy seems alive and well in South America.

Communist China is still communist, or is it? How many shreds of real communist ideology are left to it? Not much. All that is really left to it is one-party rule. It has become as capitalist as we are, as pragmatic as any. It began with Nixon's infamous trip to China just three decades ago. Give Islamists a chance to go through the process as others have.

Posted by: Cayambe | February 12, 2006 07:17 PM

Who issssss it?

Posted by: johnnyg in NE DC | February 12, 2006 07:19 PM

and interpreted it.

He was a general.

that may have influenced his interpretation.

talk about it.

get off the belief kick.

believeing is all about stagnant material...

if mohammed were alive today and trying to lead people according to "what he dreamed"

as in what happens when you're asleep, dreaming...

no one would listen to him....

try talking that way.

you know, like I was in Denver a few years ago, and this guy came up to me and said....

"I used to be addicted to drugs until I found Jesus!!!"

I said "And now you're addicted to Jesus, why don't you stand on your own feet and get out of my face...."

weak people need someone to point at and say,

"I'm like that."

why don't you be like that and quit following....

would Jesus support george or condemn him...

let me give you a clue...

he would condemn fundamentalists of all groups.....

ask for george, dick and donald be sent into the desert....permanently, after confiscating their estates as well as those of friends and families who profit from the inside information....

and throw the money changers out of congress.....the temple of your country.

Posted by: hey look, mohammed had a dream... | February 12, 2006 07:21 PM

grown ups learn to look at things and figure them out....

if you have any part of you that thinks that the muslims are

all bad,

that they don't need to be held accountable for their actions regardless of what they've done

you're missing the point, children have to learn, not by abusing them, by teaching them, sometimes by strong methodes,

but not by opinion, each child is different...

look act appropriately

and put some people in this country in jail...

before you end up in Halliburton detention camps.


Posted by: labels are good for a couple of minutes or if you're children... | February 12, 2006 07:29 PM

Cayambe, thanks for posting that link to the Mandate regarding the Palistinians. It is interesting to see this issue from the eyes of the Brits at the time, and to see how little things have changed with the Arab point of views expressed today.

However, it is a depressing subject because I believe this to be a chief basis for the distrust and hatred the Arabs have for the US and others in the West who support Israel, and their hatred for the Jews appears perpetual.

What are the "modern" origins of the idea of creating a Jewish homeland in Palistine?

Posted by: johnnyg in NE DC | February 12, 2006 07:43 PM

I mean Palestine. Sorry

Posted by: johnnyg in NE DC | February 12, 2006 07:45 PM

Greenie has some valid points. I never said we shouldn't work on conservation. It has it's uses, but environmentalists are naive on recycling and naive about the driver of energy usage that unchecked immigration and population growth are. Or, as the environmental movement is dominated by Lefties, afraid to discuss the issue of immigration altogether (making the environmentalists willing patsies of the "more immigration the better" supply side globalization ideologues, and the corporate fatcats that see immigration as suppressing all US workers wages to maximize owner profits).

1. Our experience with recycling has been mixed. Paper recycling failed to meet the market test - no one wants the stuff. Glass recycling is too labor intensive sorting out colors of glass and is energy intensive in using lots of diesel and gas transporting "returns". Plastic is replacing glass in it's most common usage in beverage bottles - and recycling plastic is tricky because of all the different plastics that have different polymer chains and different solvents, melting points, etc. You can only use old plastic to make new plastic if you have control of the feedstock polymers. In most cases you don't outside industrial manufacturing facilities. That leaves recycled plastic as limited to side things like recycled plastic wood and bird baths sort of stuff. The most economical approach is burning scrap wood, paper, and plastic in trash to energy plants where they add about 2 Quads of BTUs. Aluminum makes economic sense to recycle, but the energy used to make Aluminum comes from coal, hydro, and nuclear generation - not oil.

2. Greenie is off-mark on the power of conservation to reduce oil usage. We use considerably less oil per capita than in 1970, mainly from retiring oil-fired power plants, also getting more efficient vehicles. But all that was not only negated, America's oil usage requirements went up 35% as our population exploded from 220 million to 300 million. Kyoto is a nice idea to get stagnant or declining population Euroweenies to 1990 levels, it is impossible for us to comply with that bad joke of a Treaty given or population growth. We will add another 63 million Pedros and Abduls by 2030 unless we stop immigration and encourage immigrants to have smaller families. Each million Americans require 0.133 Quads of oil. 63 million more people will require 8.4 new Quads of oil or substitutes for oil by 2030. Or a 21% increase in oil needed. All conservation can do is dampen the demand immigration is driving us into.

And the notion that we will make Chavez or the Saudis go out of business if we only wear cardigan sweaters, "go solar", and recycle more and phase out all nuclear and coal as "bad!!" is just uneducated environmentalists talking stupid. Rehashed 70s hippie tripe. The Rise of China ensures the Saudis will sell every drop they care to produce and that Hugo Chavez will continue to have the world by the nuts and be able to fund a socialist state.

Posted by: Chris Ford | February 12, 2006 07:57 PM

Very nice work indeed. Pretty good job.

Three Points....
"If we recycled every plastic bottle we used we would keep 2 billion tons of plastic bottles out of our landfills every year. Two billion tons times 10 barrels per ton is, hmmm. lets see, 20 billion barrels of oil. Just in bottles."

I think if you go back and check you will find that it's not 2 billion tons but 2 billion pounds. If it is tons then every plastic bottle weighs just north of 16 lbs each and that can't be.

Be careful with paper because there is already a significant amount of recycling of that so your target amount of native material which can be recycled is net of the gross amount you produce.

You have the same consideration with respect to glass, steel, plastic, etc., etc.

Nontheless, we could do a much better job. But as Chris has pointed out at least a couple of times, oil is fungible and the effect of this is simply to reduce world wide demand, reduce our current accounts deficit and our trade deficit which are just awful, and reduce our costs. Now if the rest of the world would reduce their demands as well, then we might see prices falling.

Posted by: Cayambe | February 12, 2006 08:10 PM

Good pickup Cayambe. This stuff is all labelled in things like how many trees it saves or how many gallons of oil it saves and this required more math than I've used in a while, so I apologize for errors. I went back and rechecked sources.

WRT paper - Finally found a source that didn't make me do a million conversions and compare how much we make to how much we recycle already and how much of the paper was dirty diapers, etc. It says America throws away 40 million tons of recyclable paper per year. At the very consistent figure of 380 gal of oil saved per ton of paper recycled, and knowing a barrel of oil has 42 gallons, we can calculate that one ton of recycled paper saves 9.05 barrels of oil. If we're trashing 40 million tons of recyclable paper, we're importing an extra 360 million barrels of oil, almost half what we import from the ME.

wrt plastic - this data is harder to come by. Numerous places quote this 2 billion tons in the dump and atrribute it to Penn, but I cannot verify it and you are right, it doesn't make sense. The container recycling institute has some good data that we put 40 billion bottles in the landfill every year. If each bottle weighs about one ounce, that comes to about 2 billion pounds, not 2 billion tons. This comes to about 1 million tons. At about 10 barrels per ton, this is about 10 million barrels of oil.

However, bottles are only a part of the plastic waste stream. Plastic packaging accounts for 25-50% of our plastic waste. And this doesn't even account for the plastic in the 2.2 billion disposable razors we toss every year, for example. I'm sorry but I just can't find any data on how much plastic (and thus oil) we could save with a true reduce/reuse/recycle plastic campaign.

Posted by: Greenie | February 12, 2006 10:44 PM

Most definitely print the cartoons!!! Are you all crazy? Bow down to ridiculous religious extremists who are nothing but vile hipocrites? Please, put them on the front page and throw in some about Jesus and Buddha and whoever else. Since when do we let people's irrational religious sensibilities dictate freedom of speech? Sometimes I wonder if people realized the Enlightenment started over 300 years ago!!!!


Posted by: J.S. | February 12, 2006 10:54 PM

You know, we were all debating that Valerie Plame business, Libby, etc. Well do you ever start thinking "what if?" trying to sort out things that have come to light?
Libby was spreading stuff around, and apparently he was getting stuff (or giving stuff) to Rove and they were kinda both on the same mission: discredit Wilson with info re. Ms Plame. But aren't these two the epitome of company men, loyal and not likely to be generating action on their own? Now I can envision someone having an idea and handing it upstairs for "authorization" and then (to grab a sports metaphor (sorry)) taking the ball and running. Who upstairs? Mr B? Seems more likely a Mr C thing, don't you agree? Mind you, this isn't a conspiracy thing, because you agree that neither guy is likely to start this on their own without approval (just imagine how that would land on one!)

Posted by: Jazzman | February 12, 2006 11:55 PM

And yeah, I think that this stuff about the cartoons and the reaction and the relationship between government and publication of any sort needs to be seen and treated separately, but people who make threats against writers, movie directors, whomever with respect to the opinions expressed therein are not likely deeply concerned with the finer points of democratic governance. It is for us, who have learned to treasure these significant human freedoms to do what we can to preserve them.
Can we preserve them at gunpoint? In certain circumstances, yes. Can we preserve them by defending our constitutional structures and values? Definitively yes! But if we undermine our own laws saying it if for the sake of the fuzzy generality of "security" it might be strongly argued that we choose to throw away the very values we claim to represent as people. This is far less a narrow line to walk than a sharply different set of choice.
In the first case, we must cling to and defend the more risky but far more rewarding challenge of being free men and women and acknowleging our control of our nation's government. The nation's mistakes are therefore ours as are its successes. In the second case, we hand over governance to the management team, ostensibly the administrative branch and "trust" them to make the right decisions for our and the country's well-being. With an in-step Congress and a "what he said" Supreme Court, the nation seems to have chosen the latter course.
I guess Jimmy Stewart was barking up the wrong tree as Mr Smith. It doesn't strike me that the country sees itself in trouble even though fuel prices have gone up 5-fold in the past 5 years, New Orleans was nearly washed into the sea, and we now have a "long war" who's objectives and ending are unknown to anyone alive today (who's willing to talk about it). They impeached a guy who lied about having sex. No one is angry enough to impeach someone for turning his back in the storm of the century, for starting a war with no goal and no termination, for seeking to privatize public programs that greatly benefit most citizens, and a host of other acts that weaken and diminish us as a nation. Why aren't more people angry? Am I the only one who doesn't get it?

Posted by: Jazzman | February 13, 2006 12:12 AM

No, Jazzman, you are most certainly not the only one who doesn't get it. I'd like to stand on the highest mountain and scream.

Anyone watch Meet the Press today?

Posted by: patriot 1957 | February 13, 2006 12:30 AM

we're at the end of expansion.

our nation of citizens is no longer needed by the "leaders/affluent."

we had to fight to get unions, some people were killed, less than 80 years ago we had children working 12 hours in factories....

they didn't just hand it over after 1776, we had to get labor laws and womens rights laws passed...

unions? you've been told they are not good for you.....

tell that to the grocery store clerk that used to be able to make a living doing only can't get 40 hours in a store anymore, they don't want to pay the benifits.....that's been going on for 20 years or so....

federal workers have benefits?

well listen to me, YOU'RE NOT ALL OF THE PEOPLE THAT LIVE IN THE United States of America....

and don't be such a bunch of scared little you want to be living in a third world country in thirty years because you didn't want to speak up?

things will get worse for anyone that isn't a mega-millionaire and "on the team"

children still work 12 hours a day in some countries...

like they do in India for US companies....

is that what we want to teach people?

in the olde dayes,
we had enough for everybody and every man was needed.....

not so any more, there are plenty of peasants in other countries that got your jobs...

george bush is all for illegal aliens....he hires 'em, they're not a threat to him....he'd rather pay someone 4 dollars an hour over 10 dollars an hour any day of the frickin week....illegal aliens, loves 'em...laws, those are for other people...

he can use all of the serf labor that he can get...they threaten him!, you can't sneak across the border and become part of the old money crowd....why should he worry about YOUR PROBLEM?

I do know managers from India, Brazil, Pakistan that are starting to take US jobs for 2/3 of the pay....banks, computer, insurance....

and they are sending X-Rays to India for diagnostics, and HMO's are charging you the same rate...

no one cares about you.

but your vote still counts.

that is unless the voting machines are scammed...

Posted by: again..... | February 13, 2006 12:50 AM

The Plame thing.
I'll tell you. Nothing has bothered me more than this whole affair.
First, it was a cheap cynical ploy, playing dirty at its worst. Wilson was a pretty good soldier actually. He did what he was asked to do by the CIA and brought back the best information he could get. Turns out he was right. He opened his mouth about it because the administration was still trying to sell the wrong story, when they knew better. To use the guy's wife in this game is unexcuseble and when she is a CIA agent to boot it is just plain rotten. I really really don't like this kind of politics.

The second thing I don't like is Bush. He sat there at the table with Rove behind him and said to a reporter something along the lines of "I don't know who did it, I want to find out who did it, and when I find out who did it we will take care of it." Did he know then, as he spoke? I don't know. Does he know now? He damn sure knows Rove was one of the leakers and he has not taken care of that. I expected better of him and it pisses me off as much as Clinton did. God, I hate weaseling

See, I can rant too :o)

Posted by: Cayambe | February 13, 2006 01:16 AM

this is not about being respectful to Muslims. this is clearly a demonstration of how fearful media is of Muslims. the media relish Christian scandals. they paint the pro-life movement as some kind of rabid mob. they also portray themselves as the brave media willing to print the unpopular and stand up to this violent group.

we now see what the media is really made of.

doesn't anybody else see through their rationalization? they did not print because they were intimidated, scared and did not have the guts to stand up for their own principles of journalism.

Posted by: moses | February 13, 2006 08:22 AM

Due for release in early May is Oriana Fallaci's second polemic on Islamist aspirations for destruction and domination. That will be fuel for the intolerant frenzy, showering high-octane thought and logic in a historical context as replacement for simple hand-drawn images.

For those who are still morally ambivalent about facing up to intimidation and takeover of western culture, a good reading of her first book could help put some enlightened values in proper order.

Posted by: On the plantation | February 13, 2006 08:34 AM

I must admit I am of two minds on the whole cartoon imgroglio. On the one hand, I am for freedom of the press. On the other hand, I don't like to see anyone mocking God.

Truth is in reporting this, or any, war the press censors itself all the time. When a suicide bomber blows themselves up in a crowd, or an IED goes off next to a convoy, the carnage is not shown.

So the fact is that the press does draw a line. The question is not whether there should be a line, but rather where to place it.

So what is the benefit of continually reprinting the cartoons? The debate at this point is less about the content in the cartoons themselves than about the opposing beliefs of freedom and religous autocracy. 'We' believe in freedom and open debate, 'they' do not believe in freedom or democracy. That's really what the argument is about, and the riots.

So how do the cartoons advance the debate? They really don't at this point.

And to completely disagree with Ms. Messner, the likelihood of violence is exactly where freedom of the press is constrained. We have freedom of speech and of the press, but the freedom is not absolute and is specifically curtailed when open press or speech will incite violence.

Posted by: Ash | February 13, 2006 11:11 AM

it is normal for primitive people to issue edicts like...

"the mother of all wars."

when they are faced with extermination.

one well placed bomb would eradicate the oil problem....'course we'd have to find a different source of energy....but hey...

don't be an asshole about what a threat the other side is when we're the 1200 lb gorilla standing next to a penguin...

shut up and shove off.

Posted by: hello inciter of stupid western people... | February 13, 2006 12:18 PM

Uhm, you "annoy" more than you "incite" bud.

-a stupid westerner

Posted by: | February 13, 2006 12:38 PM

"Uhm, you 'annoy' more than you 'incite' bud."

-a stupid westerner

I agree. Trolls suck.

-another stupid westerner

Posted by: | February 13, 2006 01:49 PM

Your first three points were really well formulated, well and succinctly put. But I take some issue with the fourth and the conclusion.

Ash wrote:
"So what is the benefit of continually reprinting the cartoons? The debate at this point is less about the content in the cartoons themselves than about the opposing beliefs of freedom and religious autocracy. 'We' believe in freedom and open debate, 'they' do not believe in freedom or democracy. That's really what the argument is about, and the riots."

I don't think you have framed any of the debates very well. Emily originally framed it as "Should our Media reprint the cartoons". This is a debate over editorial policy and what it should be in our nation. Mr. Akbar, in his quite superb presentation, has pretty much addressed that question from his point of view; well enough that I am still thinking about it. Others, to include myself, have subsumed it into the larger debates over the clash of civilizations, Arab hypocrisy, our hypocrisy, the right to protest, etc., etc. We aren't all that disciplined :o)

To be specific, the debates aren't really about opposing beliefs of freedom and religious autocracy at all. On the "we" ("freedom of speech") side we have a debate over where to place the line as a social "norm" and/or as a legal norm, what "sensitivities" are deserving of respect either socially or legally. On the "they" side we have debates over allowable forms of protest, the right to riot, and so on.

In reality, the riots, at least those that are not staged, are fueled by feelings of insult, both genuinely religious insult and more general insult to which this gives excuse to voice. Which it is depends on the individual, and each may be motivated by one or the other or both. It has little to do with their beliefs in either freedom or democracy. Again, Mr. Akbar provides an excellent example. He is not rioting, it's true, but while clearly comfortable with freedom and democracy, he remains deeply offended, perhaps even insulted; and were he younger and less wise he might well be out there burning embassies.

Ash wrote:
And to completely disagree with Ms. Messner, the likelihood of violence is exactly where freedom of the press is constrained. We have freedom of speech and of the press, but the freedom is not absolute and is specifically curtailed when open press or speech will incite violence.

I cannot agree with this. The freedom at issue here is absolute and must remain so. Freedom of the press, freedom of speech cannot be constrained by violence or the threat of it. To do so is to invite violence for the very purpose of constraining this freedom. Each publisher, each individual, must decide this for themselves, must judge for themselves what their responsibility is, act accordingly, and suffer the consequences of their judgment. This is what individual freedom is and the consequences come with it. Neither you nor I nor the state can substitute our judgment for their individual judgments.

Posted by: Cayambe | February 13, 2006 02:33 PM

It is my understanding that the "Islam is the Religion of Peace" interpretation is incorrect. The word Islam is derived from the Arabic word al-silm which means "submission" or, more importantly, submission to Allah.

Al-Salaam is the Arabic word for Peace, though I would be delighted to hear a textual explanation why I have it backwards.

For Mr. Akbar to say: "The publication of the gratuitously offensive cartoons against the Prophet of Islam (you can translate that, literally, to the Prophet of Peace for Islam means peace)" feels like kind of a rookie mistake. I don't fault Chris Ford for repeating the misnomer that Islam means peace, but I would Mr. Akbar.

Posted by: Will | February 13, 2006 02:56 PM

This cartoon fracas will quickly die away. The American press has hyped it up for all it's worth. Being that the hype's mission has been accomplished (all of Islam has been equated to crowds of violent, intolerant protestors now), and that hype is hard to maintain for very long anyway, this is going to rapidly disappear from the headlines and the national conscience. I remain convinced that for a handful of obscure Danish cartoons to suddenly become such a huge story in America, that there is some sort of agenda behind how this all went down. Rarely has something so trivial become so hyper-inflated by the American media. If it wasn't for the Islamophobic element to the entire affair, this would have never gotten the level of exposure it did in America. At least Charles Krauthammer came out and said deliberately what the rest of his colleagues in the press have been begging as an issue from the get-go with this cartoon story: that the stereotype of Muslims as dangerous radicals is true. Well, it isn't true: Nearly ALL of the violent demonstrations that the US media ridiculously overexposed and hyped-up have now been exposed as falsely orchestrated by the governments of the countries they occurred in. Those governments wanted to incite violence so as to distract from their unpopularity with their own people. Governments such as Iran and Syria provided the pre-fabricated, bogus riots, and the American media bought into it hook, line, and sinker, knowing that such footage could tap into the American public's fear and ignorance of Islam. The Bush administration and the State Department have fortunately done a good job at exposing the fraudulent riots as fake. Too bad the media hasn't been equally forthcoming on this whole matter. The Washington Post certainly hasn't.

Posted by: ErrinF | February 13, 2006 06:25 PM

M.J. Akbar,

First, allow me to thank you for this superb post. It is well worth a good deal of thought; it is very persuasive and very much a challenge, for me anyway.

I agree with you that this affair will echo well into the future. I would add however, that it is itself an echo of the past, as you have recognized with your immediately subsequent example of the reactions in Afghanistan.

The first question to which you address yourself is why this Danish paper did what it did. Like you, I have heard a variety of answers, none of which seems entirely coherent to me either. Personally, I find no particular need for an answer to that question as I grant them an absolute right to publish what they did, however stupid or outrageous it might have been. What comes as something as a shock to me are Sections 266B and 240 of the Danish penal code, which I trust you are not quoting out of context. Whether I agree with such legislation or not, and I do not, is not the point. It exists and perfectly frames the Muslim anger against the same bias and discrimination that spawned this very legislation; it perfectly frames the continued hypocrisy in Danish as well as general Western society.

I would be stronger than thee in saying what action the Danish Prime Minister ought take. I would say he "should" have referred this case to the judiciary, that he had a duty to do so, that in view of the statute, he has no other option. It is perfectly reasonable to infer from these facts and the fact that he has not done so, that this is prima fascia evidence of hypocrisy, nor is it gratuitous hypocrisy. I still take exception to your characterization of this legislation as especially "civilized" or that it is "excellent" for someone to be imprisoned for denying the holocaust (which I do not deny).

I must agree with your assessment of the hypocrisy of the Continental European press if the laws you refer to are specific as to anti-semitic as one of Austria's is. Indeed I object to the Austrian law on the holocaust on two separate grounds. The first is that it treats one religion differently from others; the second is that it is an unwarranted infringement on the right of free speech. Both are obnoxious to me.

You then write the following...
"Hindus and Muslims have lived with one another as long as Muslims and Christians have. You can go through the literature, popular songs or journalism of India and you will not come across a Hindu writer insulting the Prophet of Islam or a Muslim writer insulting a Hindu deity. This does not mean that either has changed his faith. It merely means that in India we have a culture that respects the right of another to believe in a different creed, and values a neighbor's sentiment as much as his own."

Permit me to wonder if this is not a bit rosier than reality. I have read about numerous outbreaks of religious animosity, some rather bloody, in India over my lifetime (which overlaps that of Mahatma Gandhi), indeed, some of them relatively recently. Certainly the conflict over Kashmir is fueled by both national and religious sentiments. Whether these found expression in this particular way in journalism on either side, I don't know, but it would surprise me if they did not find it somewhere. Were not one or more Holy Mosques destroyed in India?

I can absolutely agree with your remedies. These are more effective, as has been shown by the many who have been inspired by Gandhi, not the least of which is our own Martin Luther King.

What has troubled me most is reading your piece together with Krauthammer's current WP piece, "Curse of the Moderates". In this piece his point of attack is on "moderates" whose position he characterizes as "I share your rage but don't torch that embassy". Undoubtedly he would see you as a "moderate". He then goes on to say..."It is fraudulent because, while pretending to uphold the principle of religious sensitivity, it is interested only in this instance of religious insensitivity." He goes on to point out various Muslim sources of daily invective of the same nature as was published in Denmark.

But he doesn't stop there. He then attacks our moderates... "And these "moderates" are aided and abetted by Western "moderates" who publish pictures of the Virgin Mary covered with elephant dung and celebrate the "Piss Christ" (a crucifix sitting in a jar of urine) as art deserving public subsidy, but who are seized with a sudden religious sensitivity when the subject is Muhammad." You might tell from his wording that he takes the same affront you do at publishing such material so offensive to Christians. Finally in conclusion he demands of our moderates that they republish the Danish cartoons to defy the rioters and defend our right to free speech as the Europeans have more courageously done.

I suppose you might excuse me for being rather confused as to what a moderate really is other than, without fail, exhibiting the quality of hypocrisy.

It strikes me as just a little absurd that both you and Mr. Krauthammer, who actually have very similar views on the basic issue of publishing things that are an affront to religious sensibilities end up on opposing sides.

What I personally find in this is a great deal of comfort in my own extremist view of our and my right to free speech. It helps that I have no religion to offend. But having none, I can hardly render an opinion on any without potential offense. I am, after all, a true infidel by any religion's measure. I am unwilling to cede to any state or person my right to express my mind on this or any other matter. Whether I do so and how I do so is my choice. Our constitution carries within it an accord that each citizen under it has this same right. To keep this right we must tolerate the expression by others of what might offend us. Our Supreme Court has placed certain practical limits on this right, but quite narrowly drawn, as they should be. In our nations relatively short history this right has become a thoroughly ingrained element of our culture, one which would be among the very last we would ever give up.

Lacking legislative remedies to deal with offensive expression, we rely on a combination of social norms, social pressures, and the market. In the present case, in the back of every editors mind, denied or not, is the consideration of whether publication will add or lose readers or advertisers in the market they serve. There are of course many other considerations as well. Each editor or publisher is free to make their own decision as they choose and we are not going to change this. It is therefore inevitable that some publisher somewhere will publish either this or something else even more offensive at some point in time and we will not prevent it, cannot prevent it without changing our constitution.

As a true infidel I still remain a human being and I do not deliberately mock, offend, caricature, or insult the religious sensibilities of other human beings. It's neither considerate nor polite to do so and I disapprove of it. Most Americans basically share that view, most publishers do. But these remain individual decisions by each of us, and some will decide otherwise. I must live with the consequences of my decisions, they must live with the consequences of theirs. We must each tolerate the differences.

This leaves us with something of a quandary, doesn't it? It is a basic conflict between our basic norms, one not likely to be fully resolved for generations to come. We live in a world in which this conflict can manifest itself instantaneously, where a Saudi Mullah in a tent in the desert can read on his laptop a newspaper in Portland, Oregon and fly into a rage at the insult he sees, where a Jew in Germany can read on his laptop a newspaper in Palestine and fly into a rage at the insult he sees. If we are to protest every occasion we shall all spend our lives on the streets shouting slogans and waving or burning flags. We cannot sustain this.

I am left with the old and reliable dictum. When you visit your friend's house, you respect his customs. When your friend comes to yours, he respects your customs. In another form, when in Rome, do as the Romans do. What happened in Denmark really should have stayed in Denmark.

As I said at the outset, this expansion beyond Denmark is an echo of the past. The breadth and intensity of the reaction would not be there but for the past, as much as we might prefer to explain it as "manipulated" for opportunistic gain.

I think we are as a nation pushing too hard where we ought not in the Middle East in particular. As I read your post and read the sections of the Danish penal code you cited I must ask myself whether our more freewheeling freedom of speech travels well. It strikes me that it may, or it may not. I know my daughters are not so enamored of it as I, so perhaps we will find ourselves accepting the Danish type of constraints 50 years from now. In any case it seems most arrogant to assert it over others, as arrogant as others asserting theirs over us. This extends itself to our democratic thrust, well intentioned or not. I trust the pendulum will swing once more and we will move back towards offering our values and ideas instead of imposing our values and ideas. Perhaps that will help keep Danish issues in Denmark.

Posted by: Cayambe | February 14, 2006 12:44 AM

The great cartoon debate continues on while the violence continues to erupt as rabid islamic zealots try to make much adeu about nothing. Aljazeer's puts video of terrorists cutting off the heads of captives on the air, that's fine and dandy, but ALLAH forbid we should draw a cartoon that represents him in a negative light. In short, the *supposed* moderate Muslim's and Islamic believers need to take back the control of their religion, and begin policing their own.

I ran the cartoons on my blogs, for those of you who have not seen them. I did this to support Denmark, and freedom of the press. Furthermore, to make a point, I started a contest seeking more of these types of cartoons, as I believe these radical fringe groups in the middle east, and those moderates who condone their behaviors by failing to speak up against them need a wake up call, and if cartoons can be used to make a point that terrorism and hatred are not and should not be the cornerstones of Islam, then I support more such cartoons being created by artists, and published in our press.

Are the cartoons OFFENSIVE? I hope so, and I hope that the Muslems of the world take such offense that they wake up, realize it is time THEY clean up their own houses of worship, rein in their rabid lunatic fringe, take back their own religion and restore it to a place of honor. For now though, give me more pictures of Allah calling of Jihad while wearing a bomb hat while eating a big greasy pork chop.

Pinto Bean

Posted by: Pinto Bean | February 15, 2006 01:04 AM


Now that's what I'm talkin' about!

An excellent and thought provoking response to Mr. Akbar. This the kind of dialog we need more of. I hope we hear from him again.

I, like you, wondered about Kashmir. My limited understanding of that situation is that the largely Muslim population of Kashmir feels more affinity with Pakistan and they would prefer being part of that country. The Indian government as a whole, including both Hindu and Muslim representation, is holding on to Kashmir while Muslim radicals with tacit assistance from Pakistani groups, are agitating to break away from India and either form an independent nation or to join Pakistan. Maybe Mr. Akbar doesn't consider it a Hindu - Muslim conflict.
As for Mr. Krauthammer, you pointed out this excerpt from his column:

But he doesn't stop there. He then attacks our moderates... "And these "moderates" are aided and abetted by Western "moderates" who publish pictures of the Virgin Mary covered with elephant dung and celebrate the "Piss Christ" (a crucifix sitting in a jar of urine) as art deserving public subsidy, but who are seized with a sudden religious sensitivity when the subject is Muhammad."

What moderates is he talking about? I consider myself a moderate. I am all for freedom of expression. That doesn't mean I agree that grants from the National Endowment for the Arts should be used to fund art of the type he describes. Does that mean I have a "conservative" point of view in that sense? I suppose its all a matter of perspective, but it seems to me that he is painting a little too much territory as "moderate". To my viewpoint that is a "liberal" stance.

I was also suprised at some of the laws Mr. Akbar described. My only conclusion is that the legacy of WW II and the holocaust is much more powerful in Europe than in the U.S.

Here is a trend that I see. With the Internet and the explosion of cable and satellite TV and radio stations along with other types of media, more and more niche audiences are being developed that subscribe to specific viewpoints. More and more editors and publishers are willing to print materials offensive to some because it plays to their audience and isn't considered offensive by them. Also, in some of this new media there is less editorial control over content than there has been in the past in traditional media outlets due to less professional and/or less traditional management. Meanwhile, as you point out, anybody from anywhere in the world can browse along through the Internet or flip some TV or radio channels and see or hear some of these materials, pictures, diatribes, etc and become offended. We in the U.S. are fortunate to have a tradition of tolerance for free expression that allows us to deal with the fallout from this trend better than places in the world that don't have that tradition. Perhaps even we have struggled with some of the fallout from this trend as evidenced by the rise in partizanship and contentiousness in the political arena.

The old "when in Rome so as the Romans do" is indeed a reliable dictum that serves to maintain civility in this world. I would add that if you don't like what they do in Rome, don't go there. Also, dishonor can only come from within. It is a mistake to merge the concepts of dishonor and insult.

OK, thats enough for me, I'm going back to bed.

Keep up the good work,


Posted by: DK | February 15, 2006 02:43 AM

DK wrote: (on Feb 12, 2006 2:28:00 PM)
“There has been a lot of speculation on this blog about Muslim moderates.”

There sure has been. I’m not sure just who these “moderate” people are. In the context within which we normally speak here, there are really two forms of moderation and two forms of extremism. First we have the religious spectrum and that divides even further into clerics and non-clerics. “Islamists” come in all shapes and sizes. We have those who think a theocracy is how a nation should be organized. Iran approaches that, having an Ayatollah as the Supreme Leader but also having an elected president and legislature along with committees/councils appointed by one or both. It is the only Islamic republic I’m aware of, but lets label it extremist. Interestingly enough, over in Iraq, Ayatollah Sistani is not partial to that form. He seems to think the clergy should stay out of the dirty business of government and just stick to guiding it along the proper path from the outside. To him guiding means laws that are passed must be true to the Quran, within the framework of the Quran. I guess you could call this relatively more moderate. The spectrum of the faithful come sort of like ours, the extremely faithful, the mostly faithful, the partly faithful, and the downright sinful. And of course there are the differences between the two main branches of Islam, the Sunnis and the Shia. The second dimension is their attitude towards government formation. Some want the Iranian form where the clergy are actually at the head of the government, i.e. have power within or over the government. Others want a secular government structure, such as Egypt and the Palestinian authority and Pakistan have. Even with a secular government they may want the law to be Quran coherent or not. So some can be both extremely religious and politically moderate at the same time. Similarly one can be moderately religious and extremely political at the same time.

Lets take Al Aqsa Brigade, which is allied to Fatah, the secular party in Palistine. These guys are moderately religious and political extremists with suicide bombers and other vicious tools. Then there is Hamas which is now an Islamist party shoehorned into a secular structure of government. They too have their political/religious extremists with suicide bombers and other vicious tools. The rest might be called political moderates and religious extremists. Its all kind of nuts to think in these terms.

You are better off dividing them into two groups, the smaller group so committed to their cause that they will take up weapons of any kind and fight until death for it, and the larger group that is more or less willing to support the fighting group. Of course there are many groups of both kinds and they differ among themselves by quite a bit actually. It really doesn’t matter that much whether a groups motivation is religious or nationalistic; your primary problem is first to alive. The support groups are always easier to talk with than the fighting group, assuming you are willing to listen to and reason with them. Fighting groups can’t fight very well without support groups. Were not all that great in our listening skills.

Well DK, that was the start of my response to your long post 2 days ago. I went to bed myself at that point. Of course it was your post that sent me to Krauthammer and you already know what I did with that material, so I’ll go on to pick up on the other points in your first post above…

DK….“If moderate Muslims were organized and secure enough to say those types of things, they might not want to stop there. It wouldn't suprise me if they had a thing or two to say about some of the policies the Bush Administration has used to prosecute the war on terror.”

They have many things to say, but its not limited to the Bush Administration. “Moderates”, meaning support group, are generally older than “extremists”, meaning fighting group. They have deeper historical memories and have been watching our behavior for 20, 30, 40 even 50 years. It makes them skeptical and justifiably so. The juxtaposition of Abu Ghraib and our detention and interrogation policies together with the white knight image we paint of ourselves is nothing new. We claim to want to “spread democracy”, but they remember the times we overthrew democratically elected governments, Mosadegh in Iran, Allende in Chile, etc., etc. in favor of dictators. We have our own “holocaust” we tend to deny; not to suggest they are equivalent but to point out we really can’t deny and avoid our history either. Lets face it. Our Iraq adventure hardly contradicts this history either. Does not the absence of WMD make it look like we made it up as a pretext for invading Iraq? Of course it does. Even a big chunk of our own population believes that. Its tough to successfully talk to moderates when your actions are at such odds with your words.

That gets me to your numbered points of action.
1. I agree with you completely, the whole paragraph. I do think, however, that we ourselves need to rediscover just what our ideals actually are, what our political values actually are, in the context of the constitutional debates at the founding of these united states. I do think we have lost touch with that as a nation.
2. They should, but its not going to happen in time to do much good. Iran is already upon us. It will have to wait for 2008, and I hope members of both parties will be much more thoughtful than usual about their primaries this time.
3. We are not going to get a greater level of trust until we change our behavior. At this point I would be happy if we could just get the trust trendline going up instead of down. Its going to take a while in any case.
4. Same as 3.
5. Good idea. I would further suggest we look at how Islam is treated in our elementary and high school history texts, if it is.

Actually, the Muslim organizations here have been quite helpful with very little publicity.

Your Feb 15, 2006 2:43:58 AM post…….

About Kashmir…
It is at least majority Muslim, fairly good sized majority as I recall. The problem goes back to the Brits, always seems to. Under the Brits, India, Pakistan, and Kashmir, were all one collection of states with Maharaja’s under British rule. Gandhi forced the Brits into delivering independence and as it approached India and Pakistan couldn’t live together and split. In the turmoil the Brits and the Indians maneuvered Kashmir over to India, Pakistan and India fought to a standstill over it, splitting it in half roughly (so called “line of control”) and the beat goes on since they have never been able to come to terms on it. Truth be known, a lot of Kashmiris would like to get both India and Pakistan out of Kashmir. I’m sure Chris could tell the story more fully and accurately with dates and details. Its enough to say a lot of blood has been shed and it remains a flash point between two nuke states.

I’ve pretty much given up on labels like moderate, Republican, Democrat, and so on. By my definition of conservative and liberal, which you may have run across, I am a conservative, very. But in the public world of today’s labels I would say I am just an iconoclast and leave it at that. I generally try to respond the ideas people put forward, and ignore what they speculate about other peoples motives for their ideas.

“I would add that if you don't like what they do in Rome, don't go there.” Good addition.

When you have time, go to the archives and pick the Jan 16-22 selection then go to the Iran Iran so far away (I couldn’t stay away) thread (it’s a biggie, over 400 comments).
See what (I)nsider and Insiders barber had to say from inside Iran. It will give you a good feeling to see that there really are a lot of quite rational and quite sensible people over there, not so different as me and thee.

Now I got to go to bed.
Take care and keep up the good work yourself.

Posted by: Cayambe | February 15, 2006 05:44 AM

Wow, thats a lot of stuff to think about. It will take me a while to respond to it all. I will definitely look up the Iran topic. That must have taken place before I came along.

Posted by: DK | February 15, 2006 12:50 PM


Reading through the Iran topic really got the wheels turning in my head. The debate at times took me back to the Cold War days. Maybe the Cold War isn't over. Maybe there was just a 15 year lull like the eye of a hurricane. The back side of the storm is going to hit soon, now with new and more players in the mix.

Back during the Cold War U.S. foreign policy was based on containment of Soviet sponsored Communism. There were hotspots that erupted (e.g. Korea, Vietnam, Afganistan for the Soviets), but mostly it was behind the scenes manuvering and government toppling through covert actions. The consistency of the policy during that time was founded in Soviet opposition. Unfortunately that led to many circumstances where U.S. actions were in contradiction with our value of democratically elected governments. The coup that toppled Mossadeq as Iranian prime minister was the first of such actions. As you are well aware Allende was deposed through CIA manipulation in Chile, causing his suicide, and several other similar actions took place during the Cold War. I have to wonder now how many of those operations were really necessary to end up with the final result that was achieved in 1989. I don't think there's any way to really know.

A lot of people, Newt Gingrich for one, give Ronald Reagan the lions share of credit for victory in the Cold War due to his rhetoric and the arms race he pushed the Soviets into. That could be debated endlessly . I think timing had a lot to do with it and that over the 30 year period before Reagan, the U.S. won the technological and economic contest. Reagan took advantage of those conditions. I do think Reagan gets credit for recognizing the conditions and pressing our advantage. Gorbechev also played a very important and courageous part, because he knew he was not destined to be a victor based on the actions he took. Through Perestroika and Glasnost he had to know he would be seen as bending to the will of the U.S. rather than bending the will of the U.S. to the USSR. Still he did what he thought was best for the ultimate survival of his country. But now I'm off on a tangent.

Anyway, if Gingrich and others are correct or even partially correct, how necessary were many of the covert actions that characterized much of the Cold War? Also what does that have to do with Iran?

While I believe that the nature of the Cold War, and perhaps the nature of our educational system, result in many U.S citizens being poorly informed of our foreign policy actions and the history of that time period (and I must admit that I too suffer from this affliction to some degree), many in other nations are not so ill-informed. This is especially true of citizens of those nations that were the targets of the manipulations. In many cases, including the two examples mentioned above, the toppled governments were those that had been put in place through legitimate elections. Those governments embodied, as all elected administrations do, the hopes and dreams of millions of people. When, in the process of toppling governments and substituting leadership loyal to U.S. interests, the new leaders turn out to be tyrants, those people become embittered and cynical of stated U.S. values. The resentment lasts a long time. I suppose these are the people that you categorize as the moderate support group with long memories. President Ahmadinejad of Iran is a crossover between that group and the more militant group you describe as the extremist fighting group. He has the long memory from back in the mid to late 70's during the return of Khomeini and the ousting of the U.S. supported Shah, and the experience with the Revolutionary Guard during the war with Iraq during 80's to give him some credibility with the extremist/fighting group. Some said that he was part of the group that took over the US embassy in 1979, but according to Newsweek, that turned out to be false. Apparently there's some investigation into whether he was involved in terrorist operations in Europe during the eighties, but no conclusive conclusions yet.

He does paint himself as a religious zealot, appealing to the mullahs in true command of the country. Just how much he believes in all that he says, especially about preparing for the return of the 12th mullah as a central theme of his administration, is questionable. I believe the mullahs in charge see him as someone they can use to help stem the tide of reform in Iran. He has also managed to generate some nationalistic pride associated with the nuclear research issue. The posts by Insider and Insiders barber seem to bear that out. They, especially Insider, seem to defend the nuclear ambitions and maintain that they are for peaceful purposes (nuclear power), even as they both acknowledged the repression of the regime they live under. It was also interesting to note that they expressed admiration for the U.S. based on the values of freedom and democracy, but also, significantly based on some personal contacts (specifically the missionary one of them described). And yet after expressing those thoughts, they asked that the U.S. stay out of the affairs of their country.

I have to agree with both you and ?Dogflop? (Is that you?) that mystical/prophetic rhetoric tends to be for whipping up support while the actual decisions of how to run a state are based on much more practical considerations, even among the clerical ruling class. Getting caught up in a war of extremist words, prophecies, and mystical beliefs is dangerous. To react emotionally to such things is playing straight into the extremists hands since they gain power in a polarized environment.

It will be interesting to see what happens over time when extremists gain power in some of these countries. The best current example is Hamas in Palestine. When these types of groups get into power and are actually in a position of accountability, will their radical and inflamatory rhetoric continue? Will their policies actually live up to the big talk? Or will they discover that in order to survive politically and to avoid risks to their country and their citizens that they now represent, they must back off and act with more civility than they have ever displayed before through their talk and activities prior to assuming the power and responsibility they have now. Perhaps Iran will go through a similar dynamic, especially if they do get the A-bomb. Of course it's the risk that western powers object to. Its easy for me and others to say "Oh the Iranians would never strike first. MAD is too great a deterrent." It is simply irresponsible to ignore the nasty rhetoric and allow Iran to get the bomb without lifting a finger to stop them. If that occurred and they did nuke another country, we would be judged for our inaction, and possibly for the deaths of our allies and even our own citizens.

So what is to be done? Before that question is answered, we need to explore what our role is in the world and in this situation. This was a subject of frequent discussion in the Iran topic. I saw the U.S. referred to as the only Superpower left in the world, and in at least one post the U.S. referred to as the "new Rome". I must make some observations on those assessments. The U.S. is the most powerful nation in the world. We may be even described as a Superpower - even the last one left in the world, but I believe this description is deceiving. We have limitations and that must be acknowledged. No matter how great our technological edge, long term our capabilities and staying power are based on our manpower. The numbers of troops available to occupy territory and perform missions day after day for years on end. Our current military has its hands full trying to occupy Iraq and Afganistan at the same time. The only way we could significantly increase our capability to impact other parts of the world while maintaining our current activities is to institute a military draft. As for the U.S. being the new Rome - not even close. We do not see ourselves as an imperialist nation, even if other nations in the world call us that. We don't invade and occupy other countries on a consistent basis, subjecting them to our taxation, recruiting their men and training them for our armies, then sending them out to fight our wars in other lands. We don't install governors and kings in foreign lands, requiring them to swear fealty to our leaders in Washington. If we made overt attempts to do such things, I believe Americans would not stand for it. That is not how Americans view this country. We are at our best when we are defending ourselves. The further afield we get from that the more Americans will resist. Even events of recent years bear that out. The only reason we preemptively attacked Iraq was that it was sold as a defense against the possiblities of WMD falling into the wrong hands. When that fell through the link to the War on Terror has been continually reinforced from every angle possible. As time goes by though, Americans are getting weary of Iraq and the popularity of the war has diminished. For this reason, I believe the "Bush Doctrine" needs to be revised. Right after 9/11 Bush announced that the U.S. would undertake preemptive strikes on terrorists and the nations that harbor them. It was used as justification for our attack in Afganistan, seen by the world and certainly by America as justified, and later as justification for the attack on Iraq. The latter was not justifiable to a significant portion of the world, and was to most of America at the time. It isn't seen that way by a majority of Americans now.

I remember when the Bush Doctrine was announced just after 9/11, I was in agreement. I look back on it now and realize some of the assumptions I was making. My assumptions were that if we made any preemptive strikes it would be a quick strike to neutralize threats, and then we would get out as fast as we came in. That is not how the Bush Doctrine has been used in Iraq. I believe the Bush doctrine needs to be revised to specifically leave open the possibility of a preemptive quick strike against an eminent threat, but specifically reject the possibility of a preemptive invasion with the intention of occupying, changing a regime, or otherwise keeping troops on the ground in an invaded country, unless we are part of a UN-backed operation with international participation.

The one situation that isn't self-defense where I believe we are justified in intervening with military action is a genocide situation. It would be best in such a situation if the intervention could be internationally sanctioned through the UN. If we should be anywhere right now we should be stopping the genocide in Darfur, and we should be there with other nations as part of an international effort. Otherwise if a nation is acting in a threatening manner the US along with the rest of the international community should respond in a measured way. The measured response should be based on actions taken, not rhetoric.

In terms of nuclear powers, as far as MAD vs. AD goes, I find myself struggling with the concept of Assured Destruction (AD). My understanding of AD as opposed to Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD) is that in AD all nuclear powers would sign a treaty stating that if any member makes a first strike with nukes, that all the others would agree to gang up on and strike the offender with all their nukes, thereby assuring their destruction for that crime. In theory it sounds good, but there are too many what ifs that could undermine the agreement. What if it wasn't clear who struck first, or if it was the result of some rogue group within a country that gained control and launched. Do all nuclear powers have the same capabilities and range? Also, would there be enough trust among members that they would all live up to their agreement, especially when it could mean a country launching a retaliation strike against a traditional ally. I have a feeling that the U.S. would end up being looked at as the primary enforcer. Imagine the fall-out (both literally and figuratively), if we were faced with a confusing situation and suddenly it was up to us to sort out who did what and whether we should live up to our treaty and launch against a country that did not actually launch against us.

I was surprised that in all those 400 + posts (I didn't read them all) about a topic related so closely to nuclear arms, I never heard any reference to the recycled Reagan era Star Wars program - what GWB calls the missile defense system. In reality this is the solution that in theory I like the most. The problem is that many people believe it is nothing but a defense industry boondoggle, and tests have shown inconsistent results at best. Its too bad because it would be great to make nuclear warfare obsolete. The closest anyone came to discussing a system like that was SandyK's frequent references to a Dyson sphere. While I think talk like that isn't constructive for the short term, I like that kind of thinking for the long term. I might be centuries before something like a Dyson sphere could be created, but I believe answers for humanity lie in a combination of technological developments and human societies developing the discipline to manage ourselves through conservation and wise use of resources. I also believe that humanity can achieve anything and overcome all obstacles whenever we apply our collective focus. I would further add that if a Dyson sphere was possible to build, that a Star Wars style missile defense system would be possible as well, and could very well be a stepping stone toward the development of the Dyson sphere or something akin to it.

Anyway, what to do about Iran now:

1) Follow the advice of some of the bloggers, particularly Patriot 1957 and Greenie and begin serious efforts at becoming energy, fuel, and plastic production self sufficient. This will bring us to a situation where our decisions can be made without our arms twisted so far behind our backs, so to speak
2) Take some of the actions I have mentioned in other posts to begin establishing a level of trust and good faith without sacrificing any of our values or positions (e.g. Islamic advisory council, Freedom Summits, bolstering middle eastern studies in colleges and high schools)
3) Go to the UN and get a resolution passed for a series of measured responses that are designed to move Iran toward a more reasonable stance in the world and shows them that if they act like a responsible nation they can be treated like a responsible nation.
4) Refuse to respond to the rhetoric of President Ahmadinejad, but instead find ways to communicate with the mullahs truly controlling the country, possibly through an intermediary (Sistani?) that can get them to listen. Explain to them, not that Iran simply can not be allowed access to nuclear technology, but that the rhetoric of President Ahmadinejad makes it difficult for the UN to trust the intentions of Iran with nuclear power and that under the present circumstances the UN will resist in all possible ways, Iran gaining access to nuclear power. In other words leave open a possibility for less resistance to Iran's nuclear goals if Iran shows concrete progress at moderating its stance toward other nations - By doing this it will be seen just where the ruling clerics of Iran stand. Its known they are conservative, but there is a difference between conservative and warlike. If they stand by Ahmadinejad and encourage his rhetoric, they will seem more interested in gaining the initiative in a fundamentalist movement within the Islamic world against the west. If they look to shut him up or even remove him for someone else, they will seem more interested in the practical aspects of becoming a nuclear power for their own protection and leverage in the world , but not as a power play to lead the Islamic world in a great conflict vs. the west (I am betting on the second of the 2 possibilities).

If I am wrong and the Iranian leaders are more fanatical than I think, and if they truly do see this as the time for the beginning of a great conflict between the Islamic culture and the west, then maybe a conflict is in the offing. The UN with full U.S. support should then resist as vigorously as possible Iran's access to the technology and materials it needs to build bombs. This may be fruitless, but it should be tried. If they do manage to develop the bomb, then we may be in for a part in Cold War II. If you think about it it could be argued that there already a small scale Cold War already going on in the eastern Middle East between India and Pakistan.

Using our military to stop Iran from producing a bomb may have the short term effect of halting their progress, but it will certainly further an image of a U.S.-led west abusing Muslims and the concept of an Islamic war against the west will gain more converts. This would play straight into al Qaeda's hands, and into the hands of those that believe in Chris Ford's assessment that a major trauma may need to occur before this conflict can be resolved. Its my belief that this possibility can be avoided with smart diplomacy and a realistic evaluation of needs that does not subscribe the evilest of intentions onto a nation for its activities.

I choose to believe that through smart diplomacy we can still relax the situation and possibly diffuse it. Iran may eventually get nuclear power and nuclear weapons, but if they can exhibit restraint and can show they are able to join the group of responsible nations that currently have nuclear arms, we shouldn't be immediately alarmed. As has been pointed out, there is likely no greater danger in Iran having nuclear arms than there is with Pakistan having nuclear arms.

This isn't a very satisfying answer because there is too much up in the air, however following the principles of seeking to understand motives and context (and focusing on practical reasons rather than apocalyptic ones), designing measured responses to actions, and working through the UN whenever possible, will provide for the best results.

Posted by: DK | February 21, 2006 02:51 AM

Read it. Send me an email to and I'll respond. Include my other name as you correctly guessed it for verification.

Posted by: Cayambe | February 21, 2006 02:05 PM

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