I haven’t said anything about the current controversy because I really didn’t feel I had anything particularly novel to say about the issue. However, having seen some of the comments in the threads here that discussed this issue, I’ve felt the need to say something, even something not especially original, in an attempt to bring this issue some perspective.
In many ways my attitude is a pox on all houses. The Danish newspaper should have used half a brain and made the decision not to run the cartoons. In my view, The newspaper certainly didn’t need to play into religious and racial stereotypes by publishing these caricatures, particularly when the world is filled with enough hatred and fanaticism. Such cartoons only inflame the worst passions of those on the extremes, while ignoring the vast majority of people who believe tolerance and respect and simple human courtesy are values that all people should practice on an everyday basis.
Nonetheless, they did, as they had the legal right to do. Should they apologize and retract their acceptance of bigoted messages represented by the cartoons? Yes, they should. Should they be forced to do so? No they should not. If free speech means anything, it means the right to out yourself as a stupid, racist asshole, and in many respects I consider what they did a service. The Danish people now know where the publishers stand, and I hope they will ignore the hateful messages broadcast by these idiots by boycotting this paper.
That said . . .
I have little tolerance for those who would react to these cartoons with violence. The cartoonists insulted the Prophet Mohammed, and the religion of Islam, yes. But one of my values is non-violence. Insults do not harm individuals, do not kill innocent people, orphan children, rape women or destroy homes. Violence in response to a mere insult, however is capable of accomplishing all of those acts. Those who engage in violent acts in response to these cartoons only perpetuate the myth that all Muslims are dangerous fanatics in the minds of those already susceptible to easy generalizations. A valid response would have been non-violent demonstrations. That would have earned the rest of the world’s sympathy and my support.
Now to the hard part, at least for me. One of these cartoons was posted on this site, and the term “fascism” and Islamofascism” were used to describe those who have engaged in the violence. I disagree with both the re-publication of that image, and the use of the label “fascism” to describe the rioters.
If the decison was mine, I would not have re-posted that image, nor used a misleading (to my mind) label. Call the rioters criminals, a mob, what have you, but calling them fascists distorts the nature of what is occurring. These are people whose passions are inflamed by dishonest and dishonorable opportunists, both in Europe and across the Muslim world, but that doesn’t make it fascism to me.
I don’t have the authority to censor what others post here or say here, nor would I want that power. Nor do I want to initiate an argument with those who may feel differently about this matter than I do. But, I felt that those who contribute to this site, whether by posting diaries, commenting or merely reading deserve to know what I feel about this issue.
If I had posted the diary in question, I would remove the image of the offensive cartoon, and I would modify my language to remove the term “fascist” or “Islamofascist” from the front page story which used those terms. I don’t feel they are appropriate. But that must be the decision of those who posted those stories in the first place. I encourage them to do so, not in order to censor what they have to say, but out of a genuine desire to demonstrate respect and tolerance for those who have been offended by the image posted and the remarks made. We have enough anger and upset in the world, in my view.