Where they have burned books, they'll end in…

banned.jpgIs it not the slightest bit ironic, or worthy of note, that Israel’s neighbors, who routinely publish the most vile, repulsive antisemitic cartoons on a weekly basis, are now inciting the violence of their own citizens because of a single offensive anti-muslim one.
I think it would be a good thing for all people who support civil liberties to forward the image around to their friends, post it all over the internet, and in general fight the efforts of those who would suppress speech of any kind, including offensive speech.
In a way, those who apologize for Muslim violence, in Gaza, Damascus, and elsewhere, are perpetuating the same myths that, when spread by Westerners, are condemned as Orientalist: oh, you can’t blame them after all, this is just so offensive to their religion, after all they can’t be held to the same moral standards as the rest of us. Well, which is it? Either we’re on a level playing field here — with people whose morality and ethics are just like our own, in which case Israel should trade land for peace and we should expect leaders to control their rabble — or we’re not on a level playing field, in which case the far right has been correct all along that moderate-ish Arab governments will never control their extremist elements.
In the meantime, I hope you’ll forward the cartoon around, not for its broad caricature, but as the latest of a long line of texts to be committed to the flames by religious fanatics.

11 thoughts on “Where they have burned books, they'll end in…

  1. I am not Jewish but I totally agree with you. The hypocrisy in the reaction is ludicrus. I can understand and even sympathize with a non-violent reaction such as an economic boycott. That is something within the realm of just and fair. Burning down two embassies that had nothing to do with the original cartoon is an example of fulfilling the cartoonists prophecy – that such a cartoon will result in violence and not peaceful discussion.

  2. I think this situation is more complicated than BaronYakov makes it out to be. I agree that Muslims, by and large, have overreacted horribly (to say the least), that this is extremely hypocritical, and that violence or threats are completely unacceptable. I also agree that anyone has the right to print an offensive cartoon.
    However, this is another case of “just because you have the right, doesn’t mean it is right.” It’s analagous to the scandal over the Brooklyn Museum’s display of religiously offensive art (crucifix dunked in urine, etc.) or, yes, the anti-semitic cartoons B.Y. mentioned. Regardless of Muslim overreaction and hypocrisy, printing offensive art just for the hell of it (which is essentially why everyone is re-printing the cartoon) remains a rude and inconsiderate thing to do!
    So ultimately, I disagree with stooping to the fanatic-Muslim level by re-printing offensive art. If it’s wrong for them to print anti-semitic cartoons, then it’s wrong for us to print this. Hypocrisy goes both ways.

  3. I agree that having the rights does not mean that we must always use it. On the other hand, it is still important to know that we have the right than whether we decide that it is a good decision to make it.
    Everyone should be careful not to show other images to our sensitive Muslim friends. Google should make sure that the Muslim won’t start to look for photographs of their holy leaders online. Imagine that a Muslim would try to find an image of Allah Himself:
    Moreover, he would find his photograph in Pakistan… Scary. Mohammed is just a prophet but Allah is His God.

  4. Those on the left tell us to be tolerant of Islamacists . But those whom practice this ‘religion’ seem to have none.

  5. Two wrongs don’t make a right.
    I have to admit there’s something funny about the protesters in the UK with signs like (not literally) “Death to the infidels who say our Prophet taught us violence!”

  6. I agree with Flurry — if only it was about the freedom of speech! While I feel that the widely reported response of the “Muslim masses” is neither appropriate nor helpful toward reaching any sort of meaningful dialogue (actually, downright damaging), neither is the unmediated distribution of offensive comics for its own sake. That response also seems to hurt the potential for dialogue. It seems pretty obvious that those comics would be found offensive at some level. It reminds me of that mishna connecting a feather pillow with lashon hara ( and Michael Shaw at BAGnewsNotes, whose raison de blogging is to critically evaluate political images, has a thoughtful analysis at and how this issue can be twisted away from free speech and into something else much less noble.

  7. I will not be propagating the cartoons. While I don’t approve of the violence, I think the cartoons were insulting to muslims.

  8. Flurry and Jeremy Price: from what I understand, the publishing of these cartoons is, indeed, a free speech issue! A Dutch author was attempting to publish a book with illustrations including drawings of Muhammed, but could not find an illusrator willing to do it for fear of violence (think video artist Van Gogh who was killed by a Muslim for his portrayl of women’s treatment in the Muslim world). The newspaper commissioned the cartoons of Mohammed to try to break this impasse.
    Another point is being ignored: whereas these cartoons in published in the Western world are statements about violence in the Muslim world (which, inronically, has been proven correct in the reaction to the cartoons), the anti-Semtic and anti-American cartoons published in the Muslim world are meant to stir up anger and to incite violence against America and Israel.
    As they teach us in Middle School, we have Freedom of Speech in America, but not freedom to scream “fire!” in a movie theater. Muslim society has a very long way to go to a truly open society. Meanwhile, we need to at least insure that we do not lose our own hard-won society in which all opinions are allowed to be expressed.

  9. Depicting Mohamed as a terrorist is meant to impune all muslims as terrorists. That is not harmless rhetoric in any way. I do think this incites violence. Witness the 100,000 deaths in Iraq because Americans can’t tell the difference between an Iraqi and a Saudi. There is an awful lot of high horse moralizing in these debates, and it is unjutified.

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