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Anti-PC League

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Day By Day© by Chris Muir.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Danish boycott ... the cartoonist isn't kidding!

Statue of Little Mermaid, Copenhagen harbor. Full image located at; thumbnail links to page of photographs of Danish architectureSee: Day by day strip for the day of this post, alluded to in the title.

Yes, this has apparently really happened, or at least there has been large amounts of consistent buzz to that effect: LETTER FROM COPENHAGEN. My morning coffee (iced, please), a newspaper and some serious head clearing await, but for now let's take a look at some selected excerpts from the article in question.

Denmark has become, much to its tolerant citizens' bewilderment, the target of an international Muslim boycott, in protest of what international Muslim groups call Denmark's "aggressive campaign waged against Islam and its prophet."

"Boycott" actually understates the case. In the past week alone, crowds of angry Muslims in several Arab countries burned the Danish flag, a mob attacked European Union offices in Gaza and at least two Danes were beaten in the Middle East. Saudi Arabia withdrew its ambassador from Denmark; Libya closed its embassy, and Iraq, Iran, Jordan and Sudan lodged official protests. A meeting of Arab interior ministers in Tunis demanded that Denmark punish the "authors" of the offense. Danish products were taken off the shelves in Saudi Arabia, Algeria, Kuwait, Bahrain and other countries, forcing one Danish dairy firm to lay off 800 workers. The European Union trade commissioner, Peter Mandelson, struck back with a threat to haul the Saudis before the World Trade Organization. Muslim states replied by submitting a complaint to the United Nations. At midweek the dispute was growing into a full-scale global confrontation between Islam and the West.

The cause of the fury? A dozen cartoons that were published in a Danish newspaper last September, depicting the Prophet Muhammad in satiric guises. One showed him with a fuse attached to his turban; another showed him telling dead suicide bombers that he had run out of virgins to reward them. ...

But the furor has not died down. The 55-nation Organization of the Islamic Conference declared this week that Denmark's refusal to censor its newspapers was, oddly, "an affront to free expression." ...

Danes themselves seem shocked. They are, after all, citizens of a country that has opened its doors to tens of thousands of Muslim immigrants in recent decades. They have been generous in their support, monetary and political, for the Palestinian cause. Danish public debate, strongly pro-Israel a generation ago, has followed the general European shift toward the Palestinians. Just days before the Palestinian election, Denmark's Channel 2 Television rebroadcast a 2002 documentary on the "Jenin massacre," reviving the now-discredited slur that Israel perpetrated a mass killing in the West Bank city. The film was a tendentious mélange of anti-Israel propaganda that somehow never mentioned the U.N. investigation showing the "massacre" to be a fabrication.

Then again, the same Channel 2 broadcast a program this week on the 1969 American moon landing. This gave equal time to crackpots who say that the whole thing was faked. ...

Denmark, like France, Great Britain and the Netherlands, is finally being forced to face the question of just what it means to be an immigrant. Does it mean accepting the culture of one's adopted homeland, keeping one's own roots as long as they don't violate the law? Or does it mean, "Thanks for a piece of your territory, and now I will teach you — or force you — to live by my norms"? And what's a free society to do about it?

Learning to remember to trust one's friends before one trusts one's enemies is always a good start. Sigh. The United States has been a friend and ally to Denmark for how long? Was there even a time when the US was hostile toward Denmark? Remember all of those US troops that used to be over there, protecting Western Europe from becoming a Soviet acquision during the late 20th century? Do they remember WWII at all? And, on the other hand, we have the fun loving people who've been setting off explosions in a variety of public places in Europe for the last few decades, killing and maiming innocent bystanders aplenty.

Are all Muslims like that? No. Are a whole lot of them like that? One need only look at the body count to get an answer to such a question. When one knows that trouble has often arrived from one particular direction, common sense should incline one to keep a slightly warier eye on those approaching from that particular direction.

Yes, I know, "love those who hate you", Jesus said that, and somebody sooner of later is bound to notice the "Christo-" part of the word "Christohellenic", up near the top of my (Antistoicus') own personal blog, and are going to love having the chance to pounce on an imagined inconsistency. But love has to be tempered with prudence and a realistic picture of what one can expect from those loved at the moment. Love in this sense is an openness to the possibility of progress in a relationship, a willingness to gently nudge that relationship in a more positive direction, and when we say that we love our neighbor, we shouldn't confuse that with the concept of liking him. When we speak of "liking him", this refers to what we expect from him, what we think he wants for us; when we speak of loving him, this refers to what we expect of ourselves, what we want for him.

There is some logic in a call to love one's enemies; without such love, conflicts can only hope to escalate. There is, however, no sense in unconditionally liking one's enemies. "Love" is encouraging the drunk next door to get to an AA meeting, because doing so will help him begin a better life for himself. "Liking him" would mean letting him into your place after he's tied on a few and doesn't have a good explanation for why it is that he's carrying that broken bottle, or something else equally foolhardy. Not the same thing at all.

In this case, one might argue, not only aren't the two synonomous, they aren't even compatible. The attitudes expressed through this most recent outburst of fundamentalist hysteria - one in a long series - are not attitudes compatible with any sort of even remotely liberal democracy. They aren't even compatible with peaceful co-existence with one's neighbors, and let us be realistic. If the Islamic world approaches all of the rest of humanity in this hyperaggressive manner, it will eventually learn that it should not have done that. Europeans may dither to a potentially fatal extent when it comes to their own self-defense (eg. pre-WWII, Neville Chamberlin), but the Chinese, for example, are most unlikely to be equally timid, and if truly pushed could easily turn Islamic civilization into a scorched, smoking memory. What's love? Love, in this case, is doing one's part to help urge some of those societies off the ultimately self-destructive path they're on, and if one should help out one's own society in the process, there's nothing wrong with that.

There's nothing wrong or hateful about setting limits, about sending the message people eventually get when, having abused the hospitality of many, they find more doors closed to them than they'd like, doors they discover that they can't reopen with a show of bluster and bravado, and they have no escape from the dreadful prospect of having to wonder why that is, and the even more dreadful need to act on the understanding that follows. It's like showing that drunken, violent neighbor the door - you need to do it for yourself, yes, but the drunken, violent neighbor needs you to do it, too, because nothing else will force him to do what he needs to do, but doesn't know to want to do yet - engage in some long, intense self-examination.

As with individuals, so with cultures. I might ask, given the long centuries of Jewish service to the societies of Europe and the long-established pro-Western stance of Israel, where this easy comfort with bashing Jerusalem comes from, but I think that one can guess. The desire for instant gratification as one seeks comfort and ease. One appeases one's enemies by stepping on one's friends because one is more worried about how one's enemies will respond than one's friends, right up until the day one has so alienated one's former friends that they've become enemies in their own right, as well, and why not? If one sets perverse incentives in place, should one be amazed when the rewards one reaps for oneself are equally perverse?

Respect should be shown when and to the extent that it is earned, not demanded. In this case, many of our muslim neighbors (across the sea, if you're in Europe; across a whole ocean for us in North America) have not been earning respect at this point; a demand that we live by their laws is nothing more than de facto imperialism. What defines where a nationa's boundaries lie, but the extent to which its laws are applied? No apologies should be offered, nor even attempts at diplomacy; the demands made have been arrogant and outrageous, so this is the time for open defiance. I'm pleasantly surprised to see that some of it has been on display in Europe of late. Let's hope that there will be more to come.