Professional academics are now turning their attention to griddle-cakes historiography of the Cartoon Wars, from their earliest origins to their pathological outcomes to date. One of these professional historiographers now whipping up the batter and pouring it into his fry pan is a 40s-something historian and lecturer from Copenhagen, Denmark. To date, his blog Random Platitudes offers 6 installments of his survey.
• The Cartoon Row dissected - Part 1 (Feb16,2k6)
• A Digression [#1]: Origins of xenophobia in Denmark (Feb17,2k6)
• The Cartoon Row dissected - Part 2 (Feb18,2k6)
• Another Digression [#2]: Freedom of speech, and discrimination laws in Denmark (Feb20,2k6)
• The Cartoon Row dissected - Part 3 (Feb23,2k6)
• The Cartoon Row dissected - Part 4 (Feb27,2k6)
Sometime soon I hope to dissect this "Whig Interpretation of History."
Now, let's do a little digressing of our own. Starting with a New Statesman [UK] item (Feb20,2k6) by cartoonist Samir El-Youssef who wants to tell us "Poking fun at the Prophet is useless ... The satire would be better directed at earthly religious powers." His great inspiration is Monty Python's The Life of Brian, which inimitably spoofs the life of our Lord Jesus Christ.
The story of early Islam has a hilariously comic side that would be a gift for the Python scriptwriters. Yet I’ve never tried to write such a version. Obviously, if I did so I would be risking a fatwa. At the same time, I’m also inhibited by a deep-rooted politeness towards religion, which, despite my having embraced the theory of evolution from an early age, remains with me from childhood.The copy of the text I have is a PDF downloand with some dramatic cartoons from Arabic Muslim cartoonists. But I don't see any way to acquire this on the live-linked page.
I grew up in a Sunni Muslim community in southern Lebanon in the 1970s, before the rise of political Islam and when religion had no dominant role in society. Nevertheless, for this community, a few areas were regarded as beyond the reach of humour and satire: namely Allah, the Koran, the Prophet Muhammad, and his four successors, Abu Bakr, Omar, Osman and Ali. The sacred was perceived as very remote from daily life; it seems to me that it was this separateness, rather than the fear of punishment, whether earthly or divine, that made most people avoid poking fun at Allah or the Prophet.
While we're at it, let's take a glance at another largely-Muslim group of Westerners.
I found this one on Michelle Malkin's blog, as rightwing as they get while still remaining somewhere within the bounds of sanity. She reproduces a document by a number of Western persons of Muslim background whose most important gambit is to advocate "secular values" as ultimate and universal, joined by some French intellectuals one could only call "Humanists" in the sense of No
God but Nature and Freedom (these two are the source of the inner spiritual dualism in all Humanistic philosophy descended from the Enlightenment, and the dualism has had grievous historical consequences for Europe and Muslim countries too). It's sad to see former Muslims pander to this ideology which gave us Robespierre, Hitler, and Stalin - to name a few. The letter, called a Manifesto, is entitled "Together facing the new totalitarianism." It had some 12 signatories, including Salman Rushdie. I've met one of the others, Irshad Manji (of Toronto, a TV host, author who goes after the Muslim old guard in Canada quite valiantly, and who has been at times a leading Lesbian activist. I admire her for her fortitude and intelligence).
These twelve are pictured on Malkin's webpage (not in cartoons but full-face photos, with one guy hiding behind a book he apparently wrote). The letter/manifesto was first published in the notorious Jyllands-Posten, the Danish newspaper that's carrying on its own Humanistic jihad against all religions but its own. The comments are worth your making a visit to MM's site.
But the startling event in all this wash of words and pictures, is the critique offered in the English-language section of the Belgian online publication, Brussels Journal, where editor Paul Bielen posted on Mar1,2k6 his answer to the Twelve Apostles of Secularism, which he entitles "Anti-Jihad Manifesto Misses the Point." After quoting some paragraphs - from which I select out this one sentence, "We, writers, journalists, intellectuals, call for resistance to religious totalitarianism and for the promotion of freedom, equal opportunity and secular values for all" - Bielen then counters the whole insipid ahistorical drift of this dialogue-abandoning crew:
The above paragraphs clearly display the manifesto’s defects. While Islamism can be considered the perversion of religion, the three scourges of the 20th century – Fascism, Nazism (National-Socialism) and Stalinism – were secular ideologies. Neither Adolf Hitler nor Joseph Stalin were theocrats. It takes “French intellectuals” to use humankind’s experience with National-Socialism and Stalinism as motivation for a rallying cry to oppose “religious totalitarianism” and a call for “secular values,” which they hold to be “universal values.”I don't agree with every turn of phrase in Bielen's analysis, nor with some of the conepts he works with a bit further on in his piece. Nevertheless, he is going so much in a healthy direction that I am amazed at his contribution, and his courage. It is he who is questioning the European malaise near to the root, while the Twelve and Malkin befuddle both to the right and the left.
There is no doubt that Islamism is a threat to freedom and human dignity. However, as we have warned before, some people – undoubtedly brave, but nevertheless mistaken – are prepared to destroy certain basic freedoms, such as freedom of education, in their fight against Islam and religion in general. The question has already been put here:Is Islam dangerous because it is a religion? Do Muslim values differ from European values because the latter are rooted in Christianity or because they are secular? These questions are at the heart of the debate in Europe today.In our opinion, man is a religious being. Secularism destroyed the Christian roots of Europe and, in doing so, created the religious vacuum that is now being filled by Islam.
What I find incomprehensible to the point of absurdity is simply that Irshad and Salman and the other Muslims have in one fell swoop erased the Islam-abandoning secularists of Ba'athism. It's well known that Saddam Hussein was a close student of both Stalin and Hitler, and he studied their genocides to advance his own. The Twelve Manifestants have terribly selective historical memories, and mock themselves when their answer to our ills is secularism. - Politicarp