|wFeb 8, 2006|
When Shit Hits the Fan: East and West Collide
How to read this post: Don't skim it (Chad, this means you!). A lot of people are aware of this issue, but I don't think they really think about why it's happening and the frightening results it could bring about. It's important. Also, it will help you procrastinate doing your homework!
I have thrown in things to keep you amused. These things are pictures (with captions that appear when you hold the mouse over them) and dry sarcasm. Consider them a late Christmas present.
If anyone is interested in doing a fact check, I guess I'll point out that my information comes from various articles, including pieces written by CNN, BBC and the British paper Times Online. Pictures were blatantly stolen from Google image search. I did not make/take them myself.
On a recent cover of Rolling Stone, Kanye West is shown trying to make himself look like Jesus - crown of thorns, blood, a foreign-looking tunic, and a look of venom undoubtedly worn by Jesus himself at his own crucifixion. In case you don't catch the resemblence, they write The Passion of Kanye West over the image. I'm sure the article details how West's life is quite similar to that of Jesus', the Son of God. (I haven't actually read the article, although you should take note of the Battlestar Galactica article inside - I linked to it in a previous post in this blog)
As a Christian, I do find it offensive that some asshole rapper who makes millions of dollars decides to dress up like Jesus for the cover of a magazine to get publicity. I'm probably not the only one. I have yet to hear of any Christians threatening to kill those who published the magazine, nor of embassy-torchings, nor of riots. Of course, it is not an absolute sin to have images of Jesus, either (at least, not in most denominations of Christianity). I think the prevailing thought is, "Well, that was tasteless. But it's within his rights to do so, and if I don't like it, I don't have to look at it." And it's as easy as that. Despite the feelings of many fundamentalist Christians in America, it is a tenet of our democracy that both freedom of expression and freedom of religion exist and are defended. You can be any religion you want to be, so long as your actions don't infringe upon the rights of others. You can say and print anything you want, with the exception of things that threaten national security and/or the executive branch of government. Basically, as long as you're not killing people, you can worship however you want.
I should point out that Christianity has not always been so tolerant (and some people still aren't!) - we need look no further than the Middle Ages for evidence of this. Christianity has evolved into a society in which free expression and religion can co-exist.
The country of Iran is in deep shit because of its nuclear program right now. With the unexpected support of Russia and China to the rest of the U.N. Security Council, they are on what we call "the shit list." I don't find it to be too much of a reach that the Iranian government would be deeply interested in fanning the fires of chaos to provide a distraction. We're talking about a country whose leader wants Israel wiped off the map and has denied the Holocaust. Keep in mind that the government of Iran is probably not the only one doing nothing to stop the violence, and, in fact, probably helping to spread it. "Iran and Syria have gone out of their way to inflame sentiments and to use this to their own purposes and the world ought to call them on it," said Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice today.
Why would a newspaper print these cartoons in the first place? I don't think that the Muslim people are angry simply because Mohammad was in a cartoon. Mohammad was not the butt of a lame joke. In some cartoons, Mohammad is drawn as a terrorist, with a bomb-shaped headdress, and also saying that "paradise was running short of virgins for suicide bombers." The idea behind the jokes is that terrorism is directly correlated with the religion of Islam.
It doesn't matter why the Danish newspaper printed the cartoons in September. Probably the cartoonist and editors thought that the cartoons were amusing and also carried a strong political message, as political cartoons often do. My guess is that they were even completely unaware that it is against Islam to depict the prophet Muhammad.
So, they print the cartoons in September. A month later, in October, Muslim ambassadors bring the issue to the attention of the Danish Prime Minister. No apology is issued. From November to December, Danish Muslims travel all over the Middle East, telling people about the cartoons. Rumors run rampant. On January 10th, a publication in Norway decides to reprint the cartoons. Saudi Arabia recalls its Danish ambassador, and starts a boycott of all Danish goods. Libya closes its embassy in Denmark. On January 30, the EU says it will go to the WTO if boycotts continue. People with guns storm the EU office in Gaza, trying to demand an apology. On February 1, papers in France, Germany, Italy, and Spain reprint the cartoons.
Let us pause for a moment. Why would other European publications continue to print the cartoons? As a big middle finger to Muslims the world over? Because they have absolutely no respect for other religious ideologies? Possibly, but not likely. Each reprinting of the cartoon occurred in response to Muslim violence. The cartoons were republished not as a large middle finger, but as a sign of solidarity. Editors across Europe decided that they were not going to allow Denmark, and then Denmark and Norway, to stand alone. Together, the European publications put on a stand to say, "Look. We have freedom of the press. And we have the right to publish whatever we want, no matter how inflammatory it is. If you want to talk about it, fine. But when you attack one of us, consider it an attack on all of us. Let's go."
Conservative Muslims are incensed by the reprintings of the cartoons and decide that the only reasonable response is to blow up shit and continue delivering diplomatic bitchslaps. On February 1st, Syria withdraws its ambassador to Denmark. On February 3rd, Muslims call for "day of anger" the world over in protest of the cartoons. Rioting occurs all over the Middle East, and also in London.
On February 4th, angry people attack the Danish, Norwegian, Swedish, and French embassies in Damascus.
The next day, they set fire to the Danish embassy in Beirut. Syria is blamed for the riot. The Lebanese Interior Minister offers his resignation and Iran pulls its ambassador from Denmark.
Over the next two days, at least 8 protestors are killed in Afghanistan.
I appreciate the Europeans standing up for each other, but I do think it's in bad judgment to continue reprinting the cartoons. I think it was in bad judgment to do so in the first place. Yes, they had the right to do it, but I think we can all agree that fundamentalist Muslims with guns do not always respond well to reason.
At the same time, the Muslim response is grossly inappropriate to the situation. Mostly because the actions of a newspaper do not reflect the sentiments of an entire nation. Imagine what would happen if all countries utilized economic sanctions and broke off diplomatic relations every time a publication printed something offensive about another country. We'd be floundering in chaos (Oh, wait! We already are!).
It's not like the East-West divide is anything new in history. It can be traced all the way back to Isaac and Ishmael, on through the crusades to colonialism right up to today. History repeats itself, and right now the argument is essentially freedom of expression and the values of democracy versus the religion of Islam. It has happened before and it will happen again. Nobody ever wins and nothing is ever resolved. But in the meantime, a lot of people to die because they try to solve an unsolvable issue using violence. And it probably also means, what with national leaders fanning the flames, that this situation will not "fade away" as the White House, Jacques Chirac, and many other Western leaders hope it will.
There is a piece that I have had to read for multiple classes thus far titled "The Clash of Civilizations," which was written by Samuel Huntington. And in this case, I can't help but agree.
It is my hypothesis that the fundamental source of conflict in this new world will not be primarily ideological or primarily economic. The great divisions among humankind and the dominating source of conflict will be cultural.
The clash of civilizations will dominate global politics. The fault lines between civilizations will be the battle lines of the future.
During the cold war the world was divided into the First, Second and Third Worlds. Those divisions are no longer relevant. It is far more meaningful now to group countries not in terms of their political or economic systems or in terms of their level of economic development but rather in terms of their culture and civilization.
...This article does not argue that civilization identities will replace all other identities, that nation states will disappear, that each civilization will become a single coherent political entity, that groups within a civilization will not conflict with and even fight each other. This paper does set forth the hypotheses that differences between civilizations are real and important; civilization- consciousness is increasing; conflict between civilizations will supplant ideological and other forms of conflict as the dominant global form of conflict; international relations, historically a game played out within Western civilization, will increasingly be de-Westernized and become a game in which non-Western civilizations are actors and not simply objects....
(A link to the entire essay, which is studied in colleges and universities the world over - worth the read!)
I am only in my second year of studies as a Political Science major, but I have studied enough to know that when a country, or even worse, a bunch of them, impose economic sanctions and break off diplomatic relations, it means that war is not far away. That is, if we are not already in the midst of one.
Leave some comments, you ungrateful bastards. I think we could get some good conversation going here. Don't leave me hanging.scribbled mystickeeper at 6:49 PM
whore, i never read your blog, mostly cuz i'm lazy and don't find it interesting (no offense, lol). BUT ANYWAY, your heading/intro-type-thing piqued my interest. THEN i realized you'd written a goddamn book about it and lost interest. sorry! but i just wanted to leave a comment so you'd feel cool. :-P hasta luego!
Blogger is mean. I spent like 20 minutes writing a well thought out comment, and BOOM! it's gone. Anyways, I was saying that Kanye West's Rolling Stone cover just confirms his arrogance (as if we didn't know he was arrogant already.)
Jackie, you're so well-read. I need to start watching the news more often, D:
So, I was reading your blog because I was in my I favorite "I hate everyone" moods and then thought: "How are my peeps from GB doing?"
Kristy – I’m glad I could enlighten you to current events, :) It’s nice to have an educational blog!
That's with current production though. Nobody really knows how much oil is there. Currently, Alaska provides us with 25% of our oil production and many others claim that we haven't struck gold with the resource yet. So, it think that is debateable. Also, the transition from oil to alternative fuels will be a costly and timely effort. I'm sure that won't happen for another 20-30 years. The technologies available just isn't pro car friendly except for those expensive hybrid cars....but in the end, there still more expensive in the long run...at this time.
If you're interested in astrology, you might like this profile of Kanye West: http://astrodynamics.blogspot.com/2006/02/kanye-wests-messiah-complex.html. This site also has a profile of Iran's Ahmadinejad and other newsmakers. We are definitely heading into interesting times!
And lets put these "blogger spamers" on a small island of doom.
I just want to say that I like what you wrote.
what a blog
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