Saturday, February 11, 2006

Historical perspectives on blasphemy

Some Western commentators have painted the publication of the Danish cartoons considered blasphemous by Muslims as a sign of modern irreverence, licentiousness and decadence. Here is one example of this viewpoint, from Charlie at AnotherThink:

Is Nothing Sacred?

Piss Christ, SerranoPost-modernism enjoys mocking the sacred. The "artist" Andres Serrano won acclaim for sinking a crucifix in a urine-filled jar. Chris Ofili got applause for covering the Virgin Mary with elephant dung. The Da Vinci Code imagines Jesus hitched to Mary Magdalene. The Book of Daniel depicts Jesus as a New Age therapist. Rolling Stone encourages Kanye West's messiah complex by putting him on their cover, bleeding from a crown of thorns.

God doesn't get much respect these days.

Mocking the sacred used to be out of bounds, but the lines have been moved. Faith and faith's symbols are fair game for ridicule because the cult of free speech trumps traditional religion. Taboos still exist, but blasphemy is not one of them.

Is this really true? Is the purpuseful denigration of the sacred symbols and beliefs of other people's religions really a modern phenomenon? I did a Google search on "anti-Papist" and found some early examples of blasphemous cartoons (Warning: the following images are offensive and denigrate Catholics and Jewish people):

The Papal hierarchy as mash in the Devil's vineyard.

Demonic anti-Papist caricature.

The Pope as Satan.

Papist crowning the Devil's pig.

Jewish scholars, wearing pointed hats, are suckled by their wetnurse, the Devil's pig.

The Papist Devil, "Ego sum Papa" (I am the Pope).

For a more recent example of anti-Catholic caricature, one can look to the illustrations from Mark Twain's "A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court".

And from the prestigious Harper's Weekly.

So, contrary to Charlie's complaint, I'd have to say that the Danish cartoons partake of a long history of Western irreverence for the sacred.


Blogger Harry Eagar said...

Well, I think that being able to mock any and every religion is new.

In England around 1795, it was perfectly OK to denigrate Mahound or the pope, but it could cost you your head to challenge the 39 Articles.

It is the same as my old, old argument (which you may not have seen, since although I repeated myself ad nauseum at Orrin's place, I don't think I've put it here; it's a valid and largely unrecognized statement and deserves repetition, so here goes:

The difference between antislavery and moral antislavey is that no one wants to be a slave himself, which is a selfish not a moral opinion; but the moral antislavery man does not want anyone to be a slave.

By this higher standard, about 90% of the world is still proslavery.

For an extra fillip, one could drag in capital punishment. Few people are for being capitally punished personally, though many feel someone else deserves it. (Me included.)

It is only very, very recently that you could safely mock any religion anywhere in the United States.

This is an excellent thing.

February 11, 2006 3:31 PM  
Blogger David said...

I don't quite understand the process by which the perfectly acceptable word "Jews" as a noun denoting, um, Jews, became politically incorrect. (Of course, Jews is nothing as compared to Jewess.)

February 11, 2006 4:02 PM  
Blogger Bret said...

Harry Eagar:
Apparently, you can't mock any religion safely. It seems to me that if you mock Islam, you may end up with a suicide bomber or other violent fanatic on your doorstep. Isn't that the whole point of this cartoon episode?

February 11, 2006 5:25 PM  
Blogger Harry Eagar said...

I could have been more clear.

In the U.S., the can mock the dominant religion(s) safely, as we have seen many times.

In a general social context, mockery is now safe.

There are certain individuals it isn't safe challenge (one thinks of, at times, the JDL, for example); and there are groups outside America (Muslims) who are likely to want to kill you -- they keep chanting 'death to America,' which -- contra Brit -- must mean SOMETHING.

As Skipper notes, Muslims resident in America do not join in. We can speculate why.

I think they are afraid.

Good on 'em.

It is curious that, at least in polite society, it is less acceptable to mock Jews than Christians, although Christians are the dominant religion.

This is a fashion related to historical events of recent memory. I do not expect it to last.

(And, as always, watch out for local exceptions. America is a country the size of a continent and not homogeneous.)

February 11, 2006 10:32 PM  
Blogger Peter Burnet said...

There is a long history of murder, theft and adultery in the West too. Shocking.

February 12, 2006 4:45 AM  
Blogger Harry Eagar said...

The Big Pharoah brings a message from On High:

February 12, 2006 12:23 PM  
Blogger Brit said...


I doubt the Muslims in America are scared. I hope that wouldn't be the reason they didn't protest - it would say something very ugly about American attitides towards Muslims.

They didn't protest for the same reason that 99% of British Muslims didn't protest: because the reach of the extremists is relatively puny.

Of course 'death to America' means something.

Note that it isn't 'death to secularism', or 'death to liberalism' or 'death to freedom of conscience.'

That's vitally important to understanding what is going on.

Bin Laden himself has said: if we were only opposed to liberal western values and secularism, we'd have attacked Stockholm or Amsterdam, not New York.

America is one of the most pious places on Earth.

What is going on now has political origins in British and American foriegn policy in the Middle East.

These political disputes have become so ingrained that violence is endemic.

Now, most dangerously, the likes of bin Laden and his European allies like Abu Hamza, have sacralised these disputes, attempting to turn them into a clash between religions or cultures, conflating Islam with anti-Western values, and the West with anti-Islamicism.

We know this is a false dichotomy from events like the protests in London on Saturday, and from living with modern, westernised European and British Muslims every day.

It is vital that we don't fall into this false dichotomy ourselves. If we do, not only will we not have any fewer suicide bombers to contend with, but we're on a road to endemic racism and the persecution of a minority.

If the American Muslims really didn't hold even a peaceful rally because they are 'scared', you're already there. Luckily, I think you're wrong about that.

February 13, 2006 2:31 AM  
Blogger Hey Skipper said...


Ayatollah Al Sistani has some particularly interesting things to say about non-Muslims.

Why should I, or any non-Muslim, for that matter, have even a shred of respect for Islam?

I think that American Muslims aren't demonstrating because they have at least partially integrated one of the fundamental capacities of free speech: putting things on disregard.

But this goes beyond what Muslims themselves think to what their book tells them to think.

I am reasonably good at contempt, but even my gifts are put to the test when faced with a text that puts me in the same category as s***t, when it isn't advocating my murder.

February 13, 2006 8:45 AM  
Blogger Duck said...

I just realized something this weekend about people like Robert Duncan who admire the Muslims for feeling so passionately about their beliefs, and bemoan us (or more accurately the cartoonists and anyone who justifies the cartoons on free speech grounds) for not believing so passionately. They have it completely wrong. The free speechers are more like the Muslims in that regard. One sign of believing passionately about a faith or a cause is that you place that faith or cause above other competing faiths or causes. By looking at the images of blasphemy past and the output of Muslim cartoonists, you see that people who believe passionately in their own faith have a very passionate dislike for competing faiths. I'd say that a faith that can get along very easily with competing faiths is not a passionately held faith.

February 13, 2006 10:47 AM  
Blogger Harry Eagar said...

Yeah, Duck. A friend forwarded me a NY Times piece on the same lines by Stanley Fish -- not THE Stanley Fish, some other one.

As some guy named steve said on a Democratic blog, if the Dems are arguing about whether they're for free speech, it's no wonder the party can't find its ass with both hands.

But it goes a lot deeper than that.

We all know that David and Peter and Brit wouldn't publish the cartoons, not because they are afraid of being blown up or because they disbelieve in freedom, but because they have good taste.

However, good taste in the West, unlike suicide bombers in Islam, is in short supply, so that if you have free speech, some tasteless person, somewhere will draw cartoons of Muhammed.

Under the rules David, Brit and Peter are accepting, the embassy of the country that harbors that tasteless person will be burned down.

What is wrong with this picture?

The wrong people are setting the rules, that's what.

I don't CARE whether Indonesian Muslims are resentful of America because of the US policy in the Mideast. We set our policy, not them.

If the dispute is being sacralized, it's not by us.

Anyhow, once you have accepted dhimmitude to the extent of letting Muslims tell you when and what you can publish, how do you respond when they demand, as they do demand, that you cover your daughters in burnooses, because they are such savages that the mere sight of a bare forearm will cause them to rape?

The rule against images of Muhammed is a Moslem rule. It means nothing to people who recognize that Muhammed was a murderer, robber, rapist and child molester. The rest of the world does not worship Muhammed.

But you have conceded the validity of the rule, not on evidence, but on the say-so of people who say so.

On their other say-so, they are incapable of not being inflamed to rape by a bare forearm. It would be absurd to think that they are immune to infidel forearms, so if you concede -- as you already have conceded -- that they are within bounds to put their own women in purdah, you have no argument to keep your women out.

This is not about freedom of speech. It's about freedom.

February 13, 2006 11:11 AM  
Blogger Peter Burnet said...

Good taste? Why, yes, now that you mention it, I do recall that those cartoonists made me think immediately of people who wear brown shoes with blue suits. Just call me the Miss Manners of the war on terror.

Have you guys figured out yet whether the cartoons were a necessary strike in an existential war against a ruthless enemy or a benevolent foreign aid project to help push them along to that Reformation we're all waiting for?

February 13, 2006 4:13 PM  
Blogger Duck said...

No, more like a test of the Emergency Free Speech System, just to see the state of readiness of our public officials and news media to deal with threats to our freedoms. It seems most politicians and newspapers failed the test.

February 13, 2006 4:26 PM  
Blogger Hey Skipper said...


Did you follow the Al Sistani link?

Presuming you have done so, why should I have even a shred of respect for his religion?

Those cartoons are mere pikers in the bad-tastathon, compared to Al Sistani.

February 13, 2006 6:50 PM  
Blogger Brit said...


Yes, those quotes represent abhorrent opinions. I fully share your sense of disgust, but I don't see how that would affect the point I'm making.


I wouldn't publish them because they are racist, and they play into the hands of al Qaeda.

Would refusing to publish golliwog caricatures be classed as 'allowing blacks to set the agenda'?


None of you have addressed the peaceful demo in London against both the cartoons and the extremists.

What are your conclusions from that event?

February 14, 2006 1:28 AM  
Blogger Peter Burnet said...

Emergency Free Speech System? OK, I'd like to contribute. How about we find a high school with lots of Muslim students and declare "Hajib Day". All the non-Muslim girls will wear hajibs and punk dress with funky make-up, thus demonstrating their right to free expression in dress and showing the Muslims that clothing is just a lot of cloth and nothing to get excited about in a modern society. Or how about a massive community pork barbeque on the land encircling the local mosque (taking care to respect private property, of course). Mmm...pork. Gotta let these fellows understand that in America, we eat what we want and modern hygiene makes it all safe. It's a statement and this is war. Besides, we've read our Koran and just know hajibs and dietary restrictions lead straight to terrorism.

Look, I think I understand your problem. You are trying to find a way to stand defiant and firm against Islamicism and not kowtow to your enemy's well-orchestrated "feelings". You are afraid the lefty multicultural ethos will be a slow, cowering suicide because we will stupidly and fearfully try to embrace those who want to kill us. Well, I agree that is a risk. But instead of focusing on the guys with the guns, taking domestic security seriously and drawing firm lines on intercultural and international relations, unfortunately what you are doing is letting your enemies' beliefs and feelings define who you are and what you stand for. If they are for something, you're agin' it and feel compelled to tell the world loudly. Excuse me, but that's not the sign of one who is confident is his own convictions. And because Muslimland is a hopelessly confusing mess to us, philosophically speaking, and replete with conundrums and dangers we barely understand, you have found it just a lot easier to tar them all with the same brush and see "seeds" of terror everywhere you look. May I respectfully suggest your main problem is with your co-Westerners who won't take the war on terror seriously and that your frustration with this is leading you to demonize each and every Muslim and see the threats as wildly out of proportion to what is there. Would you please focus on killing the enemy and frighening those inclined to support him rather than doing a full-frontal on a 1400 year old faith and culture that you have convinced yourselves is a bacillus of evil, even though anyone who thought that way before 1979 would have been seen as crazy.

Skipper, I don't care a whit whether you respect Sistani and I doubt he does either. But you are very ill-informed if you think ideas of social separateness and rules around them are unique to Islam. I spent some time on that site (which has all kinds of rules of a very different tone about living in non-Muslim lands), and I found nothing to suggest he wants to publically denigrate you or your beliefs. Why can't you follow his example? Why do you care what some mystic in Baghdad thinks about socializing with you(or Andrew Sullivan of all people) to the point that you feel compelled to make a global fuss about it? What are you looking for--their peace and oil or their love? Are you trying to build some kind of secular Tower of Babel? Harry is quite right that he is under no obligation to respect them. But he is wrong to think that means he never has a duty to shut up about it.

And finally, Brit is right. You are all studiously avoiding addressing the fact that the faith you have declared public war on is the faith of many of your co-citizens. And, in North America, I'm unaware of any who are other than loyal and no threat whatsoever to you.(although of course I suspect some are) And your message to them is...?

February 14, 2006 3:12 AM  
Blogger Duck said...

Brit & Peter,

The demonstration by the moderate Muslims is a good thing, and long overdue. But the insult to Islam perpetrated by the violent acts and words of the radicals is much greater than the cartoons, and I wonder why the moderates haven't been more forthcoming in their outrage at the radicals who have supposedly hijacked their faith. If someone stole your identity and was using it to disgrace your name, wouldn't you go to great lengths to stop him?

Peter, you are entering the world of hyperbole now. If you can't tell the difference between cartoons aimed at the very radicals that the moderates disallow and open, public warfare on an entire religion, then there isn't much I can do to correct you, because you've abandoned reason. Do you really think that you, in your own words, never caricature, taunt or humiliate members of other religious or philosophical persuasions than yourself? Look at all your posts in the past two years related to secularists, pagans or Wicca. Do you live by the guideline that all members of these groups are to be accorded the benefit of the doubt as to their good intentions and peaceful natures, only singling out individuals for approbation for their own acts, or have you employed the broad brush?

Brit, I would accuse Richard Dawkins of greater insensitivity and bigotry for his views on religion than these cartoonists, and yet you don't seem as outraged by him as you do about the cartoonists. Dawkins offends me personally because he purports to represent atheists, but all he does is reinforce the stereotypes of atheists as rude, inflexible scolds.

Lets not make this issue tolerance for Muslims, because Muslims are tolerated very well here in the US and in most instances in Europe, although I would fault some countries like France and Germany for not being more open to socially integrating Muslims. If anything we are over-tolerating them by all the official pandering of politicians to their hurt feelings. Tolerance does not entitle any person or group to a bubble of protection from offensive speech. Lets stop inflating this incident of hurt feelings to the scale of an atrocity.

February 14, 2006 7:57 AM  
Blogger Harry Eagar said...

I'll wait for the peaceful demonstration by 'Moderate Muslims of the World' (tm) denouncing immoderate Muslims who shout 'death to America' and calling me a 'great Satan,' but as soon as that happens, I will cheerfully sign a petition of equal tenor against the cartoonists.

The London picnic doesn't count, because they were just covering their asses as a result of the -- entirely justified -- skepticism unveiled by the cartoons.

I don't see why the Muslims get to be all insulted and have their feelings hurt and have David and Peter and Brit worry about their tender egos, while I am supposed to sit back and take decades of constant Muslim abuse quietly.

It's sheep/goat separating time. If you're not with me you're against me.

That's a good Christian sentiment, isn't it?

February 14, 2006 8:29 AM  
Blogger Brit said...


So some idiots in the Middle East don't like you. Big deal. Why should you care?

That's not the issue. I wouldn't be worried about these cartoons if all the Muslims they depict lived in Muslimland far away.

The issue is of a minority group within a European nation being increasingly portrayed as the bogeyman.

It's happened before, but of course human beings never learn anything.

You can dismiss the London demo as a 'picnic'. I say it destroys most of your arguments - which are founded on the notion that Muslims can't think like Westerners - at one stroke.


But do you see how important it is not to conflate the battle against terrorists with a battle against Muslims?

I think these cartoons do exactly that, especially in the manner of republication, but even if I'm wrong, I'd sooner err on the side of caution.

What Dawkins does is to criticise all religion and superstition equally. He does not single out a particular minority group, against whom there is a rising tide of propaganda and fear, and say "these are the ones responsible for the evil in the world today."

Dawkins just makes the mistake that Harry and even Skipper make: he confuses the literal scripture of a religion with the actual culture and people of that religion.

He argues that the texts are inconsistent and self-contradictory and that hardly any religious people actually follow them (as I have argued). And then he uses passages from that scripture, which he has already claimed nobody follows, to argue that the followers must be bad. This is not logical, and it shows a basic lack of feeling and understanding for humans in all their complexity and fallibility.

'Muslim', like 'Jewish' or 'Catholic' is something that some people wish to have as part of their identity, even if they rarely or never go to mosque, temple or church.

Muslims have been integrating into Europe for generations. They were here long before Al Qaeda and 9/11 and they'll be here long after Al Qaeda is destroyed.

The Britons who describe themselves as 'Muslim' are just too varied to lump together for generalisations in any meaningful way. For example, there are a few hundred Muslims in the British Army. Are they there in case we have to fight Islam?

Hwo do you fight Islam anyway? There are only two ways: round up everyone who calls himself a Muslim, or decide just how 'Muslim' we're going to allow people to be, and test them with an Inquisition. Maybe see how mad they get when you show them a Prophet cartoon.

The idea of fighting a whole religion only makes any sense on paper. On the ground, it is meaningless other than as a Holocaust. We're fighting terrorists who happen to be Islamic, not Islam, just like we fought terrorists who happened to be Irish Catholics, not Catholicism.

February 14, 2006 8:55 AM  
Blogger Brit said...


What are your views on Islam in Turkey?

99% of the population is nominally Muslim, yet the state is secular, and freedom of religion is enshrined in the constitution.

February 14, 2006 9:08 AM  
Blogger Hey Skipper said...


And according to a recent survey, 13% of Turks think suicide bombing in defense of Islam is most assuredly OK.

That number gets a lot bigger when including the "maybes".

Would your view of this change if 13% of Christians thought immolating heretics for Christ a good thing?

NB -- I have spent a fair amount of time in Turkey, and I have an overwhelmingly positive impression of Turks thereby. But I'll bet I didn't run into any of that 13%.

February 14, 2006 9:14 AM  
Blogger Duck said...

Yes, Dawkins criticizes all religions equally - which means he offends all religious people. I don't see that as being any different than singling out one group of religious people. He uses the widest brush possible.

You will have to argue with Harry about a war on Islam, because I never proposed one. Criticism, or even ridicule, is not war. It is an alternative to war. The sooner that Muslims understand that, the better off we will all be. Western politicians that are apologizing for the cartoons are raising expectations to Muslims that they cannot deliver on. Noone can be protected from insults or ridicule in a free society, it doesn't do anyone a service to give the impression to one group that their feelings can be protected.

I think that we have a different view on the intent and impact of the cartoons, but I don't think we are that far apart. I'm running out of the will to argue this issue. We will have to see how events play out in the future.

February 14, 2006 10:08 AM  
Blogger Duck said...

I apologise for my harsh words. It is time for me to take a "time out", to get some perspective on the larger issues in the world. Was I right to say that this issue is similar to the Schiavio affair?

February 14, 2006 10:11 AM  
Blogger Harry Eagar said...

Turkey is a secular despotism run by murderous fanatics.

The secularism is imposed on an unwilling populace by a ruthless military clique, and if they were somehow disarmed, the country would revert to Islamic obscurantism and violence in about 15 minutes.

You might want to ask a Turkish citizen of Bulgarian ancestry what he thinks, rather than me.

Brit thinks he can tell the good Muslims from the bad ones. Maybe he's got a sharper eye than me. I cannot do it.

All I see is that in every single Muslim country, now or in the past, most of the values I hold most important did not and do not exist.

Now, you may say that the minority of Muslims who live in Britain are different from all the other Muslims, but as far as I can see, the only difference is that they are a minority.

I assume that once in the majority, they would behave like all other Muslims.

Of course, I have consistently said the same about Christians. Secularist values maintain an uneasy sway in places like the United States because the various Christian sects hate each other more than anybody else (see cogent comments by others in the military preaching thread).

Should the Christians agree to crush us atheists and irreligionists, we'd be gone by Wednesday.

February 14, 2006 10:14 AM  
Blogger Peter Burnet said...

Not to worry, Duck, but I was thinking of taking a timeout myself. The blogosphere is great but some issues eventually call for face to face with a cold one.

Should the Christians agree to crush us atheists and irreligionists, we'd be gone by Wednesday.

Hey, and tomorrow is Wednesday! "There's a meetin' here tonight...there's a meetin' here tonight..."

February 14, 2006 11:40 AM  
Blogger Hey Skipper said...


I grant that the dividing lines between honest criticism, caricature and egregious insults can sometimes get a little blurry.

But I don't your hypotheticals of hajib-punk or a pork-cordon are sufficiently close to what is going on here to be illuminative.

Whether Mohammed in a dynamite chapeau, or a worried cartoonist looking over his shoulder while drawing Mohammed, each of these cartoons addressed a real issue: Islamists murdering under cover of the Quran.

Should you desire the status of round the clock police protection, all you need do is openly criticize some tenet of Islam, whether through caricature or not. (IIRC, there is a Canadian female Muslim comedian who had the temerity to suggest that Islams attitude towards women is, well, unfortunate.)

As it happens, there are tenets of Islam that a substantial number of the world's Muslim population firmly believe that I find reprehensible. If all this amounted to was spouting nonsense inside the confines of a mosque, I'd have to be comatose to care less.

But it involves far more than that, doesn't it? And it also involves, outside the US and some parts of Europe, substantial numbers, if not outright majorities, of Muslims.

Hmmm. What to do. Cartoons are apparently out. Writing or speaking critically are also out; after all, if offense is to be avoided, the means is irrelevant.

I have not demonized all Muslims. If the sole reaction was peaceful protests and a singularly effective boycott of Danish goods, then there would be nothing to demonize and everything to celebrate.

But that isn't the way it turned out.

Plus, and I am repeating myself here, but you never took on the argument, the very notion of blasphemy is hypocrisy incarnate. I hold my spiritual beliefs every bit as seriously as you hold yours, or any Muslim holds theirs. Yet because religionists attach a personal supernatural being to their belief system, that somehow gives them carte blanche to routinely attack in all manner of ways those whose faith in such a being is rather, shall we say, tepid.

I am very well aware that certain religions impose forms of separateness, but when a major figure -- alleged to be a "moderate" -- in a religion equates me with feces, then I will treat that notion, and its sources, with all the scorn they so richly deserves.

Remember, neither I, nor Harry, nor Duck, nor the cartoonists made a global fuss about this. If there was ever a case of blame the victim, this is it. Muslims made this into a global fuss.

rather than doing a full-frontal on a 1400 year old faith and culture that you have convinced yourselves is a bacillus of evil, even though anyone who thought that way before 1979 would have been seen as crazy.

The only people who thought that were those who had either knew nothing of the Quran (or al Qutb), or having learned something, concluded no one could possibly believe it.

The former were ignorant, the latter dead wrong.

You simply cannot, with any shred of intellectual integrity, give the Quran a pass while simultaneously citing Mein Kampf as the essence of evil.

Does that mean I have declared war on all Muslims? Nonsense. I have no issue whatsoever with Muslims who have done like nearly all Christians -- employed selective amnesia about those "revelations" whose savagery is, finally, manifestly obvious. (I had to get something notarized this evening, so I went to the bank. The branch notary, as it turns out, is clearly a Muslim woman. Who just as clearly wasn't worried about eternal perdition for talking to a man not her husband, and who didn't bat an eyelash when she did her corporate bit wondering if I needed a home equity line of credit.)

But for those who feel their book entitles them to rule the Earth, never mind murder anyone with the temerity to criticize their noxious beliefs, what would you have me do?

The cartoons did not declare war on Islam or Muslims, but they sure made the butts of the joke pour out of the woodwork.

February 14, 2006 5:48 PM  
Blogger Hey Skipper said...


Dawkins just makes the mistake that Harry and even Skipper make: he confuses the literal scripture of a religion with the actual culture and people of that religion.

You mean aside from Saudi Arabia, Iran, most of Pakistan, etc?

No, I don't suffer from that confusion.

However, I do subscribe to the notion that undue deference to the sensibilities of "moderates" (who should really be called amnesiasts) serves primarily to completely shield zeolots from critical inspection.

That isn't a problem with Christianity any longer, because actual literalists are vanishingly thin on the ground.

Unlike Islamists.

I'll bet the number of Christian churches worldwide emanating hateful spew isn't a doddle on what can be found in the London area alone.

For those people, there is absolutely no separating scripture and culture.

And other than directly criticizing their beliefs, what do you do?

February 14, 2006 5:59 PM  
Blogger Harry Eagar said...

If sauce is for the goose as well as the gander, I suppose we ought to march around shouting 'death to Islam' and boycott -- well, I don't know what we'd boycott -- and burn down a few consulates.

And, according to Peter and Brit and David, the Muslims would have no reason to protest, though not having a reason has never stopped them till now.

The fact that the London picnickers not only complained about the Moslem violence but also about the cartoons suggests to me that the Mr. Shahs of Britain are not yet even half-westernized.

If they had been, they would have been as vocal about the cartoons as real westerners have been about the vile outpourings of the Muslim street, press, pulpit and legislature (that last very loosely construed). That is, we wouldn't have heard a peep out of them.

And if I were Brit and were so very concerned about somebody whipping up ideas likely to lead to murderous violence and religious war, I wouldn't waste my breath on Danish editors.

I'd suggest to the Religion of Peace (tm) that poking the lion, even a very sleepy lion, is probably a bad policy in the long run.

February 14, 2006 10:25 PM  
Blogger Oroborous said...

I'd suggest to the Religion of Peace™ that poking the lion, even a very sleepy lion, is probably a bad policy in the long run.

Now those are words to live by.

There are many people, mostly Islamicists but including Westerners such as Europeans and even Americans, who apparently believe that America is operating at perhaps 75% of her maximum military capacity.

In truth, the U.S. have yet to even open the cupboard where the cans of Beat-Down are kept.
While it might seem like "war" to the Taliban, al Qaeda, Iraqis, and various observers, so far America has worked strictly from the Marquis of Queensbury's rulebook.

The ghosts of Dresden, Tokyo, Hiroshima, and Nagasaki can testify to that.

Further, Europe, Russia, and China all have their own supply of Whip-'Em, and their own reasons to use it on Islamicists.

While all of the world's powers have varying reasons and thresholds, it's not at all impossible to imagine that over the next few decades, militant Islamicists, perhaps out of a death-wish, will unite the world against them in a very determined way.
Perhaps as early as 2008.

Then, a whole lotta folks are gonna die, most of them probably more-or-less innocents.

One noteworthy point is that while the West doesn't see itself as being at war with Islam, Islamic fundamentalists see quite clearly that the West's business-as-usual is absolutely toxic to their way of life.

THEY have declared war on US.

It's much like Amerindians and European settlers - while most Euro immigrants may not have harbored any active enmity towards the natives, and perhaps even believed that co-existance was possible, in the end what we were obliterated what they were.

So too with fundamentalist Islam.
For whatever reasons, most Muslim-majority nations are failed states, with poor governance and dysfunctional societies.

Among the few that aren't, NONE are what might be called "advanced nations", even those that are fabulously wealthy.
They're very much like an American high-school dropout who, having won the lottery, can think of nothing better to do than buy a couple of flashy cars and a very, VERY large television.

What we are is going to destroy what they are, either actively or passively.
When the world was a large place, we could co-exist, but now the world's too small for the both of us.

February 15, 2006 1:26 AM  
Blogger Brit said...

Like Duck, I've lost the will to continue arguing this, but I can't overstate how important it is that Harry is utterly wrong about Mr Shah.

To claim that Muslims can't adapt or live peaceably with western culture is a dangerous myth.

This is an instance where the stuff I'm reading on blogs bears no resemblance at all to the world I live in and experience.

In blogworld, Muslims exist on paper, as trends or percentages. Moderates are purely hypothetical.

Yet Muslims are so ingrained into British culture that we had one as our last cricket captain -a national hero - and I didn't even know that he was Muslim. I only found out by chance when I was in this debate.

British Muslims are not divided into the Finsbury Park extremists and the moderates who marched on Saturday. They're divided into those who give a damn (both of the above), and ordinary Brits who don't. The latter, like my friend Shairin, are the vast, vast majority.

Following this hoo-hah, I've realised that we're much, much better at understanding this in the UK than anywhere else in the West, no doubt because we're a few decades further down the integration road.

My opinion - that the newspapers should be allowed to publish but should choose not to, was in tune with the overwhelming majority in a Times public poll, and with all the newspapers, as it turned out.

February 15, 2006 2:07 AM  
Blogger Peter Burnet said...

Last post on this.

Skipper, I once hit Harry with this. You've heard of Roger Bacon, the medieval cleric who is now seen as one of the fathers of scientific inquiry? He once scandalized a group of scholastic colleagues who were trying to use theology to figure out how many teeth a horse had by suggesting they just go outside and count them. Don't you think it is time for you to give your Islamic scriptural studies a break and go out and talk to some Muslims?

February 15, 2006 3:24 AM  
Blogger Hey Skipper said...


News flash: I work with Muslims.

February 15, 2006 4:34 AM  
Blogger Brit said...


So how many of them are notably politicised, compared to the population as a whole?

February 15, 2006 4:47 AM  
Blogger Peter Burnet said...

Or treat you like feces?

(OK, that really was my last post)

February 15, 2006 5:16 AM  
Blogger Brit said...

Or want to destroy America and trample freedom of conscience?

February 15, 2006 5:22 AM  
Blogger Oroborous said...

Y'all are confusing "not all Muslims want to destroy America" with "NO Muslims want to destroy America and the West".

We could say that the religion of the aggressors isn't relevant - except that they explicitly say that it's the ONLY reason that they're fighting.

We can say that it isn't a war on Islam, and from our point of view, it's NOT - but the aggressors see very clearly that it is indeed a war on their sect of Islam.

It would be as if we were fighting Evangelical Christians qua Evangelicals, while claiming that it wasn't "a war against Christianity".
Technically true, but a distinction without a difference TO THEM.

February 15, 2006 7:29 AM  
Blogger Brit said...


Y'all are confusing "not all Muslims want to destroy America" with "NO Muslims want to destroy America and the West".

Are we heck.

As I said above, the problem is one of political disputes being sacralised.

February 15, 2006 7:41 AM  
Blogger Oroborous said...


Yeah, but not by us, by THEM.

A point that either Duck and/or Skipper also made.

February 15, 2006 8:14 AM  
Blogger Brit said...

It has been sacralised by us once we start believing that Western values and Islam are incompatible.

By the way, I apologise for any tetchiness that has crept into my posts on this matter. I know you think I'm missing a point, but I also think that my point is more important than anything about defending the right to offend, and some of the stuff I've been reading - not much here, but on other blogs - has made me positively queasy.

But as I said to Peter elsewhere, I have to remind myself that the blogworld is only a mirror of a mirror of the real world.

February 15, 2006 8:18 AM  
Blogger Harry Eagar said...

Oroborous puts it very well.

Brit and I will have to agree to disagree, but just because people not in a position to do anything else seem to acquiesce in the status quo does not show that they do acquiesce.

The belief, expressed elsewhere, that Muslims thirst to be self-governing and democratic or that they fundamentally resent their own despotic regimes shows that.

The fact that minority Muslims suffer in silence does not predict how they will behave when they are in the majority. How they behave when they are in the majority is our only guide to how they will behave when they become a majority.

A careful reading of American Muslim magazine, the self-proclaimed voice of moderate Islam in America, reveals that their agenda is not to live quietly but distinctively in a diverse civil society, as, for example, Jews do. Their stated purpose is to bring to America 'a genuine rendition of monotheism.'

That really is incompatible with the western way of life.

February 15, 2006 8:45 AM  
Blogger Brit said...

That monotheism is incompatible with western ways of life would raise a few eyebrows among most Americans, but I won't dwell on that one....

Harry, it does seem that we've reached an impasse on this, since my evidence is mostly anecdotal, and yours is mostly book-learnin'.

February 15, 2006 8:55 AM  
Blogger Hey Skipper said...


This is where the interpretation of the cartoon's point of view is so important.

You see them as poking a stick in the ummah's collective eye.

I don't. I see those cartoons as poking a stick in the eye of a very specific segment of Muslims; those, and only those, who find it acceptable to murder on Islam's behalf per Quranic direction.

Taken that way, it doesn't matter whether it is 73% (some countries) or .0001% (the UK) -- the cartoons still have a point, and that point is not directed at all Muslims, for it all of them were like the 17% (some countries) or the 99.9999% (UK), everyone would look at the cartoons with big cartoon thought balloons full of question marks over their heads.

As for how many of those I work with are politicized? Dunno. We follow the long honored Navy tradition: we talk about neither religion nor politics. Just like the AF should.

Remember my little vignette above (a Muslim woman flogging loan products without either undue discomfort or fear)?

On the same day, a woman representing an organization requesting new functionality came into the room for a meeting. It is safe to say, without any fear of contradiction, that she was statuesque.

After she departed, the devout Muslim member of our team was duly appreciative. He didn't try to stone her to death, nor attempt to tent her in a burqa.

So I, for one, have no problem with the notion that Muslims can easily coexist in liberal democracies. And I still can't fathom how you conclude those cartoons are directed at them.

I also think you have unduly tarred Harry on this. He clearly thinks a majority Muslim country, particularly if that country consists of just one sect, will not exhibit anything like a liberal democracy.

I think that is correct, just like I think that statement is correct no matter which religion/sect you wish to choose as being dominant.

Which is why the US gets along, despite being 80% Christian -- its because no more than 20% are Christian of any particular stripe.

In other words, Western values will not survive in the face of a single, dominant, religious sect. It isn't monotheism that is the problem, but "a genuine rendition of monotheism."

February 15, 2006 12:38 PM  
Blogger Oroborous said...

It's not that Islam-the-religion is incompatible with Western values.

It's that the cultures of almost all Muslim-majority societies are incompatible with Western values.

Since Muslim-majority societies tend to conflate "religion" and "culture" much more than currently does the West, and the West is inadvertently destroying their cultures, it leads to many non-Western Muslims seeing the West as hostile to their religion.

But we're not; we're "merely" toxic to their "religion as the basis for society" formulation.

We are not at war with their religion, but they are correct to think that we'll destroy the fundamentalist version of it anyway, just as a function of our existence.

Harry is right to say "look at how the current Muslim-majority nations are run".

There are a lot of reasons why any given nation might not be a democratic republic, or an advanced nation, but taken as a whole the record of the Muslim world is quite dismal.

That's not an accident.
There is SOME common factor that causes them to be backwards, and it almost certainly has to do with the religion of Islam.

Although the Muslim world can point to a handful of democracies, they can point to NO Muslim-majority nation that does any significant non-military R & D.

Why is that ?
Even pathetic, poverty-stricken Cuba has a small bio-tech industry, and they recently discovered a new vaccine for some tropical disease or another.

Cuba does world-class medical research and development.
Why can't any Muslim nation, particularly the rich petro-states ?

So, to recap, the religion of Islam is compatible with the West, BUT the culture of many Muslims is not, and for many Muslims the religion of Islam is inextricably bound up in their culture.

THAT is the point of maximum friction.

February 15, 2006 1:10 PM  
Blogger Harry Eagar said...

I cannot agree that the religion is compatible.

The most latitudinarian interpretations of Islam are.

But there are profound questions whether:

1) any majority Muslim society can maintain a latitudinarian attitude. The experience of Turkey says no.

2) certain important beliefs of Islam can ever be fitted into a system of western values. Education of women is the issue most seize on, but Muslims have shown that they can manage to put girls in school. The one to watch out for is the prohibition against apostasy.

It is not possible, so far as I can tell, to meld that into western society.

We have a model to look at, too: the shunning practices of German Pietists in America.

This has been a small enough problem that it has been ignored, but it could drag in government in all kinds of ways.

Even if the Muslims were tamed enough that they did not demand that government either execute apostates (the clear command of Allah) or at least allow them to do so; there would be the problem of access of parents/grandparents to children/grandchildren where somebody has apostasized, etc.

The British, whose skill in ruling Muslims has been vastly overpraised here, solved that conundrum in Egypt (where it appeared in a much less intense form since nobody pretended Egypt was a modern or western place) by simply leaving all legal questions of personal status to the religious courts and turning a blind eye to the consequent atrocities.

(My random reading yesterday took me to the autobiography of Richard Matsuura, an agricultural Presbyterian missionary in India, who tells the tale of a Muslim village's concept of proper retribution against a Nepalese hired hand who reported them for stealing vegetables: The whole village raped his wife. This was about 1964.

(Gonna be a looong time before the cultural difference of opinion is resolved.)

February 15, 2006 1:50 PM  
Blogger Brit said...

Ok, I think it's pretty clear now where everyone stands on this and where the various twains shall never meet.

My one big concern here is with the notion that western values and Muslims are incompatible. This is the view held by both white supremacists and Osama bin Laden. The logical conclusion for this is that one or the other will or must be destroyed.

I think that's quite wrong, and quite dangerous. I think it is especially dangerous for Muslims living in the west.

I think it's quite wrong because - no matter how many obscure books Harry has randomly read - I personally know integrated Muslims who think like westerners while retaining a Muslim identity.

Holding up odd examples of illiberal, intolerant, anti-democratic Muslims doesn't sway me in the least, since I could easily hold up plenty of examples of illiberal, intolerant, anti-democratic Whiteys.

I also think, contra Harry, who paints it far too black, that the example of Turkey shows that they are compatible on a national level.

Muslims can integrate into western culture as well as any other minority, but there will of course be points of friction, as O nicely puts it. The cartoons, or what they represent, are one of them. Just like whites and blacks have integrated - a notion that would once have been inconceivable to many - but only after a lot of pain at the points of friction.

There will be compromises of course. With blacks, we had to curb our freedom to draw golliwogs and call people 'niggers.'

With Muslims, we might have to try to understand what their taboos are, and resist trying out our freedom to wantonly break them for japes.

But I don't see that compromise is always a sign of weakness. In fact, when you are the overwhelimg majority, it takes a bit of moral fortitude to compromise for a minority.


What happened to your famous optimism? :)

I agree with your analysis of what currently happens in Muslim nations. I disagree that what happens in Muslim-majority nations is relevant to my point, which is after all fairly narrow.

You could make equal claims about plenty of African nations, yet we don't claim that our African-origin populations in the west are incompatible.

Again, Turkey shows that Islam might be contributory to illiberalism, but it is not sufficient.

I supect the deep problem is the lack of state-church separation. What the church happens to be is less important.

Behind most religious concerns are poltical/tribal/geographical/ historical concerns.


Our disagreement seems to boil down to whether the cartoons are satirical barbs aimed at, eg., al Qaeda, or just plain general racist insults. I just don't see it your way, and you don't see it mine, so we'll have to agree to disagree.

Shall we talk about something else now?

February 16, 2006 1:57 AM  
Blogger Hey Skipper said...

... notion that western values and Muslims are incompatible.

People are no more hardwired for a specific instance of religious beliefs than they are for language. Therefore, the notion that Muslims as a group are unable to come to terms with liberal democracy is risible, and certainly contradicts my personal experience.

But all the Muslims I have known have been in the context of secular liberal democracry where no sect, thankfully, is dominant.

Unfortunately, many Muslims live in countries where their religion is absolutely dominant, and there are no more than three sects, and often just one.

I think that is what is causing Oroborous to be so pessimistic. So far as I know, under such circumstances, no culture has significantly changed its religious beliefs in the absence of significant turmoil, a la European history prior to the (IIRC) Treaty of Westphalia.

There are a lot of indications there is a train wreck coming. Majority Muslim societies are nearly all completely moribund. They are economically dependent upon a wasting asset. They are faced with a virulent meme that has, in effect, declared war upon their theological precepts without having to actually fight.
As a consequence, their only option is to sacralize a conflict that is as asymmetrical as anything you could hope to imagine.

And they (as in Islamist groups) did so with these cartoons. Regardless of our disagreement as to whether the cartoons are satirical barbs or racist provocation, I doubt you could imagine a graphical satirical barb at the near monopoly Islamism has on terrorism that would not have yielded precisely the same results.

February 16, 2006 5:25 AM  
Blogger Brit said...


How about a cartoon of Osama bin Laden with a bomb for a turban, pretending to be a peaceful Muslim?

Similar depictions of actual Islamic terrorists appear in our papers all the time, and never a reaction.

The problem was the depiction of Mohammed as a terrorist.

An equivalent would be Gerry Adams hiding a bomb behind his back, versus an archetypal Oirishman with a bomb behind his back. Except it's worse because it breaks the non-depiction of Mohammed taboo as well.

It's interesting that Stuart Lee, author of 'Jerry Springer: The Opera', which enraged evangelical Christians, also criticised the cartoons for not bothering to understand the target of their supposed satire. He argued that whereas Christians depict their holy figures all the time, right down to selling tacky plastic Our Lady's to tourists at Lourdes, Muslims really do stick to the Prophet non-depiction tradition.

I don't really have much in the way of sacred taboos, so I can't understand why the breaking of this particular taboo so offended so many people, but I accept that they found it genuinely offensive.

Dammit, that really is my last word on it...:)

February 16, 2006 5:57 AM  
Blogger Hey Skipper said...


Okay, you got me on that one. It is possible.

And for those who think Christianity is uniquely inclined towards liberal democracy, this should be enlightening.

February 16, 2006 8:35 AM  
Blogger Brit said...

This is interesting too, since it shows that Muslims don't have a monopoly on modern terrorism, though in terms of numbers of organisations they do have a simple majority.

I never heard of Hindu terrorists before. Or 'an gof', the violent wing of Cornish independence ("non active")!

February 16, 2006 9:02 AM  
Blogger Harry Eagar said...

Well, here's a problem with Brit's analysis, not related so much to Muslims in the west, although perhaps not irrelevant, either.

So we cannot depict Mohammed, and somehow it's OK to riot and foam at the mouth over it.

How does it follow that you riot at the people -- Americans -- who haven't published the cartoons?

Except by positing that Muslims are, to a first or maybe even a second approximation, illogical hate-filled maniacs, what's that all about?

Shouldn't they have been lighting candles, or whatever the Muslim equivalent is, to the gentle Americans who declined to insult their vile Prophet?

If I'm damned if I do and also damned if I don't, then I really cannot see any reason not to go ahead and have the religious war they are insisting on and get it over with now.

February 16, 2006 4:53 PM  
Blogger David said...

1. The press should be free to be silly and provocative and blasphemous.

2. Muslims should be free to protest a silly, provocative and blasphemous press as forcefully as they can, so long as they stay within the limits of that freedom.

3. Nonetheless, it is a bad thing for the press to be needlessly silly, provocative and blasphemous.

4. Two of the cartoons -- "Turban bomb" and "burkha/black bar" -- strike me as legitimate commentary that are neither silly nor provocative, nor objectively blasphemous. Reliance on terrorism is ultimately deadly for Islam and no society can compete in the modern world if women are treated as chattel.

5. Nonetheless, Muslims have the right to protest forcefully, even if they are trying to coerce the newspapers not to publish legitimate criticism.

6. The newspapers will either have the courage to stand up for their freedom, or they won't.

7. Muslims are to be admired for taking blasphemy seriously. It was insane for Christians to back down from their protests over the use of tax money to promote Piss Christ, etc.

8. Violence is unacceptable.

9. Newspapers, if they take at all seriously their self-described public role, are now duty bound to point their readers to the cartoons, either by publishing the cartoons or at least including a web address so that citizens can come to their own decisions about issues of grave public concern.

10. The reasons newspapers aren't publishing the cartoons is because they have been successfully coerced into toeing the line the Muslim protesters have been demanding.

11. Note, however, that whenever a "cop killer" rap controversy come up, the newspapers also refuse to publish the lyrics because they aren't fit for a "family newspaper." Our current Muslim coercion is not unique.

February 16, 2006 6:17 PM  
Blogger Brit said...


I don't see a problem there for my 'analysis'. My first post on TofE was called "A plague on all houses concerned" and I stand by that.

It's not ok to riot, though it is ok to foam at the mouth.

"Except by positing that Muslims are, to a first or maybe even a second approximation, illogical hate-filled maniacs, what's that all about?"

Your analysis is dependent on the assumption that the rioters and foaming mouthers are representative of Muslims, either in the west or in Muslim-majority countries. I doubt that assumption in both instances, but especially in the former.


A very good post. Strange though that you pick out 'turban bomb' as a legit cartoon. I picked that one out as the one truly racist one.

February 17, 2006 6:51 AM  
Blogger Hey Skipper said...


I buy your analysis, lock, stock, and barrel, except for:

Muslims are to be admired for taking blasphemy seriously. It was insane for Christians to back down from their protests over the use of tax money to promote Piss Christ, etc.

While I think blasphemy is a nearly empty concept, it is indeed outrageous that tax money was used to promote the Piss Christ (and probably all art).

But that doesn't provide cover for Muslims in this case, as no tax money was used to publish the cartoons.


re TNT Chapeau: see, I told you so. ;)

February 17, 2006 9:18 AM  
Blogger Hey Skipper said...


I neglected to mention that I was looking forward to your comments on the AF Academy schlamozzle.

February 17, 2006 9:30 AM  
Blogger Harry Eagar said...

David's take is the sort of rational, lawyerly, mature, thoughtful and reasonable statement that any westerner, even me, can admire.

But almost any Muslim would find it barking mad, with the exception of 5, 10 & 11.

This is, also, the kind of reasonableness that, history suggests,leads to disastrous outcomes.

One of my desultory hobbies is sweeping U.K. eBay for books of punditry on German politics published between the signing of the Little Entente and Sept. 1, 1939.

This morning, I hear of a leaked Foreign Office memo suggesting political engagement with Islam, including the Islamic Brotherhood, on the grounds that the brotherhood is seeking regime change through electoral means and is therefore admirably democratic.

By the kind of serendipity that my reading habits produce all the time, it happens that last night I was reading the chapter in Blood-Ryan's 'Goring; Iron Man of Germany' (published 1937) in which he describes how Bruning and the Left were paralyzed politically when the Nazis, alone among the Right parties, adopted the electoral subversion strategy in 1929.

February 17, 2006 9:47 AM  
Blogger Peter Burnet said...

David's take is the sort of rational, lawyerly, mature, thoughtful and reasonable statement that any westerner, even me, can admire.

Yes, it would be, wouldn't it?

February 17, 2006 11:07 AM  
Blogger Harry Eagar said...

Professor Reynolds leads me to this:

Woman Muslim reporter is stoned at anticartoon protest in advanced, westernized Turkey and then charged with provoking the protestors by her sexually exciting hair.

Should have reported, I guess, that 30 million Turks did not stone her.

Muslims really are not like us.

February 17, 2006 11:09 AM  
Blogger Harry Eagar said...

Professor Reynolds leads me to this:

Woman Muslim reporter is stoned at anticartoon protest in advanced, westernized Turkey and then charged with provoking the protestors by her sexually exciting hair.

Should have reported, I guess, that 30 million Turks

February 17, 2006 11:11 AM  
Blogger David said...

Brit: I suppose that that's Skipper's point about the elusive meaning of the cartoons. I understand Turban Bomb to be saying that, if left unchecked, terrorism will ultimately be fatal to Islam.

Skipper: Just as the papers have the right to publish, we all have the right to try to get the papers not to publish. Generally, we do that by making publishing more trouble than it's worth.

Harry: We do need to treat Muslims in the west differently than we treat Muslim nations who act up. Syria delenda est. Muslims in the west have all the rights that any of us have and should have the same limitations.

As for dealing with Islamic Brotherhood or Hamas or whomever, it doesn't thrill me. Still, as the saying goes, you can only make peace with those you're at war with.

February 17, 2006 1:12 PM  
Blogger Hey Skipper said...


A good part, and the part that widely resonated regardless of religious belief, of the Piss Christ thing was the funding source.

Had it been completely private, we would likely never have heard of it, and certainly wouldn't be talking about it.

Since Muslims were not required to supply resources to the Danish paper, this particular resonance is not open to them.

Your follow on comment is undoubtedly true, but might well not be helpful here. After all, the Danish paper's circulation department is probably overjoyed at this point.

February 17, 2006 2:40 PM  
Blogger Harry Eagar said...

Sholom aleikum is a Muslim warcry as well as the name of a Yiddish writer.

Means the same as in Hebrew, too. Except that from a Muslim it means the peace of death.

Have fun negotiating that.

February 17, 2006 7:40 PM  
Blogger David said...

Actually, the Arabic greeting is "As salaam alaikum" and means Peace be upon you. The response is "Wa alaikum salaam," And upon you, Peace.

In Hebrew, the greating is Shalom Aleichem, and the response is Aleichem Shalom. The meanings are the same.

Shalom Aleichem took his pseudonym from the greeting.

February 18, 2006 1:05 PM  
Blogger Harry Eagar said...

As 'shalom aleikum' it is a warcry, as heard, for example, at Omdurman.

February 18, 2006 5:44 PM  
Blogger Brit said...


Woman Muslim reporter is stoned at anticartoon protest in advanced, westernized Turkey and then charged with provoking the protestors by her sexually exciting hair.

Should have reported, I guess, that 30 million Turks did not stone her.

No, that goes without saying.

You should have reported that the two men who threw the stones (which didn't seriously hurt her) were charged for it.

Muslims aren't like us? Westerners don't do stupid things in mobs?

February 20, 2006 2:55 AM  
Blogger Hey Skipper said...


Well, you are right, Westerners in mobs do get up to stupid things.

But I think it would be safe to say that football hooligans are not like the rest of us.

Among Muslims there seem to be a disproportionate number of hooligans.

Figuring out why is less hard than concluding what to to about it.

February 21, 2006 4:55 AM  
Blogger Harry Eagar said...

Get back to me when they've been convicted.

And what difference does it make that she wasn't seriously injured?

February 21, 2006 6:32 PM  
Blogger Brit said...

Football hooligans are not like us, and these hooligans are not like Muslims.

It makes no difference that she wasn't seriously hurt.

But you presented it as dog bites man, when it is man bites dog.

If I believed everything I read on these US blogs and news reports, the mere fact that an attractive, flowing-haired Muslim woman could be a Turkish TV reporter would astonish me.

February 22, 2006 3:16 AM  
Blogger Hey Skipper said...


If I believed everything I read on these US blogs and news reports, the mere fact that an attractive, flowing-haired Muslim woman could be a Turkish TV reporter would astonish me.

Good point.

February 23, 2006 4:03 AM  

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