It's America's Fault!
So who's at fault for this, the cartoonists, who submitted their work to the Dutch paper? The Dutch newspaper? The other European papers, who in a show of solidarity published them also? Nope, ask Eugene Robinson at the Post, he'll tell you, it's America's fault, or more specifically, George Bush's fault.
He gives Europe a little blame in his opinion piece today, but not much.
No, it probably isn't the best starting point, but it also shouldn't be a flash point. Any half sane person should have been able to look at those cartoons and seen the real message, "Islam is destroying itself, and any credibility it has as a religion". Multiculturalism won't solve the problem, either, because for that to work all the cultures involved need to be willing to say theirs isn't the most important one. That's something the Islamic culture doesn't seem capable of.
The focus this time is on Europe, which has awakened to the fact that it is home to millions of Muslim immigrants who do not necessarily care to assimilate. I think the solution for Europe is to embrace multiculturalism, and I would hope that even those who disagree would at least consider the possibility that crude caricatures of Muhammad might not be the best starting point for constructive dialogue.
Until people in the major islamic countries stand up and fight the actual problem, which isn't a cartoon but those who are co-opting their religion, Islam isn't going to be seen by "The West" as serious about stopping groups like Hamas, al Qaeda and others.
But eventually the focus of this conflict will shift back to the United States, the undisputed leader of "the West." With all his talk of freedom as a universal right, President Bush pretends to understand that U.S. support of corrupt dictatorships in places such as Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan contributes to the feeling that Muslims are under attack and helps give strength to fundamentalism and jihad. Yet the Bush administration continues to prop up these same autocrats, some of whom happen to sit on huge reserves of oil, while giving little more than lip service to those in the crowds that took to the streets over some indistinguished Danish cartoons.The truth is, if those crowds put as much energy into getting rid of their own autocratic regimes, they could. We proved here in 1776 that angry people can get rid of a government they don't think is representing them. Most of Eastern Europe did in the early 90's. The Iranians proved it in 1978, by getting rid of their autocrat that was propped up by Washington.
Maybe I'm reading Eugene wrong, maybe what he's saying is Bush should start toppling regimes that don't allow freedom, start a full fledged "democracy crusade" in the Middle east. The problem with that of course is that those autocrats are the only thing providing anything close to stability in the region. The choice in many of the countries he mentions is either the current regime, or a more militant one, run by fundamentalists such as those who took over Iran.
Those Danish cartoonists and their editor set out to teach Muslims a lesson about free speech. They ended up giving the rest of us a startling illustration that while Bush and his allies speak of a post-Sept. 11 global war against terrorism, terrorism is nothing but a tactic. This is really a war of ideas, a battle for hearts and minds, and it's a war in which "the West" will lose ground until its deeds are more consonant with its high-minded words.Actually, the west isnt' the loser in this war that Eugene mentions. the real losers are the followers of Islam. What they've proven with this battle is that they aren't ready to be assimilated into other societies through multiculturalism. They've shown their own inferiority complex to be so deep that any mention of their religion not being perfect causes rioting.
They've shown they aren't ready for free speech, since that requires one to be offended at times. (There are groups in America with the same problem).
Blacks in America didn't take the KKK's road and start killing, burning churches and destroying propery to show they should be included in society. They took the high road, worked harder, showed they were anyone's equal in the country. While there are still problems, their tactic was much more successful than that of the KKK.
When the people of Islam decide to follow the same path, instead of the path that the Klan did here, maybe they'll be taken seriously. When the people of Islam decide to prove that they are anyone in the worlds equal, instead of playing the poor step child, they will start to be taken seriously.
Until they decide to take some responsibility for their own plight, they are doomed to continue suffering it, and it will probably get worse instead of better.
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