Moslem cartoons, Japanese skits



Two years ago, China was whipped into a frenzy of anti-Japanese rioting, ignited by a skit by some Japanese students at a university in Xi’an.

The third annual cross-cultural performance night at Northwest University in Xi’an was meant to showcase the international flavor of the school’s language institute. Such talent shows at Chinese universities generally cleave to conventions: skits are formal, easy to understand and never bawdy. But when three Japanese students and a Japanese teacher took the stage they had something a little more racy in mind.

The teacher held a female mannequin in his hand. “This is my girlfriend,” he said. “She’s too fat, and she ought to go on a diet.” Then the three students, who wore cardboard boxes on their heads inscribed with words like “sushi” and “ninja,” cast off overcoats to reveal they were wearing red brassieres, with paper cups protruding suggestively from between their legs. They began to dance, gyrating their hips in a manner that “for Chinese was just nauseating,” said one spectator. After three minutes university authorities frantically motioned for the organizers to close the curtains. The Japanese contingent had certainly performed in bad taste; but had it been their intention to offend their Chinese hosts?

Chinese students viewing the skit in the context of the long history of antagonism between Japan and China believed so. The following day, Oct. 30, word of the performance had spread, and many of the campus’ 18,000 students concluded the Japanese had been out to humiliate China. Posters appeared on dormitory walls. “Protect our nation, throw out the attackers,” read one. Rumors that the Japanese had worn pig’s heads and had racist insults written on their costumes circulated quickly via mobile-phone text messages and Internet bulletin boards. More than a thousand angry students massed outside the foreign students’ dormitory and sang the Chinese national anthem, before shouting for the “Japanese pigs” to come out and apologize. When no one appeared, protesters broke windows with bricks, burst into the dorm and beat up two Japanese students who had had nothing to do with the dance, says a Japanese diplomat sent to investigate the case. Over the next two days crowds of students and other Xi’an residents demonstrated in public squares across the city. According to witnesses, the main gate of the campus was demolished by a mob of demonstrators trying to breech a People’s Armed Police barricade.

Like this week’s explosion of Islamic outrage over some ill-considered Danish cartoons, the reaction was nothing short of bizarre when seen in relation to the “crime.” As a Jew, I get offended by anti-Semitic cartoons, crosses painted on synagogues, hateful rhetoric from the president of Iran, etc. Do I riot and attack Moslems? Do I allow myself to indulge in a self-immolating orgy of hatred and violence? (In case you haven’t figured it out, the answer is “No.”)

In both cases, I believe the raw, blind rage is rooted in insecurity and a sense of inferiority. (Note, I said a sense of inferiority, not that Chinese or Moslems are inferior.) I think it’s correct for the US to voice disapproval and I think the cartoons were ill-considered, to say the least. (In the case of the Xi’An incident, I am less charitable; the Japanese skit was not intended to offend, dumb as the young students may have been in not taking into account the unique sensitivities of their hosts.) But the reaction….

No people who are secure about who they are and aware of their accomplishments and worthiness behave like this. Mature people channel their outrage constructively and never burn things down and attack innocents. People who see themselves as perennial victims, however, are always vulnerable to being incited to violence by the smallest catalyst. Like a silly college skit, or some offensive cartoons. The rage feeds on itself, and the catalyst is blown out of all proportion, transformed into something Meaningful when it was nothing more than dumb.

Like the Moslems, the Chinese always seem prone to such conflagrations that arise out of nothing, like the Japanese businessmen in 2003 who bought prostitutes at a Guandong hotel. It created a firestorm, all because it occurred on the anniversary of the start of Japan’s occupation of China’s northeast. (Do you really think the orgy’s organizers took that date into account as they arranged the seedy event? No matter; they were sentenced to life in prison.)

Again, self-confident, mature, successful people rarely if ever allow themselves to be manipulated to acts of violence over a racial/cultural slur, real or perceived. Because they are secure in the knowledge that the slur is nonsense, and they know they can be far more effective if they protest intelligently as opposed to childishly. When Jews were furious over Reagan’s decision to visit Bitburg they launched letter-writing campaigns, took to the airwaves and wrote op-ed columns. They never advocated violence against Republicans or Germans. What the Moslems are doing now – storming and defacing embassies, declaring an “International Day of Anger” – it’s in the same vein as Chinese attacking Japanese restaurants (run by Chinese) or destroying Toyotas. It’s self-defeating and weakens their cause. And it’s a telltale sign, whenever we witness this phenomenon, that the delirious crowds have a lot of growing up to do, as do their leaders who instigate the insanity.

Update: Now the cartoonists’ lives are in danger. And always true to form, Michelle Malkin and Charles Johnson of Little Green Cesspools, are calling on readers to buy Danish products to show their support of the cartoons. I love the Danes (what they did for the Jews in WWII is one of the great inspirational stories in history). I can see celebrating and cherishing them for many things they’ve done. But these cartoons are not one of those great things. I neither praise nor blame Denmark for them (it wasn’t a state-sanctioned act), and I certainly don’t see the publication of these cartoons as anything to celebrate.

The Discussion: 50 Comments

This whole thing is actually kind of mind-boggling when perceived from this distance.
At the risk of sounding like one of my students’ CET essays, “Every coin has two sides…” Free speech is important, but printing racist caricatures – and some of the cartoons were rather racist – well, there’s a history of that in Europe, and it didn’t end too happily last time. Then again, it sounds like some extra, much more offensive cartoons were added by fundamentalist immams to create more outrage in the Middle East. It also sounds like the Danish PM could have helped by being more diplomatic a bit earlier.

Anyway, your post is about over-reactions, common to both the Chinese and the Middle East. Yes, there’s the sense of inferiority. There are also probably some real disadvantages – in education and in the ability to communicate with a global audience in any way other than rioting. I imagine that a lot of the crowd in Damascus feel (rightly or wrongly) that this is the only way they have of expressing their opinions on the world stage.
And when it comes to the Chinese students, and I suspect most rioters (usually young males), there’s also the fact that it’s ….well…. fun. As was pointed out to me by one of my students during the Sarajevo embassy bombing incident. “I’m missing the compulsory Party meeting about how the evil Americans and Brits have abused China’s international rights, because I’m not in the slightest bit interested” he told me, “but, if we’re given permission to hold a demonstration I WILL BE THERE.”

February 4, 2006 @ 10:59 am | Comment

From what I remember of the incident there was nothing in the content of the students’ skit that was at all overtly political. Does anyone know how it is that the Chinese decided that it was not only shamefully tasteless and inappropriate but also offensive in the context of the history and relations between China and Japan?

February 4, 2006 @ 11:02 am | Comment

Dish, you’re quite right – for the young and the restless, violence can be great fun. What you say about education and opportunities for self-expression are true enough, but I can’t believe there is no other way for the Moslems to express themselves except violence. A march in silence can be just as media-worthy as a day of violence. And if they could get over their inferiority complex, they would know there is no reason to get hysterical over some Danish cartoons. As I said, they have a lot of growing up to do, which includes their need for good education, free of dogma and anti-West doctrine.

Liu, I forget what got the Chinese so riled up in Xi’An, but will look it up. As I remember, the excuse for the outrage was so contrived, so forced as to be embarrassing. The hatred was welled up already, and it just needed a fuse, any fuse at all, to explode.

February 4, 2006 @ 11:10 am | Comment

Both to me show the hand of Governments looking for external enemies (scape goats) for their issues. The Islamic Cartoons were not appropriate, but what about the anti-Zionist cartoons that are routine in the Arab Media. The ones I saw on another site last night were sick…

February 4, 2006 @ 11:10 am | Comment

Well, I think there are lots of educated, affluent Muslims who are protesting in precisely the manners you have listed: through newspaper articles, letters, and diplomacy – for example, this polite, well-mannered and logical piece is from the Guardian a few days ago. Burning embassies and ‘International Days of Anger’ are certainly not good, and they tend to drown out the quieter, saner voices. But those voices are still there.

February 4, 2006 @ 11:33 am | Comment

Yes, the voices of sanity are certainly drowned out by the roar of the mob. Obviously, the blind rage I refer to in the case of the Chinese and the Moslems doesn’t consume everyone, only the most insecure and, often, the least educated (or the most indoctrinated). The wealthy and educated will usually steer clear of the violence, knowing it is an exercise in self-destruction (though in China, the educated can be just as volatile on the subject of Japan, since anti-Japanese ideology is actually a staple of their education).

February 4, 2006 @ 11:41 am | Comment

What I’m trying to say is, please don’t stereotype all Muslims as violent fundamentalists.

Ray’s certainly got a good point about the governments. Certainly it’s widely presumed that while the Chinese government doesn’t necessarily promote anti-Japanese riots, it seems to prefer them to any other kind of riot we’re likely to have around here – and to use them as a kind of safety-valve for the young educated urban population.

PS: Seen on another forum…
Q: How do you effectively counter an ‘International Day of Anger’?
A: Declare an ‘International Day of Apathy’.
(The decision was made to protest by staying in bed until noon and then playing computer games for the rest of the day.)

February 4, 2006 @ 11:46 am | Comment

Sorry, cross-posted there.

February 4, 2006 @ 11:48 am | Comment

Dish, the only Moslems I am referring to are the ones who are rioting (or who are consumed with hatred). The Chinese I refer to are the ones who riot against Japan at the drop of a hat, and/or the ones who obsess over Japan in a singularly unhealthy manner.

February 4, 2006 @ 11:52 am | Comment

What really annoyed me was that some protestors here were waving racist and inciteful banners – but the Police did not remove them even when the public complained. That is wrong.

Straw is a complete whimp for making a pathetic attempt to try to keep favour with the Muslim community. He should have said that if you want to protest, you do it peacefully. I find women walking down the street in black robes offensive because it clashes with my personal beliefs. But I don’t chant “death to Islam” and make death-threats against Muslim priests because of it. And if I did, I can bet you I’d be thrown in jail – these extremists can get away with it on the other hand.

All I can say is, if we are to limit these cartoons because they offend Muslims, what’s next? Banning the sale of pork and alcohol because they find it offensive? I don’t celebrate the mocking cartoons, but certainly I support the inoffensive and satirical ones. I also support the rights of our Danish and European brothers to publish them.

I also would encourage people to buy Danish goods to show their solidarity. Muslims are going to have to accept that just because they can ban things they don’t like in the Middle East/Asia doesn’t mean they can push us around here.

February 4, 2006 @ 11:54 am | Comment

About the Xi’an riots. As far as I know, the provocation was imagined, not intended. Japanese can be very zaney (ever seen their TV progs) and the Chinese were far too uptight.

I really am getting sick of this pathetic victimisation syndrome in China. I’ve said it before but I need to say it again. Just because 60+ years ago Japan did bad things to China does not mean that Chinese people have carte blanche to resort to mob rule and attack innocents whenever they feel offended.

If China is the civilised country Beijing constantly maintains it is, then more Chinese people should start acting like mature adults rather than petulant children. I say this because whenever something like this happens, the media and other Chinese often leap in to defend the rioteers and thugs – direct criticism is muted or filled with caveats. So the wider community also needs to grow up, not just those that cause the violence.

February 4, 2006 @ 11:58 am | Comment

Raj, I totally agree we should not ban or limit the cartoons, and that the reaction by the demonstrators has been sickening. But I see no reason to celebrate the cartoons, either, by encouraging people to buy Danish products. I can think of much nobler things to celebrate.

February 4, 2006 @ 12:03 pm | Comment

richard: I hadn’t read your comment when I posted mine. I’m sorry for wrongly accusing you of stereotypical behaviour.

Raj: In China that is not going to happen, because, well, the Chinese government needs the people to hate the Japanese. Think about it from the leaders’ point of view: would you rather have your young, educated, rich urbanites rioting about free sp3ech, internet c3nsorship, d3mocracy, the plight of their countryside cousins, etc? Or would you rather they were too busy being upset and violoent about something that happened 60 years ago?

February 4, 2006 @ 12:09 pm | Comment

‘stereotyping’ not ‘stereotypical behaviour’
I need to go to bed.

February 4, 2006 @ 12:10 pm | Comment

Perhaps those Chinese students did overact a bit, was not enough of a “gentleman”. And perhaps you are right, that that does show a lack of self-confidence. Well, so what? The West has led the world in economy and industry for the past 200 years, and China fell from world’s No.1 to world’s “third world countries”. Don’t you think it’ll be normal to its citizens to feel a bit eager and desirous for their country to catch ahead, and wants to get rid of the state of backwardness of their country? If your country suddenly fell from first place to 50th place, your citizens would have the same sensitivity to offensive materials and lack of confidence. But give China another 30 years, maybe 50 years, or even 100 years, and you’ll notice Chinese people will become more and more confident and mature. Until then, I ask you to just respect their oversensitivity and their lack of self-confidence.

For the same reason, I totally understand why the Muslims overreacted to those cartoons, and I respect their rights to “overreact” and be over-sensitive.

If you don’t understand what I said. Reflect on it, and think deeply upon it. If you still cannot understad, then just forget it.

February 4, 2006 @ 12:16 pm | Comment

To continue from above. I remember an incident a long time ago, when a friend of mine from the city of Shanghai came to visit me and complained to me about how disgusted he is at the migrant workers in Shanghai. He said to me, “they are so disgusting! They never change their clothes in a week! And when they go into a store, they don’t even hold the door for people!” I, being a fews years older than he was, thought to myself, “How the hell can you expect someone who spent their entire lifetime in the countryside to follow your exquisite middle-class urban conventions?” “How about I sent you to Anhui ploughing the field for 20 years, and then you come back to Shanghai and all the middle class sophisticated urbanites tell you ‘you villagers are so disgusting! you don’t even hold the door for ladies when you enter a store. you don’t even tip enough when you eat in a restaurats, etc etc’.”

I think I’ve brough up this topic before. It is ok for an upperclass British gentleman to look down upon a farmer from Shanxi province because the farmer does not brush his teeth with toothpaste in the morning, does not take showers everyday, and has never heard of Shakespeare. The West is like that upperclass British gentleman, and the third world countries are like those Shanxi farmers.

February 4, 2006 @ 12:32 pm | Comment

China Hand, many of the Chinese demonstratrors, as I point out in my comments, were/are well-educated university students, and some are quite well-off. This isn’t necessarily about class, though that’s certainly part of it. In the case of the Chinese, it’s more about government indoctrination and the way they are educated, and less to do with sophistication or wealth. Obviously the lower classes are even more prone to getting sucked into the state-sponsored hatred, as they are uneducated and haven’t been taught to think for themselves or to question their government. In China’s case, it all goes back to the CCP. The state-sponsored ignorance knows no class/economic borders, though many of the new generation are getting their heads straightened out thanks to the Internet and blogs like this. (Said with a touch of humor, something CH won’t appreciate.) Let’s hope and pray that this process accelerates.

February 4, 2006 @ 12:43 pm | Comment

And self-confidence, maturity and being at peace with oneself – characteristics required to keep us from being manipulated by emotional messages appealing to our sense of inferiority – aren’t contingent on wealth or a sophisticated background. Even the wealthiest Chinese, raised at Swiss boarding schools, will be prone to the messages of hatred and martyrdom if he doesn’t possess these basic qualities. In this respect, many of the poorest peasants are light years ahead of their university-educated robotized countrymen.

February 4, 2006 @ 12:59 pm | Comment

I point out in my comments, were/are well-educated university students, and some are quite well-off.

I’m not talking about rich people vs. poor people in China. I’m saying that China at this stage does not belong in the same class as the US and European countries, and it is ridiculous to judge them with the same ruler. The idea that “You must remain very calm and act very gentlemanly when your ethnicity is being insulted” is the international equivalent of “you must hold the door for ladies”. Both are rather “sophistcated” and “upperclass” ideas developed when you have too much time on your hand and need to show you are “above” others. Sure, it’ll be nice if you can do that. But there’s nothing wrong if you can’t.

Also, the West did do more injustices to the Muslim world than the Muslim has done to the West for the past 100 years. In the United States, Blacks often react a lot more strongly and violently to anti-Black comments than Asians do to anti-Asian comments. Can you conclude that Blacks are somehow a lot more misguided and “brainwashed” than Asians?

February 4, 2006 @ 1:00 pm | Comment

What Dish said, about rioting just being “fun”:

Oh, yeah. Yep. And it’s often a big mistake to project any abstract kinds of subtle idealism onto rioters. In fact, it’s usually a mistake to do so.

I remember back in 1994 – about a year and a half after the infamous “Rodney King” riots in Los Angeles – I was paying for my sins at a gathering (with drinks, weak ones) of effete academics at the LSE, and some stereotypical English “Socialist” grad-student type (supercilious anti-American, subspecies “beret”), asked me what he thought was a pointed question:

“Do you think the Los Angeles riot was a race riot, or an uprising?” And I replied,

“Neither. It was just a riot. Sometimes people just like to destroy things.”

February 4, 2006 @ 1:06 pm | Comment

When any group of people uses mindless violence and attacks innocents based on color or creed, then yes, I most likely would put it on the level of brainwashed Chinese. But in bringing up the black race riots, there’s a major differentiator: They often had a legitimate, real, tangible reason for their rage. It wasn’t over a cartoon, or a silly skit. If the Chinese or Moslems were rioting for more legitimate reasons I’d be a lot more forebearing. Just as I am with the Dongzhou riots, or the Tiananmen Square violence on the part of the demonstrators. I do not put such riots in the same category as those described in this post. Not at all. There is a time for violence and for outrage. Like the Warsaw Ghetto uprising, or the murder of black schoolchildren in Mississippi. Or the TS massacre. A well-intentioned but dumb skit by Japanese kids is not in this category. But of course, you can never make such subtle distinctions. (And welcome back. Really.)

February 4, 2006 @ 1:15 pm | Comment

Yes I agree Ivan, and I remember someone saying the 1989 Tiananamen Incident is simply “A small group of people who love attention leading a big group of people who love to shout and throw stuff”

February 4, 2006 @ 1:16 pm | Comment

Ivan, sad but true. Reading Lord of the Flies taught me so much about human nature.

February 4, 2006 @ 1:17 pm | Comment

“The idea that “You must remain very calm and act very gentlemanly when your ethnicity is being insulted” is the international equivalent of “you must hold the door for ladies”. ”

China-Hand, I understand where you are coming from. However, it is not clear to me that in the case of the Xian incident the Chinese ethnicity was being insulted. Unless I missed some detail, everything that I have read of the performance indicates that they were students behaving foolishly (as young people often do) and not that they were mocking China.

February 4, 2006 @ 1:18 pm | Comment

Canada’s Moslems take the mature approach, just as I’m sure the Chinese in Vancouver did last April.

February 4, 2006 @ 1:27 pm | Comment

what I really want to know is how the syrians found so many Danish flags so fast…

February 4, 2006 @ 2:07 pm | Comment


A huge crowd has set fire to the Danish Embassy in Syria.

Depending on how Syria’s government handles this, it could be taken as an act of war against Denmark, and thus an attack on the NATO alliance. It’s an act of war against NATO unless the Syrian government goes WAY out of its way to dissociate itself from the attack.

February 4, 2006 @ 2:09 pm | Comment

Oh and, Richard, what you said about “Lord of the Flies” and Human nature – yes that’s about half of it. The other aspect of Human nature makes it all more problematic. That is, as Pascal said:

“Man is both beast AND Angel, and the pity of it is that whenever he tries too hard to be like an Angel, he ends up acting like a beast.”

A warning against every kind of fanaticism, there…

February 4, 2006 @ 2:13 pm | Comment

In China’s case it’s pretty clear that the government brews the hatred to coordinate public sentiment as Dish and Ray mentioned.

CH can re-frame the issue as justified insecurity, but it doesn’t change the fact that the hatred is fostered by the government for their own purposes, and therefore the hatred is not likely to wane, despite economic development.

Regarding going from 1st to 50th place, 1) CCP set China back 50 years themselves, so they can only partially blame international forces. 2) UK was once a global empire – I don’t see such insecurity from them (there are certain sentiments for sure but it’s beyond scope). I also don’t see the Japanese being insecure about not ruling the pacific anymore.

And, blacks in the US also suffer from insecurity, stemming mostly from the economic realities today, but also from a sense of entitlement that’s preached by non-reality based leaders advocating things such as reparations for slavery. The LA police don’t help either.

I need help with this. Angry and armed Muslims invading hotels looking for european hostages in response to a cartoon is analogous to not holding doors for women how? European and US foreign policies have hurt middle eastern nations for sure in the past decade. Yet this in no way justifies those actions. If it did, you’ll also submit to Taiwanese gangs pointing guns at you as you walk down the street since their’s missles pointing at their country.

In any case, almost every country or people has at one time been persecuted by others.
The holocaust was sad, but so was Nanjing, (although no schoolkid in the US hears about the latter). Jews don’t talk about obliterating Germans, as the Chinese do with Japan. Governments owe it to their citizens to seek security and economic prosperity, and not brew the hatred that is in essense the type of “political spectacle” math previously said was non-existent in communist China.

To say “they did this to us 200 years ago” so we should hit them back or attacking their citizens is okay is the very type of thinking that keeps China backwards, and causes so many of today’s problems.

February 4, 2006 @ 2:40 pm | Comment

European and US foreign policies have hurt middle eastern nations for sure in the past **century.**

February 4, 2006 @ 2:43 pm | Comment

“A huge crowd has set fire to the Danish Embassy in Syria.”

Uh-oh. I just saw that on the BBC site. Pretty ironic that certain individuals in Syria should choose to respond to their culture being insulted as violent and barbaric by behaving in a manner at once violent and barbaric. Also, and as was noted in an earlier post, these cartoons were the doing of a private newspaper and not at all endorsed by the government of Denmark (not that an unruly mob is likely to take the distinction into account). Finally, taking to the street in protest of American and British foreign policy is one thing but to torch the embassy of one of the most liberal, tolerant nations on earth? Not a good move if they are hoping to court international sympathy.

February 4, 2006 @ 3:44 pm | Comment

Richard I think your post is great. Very well done. I’m rather surprised by the way some people are defending the violent actions claiming that they are acceptable for a few reasons, but I’m glad to see that the majority is setting them straight..

February 4, 2006 @ 6:02 pm | Comment

Yes, here’s where my inner secular humanist tells my multicultural side to take a hike. Whoever said above thread that Muslims in the Middle East who don’t like cartoons in Danish papers can just lump it, I’m with you. I’m not someone who would go so far as the French and ban headscarfs – that to me is oppressive. But as far as certain basic modern Western societal tenents go – free expression, rights of women, stuff like that – people who come here or to Denmark or to France, etc., to live need to accept, adapt or get out.

Helluva way to show that Islam is a religion of peace, burning down embassies…

February 4, 2006 @ 6:31 pm | Comment

Oh, and just to clarify – in case I haven’t mentioned it lately, I think that the US attack on Iraq is one of the more shameful blots on my country’s history; I believe it’s a multi-layered tragedy, and one for which we’ll be paying a price for decades to come.

February 4, 2006 @ 7:33 pm | Comment

Burning the embassy … act of war … NATO … damn, this is getting creepy ! I wouldn’t be in those cartoonists’ shoes !

Oh, and I don’t think the Mohammed cartoons were particularly shameful or ill-considered; certainly nothing the newspaper or government should have to apologize about. They’re not particularly offensive and not particularly funny either, just run-of-the-mill political cartoons that happen to target a religious figure. Weren’t they accompanying an article about mohammed and blasphemy laws ?

(Oh, and some say this was organized by the Muslim Brotherhod (in french, sorry :P) as a way to stir up shit and radicalize / infiltrate european muslim organizations, which woul explain the pretty long time between the cartoons being published and everything blowing up.

And yeah, I’d also support buying Danish products. Not to show my support for the cartoon (They’re not funny enough to deserve that), but to counteract boycotts from the middle east. Europe will *not* have any blasphemy laws, dammit !

February 4, 2006 @ 9:33 pm | Comment

If they start burning copies of Hamlet, then they’re really asking for it.

February 4, 2006 @ 10:54 pm | Comment

Cartoons Aren’t The Only Artform That Has Sparked Riots

Peking Duck writes:

Two years ago, China was whipped into a frenzy of anti-Japanese rioting, ignited by a skit by some Japanese students at a university in Xi’an.

And he…

February 4, 2006 @ 11:07 pm | Comment

Another thoughtful and opinion piece from the Observer echoing something I believe Richard wrote about Muslim anti-semitism:

“Was it right to publish those cartoons? Probably not. Was it sensible to republish them? Probably not. We should accept that it has caused deep offence to people whose religion we do not fully comprehend. But, equally, Muslims must allow for the error in a continent of free but flawed societies. They should understand that our societies are not simply based on godless consumption and self-indulgence, but on one or two deeply held convictions.

Both sides are spoiling for a fight on this one and there is a fair amount of unattractive posturing. When push comes to shove, I have to say that I would take a lot more notice of the outrage in the Middle East if I had not come across dozens of anti-semitic cartoons published in the Arab press.

The striking part of Arabic Jew-baiting is that it is as prevalent, nasty and dehumanising as it ever was in Nazi Germany. Newspapers published in Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan, Oman and UAE all use demonic images of stereotypical Jews (big nose, black coat and hat and laden with money bags) pulling the strings behind the scenes in US politics, buying political influence and spreading death, terror and disease. Josef Goebbels would have felt quite at home reading these newspapers.

They are unacceptable and would, if published here, cause an outrage equal to last week’s, but this does not seem to have occurred to the Muslim spokesman or clerics that I have heard on the subject.”,,1702532,00.html

February 5, 2006 @ 3:32 am | Comment

“What really annoyed me was that some protestors here were waving racist and inciteful banners – but the Police did not remove them even when the public complained. That is wrong.”

Totally agree. My blood has been boiling over the disgraceful tolerance of the islamic community’s reaction to this issue. And when did the British press become so gutless? The cartoons ARE news now because muslim reaction makes them news. I say print them every day until the islamic community apologises for praising the 9/11 and 7/7 bombers and calling for more of the same.

And yet it’s the BBC and others who are apologising!!! Britain is a parliamentary democracy. As such, even radical islam is given a voice. Quite right, too. But let’s not appease the call for death and destruction over a few animations. How can Western democracies allow themselves to be silenced by threats that can only be voiced because their authors live in a country where they enjoy freedom of expression? Now that’s irony. To appease Islam is to shackle emancipation. Parliamentary democracy? For how much longer?

Whenever I contemplate this story I can’t help conjuring up an image of Neville Chamberlain.

Great thread, btw.

February 5, 2006 @ 4:56 am | Comment

The cartoons were rubbish but, once published, there is a duty for the free society to protect the freedom of speech of the paper and individual responsible. What I cannot understand is reprinting offensive and ugly cartoons in other papers, which would never have thought of publishing the originals. That is gratuitous offense. (They were definitely offensive, Emile. Look at the reaction, to realise that.)

As for the Chinese protests, simply very worrying zenophobia.

February 5, 2006 @ 7:43 am | Comment

Offensive, in the sense that they offended people, yes. But I don’t consider them as “too much”. Publishing them wasn’t a mistake, I mean heck, they’re a perfect illustratino for an article about the difficulties of finding an illustrator for a book about the Quran with all the Theo Van Gogh stuff, no ? I would HATE it if the murder of Theo Van Gogh actually silenced satirists.

Also, the outrage was partly due to some cartoons who were added afterwards (by a Muslim organization, most likely) but that were never published in any newspaper. *Those* were offensive; the ones that were actually published were not, they were merely not very funny.

If Muslims want to boycott that newspaper, complain in editorial columns, etc., that’s fine. It’s when they expect the Danish government to act and make sure this never happens that I draw the line. If any government in Europe tries to pass an anti-blasphemy law, a lot of people will be f’ing *furious*.

February 5, 2006 @ 8:18 am | Comment

Interesting… Embassies burned in Syria and Lebanon, and neither country is known to be the most fundamentalist around.

Syria is a nasty police state with a President desparately trying to stay in power, has the issue of the Lebanese Assasination that is working it’s way through the UN, and needs distraction. Lebanon used to be a Syrian protectorate that Syria got kicked out of, and Syria wants to continue influencing (lots of money to be made in smuggling to keep the Syrian Gov. in power). Plus the fact the Syrian Pres. is part of minority religious part (Alwahite) that is in control of the Gov.

Bottom Line: Parties using this for political advantage by being holier than thou and my guess is Lebanon’s incident also had a Syrian connection.

February 5, 2006 @ 9:59 am | Comment

Free speech is non-negotiable. Islam is no more immune to satire or criticism than Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism, or any other religion.

To allow Muslims to think their religion is in their own special category, to show we are willing to compromise our own society to please a violent minority, sets a precedent that will be the West’s undoing.

Buy Danish.

February 5, 2006 @ 11:16 am | Comment

I agree with the first part of what you say, completely. The media in Denmark and all nations should resist kowtowing to hypocritical Moslem “sensitivities.” I won’t go so far as saying Buy Danish, however – at least not simply because a Danish newspaper printed some cartoons. It’ll take something a little more heroic than that to move me to make such a call to action.

February 5, 2006 @ 11:34 am | Comment

I like this, from a pro-war blogger:

Hugh Hewitt–that well-known limp-wristed liberal pansy–said it well recently:

“There are hundreds of thousands of American troops deployed in Iraq, Afghanistan and across the globe among Muslim peoples who they are trying to befriend. The jihadists like nothing more than evidence that these troops represent a West intent on a new crusade and a new domination of Muslims. Idiot cartoonists make our troops’ jobs more difficult, and the jihadists’ mission easier.”

Oh yeah, and I can utterly condemn this without losing my bearings about who our allies are. You can too.

Neal Boortz, JIFA (Just Another Foaming Islamophobe). Oh, and did I add that he’s an idiot who hurts the war effort? I should have added that Neal Boortz is an idiot who hurts the war effort. Because Neal Boortz is an idiot who hurts the war effort.

February 5, 2006 @ 1:11 pm | Comment

I just found this interesting detail in an AP story:
“The trouble threatened to rile sectarian tensions in Beirut when protesters began stoning St. Maroun Church, one of the city’s main Maronite Catholic churches, and property in Ashrafieh, a Christian area.

Lebanon’s Justice Minister Charles Rizk, a Christian, urged leaders to help end the violence. “What is the guilt of the citizens of Ashrafieh of caricatures that were published in Denmark? This sabotage should stop,” Rizk said on LBC television.”

So now the Catholic community in Beirut is being held accountable for the blasphemy of a lone cartoonist in a largely secular/protestant nation.

February 5, 2006 @ 1:30 pm | Comment

Speaking of political advantage, here is a very interesting analysis that claims Saudi Arabia fanned this whole controversy in order to take the heat off their mismanagement of the hajj, where hundreds of people died in a stampede – this happens more often than not, and apparently there was quite a lot of anger towards Saudi Arabia in the poorer parts of the Muslim world.

February 5, 2006 @ 11:02 pm | Comment

I actually recieved a lecture from a Chinese office mate about that skit in Xi’an.

Because of this I was banned from having sex in public, and warned not to bring any of the local Japanese home with me for a bit of the other.

February 6, 2006 @ 9:29 am | Comment

Dear Other Lisa,
The French ban not only headscarfs, but also all
other items one can wear to display religious or
political beliefs. The ban is valid only inside the
walls of the public schools.
The French cherish their longtime tradition of
secularity in public education, open to anyone.
In a not so far away past, uniform clothing was
mandatory in the schools. The reason was mainly to avoid that the rich children show off with costly outfits which the poor children could not afford.

I am sorry that the uniforms were abandoned,
it would have avoided a lot of vain arguing.
Hope you can now revise your judgement of French people being “oppressive”.

Besides, no one is obliged to go to public school
here in France, if you do not like the rules. There are plenty of private schools.

The more I read these days the headlines of the News, the more I feel attracted to Buddhism : greed, hatred and ignorance are truly the origin of all our miseries.
With or without headscarfs.
Personally, I wear sometimes one in winter, but it itches and flattens the hair, although it’s pure silk, designed by Hermes, Paris.
Vive la France!

February 8, 2006 @ 6:28 am | Comment

Japan should never appologise to China. China is an egoistical country which looks down on other people. The whites are devils and any other race is either a pariah or satan. The rape of Nanking is heavenly retribution against those racist Chinese. Today they are the same. They own 95% of the wealth is South East Asia and they look down on all the pribumis.

February 18, 2006 @ 9:57 am | Comment

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