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It’s a clash of cultures, not religions
Posted by: McQ on Wednesday, February 08, 2006

The dominant meme emerging among those who would declare the cartoon flap to be all about religion. You can see an example of that meme being pushed right here at QandO in the comments section.

Jonah Goldberg pretty much destroys the argument with one swipe of the pen:
The quotation marks around the word "religious" should say it all. We're not talking about "religion." We're talking about a specific religion - Islam. Does anyone truly think that the burning of Danish embassies and calls for the "slaughter" of those responsible by Muslim protestors have really taught the BBC or the New York Times to be more polite to evangelical Christians or Orthodox Jews? Does anyone really think that Arabic newspapers - often state-owned - are going to stop recycling Nazi-era images of Jews as baby killers and hook-nosed conspirators because they've become enlightened to notion that words can hurt? Considering that an Iranian newspaper just announced a contest for the best Holocaust cartoon, the odds seem slim. Besides, why belittle the Holocaust for something a Danish newspaper did? (Partial credit given for the answer: "It's always useful to pick on the Jews.")

[...]

It seems obvious, to me at least, that this is clang and clatter that comes with a clash of civilizations. Last year the (false) Newsweek story that American interrogators were flushing Korans down the toilet caused lethal riots in Afghanistan. In Paris, Muslims riot or threaten to riot about everything from schoolgirls without headscarves to the lack of halal Brie. Around the world, Muslims suffer from a mixture of legitimate grievances and an enormous inferiority complex. Muslim, and particularly Arab, governments have a vested interest in stirring up this sort of thing because it distracts from their own corrupt regimes. And the Muslim "street" seems to fall for it every time.
And the "Muslim street" is indicative of a culture at work since it spans a good part of the globe. When the leaders of the culture call, the street responds.

Goldberg calls it a clash of civilizations. I call it a clash of cultures. What it clearly isn't is a clash of religions. The culture in question is certainly built upon a particular religion, but it's fight is against a culture which now rests on secular notions of liberty and freedom.

As Goldberg notes, you have an Iranian paper which is conducting a contest to see who can draw the most vile cartoons of Jews. That'll show the secular west won't it? Imagine the momentary vacuum in the western world created by the huge yawn they will provoke. Oh there will certainly be some denunciations of the cartoons, angry letters to the editors, etc. But I doubt you'll see anything blown up, burnt or threatened. It's a cultural thing ... we call it tolerance.

On the other hand, the reach of the culture of Islam is evident in the extent of the riots to be seen over what most in the west consider to be a disrespectful event, but part and parcel of the western notion that free speech means allowing even that speech with which we don't agree.

If you don't believe that's a cultural thing, then perhaps, when the Iranian paper prints those cartoons you should print up a sign calling for "death to the blasphermers" and head to that country to protest. Or Saudi Arabia for that matter. Yemen? Or Lybia.

No, this is a true clash of cultures and, as Goldberg notes, the press, at least here in the US, is failing miserably in its duty to properly and freely inform:
Sure, this is about freedom of expression, but it's also about so much more. Journalists just love to talk about freedom of the press. But they don't like to talk about that enormous chip on the shoulder of the Muslim world, and they really hate to say anything offensive to "oppressed" peoples.
Especially when those "oppressed" people have a tendency to blow up anyone who doesn't agree with them. As Mark Steyn intimated, it's always easier, if not more cowardly, to provoke those who won't be provoked. Our press is quite able to live up to that credo. But pretending to be sensitive to a religion when it doesn't show the same sensitivity to all religions is a cowardly cop-out of the worst sort.
 
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Previous Comments to this Post 

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Agreement.

The press, of course, has it’s own tendencies... The press’s BDS template still holds, here. But I wonder if they really understand what they’re risking by carrying the water of Radical Islam for them.
 
Written By: Bithead
URL: http://bitheads.blogspot.com
McQ, I think you are confused.

No one is saying this is a "clash of religions". The point made was that the root of this problem is radical Islam. Islam is a religion. Therefore the root of the problem is the radical component of a religion. Get it?

Of course, in countries like Iran, everything is based on Islam. The culture, civilization, whatever you want to call it. You even say "culture of Islam"! Obviously we are talking semantics as culture = religion in this regard.

So, in summary, you agree with the comments you claim to be debunking. The issue is cultural in one aspect - secular vs religious. No one is disputing that. The root of the problem however obviously being religious in the form of radical Islam.
 
Written By: fade
URL: http://
No one is saying this is a "clash of religions". The point made was that the root of this problem is radical Islam. Islam is a religion. Therefore the root of the problem is the radical component of a religion. Get it?
I’ve never been able to locate it again, but I distinctly recall reading a government report on the War on Terror which said that the War on Terror was a misnomer and that it would more accurately be called the "war on radical, violent Islamic Jihadism" (or something like that). But, practically speaking, the US can’t do that lest they risk polarizing the Islamic world by making them feel like we’re at war with Islam in general, rather than a subculture of Islam.

Anyway, I’d argue that the cultural problem is not specific to Islam, but to the mix of totalitarian governments and radical Islamism. They are inseparable, I think.
 
Written By: Jon Henke
URL: http://www.QandO.net
One of these days we are going to require a "Scopes Monkey trial" type of event to define what exactly "Islam" is. It is rather easy to define the religion of Catholicism, for example, because it is a centralised organization with everything spellede out in cannon law.

Is Islam merely an internal spiritual path to enlightenment shared amongst a community of believers? Is it a form of government with laws to be administered by the executive authority of imams and caliphs who are sort of like priest-kings? Is it an imperial movement for global conquest?

I would argue it is a combination of all three, and different muslims use their own lives to accomplish each goal in varying degrees and methods.

As far as these cartoons go, consider that a central tenet of all sect of islam is that the Prophet Mohammad is the al-insan al-kamel, or the perfect role model for all men for all ages. Now consider that according to Muslim scriptures, Mohammad himself ordered the assassination of at least a dozen poets, artists and pundits simply because they mocked and ridiculed him.

What is the proper way for a devout muslim to respond to these cartoons in light of this juicy little tid-bit of history that the western media are scared to talk about?
 
Written By: Jimmy the Dhimmi
URL: http://mooreisfatduhimstoopidilikeanncoulterandchickenfries.ytmnd.com/
Jon;
Anyway, I’d argue that the cultural problem is not specific to Islam, but to the mix of totalitarian governments and radical Islamism. They are inseparable, I think.
Certainly, radical Islam needs a totalitarian environment to survive. It’s also logical that for a totalitarian government to survive in that part of the world it needs a radicalised version of Islam to go along with it.

Or, does it? That linkage leaves a question of two unanswered, to my mind; Several times we have seen examples of what can only be viewed as incitement to violence, quoted directly from the Koran... usually in articles where the writers are trying to suggest that Islam itself is radical... and cannot be seperated from the violence we see today. I’m personally far from convinced these CAN be seperated from each other. There are peacful Muslims, certainly. But the question is, how closely are they adhering to Islam?

The use of the word ’radical’ is perhaps more accurate than we intend... Radical, from the Latin, translated loosely as "From the Root". Are ’radical’ the ’root’ of Islam? Jimmy the Dhimmi’s comments apply here; WHat exactly constitutes Islam? Even their own scholars seem to ahve trouble with a definative answer.

And Fade:

I will remind you that every advanced culture that has ever come down the pike, has had at or near it’s heart, one religion or another. The religion itself isn’t the culture, but it does drive the value judgements of that culture.
 
Written By: Bithead
URL: http://bitheads.blogspot.com
For an Iraqi perspective...

http://iraqthemodel.blogspot.com/2006/02/time-for-cartoon-post.html
I have refrained from writing about the Danish cartoons issue, not because it doesn’t concern me but rather because too mush has been written about it and I didn’t feel like I would be adding something new to the discussion.

However I couldn’t resist commenting on some of the most unacceptable reactions by some Muslims…more precisely by some Iraqis.

We have all seen common people protesting in the streets of different countries and we heard many condemnations from governments but as far as I know, not a single Muslim government took any action, except for one…Iraq’s!

We have a piece of wisdom here that says "The bird got mad at the grain field!" which as you can see means that sometimes people make stupid decisions that can harm only their own interests yet they think that by doing what they did they would harm those they’re boycotting.
This saying applies to all Muslim countries in general and to our interim government in particular.
Our brilliant transportation minister Salam al-Maliki who is a Sadrist by the way announced that his ministry will suspend all projects and contracts with Denmark and Norway and said that Iraq will stop accepting any donations or offers concerning Iraq’s reconstruction!
Who are they harming by doing this?
Denmark? No…they are harming no one but Iraq and Iraqis.

I give up! I have to comment on the general situation…
I swear that 90%+ of the protestors in Muslim countries have not seen the cartoons and do not know the name of the paper and when I say that I’m sure of it because I have access to the web 24/7 and I spent a really long time searching for the cartoons and couldn’t find them until a friend emailed me a link and.

You know that those cartoons were published for the 1st time months ago and we here in the Middle East have tonnes of jokes about Allah, the prophets and the angels that are way more offensive, funny and obscene than those poorly-made cartoons, yet no one ever got shot for telling one of those jokes or at least we had never seen rallies and protests against those infidel joke-tellers.

What I want to say is that I think the reactions were planned to be exaggerated this time by some Middle Eastern regimes and are not mere public reaction.
And I think Syria and Iran have the motives to trigger such reactions in order to get away from the pressures applied by the international community on those regimes.

However, I cannot claim that Muslim community is innocent for there have been outrageous reactions outside the range of Syria’s or Iran’s influence but again, these protests and threats are more political than religious in nature.

One last thing, even if the entire EU apologizes it won’t change a thing; fanatics in our countries here had always considered the west their infidel arrogant crusader enemy and no apology no matter how big or sincere can change that.
 
Written By: Keith, Indy
URL: http://
Fade beat me to it.

It is not a war of one religion against another. It is secular values v. religious fundamentalism.

Again, look at what the POPE said. He said the right to free expression does not include the right to offend religious sensibilities of believers. Forget about the radical Islamists for a moment. What the Pope said is the embodiment of the clash. Radical religioninsts vs. secular types. This struggle has been going on since the time of the Ancient Greeks, and perhaps even earlier.

Now, throughout history, various religions have come into conflict with secular values. And the conflict has taken many forms. So to have the threats posed by the religious fundamentalists. It just so happens that at this point in history it is Islam. But 500 years ago it was the Christian church. And yes, fundamentalism is not limited to religion. It just so happens that at this point in time it is taking a religious form.
Does anyone truly think that the burning of Danish embassies and calls for the "slaughter" of those responsible by Muslim protestors have really taught the BBC or the New York Times to be more polite to evangelical Christians or Orthodox Jews?
Uh - yes. Look at what the POPE said. The leader of hundreds of millions Christians is siding with the radical Islamists. He is saying that secular democracies have no right to publish matters deemed offensive to religion. Consider what he said. It is breathtaking. And the US press has been virtually silent about it. Hardly a whiff of criticism.

And why isn’t Goldberg coming down like a load of bricks on the POPE for what he said? Because politically, he wants to keep the radical Catholics - the ones who actually buy what the POPE is saying - happy, because they are part of his political coalition. Big Jonah is doing exactly what he accuses others of doing, namely, giving a pass to the radical and intolerant. Hypocrite.
 
Written By: mkultra
URL: http://
The leader of hundreds of millions Christians is siding with the radical Islamists. He is saying that secular democracies have no right to publish matters deemed offensive to religion.

And he has the right to say that. Free speech applies to him, too. But I haven’t seen any Jesuits leading torch-bearing mobs against galleries that showed ’P*** Christ,’ there are no Swiss Guards clubbing people with signs calling for the bloody extermination of all photographers, and Serrano’s not in hiding from Catholic fanatics looking to pin a papal edict to his chest with a dagger.
 
Written By: Achillea
URL: http://


Gah. The italics were turned off before, honest!
 
Written By: Achillea
URL: http://
So, in summary, you agree with the comments you claim to be debunking. The issue is cultural in one aspect - secular vs religious. No one is disputing that.
Well actually some are, as you’ll see.
The root of the problem however obviously being religious in the form of radical Islam.
Not really. And I’ll get to that below.

The comments I noted were these:
It is a problem of religious fundamentalism generally.
And these:
Of course, wingers don’t want to acknowledge this obvious lesson. They are Christians, by and large, many fundamentalists, and therefore they don’t want to be lumped in with the fundamentalist Islamists.
The bedrock argument being made here is this is about "religious fundamentalism", not culture.

And it is that argument I addressed.

Now, you have to read MK for a while to realize he circles the drain many, many times before actually saying anything ... but this was the thrust of his comment (yes you have to pick through a lot of crap to find this, but there it is).

This is about two cultures, one based in secular liberty and one based in religious intolerance. What it isn’t about is religous fundamentalism since the blssphemous caricatures of Mohammed are just as unacceptable to moderate Islam, as they are to fundies. The difference is, the fundies will kill you for doing it while the moderates will lament the fact you did it.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://qando.net
And why isn’t Goldberg coming down like a load of bricks on the POPE for what he said?
Because we in the west have already relegated the pope and those like him to the status of "opinion maker" with no particular influence other than what we choose to give him. For most it’ll be another collective yawn, a hearty "thanks for your opinion" and not much more. And, horror of horrors, most of us will simply state "he’s wrong" and leave it at that.

What we won’t do is firebomb the Vatican.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://qando.net
I am appalled at the lack of investigation beyond the story . . .

Well, not really.

Ya hafta see the dots before you begin to connect them.

Every time I come here I feel like I have stumbled into Newsmax or Fox Online.

:-)
 
Written By: jb
URL: http://
The [POPE] is siding with the radical Islamists. He is saying that secular democracies have no right to publish matters deemed offensive to religion.
How do you say "Allah’u Akbar" in German? Ya, look at all those Cathloic bishops dancing around burning cars with those big red hats.

The Pope was speaking esoterically to his flock to restrain their own speech that is insensitive to other’s religions. I’m sure you would agree with it on that level. I don’t believe this pope is advocating anti-blasphemy legislation by western democracies, since that would mean a lot of government mandated book-burning including copies of Dante’s Inferno where Mohammad is depicted eating his own guts in hell.
 
Written By: Jimmy the Dhimmi
URL: http://mooreisfatduhimstoopidilikeanncoulterandchickenfries.ytmnd.com/
I am appalled at the lack of investigation beyond the story . . .

Well, not really.

Ya hafta see the dots before you begin to connect them.
I always get a laugh out of those who beam in here and cryptically hint they have it all figured out but offer nothing substantive in that regard.

Fairly routine but still good for a laugh.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://qando.net
McQ:
The bedrock argument being made here is this is about "religious fundamentalism"...
Unless one understands the fundamentals of the religion, one cannot, strictly speaking call someone else a fundamentalist. As has been pointed out here previously, we still don’t know whether what we ahve been witness to is in fact within the parameters of the "fundamentals of the religion", or, given the original meaning of the word ’radical, even if THAT phrase is descriptive.

Mind you, this is not a criticism. However, words are all we have here. They are the tools we construct with. I’m not pointing out a lack of your part, I’m merely pointing out we haven’t developed a tool to accurately describe these people yet. That being the case, I have to wonder who we would be damaging by using these not- yet- fully- defined terms.


Jimmie:
How do you say "Allah’u Akbar" in German?
Ummmmm... "Gott ist groß", more or less.

 
Written By: Bithead
URL: http://bitheads.blogspot.com

 
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