Friday, May 21, 2010

News of Yesterday

Inspired by the Danish far right, non-Muslims in America united yesterday to make a hated minority even more uncomfortable, in the name of free speech. For a brilliant overview of why "free speech" isn't an excuse for Jyllands-Posten, see Lawrence of Cyberia. The "Lets Draw Mohammed" Facebook page crows that it's about free speech and not anti-Muslim, and demonstrates this even-handedness by choosing as its user avatar the J-P picture with Mohammed's turban replaced with a lit bomb. Many of the submissions are worse.

People will ask you to compare this with the "Piss Christ" photograph, a shot of a crucifix standing in a jar of urine, and saw that if one is acceptable, then so is the other. To my mind, an analysis failing to take into account surrounding social dynamics is useless. "Piss Christ" offended the beliefs of the dominant religion in the US in the name of freedom of speech, whereas the Mohammed cartoons were commissioned by Danish bigots to deliberately offend an embattled minority. The Facebook cartoons piggyback on this effort. There seem to be a few different groups of people involved:
  1. Hardcore racists. They want to offend Muslims, who they may believe to all be terrorists.
  2. The totally clueless. They believe they are fighting terrorists, and don't realize or don't care that they offend a billion other people.
  3. People who believe that they are defending free speech. They mistakenly believe that someone is actually trying to curtail their ability to draw things. They fail to distinguish between "can't" and "shouldn't," which is strange because they surely have other rights that they fail to exercise. Just because I have the legal right to draw Mohammed, or protest at a soldier's funeral with a sign saying "Thank God for dead soldiers," it doesn't make it the right thing to do. Yet the existence of a "cultural" enemy leads them to piss people off to defend a right they aren't in danger of losing.
The person running the page seems to see it as a new front in the War on Terror: "Al Qa'eda has put a $50,000 price tag on the heads of ANYONE caught drawing pictures of Muhammad, lets see how high we can get the bounty!" Surely al-Qa'ida will take especial interest in the brave people circulating drawings on the Internet.

The results are things like; e.g., Pakistan temporarily banning Facebook.

Freedom marches on.

On the anti-Muslim, Rima Fakih, a Michigan woman of Lebanese descent, has won Miss USA, giving Americans an opportunity to more vividly get their crazy on. Hero-scholar for Western Civilization Daniel Pipes believes there's an insidious kind of affirmative action going on recently, allowing Muslim women to win American beauty pageants. Debbie Schlussel informs us that Hamas and Hizballah have been backing her... why? Perhaps to infiltrate the American psyche with her shapely breasts. This seems to be the depth of the theory, although Schlussel claims several relatives and backers of Fakih are associated with Hizballah. Yes, Donald Trump is in cahoots with them as well.

Some people are happy with the victory, seeing it as representing a normalization and acceptance of the existence of Arab-Americans. Assimilation is not always a good thing (to understate), and I have trouble seeing immigrants cheering on the commodification of their own daughters, in the American fashion, as progress.

Also, there's this awesome video of Dan Fanelli the guy who's running against Alan Grayson in Florida. His campaign strategy, in the words of the page I found the video on: XTREME RACISM.

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