Sunday, February 05, 2006

The cartoons crisis: The silence of the left 

[This post is about twelve hours late due to the giant Blogger foul-up yesterday.]

I am fascinated with the Danish cartoons controversy that has ignited the Muslim world, and blown back to steel the spine of Europe -- if not our own State Department -- unlike any other crisis of the modern age. I am not alone in this. My co-bloggers are also in thrall, as is the entire righty and libertarian blogosphere. The left, on the other hand, is basically silent. Why?

I think it is because the cartoons crisis has exposed the fault line in Western identity politics. Jeff Goldstein declames at length on this question in the must-read post of this young controversy.
This battle over the Danish cartoons highlights all of these philosophical dilemmas (which I have argued previously are the result of certain linguistic misunderstandings that are either cynically or idealistically perpetuated); and so we are brought to the point where this clash of civilizations—which in one important sense is a clash between theocratic Islamism and the west, but in another, more crucial sense, is a clash between the west and its own structural thinking, brought on by years of insinuation into our philosophy of what is, at root, collectivist thought that privileges the interpreter of an action over the necessary primacy of intent and agency and personal responsibility to the communicative chain—could conceivably become manifest over something so seemingly trivial as the right to satirize.

One regret I have is that this battle should have been fought and won in favor of intentionalism and individualism inside our own western universities years ago; instead, the victory went to our progressive academic collectivists, whose fidelity to PC culture, identity politics, free-speech zones, tolerance training courses, et al manifested themselves in a “tolerance” culture that now has the goverment looking inside individuals’ heads (hate speech, hate crime) and effectively chilling all speech by defining tolerance in an Orwellian sense of tolerating only that speech which is so bland and banal that it is unlikely to offend anyone. And now we might be forced to battle with guns and chemical weapons and fissile material rather than with confidence in our own intellectual rigor and rectitude.

I wish I could have written that. Read it all here.

The crashing silence of the lefty blogs is remarkable, especially considering the attention this is getting on the right. As of around 5:30 in the afternoon on Saturday, I found nothing at Ezra Klein, nothing substantial at Kos going back at least until Friday morning, and nothing at The Poor Man.

Sunday morning, after the blogs on Blogspot re-emerged,* I found one short snark at AMERICABlog, nothing at Atrios, and Oliver Willis could only come up with the old saw comparing Muslim extremists to Pat Robertson.

Juan Cole is the only big lefty blogger that tackles the controversy head on, basically arguing that Westerners are simply ill-equipped to appreciate the depth of Muslim pain, and that non-Muslims go out rampages of outrage, too (he cites various examples, none of which involve free speech in another country). I don't agree with him, but he didn't dive for the rabbit hole, either:
Westerners cannot feel the pain of Muslims in this instance. First, Westerners mostly live in secular societies where religious sentiments have themselves been marginalized. Second, the Muslims honor Moses and Jesus, so there is no symmetry between Christian attacks on Muhammad and Muslim critiques of the West. No Muslim cartoonist would ever lampoon the Jewish and Christian holy figures in sacred history, since Muslims believe in them, too, even if they see them all as human prophets. Third, Westerners have the security of being the first world, with their culture coded as "universal," and widely respected and imitated. Cultures like that of the Muslims in the global South receive far less respect. Finally, societies in the global South are less policed and have less security than in Western Europe or North America, allowing greater space to violent vigilateism, which would just be stopped if it were tried in the industrialized democracies.

Kevin Drum noticed it as an amusing bit of news, but couldn't see anything to be learned from the crisis:
If there's a lesson to be learned here — and I assure you there won't be — it's that Arabs rather obviously don't hate America any more than any other country. We just provide them with more opportunity to show it. If the Danes would just step up to the plate more often, maybe we could sneak our troops home from Iraq and no one would notice.

Now, Drum might be saying that we won't learn any lesson from this crisis out of frustration, thinking to himself "we didn't learn from the Rushdie fatwa, either." That's in fact what I fear in my dark moments. But I think Drum really means that there is literally nothing to be learned from Danish embassies going up in flames all over the world. Really? We can't even learn that the Muslim world has decided that it can chill and intimidate the West by just appearing crazy and brutish enough? 'Cause that's what it looks like to me.

Back to the Silence of the Left. Are they silent because they think there is nothing interesting about lethal and destructive riots in a dozen countries all because a Western government refused to denounce a couple of cartoonists? This may be part of the reason -- the big lefty blogs were far more interested in some alleged scandal about Bush covering up scientific truth, or some such.

The real reason the left is quiet is that this crisis is a lance at the heart of modern identity politics. It has exposed the stupidity of hate crimes legislation, and made us all aware that our devotion to "tolerance" -- the true god of the Western lefty -- cannot be reconciled with an allegedly victimized group that is itself intolerant. The only solution is surrender, and the left does not want to admit that. So it pretends the story isn't happening. We'll let them know when its over.

UPDATE: A couple of readers have pointed to this post from Josh Marshall, which is a serious moderate lefty attempt to talk about the 'toons travesty. It is interesting in and of itself, and also because it stands out as so exceptional among big gun lefty bloggers.
*Is there anything more annoying than your blog going dark on a day when Glenn Reynolds has linked? If your answer is "I can think of lots of things," then you just don't get it. (Which, I might add, is to your credit.)


By Blogger Automatic_Wing , at Sun Feb 05, 07:44:00 AM:

I think this illustrates the American left's extreme parochialism as much as anything else; the liberal obsession with domestic U.S. politics is all-encompassing. One recalls Kerry's complaint about opening firehouses in B'dad and closing them in the USA. Small-time thinking.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sun Feb 05, 08:33:00 AM:

I don't think "the Left" blogosphere is ignoring this issue deliberately. They're narcissistic isolationists along with 99% of Americans: if it doesn't happen here, we're not very interested--that's an American, not a Leftist, reflex. It's shameful and, in today's world, dangerous. But that's the way it is.

The Bush administration is also going out of its way to avoid discussing the issue, in case you hadn't noticed. The State Department's responses were tepid, NOT an outright support of the right to free expression. And they have not clarified those remarks.

Trying to make this a partisan U.S. Left-Right issue is a huge mistake--for the blogosphere as well as politicians. The events, and the insane over-reactions, speak for themselves.  

By Blogger cakreiz, at Sun Feb 05, 08:38:00 AM:

I noticed the Silence of the Left yesterday myself. Centrists are also weighing in heavily. Lean Left had a mixed review with an acknowledgment of the importance of our freedoms. Fire Dog Lake? Nada.

I'm sure the far Left is torn, recognizing the heavy-handed thuggery of intolerant religious radicals but unable to say anything nice about the US or Western Civilization. And worst of all, they face the ultimate quandry- how to make a moral judgment in our favor and against our enemies? Yikes.  

By Blogger cakreiz, at Sun Feb 05, 09:06:00 AM:

anon- the issue is being exhaustively covered on right and centrist blogs- no isolationism there. TH hits it on the head- the left is struggling with the failure of identity politics vis-a-vis an intolerant group.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sun Feb 05, 10:17:00 AM:


Perhaps you're right and the Left side of the blogosphere is struggling with how to talk about this.

The MSM is ignoring it: the New York Times has nothing on the front page. You need to go to p. 10 to read about the "Outcry" about the cartoons that "Grows Louder." On MSNBC I just heard a Newsweek journalist say it's perfectly understandable that Muslims would be deeply offended by this cartoon insult of the Prophet (while the reporter was speaking, pictures on the split screen showed burning embassies in the Middle East). The morning shows on ABC and NBC seem to want to avoid talking about this--it's all domestic politics.

Regardless, I don't think this is the time to pile on and start accusing the "Left" of appeasement. People, no matter how partisan they are in their rhetoric, have eyes. They will form their own opinions. Check out the comments at the Huffington Post.

Freedom of expression is not a domestic Left-Right issue. It is a global democracy vs. totalitarianism issue, as is the "war on terror." When the current furor dies down--and we should all hope that it will die down, and soon--perhaps it will provide good material for a teaching moment.

Brace yourself. This will be a long struggle. There will be no knockout punch against the "Left."

And remember. The "Left" is not the enemy--it is only a proxy.  

By Blogger sirius_sir, at Sun Feb 05, 10:32:00 AM:

The "Left" is not the enemy--it is only a proxy.

That is laugh-out-loud funny.

I know, 'cause I laughed out loud.  

By Blogger Cardinalpark, at Sun Feb 05, 10:43:00 AM:

What're the they gonna say ? Oh shit, Bush was right and I'm wrong ? Or, hey screw the Danes, the Islamists are right?

They're not quiet. They're speechless.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sun Feb 05, 10:48:00 AM:

No, the left is not the enemy, and I wouldn't even say they are a proxy. But it would be nice if they would join with us (and by us I mean Western Civ.) in a battle over something that is supposedly of paramount importance to them. Their failure to find common ground on even this issue is dissapointing, to say the least.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sun Feb 05, 10:52:00 AM:

If, as some have suggested, the Left's silence is due to the exposition of a deep error in their world model (which the Right has constantly seen as a major fault in the Left world model).

Isn't it odd that the MSM is being quiet -- except that, if there could be proof for the first, it would follow from the ideology of the MSM, that this should be expected -- if the Left is totally silent, the MSM is going to be looking the other way as much as it can. Right?  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sun Feb 05, 10:59:00 AM:

Small potatoes lefty blogger here (Canadian too), but I've blogged extensively about this issue (see here and here, for examples) and about the Paris riots. Free speech transcends the right-left divide: we've forgotten the fundamental values we should (or ought to) share.  

By Blogger Mark Zimmerman, at Sun Feb 05, 11:01:00 AM:

Josh Marshall has a good discussion up on TPM.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sun Feb 05, 11:01:00 AM:

And actually... while reading Steyn's column it made me think: Maybe it's partly due to the fact that, in looking into this Abyss, how can you claim, on the daily basis they do, that this or that Republican (whichever one is in power now) is a Nazi, and an Emperor and such.

How this or that one squashes our Freedom of Speech, etc, puts people into gulags for opposition, when the reality of your horribly over-the-top escalation rhetoric is on fire by real people who would impose all your nightmares on you? Remember the guy who chooses to go by Hitler and won Palestinian representation? Yeah.

Let's "discuss our feelings" about that.  

By Blogger Mark Zimmerman, at Sun Feb 05, 11:02:00 AM:

Josh Marshall has a good discussion on TPM  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sun Feb 05, 11:04:00 AM:

The "Left" is not the enemy--it is only a proxy.

You sure about that? Consider this story:

Ed Swan is pursuing a degree in teacher education at Washington State. The Chronicle of Higher Education reports that he flunked an evaluation of dispositions last year. The teacher who failed him explained that Swan, a conservative Christian and father of four Mexican American children, had "revealed opinions that have caused me great concern in the areas of race, gender, sexual orientation and privilege." Washington State insisted that Swan agree to attend sensitivity training before being allowed to do his student teaching -- where observers could observe his classroom performance. --Fred Hess, WaPo

Now, let's change a couple of words:

Eduardo Swan is pursuing a degree in teacher education at the University of Havana. The Ministry of Higher Education reports that he flunked an evaluation of dispositions last year. The teacher who failed him explained that Swan, father of four, had "revealed opinions that have caused me great concern in the areas of economic and social cooperation, revolution, class, and privilege." Cuba insisted that Swan agree to attend reeducation camp before being allowed to do his student teaching -- where observers could observe his classroom performance.

Now, let's revisit that sentiment: The "Left" is not the enemy--it is only a proxy.

Sounds pretty silly now, doesn't it?  

By Blogger Mark Zimmerman, at Sun Feb 05, 11:05:00 AM:

Here's the link to Talking Points Memo, http://www.talkingpointsmemo.com/archives/007602.php  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sun Feb 05, 11:22:00 AM:

From Kevin Drum:

I fully realize that I should be taking this more seriously — it involves issues of free speech, national sovereignty, gratuitous religious insults, Islamic radicalism, etc. etc. — but it's hard.

That's it really, now isn't it? Dealing with primitive barbarians is HARD. They'd rather not talk about it. Let's just make snarky fun of "cuddly little Denmark" and gratuitous references to Pat Robertson.

But whatever you do, don't do HARD things, or think HARD thoughts. Because, well, its just too hard.

The left's silence is explained. In their own words.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sun Feb 05, 11:31:00 AM:

Your opening sentence says: "and blown back to steel the spine of Europe". Was this a typo and did you mean steal the spine of Europe? I certainly don't think the Europeans have spine of steel. I question if they have a spine at all.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sun Feb 05, 11:42:00 AM:

Mark Zimmerman, thanks for the link to Marshall. I agree with him. He hits the nail on the head.

Tim Cavanaugh at Reason't Hit and Run blog also has some posts on this subject.

Anon 11:22-- sensitivity training is a hateful practice. it's a long way from totalitarianism. and by bringing our attention to it you are expressing your right to try to change it.

An entire generation of Americans (the millennials) has been taught (indoctrinated, you might say) to be tolerant and not to pass judgment on "the Other." This was a good and necessary lesson for our country as a whole and it resulted in equal opportunity for many more Americans.

There should be no backtracking from this. We who are so rich and so blessed vis a vis the rest of the world should pursue a "more perfect union." But right now, we have a bigger problem that we should focus on--a totalitarian threat from beyond our shores. And together we have a chance to defeat it.

It's time to build bridges among ourselves. The threat to all of us is imminent.  

By Blogger bordergal, at Sun Feb 05, 12:05:00 PM:

Want to bet that the left is not the enemy? At recent protests and clashes in Denmark, guess on which side the leftist groups were found.

Not on the side of free speech.
And not in defense of their own country from hostile outsiders.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sun Feb 05, 12:09:00 PM:

-- sensitivity training is a hateful practice. it's a long way from totalitarianism

No....it's a short walk to totalitarianism. The man in the story was denied the right to teach --the right to earn a living-- by the government of Washington State because of his opinions --unless he submitted to reeducation disguised as "sensitivity training". That's totalitarianism in a nutshell.  

By Blogger Scott Arnold, at Sun Feb 05, 12:09:00 PM:

Part of the problem of the left, and particularly the lefty blogs led by dKos, is that they like to frame the debate over small time periods - and they can only effectively mobilize on one issue at a time.

Notice during the Alito hearings there was only a smattering of stories about "domestic spying" by the Bush Administration. dKos was dominated by a hopeless attempt to force Democrat Senators into a filibuster, by threat if necessary. Then, once Alito was confirmed they began to hit that issue head-on.

This cartoon story is frustrating to them not only because it challenges them philosophically and politically, but also because it is a worldwide news phenomenen and sucks all of the air out of the room - and they just can't stand that.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sun Feb 05, 12:28:00 PM:

Actually, here's a sampling of posts by blogs on the left-side of the blogosphere.

Talking Points Memo
Daily Kos
Crooked Timber
Huffington Post (see the front page)
August J Pollak
Tom Tomorrow
Steve Gilliard

If you want to compare the content on left-wing blogs versus right-wing blogs, yes, there are many more posts on this on right-wing blogs. But "crashing silence"? Or that Juan Cole is the "only big lefty blogger that tackles the controversy head on"? I'm pretty sure Josh Marshall is a pretty big lefty blogger.

Now, Drum might be saying that we won't learn any lesson from this crisis out of frustration, thinking to himself "we didn't learn from the Rushdie fatwa, either." That's in fact what I fear in my dark moments. But I think Drum really means that there is literally nothing to be learned from Danish embassies going up in flames all over the world.

When Drum made this post (Friday, about 1pm), no one had burned down any embassies yet. The attacks on the Danish embassy in Syria started on Saturday. So you're inputting motives to Drum based on actions that hadn't even happened yet?

The real reason the left is quiet is that this crisis is a lance at the heart of modern identity politics. It has exposed the stupidity of hate crimes legislation, and made us all aware that our devotion to "tolerance" -- the true god of the Western lefty -- cannot be reconciled with an allegedly victimized group that is itself intolerant. The only solution is surrender, and the left does not want to admit that. So it pretends the story isn't happening. We'll let them know when its over.

1) Make a post ignoring the commentary of many on the "left" on this topic.
2) Criticize Kevin Drum for a post on something that hadn't happened yet.
3) Take this "evidence" and extrapolate that "devotion to tolerance" is the God of the Western lefty. Yeah...  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sun Feb 05, 01:34:00 PM:

Llama School is right. The left isn't ignoring this. After the obligatory "I don't support death threats and burning embassies BUT.." Gaillard blames everything on the Europeans, who , having "invited" the Muslims to live in their midst, are therefore obligated to play by their rules (btw, aren't Western petroleum engineers and Asian servants "invited" to work in the Middle East? Why no respect for their faith?). Pollack just uses the whole episode as a pretext to call Malkin and Charles Johnson ... brace yourself for this one ... racists and hypocrites. I'll check out the other ones later but I'm not optomistic.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sun Feb 05, 01:40:00 PM:

When the Christian community wzs up in arms over the depiction of the Virgin Mary smeared with elephant dung and a crusifx immersed in urine the Left (and MSM) in this country were all "Get over yourselves" about it. The Muzzies are rampaging over some cartoons and the Left is silent. I liken this to the PETArds who will throw fake blood on some old woman wearing a fur coat but won't confront a Hell's Angel wearing leather.  

By Blogger sirius_sir, at Sun Feb 05, 02:18:00 PM:

Marshall ends his otherwise moderate memo with a big nod to leftist doctrine:

"It's not the US or the West versus Islam. At least it's not that simple. In any case, the government in this country is too close to illiberalism, militarism and theocracy [my emphasis] for that to work as a model. But it is there -- liberalism and authoritarinism, modernity and theocracy."

Marshall comes perilously close to missing the point while trying to score a very cheap one. He is right, it isn't the US or the West against Islam--but not for the reason he cites. (The US government has bent over backwards to keep "it" from being about Islam from the get-go. And it certainly bears no resemblance to any theocracy. If Marshall thinks so, he needs to get out more.) But after tumbling wildly for a bit he at least ends right side up. It is about -- all about -- liberalism and authoritarinism, modernity and theocracy. I'm glad on that we can agree.  

By Blogger cakreiz, at Sun Feb 05, 02:20:00 PM:

Marshall's post is excellent. To the extent some leftist blogs haven't commented, it's probably simply political, ie, why shift attention away from Bush-bashing? It's also important to acknowledge that run of the mill Dems are just as upset as anyone, as opposed to the Moore-Sheehan wing.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sun Feb 05, 04:04:00 PM:

Do you really want to play the "other side's silence" game?

Ok - look at the silence on the right regardiing the WaPo article regarding the ineffectiveness of the NSA spy program. Wonder why they are so silent?  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sun Feb 05, 04:16:00 PM:

To Anon: (re: WaPo article on NSA program)

I don't suppose you grasp the difference between commenting on/ignoring CURRENT EVENTS (protests, death threats, torching of embassies) and commenting on/ignoring the latest ARTICLE or EDITORIAL, do you?  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sun Feb 05, 04:49:00 PM:

A couple of left-wing, pro-Arab sites have weighed in, Juan Cole and Helena Cobban, with instructive if predictable takes. Not coincidentally, they make (if unwittingly) the very points Tigerhawk and Jeff Goldstein make with regard to hate speech.

Cole seems to think the problem stems from Western insensitivity to Muslim pain, besides which we've got our own problems with free speech, and in the final analysis this is just about "keeping the world ordered with whites on top." At least I think that's what he's saying. And what about the violent reaction? Well, he bravely condemns "mob violence," but then asserts: "But it would happen under certain circumstances here, too." So, that makes it OK, then.

Not knowing when to stop, he then proceeds to prove that among the various subjects about which he knows nothing but remains perfectly happy to pontificate is law: "The American tradition of freedom of speech rooted in the First Amendment really only protects you from the Federal government. You can't even publicly criticize some corporations without risking a lawsuit." Right. That's explains why there are so many state prosecutions for merely speaking out.

Cobban has a somewhat weirder view, if that's possible. To her, the cartoons are "exactly like sexual pornography," an industry which "demeans and objectifies women" and contributes to "the human suffering of women and young girls and boys." Of course, pornography (of the non-child kind) is protected speech, so it's hard to see where the analogy is going. Does she mean that the cartoons contribute to the suffering of women and children? Who knows.

And, like Cole, she takes a feeble stab at criticising the reaction: "The violent response that's been seen in a number of Muslim communities does nothing, I think, to either defend or honor the values of the religion." A robust condemnation, to be sure.  

By Blogger PSGInfinity, at Sun Feb 05, 05:06:00 PM:

To anon:

I suppose you don't understand that having gone nuts about the fact THE PROGRAM WAS DISCLOSED AT ALL, we'd be a little reticent about commenting further. Especially since we're awaiting a grand jury's take on the matter...  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sun Feb 05, 06:19:00 PM:

considering this remark from Tim Cavanaugh at Reason

>>there's a reason this controversy has been bracing and revelatory in a way even 9/11 wasn't. I don't see how anybody can have watched the news over the past week and still be pushing the line that a few bad apples have hijacked a great religion. It would take a lot at this point to dissuade me from the belief that worldwide popular support for Islamic radicalism, in at least some of its forms, is broad and deep. So where do we go next?

Comment by: Tim Cavanaugh at February 5, 2006 01:54 PM>>

I think people of all political stripes will start to get what's going on. What changes it will translate to, I don't know...  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Mon Feb 06, 12:28:00 AM:

Silence on the left? There's a pretty perceptive post on just this subject on biologist P.Z. Myers's site: http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2006/02/poxridden_houses.php#comments. No rightwinger, he. Some of the comments are illuminating, as well.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Mon Feb 06, 01:18:00 AM:

Nobody's mentioned the fact that the muslims are essentially RIGHT, if the root of the judeo-christian tradition is to be taken seriously. God says quite plainly in Leviticus that blasphemers are to be killed.

The difference between the conservative and liberal perspectives on the current cartoon protests is this: The right sees the protests as an excuse to get rid of Islam. The left sees what's happening with Islam as exactly what'll happen with Christianity if the right has it's way, and gets rid of the separation between church and state.

There's simply no point in getting worked up about Islam in particular, when we've got Christianity, which believes in exactly the same death-to-blasphemers ideology, in our backyard.

Leviticus 24:10-14, 23 ...

Now the son of an Israelite mother and an Egyptian father went out among the Israelites, and a fight broke out in the camp between him and an Israelite. 11 The son of the Israelite woman blasphemed the Name with a curse; so they brought him to Moses. (His mother's name was Shelomith, the daughter of Dibri the Danite.) 12 They put him in custody until the will of the LORD should be made clear to them.
13 Then the LORD said to Moses: 14 "Take the blasphemer outside the camp. All those who heard him are to lay their hands on his head, and the entire assembly is to stone him. 15 Say to the Israelites: 'If anyone curses his God, he will be held responsible; 16 anyone who blasphemes the name of the LORD must be put to death. The entire assembly must stone him. Whether an alien or native-born, when he blasphemes the Name, he must be put to death.
. . .
23 Then Moses spoke to the Israelites, and they took the blasphemer outside the camp and stoned him. The Israelites did as the LORD commanded Moses.


So we sit and watch the right cater to christianity, knowing that eventually the christians will wise up and start behaving exactly the way muslims currently are behaving -- because the BIBLE TELLS THEM TO.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Mon Feb 06, 01:33:00 AM:

Bah. Frankly, there's just not a lot of interesting stuff I can say about this. The cartoons were offensive, the reaction abominable. I'm don't know what impact the riots will have, and I'm reluctant to pontificate in ignorance.

Mr. Goldstein's post is pseudo-intellectual drivel. The fundamental problem is the intolerance of the Islamic rioters, yet he blames liberal efforts to promote tolerance for the problem. Give me a break.  

By Blogger Das, at Mon Feb 06, 01:40:00 AM:

The left is simply cowardly. A couple years ago a Seattle artist carved the likeness of the Bamiyan Buddhas into the pages of the Koran; Seattle Times art critic, Regina Hackett and avant garde bad boy Larry Reid had a s--t fit and rushed the work out of a gallery exhibit of far-out variations on world religious icons. I talked to/emailed them both and their fear was palpable - yet the Muslim community knew nothing of the work.

IN addition, the left would consign every aspect of Islam to "culture" rather than "religion" since is sacrosanct; as culture Islam is wonderful and glorius and all they have to do is revere it - without commitment - without cost to themselves.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Mon Feb 06, 04:57:00 AM:

The real reason the Left is so silent on this because Muslim community being the minority in most Western societies, is part of Left's political constituency. You wouldn't want to alienate your own voters do you? Free speech be damned.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Mon Feb 06, 08:13:00 AM:

I also think it's telling that the right is suddenly massively pro-free-speach now that it's muslims doing the censoring. Yet nobody on the right was up-in-arms when Cindy Sheehan was arrested a few days ago for simply wearing a T-shirt listing the number of dead in Iraq.

Oh wait . . . we're all for free speach unless it suggests that maybe the president who lowers our taxes is also making bad decisions that are killing our young soldiers.  

By Blogger Chip, at Mon Feb 06, 09:40:00 AM:

Detaining Cindy Sheehan is just like setting fires, making death threats, forcing cartoonists into hiding, editors running for the hills, actual deaths, global rioting, the EU, UN, and our own State Department caving in to violent blackmail?

Moral eqivalence has replaced critical thinking on the Left. It's great for the Republicans, but terrible for a two-party system.

You don't see many people killed for blasphemy by Christians these days (or in the last couple centuries). Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran, and Saudi Arabia are a different story.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Mon Feb 06, 11:59:00 AM:

With regard to the tired regurgitation of Leviticus by liberals in a vain attempt to somehow "prove" that Islam and Christianity are "equal"...

Perhaps you are forgetting that the vast majority of Christians do not consider the Law to be the ultimate revelation of God. Rather, they consider that revelation to be in the person of Jesus Christ. Remember him?

Jesus Christ said,

"You have heard that it was said, 'An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.' But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if anyone would sue you and take your tunic,let him have your cloak as well. And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to the one who begs from you, and do not refuse the one who would borrow from you.

"You have heard that it was said, 'You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect." (Matthew 5:38-48)

Kind of changes the picture, doesn't it?  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Mon Feb 06, 12:21:00 PM:

Keep in mind there's no Muslim depravity that will elicit anything more than the most tepid response from the left for whatever unfathomable reason. See their reaction to women's subjugation and persecution of gays.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Mon Feb 06, 01:46:00 PM:

I think you guys are reading to much into the silence on the left. We on the left, think this is all a noneissue, meaning that freedom of speech involves freedom to offend, be as distasteful and indecent as one thoughts can muster without being violent or coercive, you know, that stuff that’s written in the Bill or Rights. So if some crazy right-wing Muslims get all riled up about some cartoons, who the f*ck cares. They obviously do not share the values of freedom of speech and expression so why should I go out of my way to state the obvious. As far as burning down embassies, yes, I can claim with almost overwhelming certitude that we are the left is against that. I
Many of you have claimed that because the left values the virtue of tolerance above all that we are having a hard time reconciling these events with our world-views. These ideas stems from a complete misunderstanding about what the virtues of tolerance dictate and how Liberalism incorporates this concept. Because the left doesn’t deal in absolutes (remember we are the so called moral relativist), therefore tolerance is not an obsolete value that applies in all situations. There is nothing wrong with tolerating the intolerant per say; we tolerate white supremacy groups like the Neo-Nazi's and all those right-wing Christo-fascist that are running our government right now. But when intolerance turns to violence, then there is absolutely nothing wrong with abandoning the virtue of tolerance, for the virtue of the rule of law.  

By Blogger Jeff Fecke, at Mon Feb 06, 02:24:00 PM:

If there was, in fact, silence on the left then this would be the be-all-and-end-all of nothing. As has been noted as nauseum in these comments, the left has not been silent.

But whatever, guys--I notice you haven't mentioned health care ever on your blog. Must mean you hate the uninsured and hope people die. Right?  

By Blogger TigerHawk, at Mon Feb 06, 02:40:00 PM:

Jeff Fecke -

You've "noticed" that I "haven't mentioned health care" on my blog? I had no idea you were such a loyal reader. I write about health care, medical technology, and the politics around it with some regularity. I rather like this post and this post, for example.

I think you know not whereof you speak, and were cribbing Ezra Klein, who made the subtly better point that I don't talk a lot about health "insurance" or the lack thereof. I explained my reasons for that in the comments over there. And anyway, that's not true, either.  

By Blogger TigerHawk, at Mon Feb 06, 02:41:00 PM:

And Jeff, don't miss this post.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Mon Feb 06, 03:26:00 PM:

Hey, guess what? The left hasn't been silent.

Wait, I see bunches of people have corrected you. Never mind.  

By Blogger Das, at Tue Feb 07, 06:45:00 AM:

Anonymous gets all puffy with pride talking about the virtue of the law and all that but surely he cannot be referring to the USA and its Christo-fascist leaders. According to him we are ruled by fascists. I wonder why he isn't rioting and burning in protest aganst having to live under such oppressive fascism. in reality what is really oppressive for guys like anonymous is that they can talk s--- about America & Bush all day long and nothing will happen to them. In fact the NSA probably isn't even tapping his phone; now, that's oppressive!  

By Blogger cakreiz, at Tue Feb 07, 11:59:00 AM:

Anon- there are a handful leftist bloggers who are so steep in PC that they've shifted nearly all of the blame to newpapers' lack of self censorship. Take Grace Miao, who comes down squarely for self-censorhip and against offending Islam. http://www.the-reaction.blogspot.com/ (see "Cartoon Violence"). Here's part of what Grace opines:

"There are good reasons for the so-called "self-censorship" for the time being -- the most obvious is that this topic is extremely sensitive. The second reason, and most blatant in this case, is pure ignorance of the culture. It is clear that all of these cartoonists, and the editor themselves, know nothing of Islam, publishing a superficial perception, which is inexcusable. They are journalists, and they have a duty and responsibility to investigate and research before they go to print, and yes, practise "self-censorship" when what they are presenting is needlessly offensive."  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Thu Feb 09, 09:07:00 AM:

Let me try to explain. You see, we on the left -- unlike you -- are capable of an emotion commonly known as "shame," which usually prevents us from doing things like jacking off in public.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Thu Feb 09, 09:48:00 AM:

from digby:


oh wait, that's an attempt at analyzing what's going on, not an incoherent screed about how muslims are looking for any excuse whatsoever to rape, murder and loot. so i guess right wingers wouldn't consider it a "serious" post.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Thu Feb 09, 12:33:00 PM:

Say, do you right-wing guys suppose you can suggest to your right-wing President that, for appearance's sake, he might consider dropping all that revolting public hand-holding and smoochy lovey-doving with the King of the Saudi Arabian Islamic-fundamentalist theocracy? He doesn't listen to us lefties at all, you know; maybe he'll listen to you guys. You know, that King whose government recalled their ambassador to Denmark over the dozen cartoons in the Danish newspaper, plus the three other phony "anti-Islamic" cartoons that were fabricated by Islamic fundamentalist rabble-rousers themselves.  

By Blogger TigerHawk, at Thu Feb 09, 04:43:00 PM:

Last Anonymous Guy: The righty blogs have been very critical of Bush for sucking up to the House of Saud. There has been no attempt to defend that, except perhaps on realist foreign policy grounds. If you have seen a meaningful righty blog (one with some traffic) defend that, I'd like to see a link.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Fri Feb 10, 09:11:00 AM:

We're disappointed the US didn't erupt in rioting and inter-cultural violence, as you Americans are wont to do periodically. We love that stuff up here and it sure helps to pass the cold, dark, winter nights.

C'mon...get it on already. FIGHT!

...USA! USA! USA!  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Fri Feb 10, 01:10:00 PM:

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By Anonymous Anonymous, at Fri Feb 10, 01:54:00 PM:

Well said, Pinko.
I second that!  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Fri Feb 10, 02:05:00 PM:

To be fair, Fafblog also weighed in:

"What if it's not really a picture of Mohammed," says me, "just a picture of a picture of Mohammed?"
"Metablasphemy!" says Giblets. "It is sacrilegious and pretentious!"
"What if it just looks like a picture a Mohammed but it's really a picture a Jesus wearin a real good Mohammed costume?" says me.
"Then it is pretend blasphemy," says Giblets. "God can't tell the difference. He has to smite you just to make sure."

The comments are also amusingly sacrilegious, especially the "connect the dots" Mohammed.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Fri Feb 10, 02:07:00 PM:

I didn't know blogger eats links, so from last comment,

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sat Feb 11, 08:13:00 PM:

Hi there,
I'm a left-leaning academic and I'm absolutely appalled by recent events. I don't have a blog and I don't generally read them (I ended up here kind of by accident) but I've written letters to the editors of several papers, posted to "Have Your Say" at the BBC site, submitted comments to other news sites, etc.

A few people, such as the Prime Minister of Denmark, have won my admiration for their handling of the situation, but for the most part I am disgusted with both sides. The violence of these so-called protests ("riots" seems more accurate) is utterly unwarranted and inexcusable.

Even more disturbing is the mindset revealed by signs calling the cartoons "western terrorism." Generally tolerant bleeding-heart liberal though I may be, I have no tolerance whatsoever for the idea that any publication, no matter how offensive someone finds them, can be equated with real acts of terror which kill, maim, and destroy. Or for the idea that offended sensibilities and hurt feelings make violent retaliation "understandable," "inevitable," etc., as some supposedly moderate muslims are claiming.

And most Western leaders, journalists, etc. have conceded far too much ground in their responses to this hysteria. I’m incredibly disappointed that the media in the US and the UK has, with very few exceptions, declined to print the cartoons. And I believe I'm going to gag if I hear one more person saying that freedom of speech has to be balanced with religious freedom. Anyone with half a brain ought to realize that these cartoons do NOT impinge on anyone's religious freedom.

Religious and political leaders in other countries have no business whatsoever deciding what can or can’t be printed in Denmark (or Norway etc.). I’m not surprised that leaders in the Middle East are bashing the cartoons, but why are *Western* leaders and commentators lining up to call them “unacceptable,” “intolerant,” “needlessly offensive,” etc.? And why isn’t the EU backing its members resolutely and unequivocally when they are being unjustly attacked? This is either sheer stupidity or sheer cowardice. If European countries start reviving blasphemy laws as a result of foreign bullying, I will be disgusted beyond words.

Well, I won’t rant any further about the obvious. But I just wanted to say that—contrary to the speculations of some conservatives bloggers here—this particular liberal chick is not feeling the least bit speechless. Or divided. Or hampered by an excess of tolerance.

The only conflict of principles I’m feeling at the moment concerns how much weight I’m willing to gain from eating an overabundance of Danish cheese. ;)  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sun Nov 09, 11:59:00 PM:


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