Tuesday, February 07, 2006

I Think the Children Need a Nap

In the afternoon, sometimes, my children may become fussy, especially the 2-year-old. When this happens, I know it's nap time. Do you ever think that we live in a world full of children?

In September Denmark's Jyllands-Posten asked cartoonists to create satirical drawings of Muhammad. Apparently, the Danish media was fearful of criticizing terrorists due to politically correct sensitivities. It was supposed to be therapeutic, I suppose. The resulting cartoons were printed over a week ago. A few other European papers and some others around the world (Bulgaria, France, Germany, Italy, Ireland, Jordan, Spain, Switzerland, Hungary, New Zealand, Norway and Poland) picked up on the story and reprinted them.

Some Muslims responded not by simply expressing their misgivings peaceably. They responded in Syria by torching the Danish and Norwegian embassies in Damascus. They replaced the Danish flag with a green one inscribed with the Islamic pillar that states, "There is no god but Allah and Muhammad is his prophet." In Gaza, Palestinians took German and Danish flags from European buildings and burned them. A Hamas leader called for the death of Europeans. In Hebron, more Palestinians burned a Danish flag and called for a boycott of Danish goods. (I thought Palestinians were too poor to afford bullets. They can afford Danish imports?)

To be fair, there were some peaceful protests by responsible adults in Iraq (see, freedom works) and Turkey. In Turkey, however, one teenager murdered a Catholic priest over the cartoons. To their credit, Turkish authorities arrested him for the crime. For their primarily peaceful opposition, Europeans still look favorably on Turkey and still support their recent inclusion as members of the EU.

Not to be outdone by the childish behavior, the Russians have responded. Moscow is declaring solidarity with their European brethren by putting together an art exhibit featuring the cartoons.

For the most part, the European response has been to take a defensive posture. Riots in Afghanistan have swelled to the point where Afghan police have had to beat back attackers and NATO peacekeeping troops have exchanged fire with rioters.

The cartoons have been foresworn in the newspapers of some countries, including Belgium and Great Britain. Of course, Great Britain has no trouble displaying anti-George-Bush cartoons. (Do you think it civil to storm and burn the British embassy in DC? I think not. Civilized adults don't do such things.)

I wonder who has seen fit to pass the word about what's going on in Europe to Muslims around the world, as if to instigate their ire:

In Iran, the childishness continues. In a move reminiscent of "freedom fries" versus "french fries", Iran is renaming "Danish" pastries "Muhammedan" pastries. After having denied that the Holocaust took place, they are also having a "Holocaust Cartoon Contest". They apparently have their first contender: European Muslims have submitted a cartoon of Hitler in bed with Anne Frank. What I find interesting is that the term "Danish" is American English and the Muslim cartoon of Hitler and Anne Frank is also in English. If the beef is truly with the Europeans, and Danes in particular, then these childish maneuvers would be in some language other than English. When my kids have spats, they often speak to each other in order that my wife and I might hear them and that their argument might ultimately be an appeal (or a challenge) to us. This is no different. Their primary issue with the US, not the Danes. They are merely doing to the Danes what they want to do to the Americans - but can't... yet.

Apparently, the Lebanese agree that Iran is one of the instigators. Lebanese leader, Walid Jumblatt, also points a tattling finger at Syria. (He may fear American action in the Middle East, but Lebanon has done little to threaten the US and is generally held is high esteem relative to most other Middle East nations among Americans. He is in no danger.)

The cartoons are not the only depictions of Muhammad. If there are no others, how would viewers of the cartoons recognize him, other than some are labeled? Muhammad is also depicted in bas relief high above the justices' bench in the US Supreme Court, but this has provoked only minor legal action from the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR). The US Embassies aroad haven't been burned on account of it.

One last observation. France was one nation whose newspapers chose to reprint the cartoons. By the time rioting Syrian Muslims got to the Danish and Norwegian embassies in Damascus, the Eurpoeans there had already evacuated. However, when the Muslims went to the French Embassy, they were surprised to find that not only were the French still there, but they were ready to fight off the rioters (may wonders never cease). Police and troops barracaded the entrance. Not to be thwarted, the rioters broke through. However, they were quickly repelled by...

...are you ready for this?...

...water cannons.

That does it! Everyone out of the pool! Dry off and go to your rooms!

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