Right To Be Angry

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Satirical, racist cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed originally published by a sensation-seeking Danish newspaper have produced an international storm of hysteria and racism.

Mobs of enraged Muslims have rioted from Morocco to Indonesia and burned Danish and Norwegian embassies. Editors of other European newspapers that ran the offensive cartoons piously insist they were defending free speech.

This writer detests any form of censorship, including so-called "hate laws" that are really modern forms of heresy and blasphemy statutes.

But free speech does not include the right to scream "fire" in a crowded movie theatre. And that’s just what the European newspapers did. They were trying to boost circulation and pander to anti-immigrant right-wingers by attacking Islam.

This whole ugly business is really about anti-Islamism — the modern version of 1930′s anti-Semitism.

Promoting hatred and scorn for Islam and Muslims has become the only socially and legally acceptable modern prejudice.

Question the Holocaust in Germany or Austria and you go to jail, as Pat Buchanan just wrote. Doing the same in Canada gets you jailed or expelled. But slandering Islam is okay.

The Danish paper that ran the racist cartoons "to defend free speech" refused in 2003 to run satirical cartoons of Christ, saying "it would provoke an outrage."

America’s four leading evangelical preachers, Jerry Falwell, Franklin Graham, Pat Robertson, and Marvin Olasky preached a "crusade" against Iraq.

Graham branded Islam "an evil and wicked religion."

Mohammed was called "a terrorist."

Among American evangelical Christians, one poll showed 87% supported invading Iraq and hoped to convert Iraq’s Muslims to Christianity.

Italy’s Oriana Fallaci churns out best sellers depicting Islam as a backwards creed of thugs.

In liberal Holland, it’s cool to despise Muslims.

In America, historian Bernard Lewis pumps out screeds on the evils of Islam. Daniel Pipes rails against all things Islamic.

One Danish cartoon of Prophet Mohammed shows him with a long, hooked nose, thick lips, a sinister, malevolent glare on his ugly, Semitic face and a curved dagger in his hand.

Change the caption "Prophet Mohammed" to "Jew swine" and you have the double of Nazi anti-Semitic hate cartoons of the 1930s from the pages of Die Strmer.

That’s what this is all about. Modern anti-Semitism, reborn.

What many Europeans are saying through these cartoons is, "we hate Muslims. Make Europe Muslimfrei!" They want Muslims out, just as they did Jews in the 1930s.

But while Muslims have been egregiously and gravely offended, far too many have reacted hysterically by rioting and burning embassies. The Prophet Mohammed and Islam don’t need rioters and arsonists to defend them.

In an act of utter childishness, Iran’s largest newspaper vows to run cartoons ridiculing the Holocaust, proving there is no sickness as contagious as stupidity.

Muslims suffered 150 years of the most brutal European imperialism and exploitation. Millions of Muslims were slaughtered by European and Russian colonialists, though we seldom hear about this holocaust. Many of Europe’s 20 million Muslims are third-class citizens. Muslims have a right to be angry.

But where were all these angry Muslims when 250,000 Bosnians were being massacred, and thousands of Muslim girls and women gang raped while mosques were blown up?

Why no protests over Russia’s genocide in Chechnya?

Or when the U.S. invaded Afghanistan and Iraq, and Australia annexed East Timor?

Mostly, there was only silence. Or governments in Muslim countries buying arms and goods from their oppressors.

So why now all the rage over some crass racist cartoons in a second-rate newspaper in an obscure country?

At least protesting through boycotts is sensible.

But rioting and burning are worthy only of drunken adolescents and simply reinforce racist claims by western anti-Islamic hate-mongers that Muslims are violent, irrational and backwards.

Eric Margolis [send him mail], contributing foreign editor for Sun National Media Canada, is the author of War at the Top of the World. See his website.

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