Enemies at Home and Abroad: The Cartoon Controversy and Its Meaning; Part I

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The events
of the last week, across Asia and Europe, prove two things. First,
multiculturalism and freedom are not synonyms. Second, there are
two threats to Occidental freedom and civilization: radical Muslims
and our own governing elites (especially in the United States
and England) who seem to view fundamentalist Islam almost as something
necessary, dangerous to be sure, but very useful all the same,
so useful that it must be carefully nurtured, and occasionally,
stung. Symbiosis, I think it's called. A global Islamic jihad
versus an Anglo-American crusade, neither of which would be very
compelling, or very sellable, without the other. We have Bush
and Blair, two righteous fools, that together with Osama bin Laden
form a kind of triumvirate of fanaticism and ineptitude, that
is likely to lead to a third Middle Eastern War (with Syria or
Iran), more Islamic-inspired terrorism, a progressive diminishment
of our freedoms, and a growing bill, culminating in national bankruptcy.

Have you
read Carl Schmitt's Concept
of the Political
(1932), which identifies the friend/enemy
distinction as the essence of politics? You should. But before
that why not watch a neglected cinematic masterpiece, an HBO production
actually, from the era before Oklahoma City and the Twin Towers
when it was still possible to suggest that perhaps the real enemy,
or at least the most dangerous one, spoke English, was born in
the States, and worked … for the Government. Flash
(1984) tells the story of two Border Patrol agents,
whose discovery of buried treasure attracts the attention of some
rather nefarious fellows, whose job it is to keep certain things,
and especially certain kinds of knowledge, safely buried and forgotten.

In the key
scene, Agent Logan (played by Kris Kristofferson) is being berated,
so to speak, by Inspector Carson (played by Kurtwood Smith). Logan
was once a promising young man, who could have advanced high in
the national security bureaucracy, or gone into politics to play
the fool, but instead he dropped out, and is now happily working
for the Border Patrol in southwestern Texas. Carson ridicules
his choice, accusing him of being unable to handle the pressure,
and says that he is wasting his time patrolling the border. The
government doesn't care how many "wetbacks" cross the
order, he says; hell, Nixon even had one working for him at San
Clemente, an illegal "greaseball" working for the ex-president.

Carson: "You
think you've beaten the system because you're hiding out at the
bottom of it."

Logan: "I
don't work for the system, I work for the law."

Carson: "The
law (he says derisively). You work for the same law that
pays all our salaries,

The law of
supply and demand.

Think about
it whiz kid.

You're f
__ing job depends on those wetbacks.

And if we
didn't have em, we'd invent em.

how'd your department justify the millions it gets from Congress
each year?

It's the
American way pal.

Supply and

And when
the supply is lacking, create it.

Shit … every
morning I get up, I thank God for drugs and murder and subversion,
because without them, we'd all be without a job.

Logan: "Who
are you?"

Carson: "I'm
a fixer Logan, I fix things."

Logan: "Yeh?
What kind of things?"

Carson: "Whatever
needs fixin."

That's inspired.
If Islamic fundamentalists didn't exist, we'd invent u2018em. But
it does exist, and the challenge is to recognize the danger it
does pose, while refusing to allow our government to exploit it
for its own selfish purposes.

I know that
some believe that the first publication of the cartoons last year
was intended as a deliberate provocation, intended to stir things
up, rattle Europeans, prepare the ground for the next war; that
some neoconservatives, maybe even some within the government,
were behind it. Justin Raimondo makes this argument in his February
8 column. I admit it's possible, but even if true I don't believe
it matters all that much now. The battle has been joined, and
what's being fought over, what's at stake, is nothing less than
freedom of speech and of the press, the tradition of critical
inquiry, and the freedom to satirize, versus politically correct
inspired self-censorship, Muslim intimidation and political violence.
It's that simple.

liberals (e.g. Jefferson) have always believed that liberty had
to be fought for, and sometimes that fight is not physical but
psychological, finding the moral courage to resist the sensitivity
codes and thought police and minority bullying that is suffocating
intellectual freedom in this country. Publish the cartoons? Yes,
and a thousand times YES! And remember Hemingway's advice: Never

The Bush
and Blair administration care nothing for civil liberties or hallowed
Western traditions. Their first reaction to the crisis proved
that (they condemned the cartoons and the press organs that published
them), as does the so-called Patriot Act and the wiretapping business,
but now they are trying to exploit the situation in order to bring
about a war. The U.S. Secretary of State, Condi Rice, has blamed
the governments of Syria and Iran, which have long been in her
and the president's gun sights, for causing all the trouble. They're
as bad as the Islamists. Both equally threaten our freedom. It's
time to recognize that.

In the second
part, I shall discuss the origin and development of the crisis.
In part three, I shall discuss its meaning and significance. Until
next time, Tu ne cede malis, sed contra audentior ito.

13, 2006

Arthur Scott Trask, Ph.D., [send
him mail
] is
an independent historian, currently writing The
Other North: Northern Democrats and Conservatives Who Opposed the
Civil War.

Arthur Scott Trask Archives

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