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February 17, 2006

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john buell

This is an excellent comment. I think it is also worth pointing out that, rightly or wrongly, freedom of speech is hardly absolute in western countries. European states have laws regarding Holocaust denial. The Danish newspaper in question also has a history of racist attacks on Muslims and rejected the submission of cartoons with an anti-Christian message. In the US, media figures who have uttered racist remarks have been drummed off the air by reactions of offended groups, and no one claims that this proves America is some sort of medieval civilization. (Perhaps drumming these people off the air is not the best way to handle such incidents, but that raises a set of issues that go beyond the current battle of civilizations rhetoric.)

Secondly, I am disturbed that the maintream media make no distinction between riots and the peaceful protest. Most of the protest has taken a peaceful form. And calls for boycotts of Danish goods are in no way different from activists in the US calling for a boycott of Wal-Mart or whatever. What is more western or American than the exercise of what Milton Friedman would call our dollar votes?

rodkong

"...racist attacks on Muslims"

...explain to how these cartoons are racist? Islam is a global religion that is not exclusive to the Arab world. Here's a recent quote from the President of Iran:

"We must believe in the fact that Islam is not confined to geographical borders, ethnic groups and nations. It's a universal ideology that leads the world to justice. We don't shy away from declaring that Islam is ready to rule the world. We must prepare ourselves to rule the world and the only way to do that is to put forth views on the basis of the Expectation of the Return. If we work on the basis of the Expectation of the Return [of the Mahdi], all the affairs of our nation will be streamlined and the administration of the country will become easier. Some politicians think we had a revolution so that some could hit others in the head and have one party ruling for some time and another party in opposition for some time. But we had a revolution to achieve a lofty goal, on the basis on the Expectation of the Return," - Mahmoud Ahmadinejad

http://www.iranfocus.com/modules/news/article.php?storyid=5166

...now, I agree that there is hypocracy when it comes to our government's position on free speech, but I find it hard to accept that U.S. imperialism/global capitalism is solely responsible for the clash of civilizations when mulsim's are bombing mulsims.

I am ashamed of our nation when I see those instances of abuse, but I am equally grateful to live in a nation whose citizens recognize injustice and seek to correct the wrong. (i.e. John McCain and the torture amendment) While the Adminstration and MSM side-steps the torture question, Americans unanimously agree that it is immoral. Why don't moderate muslim's condemn the practice of beheading? suicide bombers? killing muslims in the name of Allah?

peBird

Lets not forget that the Newsweek caved to pressure from criticism about "inaccurate reporting", which turned out to be true.

Maybe America can teach Denmark some lessons on free speech.

Whether the cartoons are racist or not is besides the point - if you support a free press, you support the publication of offensive speech.

This is not about free speech but using the violent actions (whether provoked or not) of some to pass judgment on an entire group of people, most of whom if they protest are protesting peacefully.

Which, I believe was the intention of the right-wing Danish publishers.

Virgil Johnson

Sometimes I grow weary saying the same things over and over again, but than I remember those who have died and those still oppressed by western imperialism, and it drives me on. Although it makes me wonder what mental state people are in, when they either defend or attempt to belittle these atrocities.

This is not the venue for a long recitation of colonial and neo-colonial activity in the Middle East. Suffice it to say that the people in the Middle East are not backward - they are exploited. They have been divided, and set up to create antagonism between certain factions by Western invasion(s). Each time they have tried to set up a government of democratic leaning it has been destroyed, purposefully by Western Imperialism. If you want one concrete example among many study what happened with Nasser and Egypt - than take that like a template and apply it to the entire exploitation of the Middle East. Study it for yourself.

This is why I get tired of the old imperial/colonial crap regarding the "backward nature" of these people. It has been used for hundreds of years, along with the chant that they are less than human - animals, and so on.

The torture pictures are just a small window into the mass murder that has taken place in Iraq. From the direct military attacks, to the deadly sanctions, and the wanton destruction/genocide of these people. Read with me the list of what was destroyed, besides the loss of life in this attack upon a people who could not harm us:

After 42 days of continuous bombing -
3960 Schools and scholastic facilities -
40 Universities, Labs, dormitories -
421 Health Facilities - hospitals, clinics and warehouses -
475 telephone stations, towers -
260 bridges, buildings, housing complexes -
251 warehouses, shopping centers, and grain silos -
159 churches and mosques -
200 dams, water pumping stations, agricultural facilities -
145 Petroleum facilities-
830 shelters, sewage treatment plants, municipalities -
120 mines, factories, indutrial facilities - and these services, facilities still mostly lay in rubble! All vital to sustaining life (as we know it), the complete upheaval of civilizations infrastructure.

NOW, recite to me how these are backward people! Try to tell me that this torture is an isolated incident. Point to the great pains this imperialistic thrust is making for "democracy." Yeah, it's a new kind of democracy, occupation - democracy, it's the new rage! Any power that would go to this extent to destroy a people (and steal their resources, their labor, and their capital), does not deserve to exist. That is all I have to say.


Dejan Nikolic

In your otherwise correct description of the situation with prison images, you omit one important aspect:

the images might not have leaked out at all. They might have been shown deliberately, so that the Western public gets the illusion that their democratic governments are so fiercely supportive of the freedom of speech, that they will even publish such blatant snuff on national television. It happened before in the West that crucial information concerning the abuses of the government was indeed published, but either late or in such small typeset, that people just didn't notice, or when they did, it didn't matter anymore. Noam Chomsky wrote abundantly about this sort of soft censorship in Western countries.

Therefore the images seem to me a curious kind of ''reality SM porno'', serving more to titillate our narcissistic imperialist Western libido in the assertion of its power over the ''lesser races'', than any kind of a positive purpose in terms of revealing the truth (of the workings of power).
The images are missing a frame which shows the network of power that organized the tortures. Only that would make the videos actually effective.

One is also reminded of the visionary power in Cronenberg's film VIDEODROME, he foresaw exactly this instence where snuff movies would become the pathway to a nightmare world of simulacral post-modern capitalism!

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