Monday, January 04, 2010

Taming the victim

Reading Nancy Graham Holm's recent article, "Prejudiced Danes provoke fanaticism", I'm tempted to chalk it up as another case of blaming the victim, but I think this is far worse. Normally when blaming the victim, one traces the victimization directly to the victim's actions, innocent though they may be.

Holm, however, blames outbreaks of Islamofascist violence against one set of victims on the defensible actions of an entirely different set. And the blame isn't on specific actions which may have placed the victim in a worse situation - instead, it's on expression.

She writes:

Muslims failed to see Westergaard's cartoon as satire. Instead, they saw in it a defamatory and humiliating message: Muslims are terrorists. Humiliation is a devastating feeling. But most people who are insulted will accept an apology.

Humiliation (at least of the sort inflicted by seeing a cartoon) isn't even in the spiral arm of the same galaxy as the effects of lethal violence, which can produce not only the aforementioned humiliation but persistent and recurring pain for the victim and his or her family.

Most people who are insulted do not plan and execute violence against the offender or nearby proxies.

Most people are not "humiliated" by images not directly addressed to them. Most of those "humiliated" by an image do not take violent action which conforms to that image. Apparently Islam will continue the assault until we're all convinced it's a religion of peace.

Intentional humiliation is an aggressive act. As a journalist now living in the same town as Westergaard, I thought some at Jyllands-Posten had acted like petulant adolescents.

Intentional humiliation may be "aggressive," but again, aggression nowhere close to the Offended Ones - the aggression of the militant Islam the cartoons parodied.

"Petulant adolescents?"I suppose Holm deems Old Testament punishments suitable for un-spoiling the child - a la Leviticus 20:9? "For every one that curseth his father or his mother shall be surely put to death: he hath cursed his father or his mother; his blood shall be upon him."

Danes fail to perceive the fact that they have developed a society deeply suspicious of religion. This is the real issue between Denmark and Muslim extremists, not freedom of speech.

How does Holm derived that this is "the real issue?" Does such a distinction explain the violent outbursts of Muslims around the world - including those who probably know little of Danish society? Are the imams simply educating Muslims about Denmark, and the violence is merely the natural outgrowth of that knowledge?

Since when is fanatical violence a rational or even permissible response to suspicion?

The free society precept is merely an attempt to give the perpetrators the moral high ground when actually it is a smokescreen for a deeply rooted prejudice, not against Muslims, but against religion per se.

"Free society precept?" Nonsense. If it were a smoke screen for prejudice, what of it? No one is charging Denmark with legal, financial, or any other sort of prejudice against Muslims; this is a fanatical response to cartoons.

Where are the Jewish fanatics? Where are the Christian ones? Hindu? Buddhist? Holm is attempting here to paint Denmark's cartoons as an attack on all religions, when every symptom impugns Islam and its innate violence and fascism.

Muslims are in love with their faith. And many Danes are suspicious of anyone who loves religion.

Love does not generally drive one to violence; it's mostly the angry, hotheaded man who avenges an insult to loved ones with immediate violence. If Islam is a religion which, unlike the others, inspires violent defensiveness, then what good does the love do anyone but the converted?

Holm's headline is a lie: little or nothing is needed to provoke fanatics. The religions centered on the God of the Desert, Yahwah, are about obedience, as always - the cartoons violate some nonsense about the image of their prophet.

Christians and Jews at least have had the good sense and good fortune to secularize themselves. Here's hoping Muslims, with their far more militant "holy book," find a path to the same.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous6:12 PM

    Ask the Palistinians where the Jewish fanatics are. But I think in this case it all boils down to excessively disproportionate response. From Salmon Rushdie to the Danish cartoonist, these can't possibly be instigating the violent response attributed to them. They're simply matches igniting a much deeper animosity in the same way Israel will bulldoze the houses of the extanded family of a suspected terrorist. In that sense I think the author has a point, even if they reach a bizarre conclusion.