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Fat Steve's Archives

| Sunday, February 26, 2006

LA Times Story on Irvine Showing of Danish Muhammad Cartoons

        Originally here.
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Planned Exhibit of Cartoons Protested

The caricatures of Muhammad will be displayed at a UCI student forum. Muslims object, and university officials are wary.
By Daniel Yi, Times Staff Writer
February 25 2006

        Plans by a Republican student group at UC Irvine to showcase the controversial cartoons of the prophet Muhammad that led to violent protests around the world are drawing condemnation from Muslim groups and university officials.

        The caricatures will be part of a panel discussion sponsored by the campus College Republicans scheduled for Tuesday at 7 p.m. in UCI's Crystal Cove Auditorium.

        "We are firm believers in the 1st Amendment," said Kristin Lucero, a 21-year-old UCI senior and president of the campus College Republicans.  "The public has the right to discuss as well as view the cartoons."

        Lucero said the cartoons depicting Muhammad, first published by a Danish newspaper, would be displayed along with what she called anti-Semitic and anti-Western cartoons that have been published in Muslim nations.  Depictions of Muhammad are prohibited under Islamic law.

        She said the event was originally designed as a discussion about terrorism threats, but that the controversy over the caricatures of Muhammad offered another issue for debate.

        Muslim students at UCI see the event as a provocation, said Marya Bangee, 19, a sophomore and member of the Muslim Student Union.

        "First of all, unless they are living in a bubble, they have to know what has happened around the world" because of the cartoons, she said.  "We don't want to limit anyone's freedom of speech, but with freedom comes responsibility."

        The cartoons, which have since been reprinted by other publications, caused riots that claimed dozens of lives in several countries.

        Bangee has asked the College Republicans to hold the event without showing the drawings.  She said Muslim students fear the cartoons will incite violence locally.

        That is the primary concern of university officials as well, said Sally Peterson, UCI's dean of students.

        "Our No. 1 priority is going to be to have a safe and secure event," she said.  "The students who want to pursue [this event], I am not sure they understand the impact of their actions."

        Peterson said she had received letters from people who think showing the drawings will insult Muslims.  She said the university can't stop organizers of the event from displaying the cartoons, but she hoped that a compromise could be reached.

        "We are trying to get the groups together on both sides," she said.  "But we don't have a lot of time."
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| Saturday, February 25, 2006

New York Times Editorial on the Danish Muhammad Cartoons

        Originally here.
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February 25, 2006
Editorial

Silenced by Islamist Rage

        With every new riot over the Danish cartoons, it becomes clearer that the protests are no longer about the caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad, but about the demagoguery of Islamic extremists. The demonstrators are undeniably outraged by what they perceive as blasphemy. But radical Islamists are trying to harness that indignation to their political goals and their theocratic ends by fomenting hatred for the West and for moderate regimes in the Muslim world. These are dangerous games, and they require the most resolute response.

        It is not the West that is most threatened in this crisis. The voices of moderation in the Muslim world are the ones that are being intimidated and silenced. Those few journalists and leaders who have spoken out against the rioting have been vilified and assailed, and even jailed. According to a report by Michael Slackman and Hassan M. Fattah in The New York Times, 11 journalists in five Islamic countries face prosecution for printing some of the Danish cartoons, even when their purpose was to condemn them.

        In most of these cases, the legal action represents attempts by cowed authorities to appease the Islamists. But the effect — in Yemen, Jordan and other countries — has only been to give extremists a dollop of legitimacy, and to encourage them to turn up the heat. That, in turn, increases the perception of a "clash of civilizations" between Islam and the West.

        It is time for moderate Muslims to abandon the illusion that they can placate the Islamists by straddling the fence. It is they who must explain to their people that the cartoons were an isolated incident, and not the face of hostile crusaders. It is they who must make it clear to their people that blowing up mosques, beheading hostages and strapping on belts of explosives are far, far greater evils than a few drawings in a distant paper. They must do so because their future is at stake — not Denmark's

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| Thursday, February 23, 2006

New York Times Story on France and Jew Hatred.

        Originally here.
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French Officials Now Say Killing of Jew Was in Part a Hate Crime

By ARIANE BERNARD and CRAIG S. SMITH
Published: February 23, 2006

        PARIS, Feb. 22 — French authorities say a young Jewish man who was tortured and killed here this month was singled out because of his religion, supporting claims by French Jews that his killing was in part a hate crime.

        “The truth is that these hoodlums first of all acted for villainous and sordid reasons — money — but they had the belief, and I quote, ‘that Jews have money,’” the interior minister, Nicolas Sarkozy, told French lawmakers on Tuesday, citing a statement by one of the men who kidnapped the victim, Ilan Halimi.

        Mr. Halimi, 23, was kidnapped and held for three weeks while his captors, led by a Muslim immigrant from Ivory Coast, demanded a ransom from his family.  He was found on Feb. 13, naked and covered with cigarette burns, near a suburban train station outside Paris, and died on his way to a hospital.

        The French police initially dismissed accusations by Mr. Halimi's family and Jewish groups that anti-Semitism played a role in the crime, even after one suspect told investigators that Mr. Halimi had been a target because he was a Jew.  The authorities changed their position after another suspect said Mr. Halimi had been burned on his forehead with a cigarette because of his religion.

        France has struggled to strike a balance between suppressing anti-Semitism within the country's large Muslim community and addressing rising anti-Islamic sentiments in the broader population.  The government was widely criticized several years ago for responding sluggishly to an outbreak of anti-Semitic incidents.

        Jewish leaders again criticized the police and the news media, saying they played down the anti-Semitic aspect of the killing for fear of increasing tensions with Muslims.

        Ruth Halimi, Mr. Halimi's mother, told the Israeli daily Haaretz on Sunday, “If Ilan hadn't been Jewish, he wouldn't have been murdered.”  She also told the newspaper that the police told the family to ignore the gang's attempts to contact them.

        “Nobody is denying that their priority was money, ” said Roger Cukierman, president of CRIF, France's umbrella Jewish organization.  “But their vision, based on the prejudice that Jews have money, and then once they are kidnapped, the way they happily tortured them, shows the anti-Semitic element.”

        President Jacques Chirac called Mr. Halimi's parents on Tuesday and assured them that full light would be shed on the circumstances, and in particular whether it was an anti-Semitic act, Élysée Palace said in a statement.

        On Wednesday, Mr. Chirac and Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin said they would attend a memorial service for Mr. Halimi on Thursday.  CRIF plans a silent march through Paris on Sunday.

        The police found literature linking some suspects in the case to Palestinian and fundamentalist Muslim causes, but Mr. Sarkozy warned against blaming the country's Muslims.  “What we don't need now, in addition to this barbarity, is misunderstanding, intolerance and racism,” he said Tuesday.

        Mr. Halimi was abducted in January after being approached by a young woman at his workplace, a phone store.  They later met at an undisclosed location, where his abductors were waiting for him.

        Thirteen people are under formal investigation for the crime.

        The main suspect, Youssouf Fofana, is thought to have fled to his native Ivory Coast.  Mr. Fofana has been involved a number of violent robberies, a judicial official said.

        Ariane Bernard reported from Paris for this article, and Craig S. Smith from Brussels.

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| Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Items on Summers's Resignation From Harvard

        Originally here.
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HARVARD POLITICS [Stanley Kurtz]

        The New York Times notes that Summers knew he had to go when colleagues from the Clinton administration told him so.

        The Times adds that Summers is thinking of advising a Democratic presidential campaign.  There you have the explanation for Summers' appeasement. Summers is from the sane side of the Democratic Party (yes, there is one).  These moderate Democrats want to bring the academy closer to the center of the country.  But when push came to shove, the leftist faculty wouldn't play along.

        That left Summers and his moderate Democrat backers on the board to choose between appeasement and a serious public battle.  Ultimately, Summers and his allies backed down because they are part of the same national political coalition as the leftist faculty (which contributes heavily to the Democratic Party).  Moderate Dems would be happy to reform the academy, but they don't have the stomach to treat leftist professors as open opponents.  Only Republicans can do that.  So in a way, we are seeing another iteration of the paralyzing split between DLC types and the fire-breathing base.  The Democratic left is just too big, too powerful, and too essential to victory to be purged, as Peter Beinart wanted to do.

        That brings us to all those surveys of party registration in the academy.  Party registration is a rough proxy for point of view in those surveys.  But the Summers case suggests that it might be something more as well.  The minuscule number of Republicans professors on campus shows that even moderate Democrats are unable to put the academy's house in order without Republican help.  So long as actual conservatives are effectively banned from the faculty (and make no mistake, they are now effectively banned), nothing will change.  Not only will an entire set of ideas be missed, but even moderate Democrats will be cowed into submission.  They can't make war on the folks they work with in their larger political battles.  And right now the academy needs war, not love.

        Alan Dershowitz, in "Coup against Summers a dubious victory for the politically correct" describes the center-left split at the heart of this conflict.  And here is Amity Shlaes on how the moderate mind-set of Clinton's economic team tried but failed to reign in the radical 1970's era sensibility still dominant on Harvard's faculty.
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        Originally here.
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February 22, 2006

President of Harvard Resigns, Ending Stormy 5-Year Tenure

By ALAN FINDER, PATRICK D. HEALY and KATE ZERNIKE

        Lawrence H. Summers resigned yesterday as president of Harvard University after a relatively brief and turbulent tenure of five years, nudged by Harvard's governing corporation and facing a vote of no confidence from the influential Faculty of Arts and Sciences.

        The announcement by Dr. Summers, an economist and a former secretary of the Treasury, disappointed many students on the campus and raised questions about future leaders' ability to govern Harvard with its vocal and independent-minded faculty.

        But advisers and confidants of Dr. Summers said he privately concluded a week ago that he should step down, after members of Harvard's governing corporation and friends — particularly from the Clinton administration — made it clear that his presidency was lost.

        Dr. Summers, who earned a base salary of $563,000 in the 2004-5 academic year and received a 3 percent raise last July, is to leave office June 30.  Derek C. Bok, 75, who was Harvard's president from 1971 to 1991, will serve as interim president until a permanent successor is found.

        Hailed in his first days as a once-in-a-century leader, in the mold of perhaps Harvard's greatest president, Charles W. Eliot, Dr. Summers, 51, came into office with plans to expand the campus, put new focus on undergraduate education and integrate the university's schools.  But he eventually alienated professors with a personal style that many saw as bullying and arrogant.

        His well-known desire to change Harvard's culture, which he saw as complacent, was accompanied by slights to some faculty members and missteps like his statement last year that women might lack an intrinsic aptitude for math and science.

        And some of his major decisions — including overhauling the undergraduate curriculum, appointing deans and mapping out a new campus — were hugely divisive at the 370-year-old university.

        "I looked at the extent of the rancor that had emerged in parts of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences," Dr. Summers told reporters yesterday, "and the extent to which for many I personally had become a large issue, and concluded very reluctantly that the agenda for the university that I cared about — as well as my own satisfaction — would be best served by stepping down."

        Dr. Summers's decision came after three fractious weeks following the resignation of William C. Kirby, dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, and left the university divided.  About 50 students waving signs that said "Stay, Summers, Stay" and chanting "Larry, Larry" rallied in Harvard Yard yesterday after the news broke.  Dr. Summers appeared to cheers and dispensed high-fives.

        At the same time, several prominent donors said they were aghast at Dr. Summers's fall.

        "How can anyone govern a university where a fraction of faculty members can force a president out?" said Joseph O'Donnell, a Boston business executive who is a former member of Harvard's Board of Overseers and a prominent donor.

        But several of Dr. Summers's faculty critics — predominantly in the humanities and social sciences, but extended across the university — said the president had made the right decision.

        "A strong leader is not just someone who can name a goal or force a change," said Mary C. Waters, a sociology professor, "but someone who can bring out the best in people and find ways to encourage teamwork."

        Though Harvard negotiated a university professorship for Dr. Summers — the highest faculty position, with rights to teach in any department — his friends said they did not know if he would take it.

        His sabbatical year next year, they said, may be a moment for him to survey his opportunities, including Wall Street or the possibility of advising a Democratic presidential campaign.  Several of these people declined to speak on the record because they did not want to be seen as divulging Dr. Summers's thoughts.

        But they were also not surprised at how his tenure ended.  After last year's dispute over women in science and a no-confidence vote last March by the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, several senior Harvard officials close to Dr. Summers wondered whether each faculty meeting would become a moment to rekindle no-confidence votes.

        "Win or lose, he realized that it was going to be very difficult to govern and that the better part of valor was to step aside," said David R. Gergen, director of the university's Center for Public Leadership at the John F. Kennedy School of Government.

        Dr. Summers's aides and supporters had tried to find ways to save his presidency before the second no-confidence vote, set for next Tuesday.  Dr. Summers also sought ideas from allies including another Treasury secretary under President Bill Clinton, Robert E. Rubin, who is a member of the seven-seat governing corporation, and Gene B. Sperling, a former economic adviser to Mr. Clinton.

        At times Dr. Summers had sounded as if he wanted to fight on, some of his confidants said, but in other moments he sounded weary.  By the time he left for a ski vacation in Utah last Thursday, he had decided to resign, two aides said yesterday.

        At the same time, corporation members — particularly Nannerl O. Keohane, the former president of Duke University, and Robert D. Reischauer, president of the Urban Institute — began contacting professors to gauge their reaction to a resignation or even a forced dismissal.

        Two Harvard faculty members, who spoke with several members of the corporation, said yesterday that they believed it was the corporation's idea, more than Dr. Summers's, that he step down.  Members of the corporation did not respond to messages seeking comment.  The Wall Street Journal reported on Monday that Dr. Summers was expected to resign this week.

        Dr. Summers said yesterday that he was not forced to quit, and he sounded enthusiastic about starting new research on international economics after his sabbatical.  "In the course of talking with a number of people about what to do," he said, "I of course spoke to members of the corporation, but it was my decision."

        While the resignation of Dr. Kirby — and debate over whether he was forced out by Dr. Summers — touched off the current faculty uproar, Dr. Summers's greater problem was the intense ill will and even loathing toward him within the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, the university's largest unit.

        The controversies often became a distraction for administrators who were trying to focus on priorities like planning the next major fund-raising campaign.  Still, officials said that annual fund-raising was not down.

        Dr. Summers apologized repeatedly for his communication skills, if not for his management.  But his remarks about women in the sciences led to last year's 218-to-185 no-confidence vote, and, several professors said, that anger never dissipated.

        Professors at the School of Public Health considered a similar vote last year before forgoing one.  Dr. Summers also had sharp critics at the Law School and the Graduate School of Education.

        "There was no smoking gun, but there were innumerable brush fires," said one critic, Howard Gardner, a professor of cognition and education, referring to the controversies surrounding Dr. Summers.

        Since its founding in 1636, Harvard has ceded unusually strong power to its faculties over their different budgets, endowments and perquisites; the presidency, in turn, is designed to be a relatively weak office.

        But Dr. Summers enthusiastically filled the bully pulpit.  He inveighed against grade inflation and demanded more rigor in teaching, two issues that came up in his private conversation in 2001 with Cornel West, then a professor of African and African-American studies.  Dr. West said afterward that he felt insulted by Dr. Summers, and he soon left for Princeton University.

        Dr. Summers was more successful with students, who thrilled to the sight of the president's showing up at dances and study breaks, and signing dollar bills that bore his signature as Treasury secretary.  In a weekend poll by The Harvard Crimson, the student daily, undergraduates backed him three to one.

        Josh Downer, 19, a freshman, who rallied for Dr. Summers yesterday, said he believed that disgruntled faculty had forced him out.  "The faculty is throwing a temper tantrum because the president set a bold agenda that doesn't necessarily align with the egos of the faculty," Mr. Downer said.

        But to many officials and professors, the rift had become personality-driven, and Dr. Summers had not changed his behavior after promising to do so.

        "It's very hard for adults to change their personality, and Harvard needs a personality who can get all the faculty and schools to work together for the good of the university," said Bruce Alberts, a member of Harvard's Board of Overseers.

        Dr. Summers also offended some with what many saw as a style more suited to Washington than to Cambridge.  He was driven in a black limousine with a license plate reading "1636," the year of Harvard's founding; Dr. Bok, by contrast, had driven his own Volkswagen bus.  And Dr. Summers hired his own public relations adviser, who had worked for Prime Minister Tony Blair of Britain; she has since departed.

        Several professors said they resented the suggestion by Dr. Summers's supporters that he had been forced to resign because the Faculty of Arts and Sciences was simply intransigent.

        "For all his extraordinary talents, he just hasn't provided the kind of leadership to the university that people were prepared to follow," said Harry R. Lewis, a professor of computer science and the former dean of Harvard College, who stepped down in 2003 after disagreeing frequently with Dr. Summers.

        Other professors said they hoped the next president of Harvard would be no less forceful than Dr. Summers in the cause of the school's agenda.

        "I hope people don't conclude from this episode that university presidents must be cautious souls with muted voices," said Michael J. Sandel, a professor of government.  "What Harvard needs now is an activist president of bold vision, along with the ability to inspire others to help carry it through."

        Edmund L. Andrews contributed reporting from Washington for this article, Jonathan D. Glater from New York and Katie Zezima from Cambridge, Mass.
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        Originally here.
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Coup against Summers a dubious victory for the politically correct

By Alan M. Dershowitz | February 22, 2006

        A PLURALITY of one faculty has brought about an academic coup d'etat against not only Harvard University president Lawrence Summers but also against the majority of students, faculty, and alumni.  The Faculty of Arts and Sciences, which forced Summers's resignation by voting a lack of confidence in him last March and threatening to do so again on Feb. 28, is only one component of Harvard University and is hardly representative of widespread attitudes on the campus toward Summers.  The graduate faculties, the students, and the alumni generally supported Summers for his many accomplishments.  The Faculty of Arts and Sciences includes, in general, some of the most radical, hard-left elements within Harvard's diverse constituencies.  And let there be no mistake about the origin of Summers's problem with that particular faculty: It started as a hard left-center conflict.  Summers committed the cardinal sin against the academic hard left: He expressed politically incorrect views regarding gender, race, religion, sexual preference, and the military.

        The original no-confidence motion contained an explanatory note that explicitly referenced "Mr. Summers' apparently ongoing convictions about the capacities and rights not only of women but also of African-Americans, third-world nations, gay people, and colonized peoples."  The note also condemned Summers for his 2002 speech in which he said calls from professors and students for divestment from Israel were "anti-Semitic in their effect if not their intent."

        Although the explanatory note was eventually removed from the motion, it was the 400-pound gorilla in the room.  Summers was being condemned for expressing views deemed offensive by some of the faculty.  I personally disagreed with some of Summers's statements, but that is beside the point in an institution committed to academic freedom and diversity of viewpoints.

        In the minds of at least some vocal members of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, expressing such politically incorrect views is the academic equivalent of provoking Islamic extremists by depicting Prophet Mohammed in a political cartoon.  Radical academics do not, of course, burn down buildings, at least not since the 1970s.  Instead they introduce motions of no confidence and demand resignations of those who offend their sensibilities (while insisting on complete freedom of speech for those with whom they agree -- free speech for me but not for thee!).

        Once the academic bloodletting began, it was difficult to stanch the wound.  Everything Summers did, or did not do, became the object of criticism.  Not only was the honeymoon over, the divorce had begun, at least in the minds of those determined to get rid of Summers.  When he selected a new dean of Arts and Sciences, there were complaints.  When the new dean resigned, there were complaints, some from the same faculty members who opposed the original selection.

        When Summers recused himself from any investigation of his friend Andre Shleifer for investing in Russian companies while he was consulting about the Russian economy, he was condemned by some who would have condemned him even more vociferously had he not recused himself.

        Summers could do no right in the eyes of his radical critics, who could never forgive him for his perceived original sins and who saw an opportunity to build wider coalitions every time Summers took actions that alienated other groups, as a president -- especially an activist and sometimes abrasive president -- will inevitably do.  Some less ideological critics of Summers's leadership style then joined the radicals in a cacophony of strange bedfellows, but the core of the opposition always remained the hard left.

        It was arrogant in the extreme for a plurality of a single faculty to purport to speak for the entire university, especially when that plurality is out of synch with the mainstream of Harvard.  It was dangerous for the corporation to listen primarily to that faculty, without widely consulting other professors, students, and alumni who supported Summers.  Now that this plurality of one faculty has succeeded in ousting the president, the most radical elements of Harvard will be emboldened to seek to mold all of Harvard in its image.  If they succeed, Harvard will become a less diverse and less interesting institution of learning governed by political-correctness cops of the hard left.  This is what happened in many European universities after the violent student protests of the late 1960s.  It should not be allowed to happen at Harvard in the wake of the coup d'etat engineered by some in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences.

Alan M. Dershowitz has been a professor of law at Harvard for 42 years.  His latest book is ''Preemption: A Knife That Cuts Both Ways."
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        Originally here.
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Harvard Sold Larry Summers Down the Charles River: Amity Shlaes


        Feb. 22 (Bloomberg) -- Harvard forced Larry Summers overboard after all.  Yesterday, Summers announced he was leaving as president after five stormy years trying to row Harvard upstream toward the present.

        This seems weird.  After all, we're talking about Larry the Confident here, a man famous for the way he tossed his head back at the rest of the Group of Seven.  As Treasury secretary under President Bill Clinton, Summers steered the economy of the biggest country in the world.  Harvard is just a dinghy next to Battleship U.S.

        Comparing Summers's experience in both offices is, however, useful.  It reminds us that pulling retrograde institutions forward against resistance can be hard.  Executives who try do so need unrelenting support.  If they get the backup, they tend to succeed.  If they don't, the result is ugly -- whether they are at the U.S. Treasury or Harvard.

        Consider the Clinton administration, which by the second term knew what it wanted on the economic side.  It wanted to prove that modern Democrats wouldn't trash the economy or the budget like their retrograde, union-beholden predecessors.  It wanted a strong dollar, no matter what Big Steel said.  It wanted to show that the party of the Great Society could lead the budget into surplus before the party of Reaganomics ever got a chance to.

Be Consistent

        Whatever you believe about this policy, you have to concede that the Clinton Team was consistent.  The administration pushed, and got, the end of welfare.  Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin repeated the phrase "the U.S. supports a strong dollar" so often it became a refrain.  When Summers succeeded Rubin as Treasury secretary, the storyline stayed.  Clinton backed both secretaries.  Robert Reich, the old Labor Secretary, fumed, but he was already overboard himself, back in Massachusetts.  And if Secretary Summers swaggered on the deck like a triumphalist, that suited the era.

        Summers arrived in 2001 planning to transform Harvard, just as the Clintonites had transformed the concept of a Democratic administration.  Under Summers, Harvard would be less of a home for the 1970s mindset, while demanding more intellectual competition.  Corporate vice presidents don't have tenure any longer, so why should academics?

        "There is one sector in the U.S. economy that hasn't changed like the rest: higher education," Richard Huber, Harvard alumnus and former chairman of Aetna Inc., said yesterday.  "Summers wants Harvard in this century, not the last one."

Summers's Missteps

        But Summers soon met trouble.  The first rough patch came when he declined to consider divesting Harvard's holdings in Israel.  About the same time a few star academics, annoyed that he demanded more teaching, huffed off to other universities.

        Last year, Summers angered women's studies majors by noting a simple reality: once you get three standard deviations out there on math aptitude tests, you find more boys than girls.  The president's point was that even if you didn't like that fact, you probably wanted to address it.  But the professors swarmed him, ending the debate.

        Next came the issue of Harvard's portfolio manager, Jack Meyer, who was paid millions for making billions for Harvard's endowment.  Academics found that pay-to-endowment ratio too irritating to bear, and Meyer departed.  Many months passed before Harvard replaced Meyer with Mohamed El-Erian, Pimco's bond star.

Confidence Deficit

        The problem here, many believe, is Confident Larry.  Neil Rudenstine, Summers's predecessor, is so collegial he can coax love from a stone.  Summers is capable of antagonizing a stone in the same time frame, just by flashing his teeth.

        The reality is more complex.  Summers's problem at Harvard is indeed one of confidence.  But this time too little confidence, not too much.

        At Harvard, he had a habit of announcing a bold idea and then backing off with an elaborate apology.  Hardly had the flap about women's intelligence come out than Harvard said it was spending an extra $50 million to lure more women and minorities to the faculty.  This on top of outreach programs to enroll students from poor families.

        Such behavior is too reactive and not consistent enough.  Perhaps if Summers had gone around the Yard saying "Harvard supports a strong dollar," he might have stayed in office.

        The real problem lies not with the man but with the institution.  The Harvard Corp., Harvard's executive board, hired Summers to make changes.  Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin, Summers's old boss, joined the Corporation in 2002.  But instead of standing by Summers, the Corporation gave its ear to the mob - - the professors who choose to take offense at reminders that they are less important than they believe themselves to be.

Not Enough

        Harvard's management is now telling itself that Summers attempted too much, and that, perhaps, it would have been better to find someone more like Neil.

        This is self-deception.  One set of stakeholders to recognize this is Harvard's undergraduates.  A poll last weekend by the Harvard Crimson, the student newspaper, showed that undergraduates supported Summers 3-to-1.  At least this group knows which decade this is.  One student told the Crimson he liked Summers because Summers ran things "more like a business."

        By afternoon yesterday, though, Summers was saying goodbye.  It's a shame.  After all, as Mr. Rubin himself knows: if you can change the Democratic Party, you can change a single university, even Harvard.  But to do so, you need a boss to keep the wind in your sails.


To contact the writer of this column:
Amity Shlaes at ashlaes@bloomberg.net

Last Updated: February 22, 2006 00:05 EST
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        And always remember Steve's words of political wisdom:
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| Monday, February 20, 2006

The Other Muhammad Cartoons

        Originally at http://www.weekendavisen.dk/, and finally found here.
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The Weekend avisen page, complete


Muhammad as bearded women, or possibly in drag


Muhammad as empty chair (top), plus Santa Muhammad


Allegedly, the Prophet Roaring by a Forest Lake


The Prophet's Foot (top), plus Muhammad as a Dane (the person pictured is one of the paper's editors).


Allegedly, the Prophet as He Saw Himself (top), plus allegedly The Prophet With Mom.


The Mona Lisa is revealed to actually be a painting of Muhammad.


The Prophet's Insides

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The Phony Cartoons


Supposed to be Muhammad as half pig, but actually an altered photograph of a guy at a French pig-squealing contest


Muhammad depicted as a Demonic Pedophile, allegedly sent to a Muslim by a Dane, but more likely drawn by a Muslim provacateur


Praying Muslim Being Screwed by a Dog, allegedly sent to a Muslim by a Dane, authenticity undetermined
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|

The New York Times on the Mecca Meeting

        Originally here.
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The Protests

At Mecca Meeting, Cartoon Outrage Crystallized


By HASSAN M. FATTAH

Published: February 9, 2006

        BEIRUT, Lebanon, Feb. 8 — As leaders of the world's 57 Muslim nations gathered for a summit meeting in Mecca in December, issues like religious extremism dominated the official agenda.  But much of the talk in the hallways was of a wholly different issue: Danish cartoons satirizing the Prophet Muhammad.

        The closing communiqué took note of the issue when it expressed "concern at rising hatred against Islam and Muslims and condemned the recent incident of desecration of the image of the Holy Prophet Muhammad in the media of certain countries" as well as over "using the freedom of expression as a pretext to defame religions."

        The meeting in Mecca, a Saudi city from which non-Muslims are barred, drew minimal international press coverage even though such leaders as President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran were in attendance.  But on the road from quiet outrage in a small Muslim community in northern Europe to a set of international brush fires, the summit meeting of the Organization of the Islamic Conference — and the role its member governments played in the outrage — was something of a turning point.

        After that meeting, anger at the Danish caricatures, especially at an official government level, became more public.  In some countries, like Syria and Iran, that meant heavy press coverage in official news media and virtual government approval of demonstrations that ended with Danish embassies in flames.

        In recent days, some governments in Muslim countries have tried to calm the rage, worried by the increasing level of violence and deaths in some cases.

        But the pressure began building as early as October, when Danish Islamists were lobbying Arab ambassadors and Arab ambassadors lobbied Arab governments.

        "It was no big deal until the Islamic conference when the O.I.C. took a stance against it," said Muhammad el-Sayed Said, deputy director of the Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies in Cairo.

        Sari Hanafi, an associate professor at the American University in Beirut, said that for Arab governments resentful of the Western push for democracy, the protests presented an opportunity to undercut the appeal of the West to Arab citizens.  The freedom pushed by the West, they seemed to say, brought with it disrespect for Islam.

        He said the demonstrations "started as a visceral reaction — of course they were offended — and then you had regimes taking advantage saying, 'Look, this is the democracy they're talking about.' "

        The protests also allowed governments to outflank a growing challenge from Islamic opposition movements by defending Islam.

        At first, the agitation was limited to Denmark.  Ahmed Akkari, 28, a Lebanese-born Dane, acts as spokesman for the European Committee for Honoring the Prophet, an umbrella group of 27 Danish Muslim organizations to press the Danish government into action over the cartoons.

        Mr. Akkari said the group had worked for more than two months in Denmark without eliciting any response.  "We collected 17,000 signatures and delivered them to the office of the prime minister, we saw the minister of culture, we talked to the editor of the Jyllands-Posten, we took many steps within Denmark, but could get no action," Mr. Akkari said, referring to the newspaper that published the cartoons.  He added that the prime minister's office had not even responded to the petition.

        Frustrated, he said, the group turned to the ambassadors of Muslim countries in Denmark and asked them to speak to the prime minister on their behalf.  He refused them too.

        "Then the case moved to a new stage," Mr. Akkari recalled.  "We decided then that to be heard, it must come from influential people in the Muslim world."

        The group put together a 43-page dossier, including the offending cartoons and three more shocking images that had been sent to Danish Muslims who had spoken out against the Jyllands-Posten cartoons.

        Mr. Akkari denied that the three other offending images had contributed to the violent reaction, saying the images, received in the mail by Muslims who had complained about the cartoons, were included to show the response that Muslims got when they spoke out in Denmark.

        In early December, the group's first delegation of Danish Muslims flew to Cairo, where they met with the grand mufti, Muhammad Sayid Tantawy, Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit and Amr Moussa, the head of the Arab League.
"After that, there was a certain response," Mr. Akkari said, adding that the Cairo government and the Arab League both summoned the Danish ambassador to Egypt for talks.

        Mr. Akkari denies that the group had meant to misinform, but concedes that there were misunderstandings along the way.

        In Cairo, for example, the group also met with journalists from Egypt's media.  During a news conference, they spoke about a proposal from the far-right Danish People's Party to ban the Koran in Denmark because of some 200 verses that are alleged to encourage violence.

        Several newspapers then ran articles claiming that Denmark planned to issue a censored version of the Koran.  The delegation returned to Denmark, but the dossier continued to make waves in the Middle East.  Egypt's foreign minister had taken the dossier with him to the Mecca meeting, where he showed it around.  The Danish group also sent a second delegation to Lebanon to meet religious and political leaders there.

        Mr. Akkari went on that trip.  The delegation met with the grand mufti in Lebanon, Muhammad Rashid Kabbani, and the spiritual head of Lebanon's Shiite Muslims, Sheik Muhammad Hussein Fadlallah, as well as the patriarch of the Maronite Church, Nasrallah Sfeir.  The group also appeared on Hezbollah's satellite station Al Manar TV, which is seen throughout the Arab world.

        Mr. Akkari also made a side trip to Damascus, Syria, to deliver a copy of the dossier to that country's grand mufti, Sheik Ahmed Badr-Eddine Hassoun.

        Lebanon's foreign minister, Fawzi Salloukh, says he agreed to meet in mid-December with Egypt's ambassador to Lebanon, who presented him with a letter from his foreign minister, Aboul Gheit, urging him to get involved in the issue.  Attached to the letter were copies of some of the drawings.

        At the end of December, the pace picked up as talk of a boycott became more prominent.  The Islamic Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, comprising more than 50 states, published on its Web site a statement condemning "the aggressive campaign waged against Islam and its Prophet" by Jyllands-Posten, and officials of the organization said member nations should impose a boycott on Denmark until an apology was offered for the drawings.

        "We encourage the organization's members to boycott Denmark both economically and politically until Denmark presents an official apology for the drawings that have offended the world's Muslims," said Abdulaziz Othman al-Twaijri, the organization's secretary general.

        In a few weeks, the Jordanian Parliament condemned the cartoons, as had several other Arab governments.

        On Jan. 10, as anti-Danish pressure built, a Norwegian newspaper republished the caricatures in an act of solidarity with the Danes, leading many Muslims to believe that a real campaign against them had begun.

        On Jan. 26, in a key move, Saudi Arabia recalled its ambassador to Denmark, and Libya followed suit.  Saudi clerics began sounding the call for a boycott, and within a day, most Danish products were pulled off supermarket shelves.

        "The Saudis did this because they have to score against Islamic fundamentalists," said Mr. Said, the Cairo political scientist.  "Syria made an even worse miscalculation," he added, alluding to the sense that the protest had gotten out of hand.  The issue of the cartoons came at a critical time in the Muslim world because of Muslim anger over the occupation of Iraq and a sense that Muslims were under siege.  Strong showings by Islamists in elections in Egypt and the victory of Hamas in the Palestinian elections had given new momentum to Islamic movements in the region, and many economies, especially those in the Persian Gulf, realized their economic power as it pertained to Denmark.

        "The cartoons were a fuse that lit a bigger fire," said Rami Khouri, editor at large at the English-language Daily Star of Beirut.  "It is this deepening sense of vulnerability combines with a sense that the Islamists were on a roll that made it happen."

        The wave swept many in the region.  Sheik Muhammad Abu Zaid, an imam from the Lebanese town of Saida, said he began hearing of the caricatures from several Palestinian friends visiting from Denmark in December but made little of it.

        "For me, honestly, this didn't seem so important," Sheik Abu Zaid said, comparing the drawings to those made of Jesus in Christian countries.  "I thought, I know that this is something typical in such countries."

        Then, he started to hear that ambassadors of Arab countries had tried to meet with the prime minister of Denmark and had been snubbed, and he began to feel differently.

        "It started to seem that this way of thinking was an insult to us," he said.  "It is fine to say, 'This is our freedom, this is our way of thinking.' But we began to believe that their freedom was something that hurts us."

        Last week, Sheik Abu Zaid heard about a march being planned on the Danish Consulate in Beirut, and he decided to join.  He and 600 others boarded buses bound for Beirut.  Within an hour of arriving, some of the demonstrators — none of his people, he insisted — became violent, and began attacking the building that housed the embassy.  It was just two days after a similar attack against the Danish and Norwegian Embassies in Damascus.

        "In the demonstration, I believe 99 percent of the people were good and peaceful, but I could hear people saying, 'We don't want to demonstrate peacefully; we want to burn,' " the sheik said.

        He tried in vain to calm people down, he said.  "I was calling to the people, 'Please, please follow us and go back.' " he said.  "We were hoping to calm people down, and we were hoping to help the peaceful people who were caught in the middle of the fight."

Reporting for this article was contributed by Craig S. Smith from Paris, Katherine Zoepf from Beirut, Suha Maayeh from Amman, Abeer Allam from Cairo and Massoud A. Derhally from Dubai.
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The Washington Post on the Cartoon Flap

        Originally here.
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Anatomy of the Cartoon Protest Movement

Opposing Certainties Widen Gap Between West and Muslim World

By Anthony Shadid and Kevin Sullivan
Washington Post Foreign Service
Thursday, February 16, 2006; A01

        BEIRUT, Feb. 15 -- It was Oct. 13 when Teguh Santosa, a 30-year-old editor with wire-rim glasses, slicked-back black hair and a stubbly beard, decided to make a point in Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim country.  His idea was a small gesture in a broader confrontation, illustrating the power of images in shaping sentiments.  He scanned a dozen cartoons published in September by a Danish newspaper that lampooned the prophet Muhammad and chose to publish the one on his news Web site that has proven the most inflammatory: the prophet wearing a turban shaped like a bomb with a lit fuse.

        "I wanted them to know why it was insulting," said the thickset Santosa, a Muslim who runs the widely read Rakyat Merdeka Online.

        To his surprise, there was almost no reaction.  A few e-mailed comments to the Web site, he said.  That was all.  So he republished the caricature more than a week later, on Oct. 22.  Again, nothing.

        "We were confused," he recalled, his sleeves rolled up to his elbows.  "Why aren't people reacting to this story?"

        What followed was a quintessentially 21st-century battle, a conflict steeped in decades, even centuries of grievances, reshaped by the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and their aftermath.  A digitally interconnected world propelled it forward, as did a series of slights and missteps.  And a cultural divide, at times so deep two sides cannot seemingly occupy the same space, transformed an almost incidental decision to publish a dozen cartoons on a page inside a small newspaper in Denmark into a global conflagration.

        Protests have erupted in an arc stretching from Europe through Africa to East Asia and, at times, the United States.  About a dozen people have died in Afghanistan; five have been killed this week in Pakistan.  Muslim journalists were arrested for publishing the cartoons in Jordan, Algeria and Yemen.  European countries have evacuated the staffs of embassies and nongovernmental organizations, Muslim countries have withdrawn ambassadors, and Danish exports that average more than $1 billion a year have dried up in a span of weeks.

        But the scope of the fallout tells only one story.  The debate over the cartoons is replete with unintended consequences, some still taking shape this week.  On one side is a defense of freedom of expression, on the other an unforgivable insult to a sacred figure.  In between are potentially longer-lasting repercussions: a rethinking of relations between Europe and the Muslim world, and a rare moment of empowerment among Muslims who have felt besieged.  Given the moral certainty pronounced by each party, some in the middle feel forced to take sides, blurring the diversity of religious thought that might offer grounds for compromise.

        In the United States and Europe, some officials have suggested that the governments of Syria and Iran, isolated abroad, have stoked the protests for internal political reasons.  A few Muslim leaders have contended the controversy would have ended quickly with an apology.  But the conflict illustrates a broader collision of worldviews, often fueled by feelings of Muslim weakness and injury that date back long before the cartoons were published.

        "The way I see it, the war has already started," said Daii al-Islam al-Shahal, a Sunni Muslim cleric in the coastal Lebanese town of Tripoli, who helped organize protests this month against the cartoons in his home town and in Beirut.  "Will it end soon, or will it come to a close only after it has completely wiped out the two sides?  That is up to God."

        This is the story of how it unfolded.

September

Denmark: Challenging a Religious Taboo

        In September, Flemming Rose, a tall, soft-spoken editor for the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten, had an idea.

        He had read that museums in Sweden and London had removed artwork that their staff members deemed offensive to Muslims.  A comedian told him he would be afraid to desecrate the Koran, a reluctance he did not have about the Bible.  Then he read that a Danish children's book author couldn't find illustrators willing to work under their own names to draw illustrations of Muhammad, the 7th-century prophet of Islam, for a new book on the religion.

        Frustrated, Rose decided to contact 25 Danish newspaper cartoonists with a request to draw Muhammad as they saw him.  A dozen responded, and his newspaper published each illustration on Sept. 30.

        "We have a tradition of satire in Denmark," said Rose, 47, the paper's cultural editor, who saw it as a matter of principle.  "We do the same with the royal family, politicians, anyone.  In a modern secular society, nobody can impose their religious taboos in the public domain."

        "We were astonished and extremely shocked," responded Ahmed Abu Laban, a prominent cleric in Denmark.  Representations of the prophet are banned by most schools of Islamic thought.  For the devout, even his name is rarely uttered without the phrase "Peace and God's blessings upon him."  To Abu Laban, it was not just a portrayal: One cartoon pictured Muhammad with the explosive turban.  Another depicted him in heaven greeting suicide bombers; in Islamic tradition, martyrs are promised sensual rewards in paradise.  "Enough," Muhammad is portrayed as saying.  "We've run out of virgins."

        "Muslims have been stigmatized," Abu Laban said.  The cartoons, he added, are "the drop that made the cup overflow."

        Within a week, Abu Laban and others began organizing.  He and leaders of 11 Muslim groups wrote letters to the newspaper and to the Danish culture minister.  They received no immediate response.  They circulated a petition and submitted 17,000 signatures to Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen.  They met with ambassadors from 11 Muslim countries, who asked Rasmussen for a meeting, which he declined.

        "After that, we tried to figure out a way to get more voices with us and how to be heard and get respect here in Denmark," said Ahmed Akkari, 28, a Lebanese-born theological student who has emerged as a chief spokesman for the groups.

December

Middle East: Envoys of Protest

        They decided to travel to the Middle East, where anti-American sentiment has long festered over the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Iraq and a perceived U.S. intention to dominate the region.  In recent years, surveys have shown that Muslims in the Arab world and elsewhere overwhelmingly see the U.S.-led war on terrorism as a war on Islam.

        Akkari carried a 43-page dossier with photocopies of the Jyllands-Posten cartoons, along with 10 more illustrations that were published on Nov. 10 in Weekend Avisen, another Danish newspaper.

        The dossier also included illustrations that depicted Muhammad as a pig and engaged in bestiality.  Abu Laban and Akkari said those cartoons, and other obscene drawings of the prophet, had been mailed anonymously to Danish Muslim leaders after the controversy over the cartoons began.  Critics have said the delegations deliberately inflamed the situation by passing off those cartoons as the ones published by Jyllands-Posten.  Akkari and Abu Laban said those drawings were never represented as having appeared in the newspaper.  Rather, they said they were included to illustrate what they called anger and prejudice against Muslims in Denmark.

        "Freedom of expression without limits is like a car without brakes," Akkari said.

        A delegation of five Danish Muslims went to Egypt on Dec. 4 and met with Mohammed Sayed Tantawi, head of al-Azhar, one of Sunni Islam's foremost establishments; Ali Juma, the mufti, or top cleric, of Egypt; and Amr Moussa, secretary general of the Arab League.  They also met with an assistant to Ahmed Aboul Gheit, the Egyptian foreign minister.  Akkari said the group stayed in Egypt about a week and gave a news conference that was covered extensively in the Arabic-language media.

        A second delegation of four Muslims, including Akkari, went to Lebanon on Dec. 17 and met with Mohammed Rashid Kabbani, grand mufti of Lebanon; Mohammed Hussein Fadlallah, the spiritual head of the country's Shiite Muslims; and Nasrallah Sfeir, patriarch of the Maronite Catholic Church.  The group stayed in Lebanon until Dec. 31.  Akkari said he also made a day trip to Syria and gave a copy of the dossier to Sheik Ahmed Badr Eddine Hassoun, the grand mufti of Syria.

        Among those they met was al-Shahal, the Lebanese cleric in Tripoli, who cringed at the sight of the pictures.

        "Ugly and repugnant," he recalled thinking.

January

Saudi Arabia: 'A Revolution Inside Me '

        Over the weeks that followed those trips, the conflict germinated, sometimes by the most modern of means.

        In Jiddah, Saudi Arabia, Hashim Balkhy, a 43-year-old plastic surgeon who would not consider himself unduly conservative by his country's standards, heard about the cartoons on about Jan. 21.  He received a text message on his cell phone from a friend in Medina, one of Islam's holiest cities, saying Danish newspapers had been making fun of the prophet for months.

        We must boycott them, his friend said.

        That night, after his wife and children had gone to bed, he spent almost four hours online, smoking Carlton cigarettes and reading Web sites.  He discovered that within weeks, an entire virtual world had already been dedicated to the subject.  He stayed up past dawn.

        A few days later, he got an e-mail from a Yahoo discussion group called al-Bostan, which published the cartoons.  His eyes wandered over the photos until he got to one portraying the prophet wearing a turban as a bomb.  He stared at it.

        "They don't know our prophet," he recalled thinking.  "And they can't get away with this."

        Balkhy was already upset with the West.  The photos of torture by members of the U.S. military at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq had outraged him.  He was bitter at American support for Israel.  He had already stopped drinking Pepsi and Coke, as a symbolic gesture.  But the victims in those cases were people -- Palestinians and Iraqis -- and this was the most pure man we know, Balkhy said.

        "A revolution inside me started," he said.

        He found that the most informative Web sites were the most religiously rigid.  In the past, he had recoiled at some of their views, but he now came to rely on them for help in what had become a personal campaign.

        On one Web site, he found the e-mail addresses of Danish embassies overseas, and a form letter to them.  He cut and pasted a 27-page letter, written in both Arabic and English, and sent it to the embassies.  The following day he sent a shorter version of the letter to the same list as well the Norwegian newspaper Magazinet, which had republished the cartoons in January.  This time it was only in English.  The third day, he e-mailed the same group a copy of a letter calling for a boycott.

        He sent a copy of each e-mail to a separate list of 100 people, including colleagues in Egypt and Lebanon.  Some he knew from training in Canada, others he met at conferences in the region.  In the past, the list was often used to send jokes.  This time, his messages encouraged those on the list to boycott Danish goods and, like him, write letters of protest to Danish diplomats, journalists and businessmen.

        He joined what had become a virtual sphere of activism, with themes repeated from London to Jakarta, Indonesia.  Its speed and scope were unprecedented; to him, it was empowering.  As Balkhy sent his e-mails, thousands of others were circulating as well.  Dozens of Web sites were set up.  Among them was http://www.no4denmark.org/.  Text messages beeped on cell phones: "Danish papers are making fun of our prophet," read one.  "Boycott their products."  Supermarkets in Saudi Arabia began pulling Danish goods from their shelves, and Saudi companies published advertisements citing their support for the boycott.  The kingdom recalled its ambassador to Denmark.

        "We had accomplished something," Balkhy said.  "Our campaign was working."

Denmark: Stopping Short of an Apology

        By Jan. 30, intense pressure had built on Rasmussen, a tough-talking farmer's son, and the editors at the Jyllands-Posten newspaper.  Protesters in Muslim countries were burning Danish flags.  The economic boycott that started in Saudi Arabia had nearly shut down sales of Danish cheese, butter and other products in the Muslim world.  On that day, a Monday, Rasmussen expressed his first public criticism of the cartoons.

        "I personally have such respect for people's religious feelings that I personally would not have depicted Muhammad, Jesus or other religious figures in such a manner that would offend other people," Rasmussen told Danish television.  He stopped short of the apology demanded by Muslim leaders, saying he could not apologize for what was printed in a newspaper exercising free speech.

        At about the same time, Carsten Juste, editor in chief of Jyllands-Posten, posted a similar statement.  "In our opinion, the 12 drawings were not intended to be offensive, nor were they at variance with Danish law, but they have indisputably offended many Muslims, for which we apologize," he wrote.

        Al-Shahal, the Lebanese cleric, watched Rasmussen's remarks on al-Jazeera satellite television.  So did Balkhy, on both al-Jazeera and al-Arabiya, another Arabic-language satellite network.  Both felt the same way.  "Truthfully, it wasn't a real apology, in the precise meaning of the word," al-Shahal said.  Balkhy was blunter: Rasmussen had "tried to weasel out of an apology."

February

Berlin: A Free Expression Paradox

        In Berlin, Roger Koppel, editor of Die Welt newspaper, saw the apologies by Rasmussen and Juste as an alarming defeat for Europe's tradition of free speech.  The next day, Tuesday, Jan. 31, he met with his editorial team and ordered up a front-page story on the issue, including a reproduction of the cartoon of Muhammad with the bomb in his turban positioned at the top of Page One.  At least six other European papers did the same, sharply increasing anger in the Muslim world about how the dispute was being handled.

        "This had now become a huge political story," Koppel said.  "In a secular Western society, a prime minister and a newspaper had to issue an apology for exercising their right to satire."

        Koppel said he found many of the cartoons "ridiculous," but the quality of the images wasn't the point.

        "You don't deliberately stir up religious hatred, but, sorry, we live in a secular country in the West," he said.  "It's part of our culture.  It's just not possible that our culture gets somehow penalized by threats."  It is illegal in Germany -- and punishable by prison time -- to make statements denying or questioning the existence of the Holocaust.  It is also a crime to make "patently false statements" about the Holocaust, such as minimizing the number of victims.  Some Muslims have argued that such laws constitute a double standard: in the West it's fine, they argue, to denigrate Muslims, but not Jews.

        "It's not a double standard because it's the right of every culture to have its own taboos," Koppel said.

        Koppel said that given Germany's painful history with the Nazis and the Holocaust, German society had chosen to establish certain limits on free speech.  He said people in Germany must abide by those laws, just as people in Muslim countries must abide by the laws and traditions of those lands.  He said a newspaper publishing the Muhammad cartoons in a Muslim country should expect to be punished, while a newspaper publishing them in Germany should expect to be protected by German guarantees of free speech.

        In Milan, Gianni Riotta, deputy editor of the Corriere della Sera newspaper, was framing it in a different way.

        While defending Jyllands-Posten's right to publish, he said the Danish newspaper made a mistake in judgment by running all 12 cartoons, which he said carried the implication that "all Muslims are terrorists."  Riotta said it reminded him of his days studying at Columbia University in New York under famed American television news producer Fred Friendly.  He recalled Friendly telling the class, "Shouting fire in a crowded theater is not freedom of expression, it's being stupid."

        Riotta had in mind publishing something with what he thought was a clearer perspective.  The Corriere, one of Italy's most respected papers, ran a package of nine cartoons: three of the "least offensive" Danish cartoons, along with three anti-Semitic cartoons taken from Arab newspapers and three Nazi-era propaganda posters.

        "We wanted to publish to show that these cartoons were really offensive and really racist," Riotta said.  "We wanted to give our readers some perspective: This was not Salman Rushdie."  Riotta said that, as a reporter, he had covered the controversy over Rushdie's novel, "The Satanic Verses," and that he believed the Danish cartoons could not be considered in the same literary league with Rushdie's book.

Muslim World: Building Solidarity

        Republishing the cartoons unleashed a torrent of response.

        Governments were already taking action: Interior ministers from 17 Arab nations called on the Danish government to punish the Jyllands-Posten newspaper.  The Saudi interior minister urged the other nations to recall their ambassadors from Denmark.  Protesters burned a large photo of Prime Minister Rasmussen outside the U.N. compound in Gaza City, scenes repeated elsewhere in Muslim countries.  Algeria and Yemen, among others, were calling for U.N. action against Denmark.

        In Indonesia, Santosa, the Web site editor, decided to publish one of the cartoons yet again.

        "But then after I published the picture, a lot of Muslim people got angry at me.  Then I said, 'Oh my God, what happened?" He put the cartoon up at 9 a.m. on Thursday, Feb. 2.  He pulled it down less than 12 hours later.

        In time, editors in Algeria, Yemen and Jordan were arrested for publishing the cartoons, often to bring attention to the offense.

        Some of the region's most influential leaders weighed in.

        Fadlallah, the senior Lebanese Shiite cleric, dismissed defending the cartoons under the principle of freedom of expression.  Why, then, were some European networks banning al-Manar, the television station of Lebanon's Hezbollah group, on the grounds that it incited people?  Sheik Yusuf Qaradawi, a leading Sunni Muslim scholar, called on Muslims to use the dispute to strengthen solidarity.  "The whole nation must be angry and rise up to show their anger," he said.  "We are not a nation of donkeys.  We are a nation of lions."

        Protests erupted the next day, Feb. 3, after Friday prayers in Indonesia, Malaysia, the Palestinian territories and Iraq.  They would be dwarfed by the scenes that unfolded that weekend in Lebanon and Syria.

Feb. 4

        Middle East 'Defending the Prophet'

        For days in Damascus, diplomats had heard about protests planned for Saturday.  In the streets, there were posters of a Danish flag with a red X across it.  Text messages went out on Friday, their source unclear: "Join us in defending our prophet and what is sacred."  It added, "What are you going to do in order to answer to your prophet in the afterlife?"

        The Norwegian and Danish embassies requested extra security, the diplomats said, but received none.

        The protesters gathered on Feb. 4 carrying Syrian flags and banners calling on the Danish ambassador to leave the country.  They tore down the flags hanging on the building.  Soon, people began throwing rocks and gasoline bombs.  Diplomats said they saw what appeared to be Syrian intelligence agents in the crowd.  Before dusk, the Danish Embassy was ablaze, and other protesters went to the Norwegian Embassy, burning it as well.  Another crowd went to the French Embassy, but was driven back by water hoses.

        Ammar Sahloul, a wealthy businessman, heard about the demonstration through text messages, canceled work on Saturday and went with nearly 60 of his employees.  He said he reached the Danish Embassy's doors and tried to calm things down, in vain.

        "I wanted to express our resentment in the way that the prophet taught us," said Sahloul, 40.  "He would not have wanted things to happen the way they happened outside the embassies."

        That day, typewritten leaflets were circulating in neighboring Lebanon, calling for another demonstration in Beirut on Sunday.  "They have declared war," it read.  "So for the victory of our Prophet, we must accept the challenge."  The 1,000 leaflets were issued by the Salafi Group in Lebanon, headed by al-Shahal, who first met the Danish delegation in December.

        Hundreds boarded buses in Tripoli, flying green-and-black banners with white Islamic inscriptions from the windows.  They passed at least seven army checkpoints on the way to Beirut unhindered.  In time, thousands gathered in the Lebanese capital, some rampaging through a Christian neighborhood and setting fire to the building that housed the Danish Embassy.  Al-Shahal, carrying a loudspeaker, said he was among the clerics who tried to restrain the crowd.

        "The truth?  I felt sorry when I saw it," he said.  "The protest should have demonstrated strength, but with wisdom."

        A day later, in Afghanistan, protesters chanting anti-American slogans tried to storm the U.S. air base in Bagram.  Afghan security forces fired on the crowd, killing at least three people.  More protests followed in other Afghan cities, the grievances multiplying and mixing.  In all, about 12 people were killed.  Unlike in Lebanon and Syria, calls were passed not by technology, but word of mouth.  Few had seen the cartoons, but they had become the topic of Friday sermons there, each retelling tinged with another exaggeration.

        "I haven't seen the cartoon itself, but I was told that our prophet has a hand grenade on his turban and each of his fingers, too," said Haji Mohammed Rafiq Shahir, head of a council of professionals in the western Afghan city of Herat.

This Week

Beirut Silencing Voices of Moderation

        Amira el-Solh, 28, is a Lebanese Palestinian who lives in Beirut.  She had heard about a text message calling for the protest in Lebanon.  She, too, was angry about the caricatures, but recalled thinking that the Lebanese have greater worries today.

        "Ten minutes of thought," she said she gave it.

        The next day, as the protests raged in Beirut, she stayed glued to the television: Lebanese channels, CNN and the BBC.  She talked to friends in Beirut, in Europe and the United States.  At night, she met with friends, all disgusted with the way things had turned out.

        But as she looks back at the dispute -- from the repeated publishing of the cartoons, to the protests, to the violence that pulled at Lebanon's frayed sectarian tapestry, to the moral certainty infusing the debate -- she sees the controversy as less about a dozen cartoons and more about a sense of siege in the Muslim world that forces everyone to take sides.  "It's upsetting that you have to defend your identity as a Muslim constantly," she said.

        She thought back to other divides in history -- the Green Line that partitioned civil war-era Beirut, the Iron Curtain, the Berlin Wall.  She resented having to qualify herself as liberal or conservative, secular or religious.  She worried that, in time, those definitions might become irrelevant.  Perhaps they already have.

        "These walls weren't so long ago," she said.  "It was people who built them, and it will be people who will resurrect them."

        "Do you want to silence voices of moderation, of coexistence?" she asked this week.  "And this is what the generalizations of these cartoons do.  It silences any individual as a Muslim and groups me along with everyone else."
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        End of story.



        Originally here.
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Widespread Outrage Over Cartoons

Anger Grew in Months Following Publication in Danish Newspapers

Anthony Shadid
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, February 16, 2006; 12:00 PM

Washington Post staff writer Anthony Shadid , who is based in Beirut, was online Thursday, Feb. 16, at noon ET to discuss the fallout over Danish cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad as continuing outrage has soured diplomatic relations and violent protests have lead to deaths in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Read more: Anatomy of the Cartoon Protest Movement, (Post, Feb. 16, 2006)

The transcript follows.
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Anthony Shadid: Good afternoon.  It's a pleasure to join you all today from Beirut.  I see there are a lot of questions already so I'll go ahead and get started.

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Williamsburg, Va.; Are the protests of these cartoons based more on the mere fact that they depict the Prophet, or because they indicate that he is a violent terrorist?

Anthony Shadid: I think it's both.  But if we take a step back, it's really a broader issue.  What we've seen the past weeks, I think, is the elaboration of an accumulation of resentments and grievances, the cartoons being the latest and, in some ways, the most tangible.

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Los Angeles, Calif.; The magnitude of the cartoon protests is not surprising given the incredible cultural disconnect between Muslim nations and the West.  It seems like the only ones surprised by this reaction are the European newspapers that took a "militant" stand for secularism and free speech by printing the cartoons.  But images of widespread rioting and protests in Muslim countries reinforce the cartoon-stereotype of rigid, fanatical Muslims.  Does lack of surprise over the violent reactions mean that we have insight into the Muslim perspective or does it mean that we believe the cartoons?

Anthony Shadid: I think it's an interesting point.  I was interviewing a cleric in the northern Lebanese city of Tripoli, and I asked him that question.  Basically, does the violent response, in some instances, reinforce stereotypes that many in the region think the cartoons represent?  He agreed.  And, to his credit, he was one of the clerics, with a bullhorn, trying to restrain protesters during the rampage in Beirut.  There has certainly been a backlash to the violent aspects of the response, from Ayatollah Fadlallah in Lebanon, to Sistani in Iraq, to Sunni leaders elsewhere.  I guess I'd add that there has been a sense of empowerment as well -- that the Muslim community is having its voice heard, in part through a successful boycott of Danish products.  A mixed bag, I guess.

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Aarhus, Denmark; At first I was opposed to Jyllands-Posten printing the cartoons.  But now I feel it was necessary.  The fanaticism and intolerance of a few have been exposed.  We have seen our flags been burned; many Danes have received death threats.  We are deeply offended, but I am proud to say that none of the 200.000 Muslims in Denmark have anything to fear.  Not even the extremists.  I am sorry that Muslims have been offended, but I and our Prime Minister cannot apology for something a single newspaper has done.

Anthony Shadid: As a journalist, I feel conflicted about the decision.  As someone living in the region, I understand somewhat the depth of the response.  We are talking about a divide here, and there is a certainty on each side that often drowns out voices that might be contrarian.

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Montreal, Canada; Your timeline of the cartoon crisis has a gaping hole: why didn't you mention that al-Farj (also spelled al-Farg) a 100,000 copies weekly newspaper in Cairo also published the Danish cartoons on October 17 during the Ramadan?

Nobody reacted to this publication.  But last week, as if on cue, Egyptians suddenly exploded in anger with the rest of the Muslim world.

Anthony Shadid: I tell you -- with the word limit we had on the story, we left out a lot.  I'm sorry about that.  You're right about the Egyptian newspaper.  But the lead of the story noted that they were published in October in Indonesia, as well.  I thought we addressed that point right at the top of the piece.

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Washington, D.C.; Having lived in the Middle East for five years, I can't help but shake my head at the fact that these people are so easily being manipulated by their governments.  I totally understand them being offended by the cartoons- goodness knows there are many times I've been offended by something mocking Christianity- but shouldn't they be demonstrating against their governments not doing enough to give them jobs, security, etc.?

And can you please shed some light as to why Muslims think that non-Muslims should be expected to adhere to Muslim rules?

Anthony Shadid: My sense, this isn't solely a case of manipulation.  I suspect there was some of that going on.  But was Syria responsible for what happened in Beirut?  Its sympathizers may have had a hand, but there was plenty of anger already there to let things get out of hand.  Like I said in an earlier question, we're talking about accumulated grievances here, many of which date back to Sept. 11.  I'm not sanctioning them, I'm just pointing out they exist.  Often those grievances are stated in existential terms, that the war on terror is, in fact, a war on Islam.  I suspect most Americans would disagree, but that perspective is out there.

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Buffalo, N.Y.; How much of the anger was really about the cartoons and how much was it just a dislike of the West?  I saw quite a few American flags burning even though the cartoons had nothing to do with America.

Anthony Shadid: There's no question that grievances were conflated, interconnected and so on.  I think we saw that especially in Afghanistan.  In some ways, that's what worries me.  I've always been struck, in the Arab world at least, by the ability of people to distinguish American policy, for instance, from, say, Americans, or European policy from individual citizens.  I fear that's becoming less the case these days.

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Sterling, Va.; Why is most of the news media willing to publish old photos of Abu Ghraib but are unwilling to publish the "cartoons of blasphemy"?

Anthony Shadid: This is an interesting point -- the most graphic Abu Ghraib images were, in fact, not published.  I'm not sure what that says, but I think editors (I'm not one, so I won't speak too much for them) make decisions several times a day on language, taste and so on.  There's no firm rule on what gets in a paper and doesn't.  I think the Post's decision on the cartoons probably fits within that notion of what is appropriate.

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Ocala, Fla.; If these groups are so angry at the West, why do they keep moving into Western countries?  It seems like they should fix their own countries first.

Anthony Shadid: I notice a real danger in American discourse (and in the discourse here, as well) to make sweeping generalizations.  Who are "these groups" you're talking about?  Which countries do you mean?  I don't think all Americans would want to be associated with every U.S. policy.  I don't think all Muslims would want to be grouped with those who burned the embassies in Damascus.  We fall into that problem in journalism, as well.  "Muslim opinion," "the Muslim world," and so on.  I don't always see a way around it, but usually, I don't think it helps us understand the real issues at stake.

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Alexandria, Va.; Isn't what is different about the cartoon protests that we think the cause of the protests is not appropriate?  But the reality is that they are protesting against us on a regular basis.  It's not the protests that are different this time, its that the purported reason for them is different, and this is what we notice.  When they protest a book being abused, we think it odd, but since we don't want to abuse books, we don't notice as much.

Anthony Shadid: I don't know about that.  The depth of the reaction is far greater this time around.  I think it touched a nerve.  I think it reflects, as I've said a couple times, accumulated grievances and resentments.  I think a lot of people here see it as a little over the top -- maybe not even the cartoons, but the decision to publish them over and over.

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Philadelphia, Pa.; It seems a sham that European newspapers and governments evoke "freedom of expression" to avoid criticizing the publication of tasteless cartoons.  It reminds me of high school students distributing a "spoof" newspaper that makes offensive comments about fellow students.  In both cases, "freedom of expression" should not prevent criticism of the materials as offensive and inappropriate.

Additionally, it appears that in many post-Enlightenment European societies minorities gain full admission only if they accept assimilation and secularization.  That is in contrast to the United States, where religiosity and religious diversity has been accepted, more or less.  That attitude arguably can be traced to George Washington, whose letters to diverse religious institutions are proudly displayed by those institutions to this day.

What developments do you expect in Europe in regard to tolerance of religious and ethnic minorities?

Anthony Shadid: I can't really answer to the last two paragraphs, but as to the first, I'd point you to the discussion in today's story with the German and Italian editors.  I thought it was fascinating, the way they elaborated their positions and the point they were trying to get across.  I thought both were pretty nuanced and reflective.

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Springfield, Va.; In today's report you called this "a rare moment of empowerment among Muslims who have felt besieged."  I don't know anyone living in the west who views the violent protests, boycotts, and publishing of anti-Holocaust cartoons as a step forward for Muslims.  Please expand on how you see the various actions and reactions empowering Muslims.

Anthony Shadid: This is an interesting question, and it was a point that struck me in writing the story.  I don't think Muslims would measure their empowerment vis a vis Western attitudes.  And I'm not sure that empowerment, in itself, is, as you put it, a step forward.  My point was this: There is a widespread sense among many in the Arab and Muslim world that they've been on the receiving end since Sept. 11.  Their voices are not always heard.  They're overwhelmed by what they see as double standards.  Here was an instance when they communicated their outrage, sometimes in peaceful ways.  Perhaps more tellingly, and specifically in Saudi Arabia, they carried out a boycott that was, from their view, successful.  The doctor we mention in the story would see this as the success of a grass-roots campaign, and I think in one reading, that in itself is empowerment.

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Gothenburg, Sweden; How widespread is the anger caused by the cartoons?  How does the "man on the street" in the Arab world feel about this?  Is the anger and protest and so on mostly fueled by fanatics or is it more widespread?

Anthony Shadid: I have to say I think it's more widespread.  The woman I ended the story with, I thought, was an interesting perspective.  The issue itself was peripheral to her, but that didn't mean it didn't resonate at some level.  There's no question it's what people are talking about and watching on television.

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Knoxville, Tenn.; I am a Pakistani immigrant.  Though I felt insulted by the cartoons I was very disappointed at the recent violent riots in Pakistan.  Why are Muslims today so emotional and lacking in smart thinking?  A peaceful protest would have worked far far better.

Anthony Shadid: I've heard that point quite a bit.  The cleric in Tripoli I met made the same argument: a protest should have shown "strength with wisdom."

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Seattle, Wash.; Arab newspapers print anti-Semitic cartoons of Jews every day.  How come these same Muslims who are so upset about the Danish cartoon think these cartoons of Jews eating babies is OK?

Anthony Shadid: That was the point the Italian editor tried to make in today's story.

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San Diego, Calif.; Could you comment on The Post's decision not to publish these cartoons?  In the interest of full disclosure, I believe the cartoons ARE the story and that not republishing abandons journalistic integrity.  You cannot publish dozens of pictures of the riots caused by the cartoons without publishing the cartoons themselves.  I'm very concerned that these cartoons have not been widely republished in the U.S. out of fear of retribution.

Anthony Shadid: This is a question that is coming up a lot in this forum.  (I'm sorry, I'm not able to get to everyone's.) Like I said, I'm not an editor, but my understanding of the decision is that it seems to fit within the same thinking on publishing photos of dead soldiers, of the most graphic Abu Ghraib shots and so on.  I don't think it's fear of retribution.  I think it's a certain community standard that the Post feels obligated to uphold.

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Cambridge, Mass.; Mr. Shadid:

With reference to freedom of the press and respect for religion aside, do you believe the current escalating tension and wanton violence will precipitate widespread conflicts as backlashes against Muslims (inevitably) begin to materialize, leading to a kind of "clash of civilization"?  Thanks.

Anthony Shadid: I'm going to speak as someone who lives in the Middle East.  I don't have a good feeling about the state of affairs today.  It's a gut reaction, but sentiments in this region (and let's face it, the tenor of discourse in the West, too) have changed dramatically in the 10 years or so that I've been a reporter in the Middle East.  What does that mean?  I don't know.  But in a lot of ways, I find it sad.

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Fredericksburg, Va.; In 1989 artist Andrew Serrano produced the art piece "Piss Christ" a crucifix in a jar of urine.  Many were offended, many were disgusted.  but no one rioted, no one burned down building and no one was killed.  In fact the work was subsidized by the Federal government through an arts grant.  This controversy isn't about a cartoon, this is about a group of religious zealots imposing their beliefs through violence.  If it wasn't the cartoon it would be something else.

Anthony Shadid: This is a question that's best answered by someone a lot smarter than me.  But I think there's a danger in viewing this as a simple issue of religious representation.  We're talking about different world views -- the relationship between religion and society/life, the taboos that come with representing figures in Christianity and Islam, the disempowerment felt by so many in the region, differing shades of the very notion of identity . . . the list could go on and on.  My point is this: There's a context here that's sometimes lost, and I think that context is crucial in understanding the depth of the debate as well as the reaction.

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Nichols Hills, Okla.; How strong is the belief in the Middle East that Western governments control the Western press, and therefore the Western governments are accountable for the cartoons?  And if it is a strong belief, is that due to their only experiences being state controlled media?  or otherwise?

Anthony Shadid: OK, I'd be a miserable Okie, if I didn't get to the questions from my hometown.  I think that point is often made in the West -- that Arabs and Muslims don't understand the very notion of a free press.  To be honest, I don't agree with it.  I think people -- not all, but many -- do understand that the newspapers in Europe are not state-controlled.  These requests for an apology were often stated in broader terms.  I'm not agreeing with the requests, but I think often those making them do not think the governments themselves were responsible for publishing the cartoons.

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Oklahoma City, Okla.; How do Muslims "in the Middle East street" perceive the more moderate U.S. Muslims who have not reacted violently to the cartoons?  Are the moderate U.S. Muslims viewed just as bad as the U.S. infidels?

Anthony Shadid: And another from Oklahoma.  There's definitely been a certain revulsion at the violence, particularly in Beirut.  But I haven't really come across a moderate/extreme divide that's all that pronounced on the issue.  And here's why -- again, it's not solely the cartoons.  I think the most sophisticated will make that point that it's a representation that feeds into stereotypes and generalizations, made by those with the power to impose them.  Does that make sense?  It's similar to what the woman who concluded the story was saying: I'm being grouped with everyone else, depriving me of a middle ground, and in that case, I have no choice but to identify myself as such.

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Austin, Tex.; I have a more general question.  Who (if anybody) speaks for the US and Europe in the Arabic media?

Quality news shows in the US (the NewsHour, for instance) generally find some pretty eloquent spokesmen for different Arab/Muslim points of view.

Are there comparable figures on TV in the Arab/Muslim world explaining why some people in the West think that these cartoons should be published?  Or even explaining facts, like for instance that the Pope can't stop publication of the cartoons?

Are there even many people with the Arabic-language skills to do so?

Anthony Shadid: You might be surprised by how many Western voices make it on Arabic television.  I'm always struck that Jazeera and Arabiya will sometimes dedicate more air time to, say, a State Department briefing or a news conference than their Western counterparts might.

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Richmond, Va.; Unfortunately I have to agree, like it or not, that the response to the cartoons brought out, for some at least, the very characteristics that the cartoons mocked.  It would be like an Irishman beating someone up in a bar who said that Irishmen love to drink and fight.

Having said that, I'm glad that the response hasn't been worse, given the magnitude of the insult that many Muslims consider the cartoons to be.  I'm glad to see that many Muslim leaders are calling for a more measured response.

I hope everybody learns something from this.

Anthony Shadid: It's a good point, and one that I've heard often.  It will be interesting to see how we look back on this in five or 10 years.  Was it symptomatic of a much greater problem, an aberration, or the start of a dialogue?  I suspect it's the first, but we'll see.

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New York, N.Y.; To what extent were Syrian officials involved in the embassy attacks there?  You mentioned that intelligence agents were seen among the crowd, and this is a country where spontaneous demonstrations are quite rare, if they occur at all.

Anthony Shadid: This is a good question, and to be honest, I don't know the answer.  My best guess, and again, it's a guess: Authorities didn't mind the protest, and they might not have minded it getting out of hand, but they probably didn't incite or plan the burning themselves.

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Washington, D.C.; Mr Shadid:

What kind of apology for these cartoons do you think would make a difference?  At this point there has been so much violence, I'm wondering if any apology would make any difference at all.  (Whether anyone would be willing to make such an apology is an entirely separate issue.)

Thank you for taking our questions today.

Anthony Shadid: I'm probably wrong, but I suspect a lot of this would have been avoided had the meetings, apologies and petitions been received differently in the first place in Denmark.  I'm not blaming the Danish authorities.  I'm just saying that those events unleashed a far more aggressive campaign that brought the issue to the region, where, in a remarkably interconnected world, it took little time to ignite.

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Madison, Wis.: Since the original cartoons were published last year, and there has been violence for the last few weeks, just how long do you expect these protests over the cartoons to last?

Anthony Shadid: I don't know.  They're still going on, and I suspect they'll go on a little while longer.  I think it depends on whether the cartoons are republished and what happens in the region.

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Anthony Shadid: I think I'm going to have to wrap it up.  I apologize.  I got to less than half the questions, but I've never seen this much interest in an issue on Live Online.  That says a lot about the subject itself, I guess.  Hope to join you all again soon.

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Editor's Note: washingtonpost.com moderators retain editorial control over Live Online discussions and choose the most relevant questions for guests and hosts; guests and hosts can decline to answer questions.  washingtonpost.com is not responsible for any content posted by third parties.

© 2006 Washingtonpost.Newsweek Interactive
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        End of story.


        Originally here.
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Why I Published Those Cartoons

By Flemming Rose
Sunday, February 19, 2006; B01

        Childish.  Irresponsible.  Hate speech.  A provocation just for the sake of provocation.  A PR stunt.  Critics of 12 cartoons of the prophet Muhammad I decided to publish in the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten have not minced their words.  They say that freedom of expression does not imply an endorsement of insulting people's religious feelings, and besides, they add, the media censor themselves every day.  So, please do not teach us a lesson about limitless freedom of speech.

        I agree that the freedom to publish things doesn't mean you publish everything.  Jyllands-Posten would not publish pornographic images or graphic details of dead bodies; swear words rarely make it into our pages.  So we are not fundamentalists in our support for freedom of expression.

        But the cartoon story is different.

        Those examples have to do with exercising restraint because of ethical standards and taste; call it editing.  By contrast, I commissioned the cartoons in response to several incidents of self-censorship in Europe caused by widening fears and feelings of intimidation in dealing with issues related to Islam.  And I still believe that this is a topic that we Europeans must confront, challenging moderate Muslims to speak out.  The idea wasn't to provoke gratuitously -- and we certainly didn't intend to trigger violent demonstrations throughout the Muslim world.  Our goal was simply to push back self-imposed limits on expression that seemed to be closing in tighter.

        At the end of September, a Danish standup comedian said in an interview with Jyllands-Posten that he had no problem urinating on the Bible in front of a camera, but he dared not do the same thing with the Koran.

        This was the culmination of a series of disturbing instances of self-censorship.  Last September, a Danish children's writer had trouble finding an illustrator for a book about the life of Muhammad.  Three people turned down the job for fear of consequences.  The person who finally accepted insisted on anonymity, which in my book is a form of self-censorship.  European translators of a critical book about Islam also did not want their names to appear on the book cover beside the name of the author, a Somalia-born Dutch politician who has herself been in hiding.

        Around the same time, the Tate gallery in London withdrew an installation by the avant-garde artist John Latham depicting the Koran, Bible and Talmud torn to pieces.  The museum explained that it did not want to stir things up after the London bombings.  (A few months earlier, to avoid offending Muslims, a museum in Goteborg, Sweden, had removed a painting with a sexual motif and a quotation from the Koran.)

        Finally, at the end of September, Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen met with a group of imams, one of whom called on the prime minister to interfere with the press in order to get more positive coverage of Islam.

        So, over two weeks we witnessed a half-dozen cases of self-censorship, pitting freedom of speech against the fear of confronting issues about Islam.  This was a legitimate news story to cover, and Jyllands-Posten decided to do it by adopting the well-known journalistic principle: Show, don't tell.  I wrote to members of the association of Danish cartoonists asking them "to draw Muhammad as you see him."  We certainly did not ask them to make fun of the prophet.  Twelve out of 25 active members responded.

        We have a tradition of satire when dealing with the royal family and other public figures, and that was reflected in the cartoons.  The cartoonists treated Islam the same way they treat Christianity, Buddhism, Hinduism and other religions.  And by treating Muslims in Denmark as equals they made a point: We are integrating you into the Danish tradition of satire because you are part of our society, not strangers.  The cartoons are including, rather than excluding, Muslims.

        The cartoons do not in any way demonize or stereotype Muslims.  In fact, they differ from one another both in the way they depict the prophet and in whom they target.  One cartoon makes fun of Jyllands-Posten, portraying its cultural editors as a bunch of reactionary provocateurs.  Another suggests that the children's writer who could not find an illustrator for his book went public just to get cheap publicity.  A third puts the head of the anti-immigration Danish People's Party in a lineup, as if she is a suspected criminal.

        One cartoon -- depicting the prophet with a bomb in his turban -- has drawn the harshest criticism.  Angry voices claim the cartoon is saying that the prophet is a terrorist or that every Muslim is a terrorist.  I read it differently: Some individuals have taken the religion of Islam hostage by committing terrorist acts in the name of the prophet.  They are the ones who have given the religion a bad name.  The cartoon also plays into the fairy tale about Aladdin and the orange that fell into his turban and made his fortune.  This suggests that the bomb comes from the outside world and is not an inherent characteristic of the prophet.

        On occasion, Jyllands-Posten has refused to print satirical cartoons of Jesus, but not because it applies a double standard.  In fact, the same cartoonist who drew the image of Muhammed with a bomb in his turban drew a cartoon with Jesus on the cross having dollar notes in his eyes and another with the star of David attached to a bomb fuse.  There were, however, no embassy burnings or death threats when we published those.

        Has Jyllands-Posten insulted and disrespected Islam?  It certainly didn't intend to.  But what does respect mean?  When I visit a mosque, I show my respect by taking off my shoes.  I follow the customs, just as I do in a church, synagogue or other holy place.  But if a believer demands that I, as a nonbeliever, observe his taboos in the public domain, he is not asking for my respect, but for my submission.  And that is incompatible with a secular democracy.

        This is exactly why Karl Popper, in his seminal work "The Open Society and Its Enemies," insisted that one should not be tolerant with the intolerant.  Nowhere do so many religions coexist peacefully as in a democracy where freedom of expression is a fundamental right.  In Saudi Arabia, you can get arrested for wearing a cross or having a Bible in your suitcase, while Muslims in secular Denmark can have their own mosques, cemeteries, schools, TV and radio stations.

        I acknowledge that some people have been offended by the publication of the cartoons, and Jyllands-Posten has apologized for that.  But we cannot apologize for our right to publish material, even offensive material.  You cannot edit a newspaper if you are paralyzed by worries about every possible insult.

        I am offended by things in the paper every day: transcripts of speeches by Osama bin Laden, photos from Abu Ghraib, people insisting that Israel should be erased from the face of the Earth, people saying the Holocaust never happened.  But that does not mean that I would refrain from printing them as long as they fell within the limits of the law and of the newspaper's ethical code.  That other editors would make different choices is the essence of pluralism.

        As a former correspondent in the Soviet Union, I am sensitive about calls for censorship on the grounds of insult.  This is a popular trick of totalitarian movements: Label any critique or call for debate as an insult and punish the offenders.  That is what happened to human rights activists and writers such as Andrei Sakharov, Vladimir Bukovsky, Alexander Solzhenitsyn, Natan Sharansky, Boris Pasternak.  The regime accused them of anti-Soviet propaganda, just as some Muslims are labeling 12 cartoons in a Danish newspaper anti-Islamic.

        The lesson from the Cold War is: If you give in to totalitarian impulses once, new demands follow.  The West prevailed in the Cold War because we stood by our fundamental values and did not appease totalitarian tyrants.

        Since the Sept. 30 publication of the cartoons, we have had a constructive debate in Denmark and Europe about freedom of expression, freedom of religion and respect for immigrants and people's beliefs.  Never before have so many Danish Muslims participated in a public dialogue -- in town hall meetings, letters to editors, opinion columns and debates on radio and TV.  We have had no anti-Muslim riots, no Muslims fleeing the country and no Muslims committing violence.  The radical imams who misinformed their counterparts in the Middle East about the situation for Muslims in Denmark have been marginalized.  They no longer speak for the Muslim community in Denmark because moderate Muslims have had the courage to speak out against them.

        In January, Jyllands-Posten ran three full pages of interviews and photos of moderate Muslims saying no to being represented by the imams.  They insist that their faith is compatible with a modern secular democracy.  A network of moderate Muslims committed to the constitution has been established, and the anti-immigration People's Party called on its members to differentiate between radical and moderate Muslims, i.e.  between Muslims propagating sharia law and Muslims accepting the rule of secular law.  The Muslim face of Denmark has changed, and it is becoming clear that this is not a debate between "them" and "us," but between those committed to democracy in Denmark and those who are not.

        This is the sort of debate that Jyllands-Posten had hoped to generate when it chose to test the limits of self-censorship by calling on cartoonists to challenge a Muslim taboo.  Did we achieve our purpose?  Yes and no.  Some of the spirited defenses of our freedom of expression have been inspiring.  But tragic demonstrations throughout the Middle East and Asia were not what we anticipated, much less desired.  Moreover, the newspaper has received 104 registered threats, 10 people have been arrested, cartoonists have been forced into hiding because of threats against their lives and Jyllands-Posten's headquarters have been evacuated several times due to bomb threats.  This is hardly a climate for easing self-censorship.

        Still, I think the cartoons now have a place in two separate narratives, one in Europe and one in the Middle East.  In the words of the Somali-born Dutch politician Ayaan Hirsi Ali, the integration of Muslims into European societies has been sped up by 300 years due to the cartoons; perhaps we do not need to fight the battle for the Enlightenment all over again in Europe.  The narrative in the Middle East is more complex, but that has very little to do with the cartoons.

flemming.rose@jp.dk

Flemming Rose is the culture editor of the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten.

© 2006 The Washington Post Company
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End of Story.


        My letter to Flemming Rose.
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Dear Mr. Fleming [and no, I don't know why I confused his first and last names]:

        I just read your opinion piece in the Washington Post, and I can't help but feel you were a bit naive, if you thought that those cartoons wouldn't provoke violence.

        But otherwise, I agree with everything you wrote.  It's necessary for us in the West to make it clear that we are willing to welcome Muslims into our society, WHEN THEY BECOME PART OF THAT SOCIETY.  Otherwise, no.

        You mentioned the West's refusal to bow to totalitarianism in the Soviet Union.  It's worth remembering that in the Baltics in 1939, the Soviets demanded the right to base troops, and a voice in the composition of the government.  Then, when the citizens committed "anti-Soviet Acts," the Kremlin demanded the right to a greater say in the Baltic governments, and the basing of more troops in the Baltic countries.  The end came with the Soviets taking the Baltics over.

        The Soviets made the same demands of Finland.  The Finns refused, and had to fight an invasion, but they retained their independence.

        So I'm proud of you for standing up to the Radical Islamic Fascists.  Denmark is fighting for all of us in the West, and I support you wholeheartedly and unquailifiedly.

Best Wishes,
Stephen M.
        St.  Onge
Minneapolis, MN

http://fatsteve.blogspot.com/
DELENDAM ESSE SAUDI ARABIA!
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End of Letter.

My letter to The Washington Post
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Dear Post Editors:

        The good news about your story of February 16th, "Anatomy of the Cartoon Protest Movement," is that it's some of the best coverage I've seen of this story in the MSM.  The bad news is, it's a disgraceful failure, journalistically and morally.

        Let me start with your purely journalistic failures.  One of your story's authors said "I tell you -- with the word limit we had on the story, we left out a lot."  All print newspapers have space restrictions, but the web doesn't.  You could have put up a 'full' version of the story online, and a space-constrained one in print.  Instead, you left things out of both versions.

        And when you're trying to make a space limit, it behooves you to leave out the less important stuff, and concentrate on the most important.  Looking at your story, I can't help but notice the things it leaves out.  For instance, the story notes that there were extra cartoons in the dossier the Muslim "leaders" took to the Mid-East:

        "The dossier also included illustrations that depicted Muhammad as a pig and engaged in bestiality. Abu Laban and Akkari said those cartoons, and other obscene drawings of the prophet, had been mailed anonymously to Danish Muslim leaders after the controversy over the cartoons began."  And who were these Muslims who received the drawings?  No one has ever said.  The Muslim leaders won't tell anyone their names.  Threatening letters supposedly accompanied the drawings, but the Danish Muslim leaders won't provide copies of them.  Of the three cartoons, one is an altered picture of a participant in a French pig-squealing contest, as a blogger documented at http://www.neandernews.com/?p=54%20.  Another, labeling Muhammad a demonic pedophile, has lettering that appears to be drawn by an Arab, as documented at http://volokh.com/archives/archive_2006_02_05-2006_02_11.shtml#1139559700 and http://volokh.com/archives/archive_2006_02_05-2006_02_11.shtml#1139697364.  In short, anyone who paid attention would have known, by the time the story was published, that there is something very suspicious about these three extra cartoons, and that it's quite possible that Danish Muslims deliberately faked them.  But there is no mention of that in the article, or any attempt to investigate their origin.

        Another thing the article leaves out is the meeting with the Organization of the Islamic Conference in Mecca, between the two Danish Muslim visits, where the Egyptian Foreign Minister showed the dossier to representitives of other government (http://www.nytimes.com/2006/02/09/international/middleeast/09cartoon.html?ei=5088&en=ab6eabaaf6fd940b&ex=1297141200&partner=rssnyt&emc=rss&pagewanted=print).  It was only after that meeting that the protest took off.  This strongly argues for government involvement in the organization of the protests.  Again, the Post doesn't follow up.

        Your story moves to January, where we read this:

        "In Jiddah, Saudi Arabia, Hashim Balkhy, a 43-year-old plastic surgeon who would not consider himself unduly conservative by his country's standards, heard about the cartoons on about Jan. 21. He received a text message on his cell phone from a friend in Medina, one of Islam's holiest cities, saying Danish newspapers had been making fun of the prophet for months.
        "We must boycott them, his friend said.

        "That night, after his wife and children had gone to bed, he spent almost four hours online, smoking Carlton cigarettes and reading Web sites. He discovered that within weeks, an entire virtual world had already been dedicated to the subject. He stayed up past dawn."

        Let's stop and review for a second.  On September 30th, the cartoons are published.  In October, Muslims put them up on websites (your story) and publish them on the front pages of newspapers (http://i1.tinypic.com/nfik52.jpg, http://freedomforegyptians.blogspot.com/2006/02/egyptian-newspaper-pictures-that.html, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Timeline_of_the_Jyllands-Posten_Muhammad_cartoons_controversy).  Yet there is no reaction.  No riots take place.  No one appears to be paying attention.

        Then, in December, the Danish Muslims bring the issue to the attention of governments in Islamic countries, and THEN, suddenly, "an entire virtual world" springs up, and Muslims are arranging a boycott of Danish goods.  Just who created this virtual world, and how, and why?  Who thought up the boycott idea, and started spreading the idea?  Apparently, the Post doesn't think that question important.

        In February, the riots start.  In Tripoli, Lebanon, someone lays on buses and brings in hundreds of demonstrators to Beirut.  The army passes them through checkpoints, and the Danish embassy is set ablaze.  Reports The Guardian:

        "And then in the early afternoon, as suddenly as it had all begun, it ended. The leaders of the mob turned to the angry young men beside them and told them it was time to leave. Obediently the crowd thinned out and began walking back to the buses, even as the Danish embassy continued to burn. By 3pm there wasn't a single protester left on the street."

        Who organized these buses?  Why weren't there more police and troops on hand?  Who were these obediently dispersing demonstrators?  Again, the Post doesn't think that's important.  Yet you had room for much less interesting material in the article.  I don't know if your reporters and editors were ignorant of the facts I've mentioned, or deliberately decided not to cover this information, but it's lousy journalism regardless of the causes.

        As for your moral failure, it comes down to apparent cowardice and hidden editorializing.  It is obvious from what is in the story that various people deliberately worked on stirring up Muslim outrage over the cartoons, but you are determined not to see that.  We get talk of "compromise" from the reporter, without any discussion of what such a compromise might look like.  Just to what extent is Anthony Shadid willing to allow Muslims to tell Western newspapers what they may publish, and what do the papers get in return?  Is the Post willing to allow any other group the right to tell it what's acceptable to publish?  It looks from here like the answer is 'Well, if the other groups are willing to kill us over trivia, we'll do whatever they want too.' After all, you Ombudswoman said recently that you're supposed to offend people from time to time.

        The story and the online discussion at http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/discussion/2006/02/15/DI2006021501630.html keep coming up with the idea of "Opposing certainties," without mentioning what these certainties are.  But it appears the Post is CERTAIN that whatever said certainties are, if people were in doubt, everything could be worked out peacefully.  The story talks about Muslim outrage over the depiction of Muhammad with a bomb in his turbin, but never asks the obvious questions 'What's outrageous about that?  Muslims set bombs in the name of religion every day.  Are you willing to denounce all of those bombers too?  Do you have any plans to stop their actions?'  And your reporters keep talking of "centuries of grievances" being responsible for the riots and demonstrations, without ever producing any quotations from the demonstrators or rioters on their motivations -- or on anything else, for that matter.

        The impression of The Washington Post and its staff I'm left with is "Good little Dhimmis."  And that in turn makes me ill.

Very Sincerely Yours,
Stephen M.
        St.  Onge
Minneapolis, MN

http://fatsteve.blogspot.com/
DELENDAM ESSE SAUDI ARABIA!
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