Saturday, February 11, 2006

Fight Back - Buy Danish

There is a beautiful story -- which I was raised believing -- which really ought to be true: it is that of the brave Danish people, led by their King, donned yellow stars-of-David when the invading Nazis ordered all Jews to do so in 1941. Apparently this particular heroic is all myth, but accurately reflected the real courage of countless Danes who hid away or ferried their Jewish neighbours away from the jaws of the Shoah.

I am put in mind of the need for such solidarity in the face of the totalitarian mindset winning in the current furor over the cartoons of the Prophet. Throughout the Muslim world, the usual suspects -- gigantic drooling mobs of primarily youthful males with a smattering of stern looking elderly mullahs -- sweep through the streets looking for anything Danish to torch. Despite the more than sufficient-seeming apologies not only by the editor whose newspaper carried the Mohammed cartoon but by Prime Minister Rasmussen, this hooliganism continued and spread around the Muslim world. Likewise, boycotts were launched against Danish products, regardless of the affected companies and workers having had nothing to do with the original sin. Righteous outrage, of course, is never selective in its targets or collateral casualties.

Muslims in their own lands and even in the disapora of Europe and North America which, despite our insensitivity to Allah, have a powerful attraction for Middle Eastern immigrants, have every right to choose their own cheese, so to speak. And while reprehensible, even the right or ability to violate Western embassies is I guess, a time honoured tradition of the Muslim world. The True Believers must make their own choices, governed, sadly, by the mediaeval mentality that envelops and retards their worlds and driven, it now appears, by the concerted effort to foment these riots by what has been aptly called “a global fascist movement masking as religion”. The goal, let us be clear, is not simply revenge but intimidation, a muzzling of anyone in the West who, consistent with our ideals of free thought and speech, has the temerity to criticize or satirize the violent turn that a small but dangerously significant fraction of Muslims appear to have chosen. The killing of Dutch film-maker Theo van Gogh for his documentary on the ill-treatment of Muslim women, was, alas, the mere prelude to the well-orchestrated symphony of intimidation that Islamic Jihadists have in store for us.

Hordes of that cohort swarming through the streets burning flags, desecrating Christian sites, even assassinating innocent and unconnected “non-believers” have become commonplace. One cannot shake memories of tediously identical scenes of ferment bubbling over in Middle Eastern cities when a few of their more dedicated brethren commandeered planes into several architectural icons of American life on September 11, 2001. Largely we turn the other cheek at the plenitude of insults and worse dumped onto the places and symbols that Westerners treasure but are expected to don hair-shirts when a rather poorly executed cartoon violating Muslim sensibilities re-ignites their world of unceasing griping and gnashing.

I don’t doubt that many of the less Internet-able people here in Canada, the US and Europe would like to see just what the fuss is all about, exactly what the cartoon depicted. In our society under our customs of free speech and press we have every right to expect our media to have the guts to show the full story, inclusive of reproducing the source of all this moral outrage. Alas, fear and spinelessness have prevailed and, to my knowledge neither the major North American networks nor any of our principal newspapers have dared display the offending cartoon.* This monolithic self-censoring of the free world’s media has sent, an unequivocal and welcome message to Muslim extremists: burn a few flags and embassies, shoot a priest or two, shun some cheese and the mightiest nations on earth will bow down.

I hope that everyday citizens in the West will be less craven and, as one small step I come back to the beautiful myth about the star-of-David armbands. Let’s get out and strike our own delicious blow against the vicious mentality of the marauding hordes in the streets of Damascus, Beirut etc.: Purchase and proudly serve some creamy Havarti, a tangy Saga Blue, a smoky Rygeost, smelly Esrom and some unequalled Danish butter.

* Update: I stand corrected. The Philadelphia Inquirer has drawn itself away from the flock of journalistic sheep and reproduced the egregious cartoons. At least in this case, I am inclined to concur with the posthumous W.C. Fields about where I'd rather be!

No comments: