Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Protesting Cartoons: Understanding The Angry Arabs Attacking Authoritarian A--holes...











Wow.

These dudes look scaaary.

I mean, reeeeally scaaary.

I mean, what the hell are they thinking going nuts over cartoons?


(...)


Here's some brief analysis:


1. Mike Luckovich said on CNN that the difference between other terrorist cartoons and this one is that the prophet Mohammed was depicted as the root cause of violence, including having a turban shaped like a bomb. Mike's done cartoons lambasting pedophile priests, but he's never shown that Jesus probably liked shagging little kids.

Here's a recent sample of his work:






2. The U.S.-supported dictatorships that run most Muslim countries are usually fairly authoritarian, after all, they're dictatorships. I just saw As'ad AbuKhalil, a poli-sci Professor at California State University, Stanislaus, say on DemocracyNOW.org that he's seen local Arab governments much more lenient on protestors as of late. They used to crack down much more harshly, after all, they're dictatorships. A people's uprising lead by radical Mullahs would be bad news for their regimes, as well as U.S. oil interests, so why are they allowing this now?

This strategy has parallel benefits for both the Arab and Western world.

First, anger towards the West (and America in particular) is at an all-time high with great reasons, and these protests allow the locals to blow-off some steam and see their government as supporting their right to defiantly defend Islam. It's a release-valve, pure and simple. As you can see on TV they often get close to destroying embassies but don't quite get to finish the job, and with local cops and soldiers drawing the line on what the protestors can do, they are certainly letting them act threatening for the cameras.

Second, in the West, these images are fantastic propaganda. With public support dwindling for the illegal wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and the torture and disappearing of Muslims around the world, the "crusade" needs a bit of a PR boost. Just as sympathy for anti-war efforts goes way-up in the mainstream media and public opinion starts to reflect this, this new "Protests Spread" story gets carried around the world with simplistic "they're violent" and "we like free speech and they don't" arguments. By focusing on the violence with hundreds of images to choose from, the media reinforce the demonization of Islam in our minds and justify present and future actions - including the need to immediately send troops to defend bases and embassies in foreign countries.


3. Remember "The War on Christmas"?

If you don't, FYI - it happened over Christmas.

Nobody really cared, but the Religious Right scared us into thinking this was a real "issue" thanks to a willing and complicit media. It was utter nonsense, and yet, it sure got a hell of a lot of airtime. Why the hell would so many "responsible" and "respected" media organizations take a story like "The War on Christmas" seriously?

I'll ignore that question for now. I'm sure you've got answers.

What matters is that they did.

They gave the story undeserved weighting and integrity based on our perception of the mass-media's ability to define what is important to us.

(Remember "bird-flu"?)

I had a discussion with The Monk on the Couch recently, and he suggested that it was pretty crazy how Muslims go pretty crazy rampaging through the streets, and contrasted it with how Christians get mad in America. I countered with a simple fact: in America, in a flawed yet functioning democracy, you have more options. You have the ability to influence the political process through the media, through radio, television, billboards, lobbyists, collection plates... and money.

Lots of money. And a way to use it.

Sam Seder from "The Majority Report" (with Janeane Garofalo) on Air America Radio debated a concerned Christian fearing "The War on Christmas" on CNN with hilarious results, and we'd watched it courtesy of CrooksandLiars.com. The Christian had some decent points about how some schools and municipalities were curtailing traditional celebrations, though it's worthy to note that no "people" were involved in riling up Christianity, and in fact, it was a tiny handful of curious government initiatives that were in question.

In fact, the religious breakdown in the U.S. (courtesy of Google Answers) goes something like this: 77% Christian, 13% secular, 1.3% Jewish, and so on.

There was no proof that fractional representatives of other religions had ganged-up on Christmas. No protests, no lawsuits, nothing. And yet, "The War on Christmas" was extremely valuable. Why?

Sam Seder said it: fundraising.

By riling up their fundamentalist Christian "base" and convincing them their religion was under attack, they could scam them into donating millions of dollars to defend Christianity and "Christmas", and put "experts" on the air to explain (complain) their position.

In the absence of money and a way to spend it to influence the political process, what do disenfranchised groups have?

People.

People willing to put their lives on the line in protest for what they believe in, whether we like it or not, and challenge the authoritarian security forces arrayed against them.

And, as scary as it looks to us on our big-screen TV's, that's all they got.

While we may disagree with their reasons, it is only fitting that during the funeral service of Coretta Scott King, wife of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and a distinguised civil rights activist in her own right who carried on his work, that we reserve harsh judgment on the acts of protestors who take to the streets. They've been demonized in the mainstream media for years, particularily since the WTO protests began in earnest in the early 1990's, and the very idea of civil disobedience where so relatively few gave so many so much is now in danger of being seen as an anarchic anachronism.

It's too bad that in the face of police-state conditions involving terror alerts, illegal wiretapping, indefinite Kafkaesque detentions, biometric tracking, security cameras, domestic military patrols, metal detectors, and so on, most of us don't have the guts to confront Empire boiling us like frogs on our own doorsteps, let alone support those who do.


"Hey, Johnny and Jackie Muslim, that cartoon piss you off?"

"And, you want us all to know?"

"Cool."

"Go crazy!"









R.I.P. Coretta Scott King (1927 - 2006)



Peace, (NOW!!!)
BK

_________________

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