[UPDATE-07-Jan: commentary by Russell Blackford] Prejudiced Danes provoke fanaticism
By NANCY GRAHAM HOLM - GUARDIAN.CO.UK
Added: Mon, 04 Jan 2010 00:00:00 UTC
Thanks to LWS for the link.
[UPDATE:07-Jan] Commentary by Russell Blackford from his blog Metamagician and the Hellfire Club
Nancy Graham Holm on Kurt Westergard
Long-time readers of this blog will appreciate that I attempt to discuss issues in a fairly cool and reasoned way. Usually, I have some success. Even when I do denounce people with whom I have disagreements, it's usually good-natured and with a touch of humour. Not always, perhaps, but usually. Sometimes, however, more is needed. For example, here is a piece for which I'll make an exception, something truly worthy of disgust and denunciation. It's published in Comment is Free, The Guardian's online opinion forum, and written by one Nancy Graham Holm. Remember that name.
Holm is discussing the attempted murder of Kurt Westergaard, one of the Danish cartoonists who drew their impressions of Muhammad for Jyllands-Posten ... back in 2005. Now, you can have a range of views about whether the cartoons were fair, whether the motivations for publishing them were tinged by elements of racism or xenophobia, and so on. There is a great deal to be said about the circumstances that led to their publication ... and about the subsequent mayhem (which did not arise spontaneously and was actually stirred up much later, in a deliberate campaign that used grossly misleading material). I'm going to leave all that to one side except to note that the material was published in a context; it wasn't just arbitrary.
Forget about that. What I find shocking about the article by Nancy Graham Holm is the way that it tends to blame the victim of a terrifying murder attempt, carried out in front of the elderly victim's young granddaughter.
On New Year's Day, Kurt Westergaard and his granddaughter came close to losing their lives when an axe-wielding fanatic forced his way into their house. It was the latest in a string of attempted attacks that can be traced directly to the offence caused by Westergaard's cartoons for Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten in 2005.
One of these cartoons depicted the prophet Muhammad in a turban with a stick of dynamite protruding from the top. Muslims failed to see Westergaard's cartoon as satire. Instead, they saw in it a defamatory and humiliating message: Muslims are terrorists. Humiliation is a devastating feeling. But most people who are insulted will accept an apology. If an apology been forthcoming, that probably would have been the end to it – but none came, and the humiliation was compounded.
"Are you not at all religious?" someone asked him. "No. Most Danes are not religious," he responded. "Well then … can't you at least respect religious people?" "No, not really," Rose answered candidly. "Generally speaking, I think Danes are a little suspicious of religious people."
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