The Legend of Wooley Swamp

What ever happened to nuance? Jabberwocky is being spewed up by the left and right as they try to drag us into their Wonderlands. This blog charts a path out of this swamp of simple truths and false certainties. And from time to time, it'll be a place for more light-hearted musings.

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Thursday, February 16, 2006

Cartoons part III

Update: 21 February 2006. In the Sunday Washington Post, Flemming Rose, the editor who commissioned and then helped get the cartoons published, offered his take on the controversy. You might want to compare this with the comments he made in this February 7th C-Span interview, (1:56:27 into the program).


Since my last two posts (click here and here) I've found a couple articles that I believe add to an understanding of the cartoon issue. Yes, there's an endless stream, but I cannot resist. If there are any other major developments, please let me know.

For now, I note that the shrill folks continue to see proof of all kinds of things. It is my sincere conviction that if you really think about this, you will see that is patently not the case. Instead there's reason to rejoice: for these hypocrites are just continuing to expose themselves, and we can see them all the clearer for it.

The Washington Post today has an excellent investigative piece on the chronology of the whole affair. And there is also an interesting Q&A online discussion with Beirut-based correspondent Anthony Shadid, one of the journalists who wrote the piece.

Another aspect that I only tangently touched upon - the role of religion in Europe - is the subject of a New Republic article (require FREE registration) by editor Peter Beinert. It discusses some differences between the U.S. - and Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the U.K. - on the one hand and Europe on the other, highlighting that it's not just about immigration or diversity, but also about a certain respect and comfort in relation to religion. Under the lovely headline "What Bush Understands and the Danes Do Not" Beinert writes:

"Of course, the Danish newspaper had the right to publish them. But, in doing so, it revealed a particularly European prejudice, one that the United States must take care not to repeat.

The prejudice is not simply against Islam. Rather, it stems from Europe's--or at least Western Europe's--inability to take religion seriously at all. As my colleague Spencer Ackerman has written ("Religious Protection," December 12, 2005), one reason Muslims find it harder to integrate in Western Europe than in the United States is that, in Western Europe, integration is often presumed to mean secularization..."

"No matter what you think of the religious right's domestic agenda, the United States is much better off with a religious right than with a Christian right or a Judeo-Christian right. When conservative American Christians lose their ability to identify with conservative Muslims--to imagine their faith as in some basic way the same and deserving of the same basic respect--the United States will find itself less able to speak to the Muslim world, and less able to listen to it. It will find itself, in other words, in the place Europe is now. And that's a place no American should want to be."

Yes, the last part is a tad bombastic. But as a critic of the religious right, I see his point. A secular society is one thing, zealous secularism is another. I respect my religious friends. But I can recall countless examples of how that respect is sometimes lacking in Sweden, Germany, France and co. Some see that as some sort of progress, I see it as another kind of fundamentalism: Secularist proselytization. And that's coming from Public Agnostic #1.

Times are tough in Europe. Having more or less realized and/or accepted that immigrants are going to stay in these countries, the way forward is uncertain. BTW, this realization was one of both the host society, who thought people might be leaving or just hoped for this; AND that of the immigrants themselves, who thought and talked of going 'home'.

So, just how much integration/assimilation should occur? What roles can culture, religion, the job market and the welfare state play? People really do not seem to know. Instead, as in the cartoon debacle, they test boundaries in hope of reaching accommodation. OK, that's one way. But surely not the best one.


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Blogger Package said...

CJGAB, that is right on. I could not agree more. No belief is belief and often more strident.

7:08 PM  

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