Friday, February 03, 2006

Wisdom From Beyond The Grave?

Further to yesterday's post, here's some interesting arguments about the cartoon fuss from Lenin's Tomb. I don't agree with half of what he says and I think there is a fair bit of conflation going on there, but its well argued and I learned a lot from it. Check it out, if apathy and inertia haven't got you by the goolies. Also, I found some pithy counter-punching to some of Lenin's positions this over at Backword (found via Doctor Vee). It all boils down to who is being more of a fascist: the islamosceptics or the islamists?

Also, I think I need to expand on yesterday's bit a little tonight, lest I give the impression of being an out-and-out islamophobe. Like almost all my positions and beliefs it is infinitely and needlessly more complicated than that. More anon.


lenin said...

Nice of you to link me, but let me leave something for the weasel's wisdom gulcher: it does not "boil down" to "who is being more of a fascist"; this is not about "the Islamists"; and, if you're going to refer to 'conflation', you need to be clearer on what you suppose is being conflated and why this is mistaken.

In this case, the distinction is fairly simple: who is attacking whom, and who is oppressing whom? The tiny cluster of Muslims who over-reacted in various ways are irrelevant. What *is* relevant is that Muslims have every right to be angry, to protest, even to announce a boycott of Danish produce if they feel inclined to. They are being slandered and attacked by racists, accused collectively of being murderous fanatics and so on. The meek may well inherit the earth, but these guys only require people to stop attacking them.

weasel said...

Hello Lenin,
Thanks for dropping by- I have enjoyed lurking on your blog for a while.

To address your point on conflation, I think that you are conflating the experience of British Asians in Oldham with their co-religionists in Jakarta; in and of itself perhaps an unconcious embrace of sterotyping? Do you assume that you face the same challenges react the same way as a Canadian or an Australian because you have the same head of state and share many cultural values? I left that hanging in my original highlighting of your post as I was posting on my lunch break and didn't want to go into a long explanation of the Oldham clashes (or any other riots all the way back to the Gordon Riots although sidebar- when I was an uni back in Blighty one of the lecturers did an excellent job of illustrating the importance of history, explaining how he had made top plod Kenneth Newman retract statements in the wake of the Broadwater Farm riot that implied that public disorder was imported from the former colonies. Huge, rambling digession- but thats what my blog is for). Even within a shared experience- politcal belief, ethicity, religion- there are massive variations in experience and opinion which are exacerbated by geography, not withstanding shared touchstones (in the islamic family, concern and outrage over Palestine is such a touchstone; in the Anglo-American world it appears to be fear of not getting the newest ipod). No doubt you will loudly and volubly disagree (in fact I hope so).

I humbly disagree that radical islam and the islamists have no role in shaping reaction on the street. If you look at political trends in the Islamic world Islamist groupings have become the strongest opposition to governments (and in the case of Palestine, the government itself). The Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt (imagine what Egypt would look like if the elections had been truly free), popular opinion in Jordan in direct contrast to the actions of King Abdullah, the islamification of the imagery of Fatah, the rise of Hamas, the popularity of Hizbollah (and for the Shia the election of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in Iran, as tainted as those elections were); all indicative of the patient and quiet groundwork for power laid by Islamists through social services, crackdowns on crime, and anti-corruption efforts. Public discourse and debate is being driven not by the discredited nationalism of Fatah, the Baathists, or Nasserites, but rather by the vernacular of religious "purity" (and when I hear the word "purity" in my head, I knee jerk towards proclaiming "fascism! fascism!"- can't help it. Milosovec, Kohmeini, Hussein, Paulibne Hanson in Australia- fascists all. Maybe not in the "SWP Big Book of Exact Political Terms", but in my head at least). I know it might pain a Trotskyite to consider Mao, but Islamists have long understood the truth of his statement that "The revolutionary war is a war of the masses; it can be waged only by mobilizing the masses and relying on them."

Muslims do have every right to be angry; they have been on the shitty end of the stick from apparently wilful misunderstanding on the part of both the christian religious and secular liberal western opinion formers and policy makers; from double standards applied by the UN and enforced by the US and GB; by their own greedy and inept governments; and from the calculating lies and inflamatory distortions of radical Islam.

However, if I were to walk through Gaza City tomorrow I have no doubt that I would have seven bells knocked out of me because I'm pale, have red hair, and look a bit Danish despite the fact that I have no influence over government policy or editorial content. Surely we should be as saddened by that fact as by the infantile behavior of some European newspapers? After all, how is your nameske's vison ever going to be fulfilled if the masses are at each other's throats rather than the throats of the bosses?

Long and rambling, doesn't make sense, full of unfinished thoughts- my perfect kind of comment.