Saturday, February 04, 2006

Danish cartoons as provocation to war

I like this Washington Post perspective piece by Philip Kennicott. The confusion of issues reminds me very much of the famous walk Ariel Sharon took on the temple mount in Jerusalem. An expression of freedom, Sharon's act was also an astutely calculated provocation--one which people on both sides credit with igniting the violence that made "suicide bomber" a common term, which continues with rarely a lull to this day. I expect even moderates would still defend Sharon's right to stroll the mount as he did. But was it worth it? Sharon to his credit was a political and military insider, and famous as a tactician. Who, on the other hand, is this Danish publisher of those caricatures of Mohammed? And are we ready and willing to be ruthless as Sharon? Note that if Israel-Palestine is our laboratory, the experiment is neither 0ver nor encouraging. Also note that the comfortable and mostly safe liberal democratic lifestyle that Israelis enjoy is nowhere near viable economically. So this lifestyle is not one we know we could scale up, even if we ever became so desperate and ruthless as to want to do so. So if relations between Western liberal democracies and Muslim nations become like those between Israel and Palestine, bets are off, and nuclear warheads are armed. Let's think about that before we go poking fingers in eyes on whatever principle.

1 comment:

helmut said...

Good point. The whole thing has struckme as a good amount of finger-wagging. The principle of freedom of speech is a good one, but not necessarily in the service of being intentionally insulting or just plain stupid.