the machine that eats your brain

As the Muhammed-as-Snuffy-Smith controversy continues, it is interesting to watch the politics become a veritable machine to produce idiocy. I suspect that there is some mystical law that governs these things. But, one wonders, what is this law? Is it something in the nature of opposition itself, some diabolical dialectical germ that is slipped into that moment in the discourse which ends up producing those magnificent retards, the left and the right, the point and the counterpoint, the defenders of civil liberties (with exceptions) and the defenders of the oppressed (no matter what they do)?

If this is so, it would subvert my idea of progress, the good society, the goals of art, the use and purpose of philosophy, the true, the beautiful and the just. It would make my life a mockery and the minimum life style I’ve chosen the door prize of the lowest order of sap. It would make my words no more rational than the foaming of a poisoned rat.

… Well, at least it would be all about me. There’s always a bright side for your true American narcissist.

In this case, on the one side, we have the every brilliant Teheran government paper, with its Auschwitz cartoon contest; on the other side, we have the calls in Britain to jail the demonstrator who dressed up as a suicide bomber. And then there are the guys in Afghanistan who have died for the sake of… uh, what? rushing an army base that represented in their minds a cartoon published by unbelievers in an unbelievers kingdom by the sea.

Myself, I went, via Le Colonel Chabert, today, to Democracy Now and discovered, to my dismay, that the idiocy may be terminal. The conversation between As’ad Abikhalil is and Irshad Manji is enough to make you pull out your hair. Abikhalil should be representing my line: he is a non-believer who nevertheless wants to defend a degree of outrage among the Moslems who are outraged. So far, so good. But he immediately goes into a riff of free association that has little to do with anything. Israel, of course, pops up. And he can’t get over the fact that Manji has appeared on Fox news. This seems to be a mortal sin. Manji, on the other hand, is full of the kind of gotcha tactics that make me turn off the radio.

Yet both could have helped each other a little bit. This is the thing about discourse, and opposition. It is not a zero sum game. The beauty of opposition is to keep it on the highest possible level, not to take advantage of the referee looking away to foul your opponent. Manji makes a good point, and ruins it by making it into a description of Abikhalil’s position, when it isn’t a description of his position at all:

“And speaking of dissent, you know, I find it interesting that your other guest suggests or actually emphasizes that there is a targeting of Islam, but that no other religion, you know, can be mocked. How then does he explain the routinely and viciously anti-Semitic programming that comes out of the Arab world. And I would remind him that we Muslims never protest that kind of atrocity. So, how do we have integrity demanding to the rest of the world that they completely respect our religion, when we ourselves have trouble respecting other faiths?”
And while it is true that you don’t find a lot of Christian fundies protesting about the oppression of Buddhists in Tibet, you do find Christians and non-Christians in Western countries protesting. And it is also true that a repulsive anti-semitism has been emitted as a salve by Arabic countries for the “cause of Palestine.”

Unfortunately, Abikhalil decides, (instead of saying, that doesn’t represent my point, but I think I can connect what you are saying to my suspicion that Islam was selected for mockery for reasons that aren’t being admitted) to attack Manjil for various crimes of political correctness, plus not being an Arab speaker. Nobody asks if there are any Danish speakers in the room. And -- let me guess -- they didn't serve Danishes in the Green Room. Maybe they can rename them Holy Cream Cheese Pastries.

As'ad Abikhalil: “Well, Amy, that’s very easy to respond to. First of all, I am aware of the pontification of the other guest on FOX News, among other outlets that relish the opportunity to have somebody like her –“

I haven’t watched a political show on tv for around fifteen, twenty years, but I imagine this is just how they all operate. I don't get it -- why does anybody watch them?

Then my man Abikhalil gets involved in this discussion:

“AMY GOODMAN: As’ad AbuKhalil, would you say this is an overreaction, what is happening?

AS’AD ABUKHALIL: I mean, first of all, Amy, it’s not up to me to decide. I have my own sensibilities, and for me, I mean, as a secular atheist, you know, I would love to have people who mock and ridicule all religions together, but it is the inconsistency that’s striking, as well as hypocrisy…”

Well, LI has no problem deciding. If ever there was an over-reaction, we are seeing it. If ever there was a predictable over-reaction, we are seeing it. I've considered how I want to die -- whether I want the total package, the pain, the cancer, the death agony going on for days, or the in-and-out package, heart attack, death. But one thing I definitely know: I do not want to die over an insulting cartoon.

I’d quote more of this illuminating discussion (partly because it is, apart from being stupid, genuinely funny), but since I am sick this week (with a cough that starts up and goes in my throat like the howls of somebody's chained and abandoned dog, God damn it) I figure I’ll write about this in another post.


Setholonius said…
Not-being-offended-by-something (NBOBS) is a great form of empowerment which obviously the poor Muslim world lacks. The right-wing demagogues of Denmark clearly know this and mobilize their base with the Allah baiting. Instead of counterattacking the right, I think it's our responsibility to help the poor Muslims develop NBOBS. To that end I have designed a cartoon in which an emaciated Mohammed and Jesus -- wearing a yellow star -- fellate one another in a modified 69 behind the barbed wire of Aushwitz as Buddha gorges himself on a stinking pile of Shiva's feces and the Virgin Mary gives birth to a razor-toothed leprechaun beneath a smiling Raisin-Bran sun, and Mother Goose flies over the entire proceedings strafing the inmates with bullets, bibles, etc. Also the whole thing would be painted in stem cells.
roger said…
Seth, have you contacted Hallmark yet? When you care enough to send the very best...
That sounds truly awful. I would send out a dozen of those cards a week.

Why settle for the merely offensive?