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Re: <nettime> cartoons? come on.
Florian Cramer on Sun, 19 Feb 2006 21:51:12 +0100 (CET)

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Re: <nettime> cartoons? come on.

Am Sonntag, 19. Februar 2006 um 07:05:32 Uhr (-0800) schrieb coco fusco:
> Liberal regimes are also manipulating public opinion, silencing dissent and
> using free speech as a way to create an impression of themselves as embattled
> by their minorities, hence justifying more control and repression of immigrants
> in Germany, France, Denmark and elsewhere. 

Over here, the conservative right (which also happens to lead the
federal government) cautiously sides with the Muslim protesters, because
it has its own agenda against "blasphemy".  The "letter to the editor"
column of the leading conservative paper "Frankfurter Allgemeine" is
filling with statements, from non-Muslim readers, saying that religious
believers have been humiliated enough and measures should be taken
against tolerating blasphemy. The playwright and leading conservative
intellectual Botho Strauss writes how he admires Islamic family values,
and that the protests would finally put an end to an era of postmodern
anything-goes.  The (powerful) Bavarian prime minister and chairman of
the conservative CSU party stated that blasphemy should not be
tolerated. At the same time, he demands to ban the hugely popular
Turkish action movie "In the Valley of the Wolves", a fantasy about
Turkish fighters on a revenge mission against the USA in the Middle

It's not at all that a "liberal state" is raising its voice here, but
control and repression of immigrants is continued in conjunction with a
revived religious agenda. Note that Germany is, by its constitutional
law, not a liberal secular state. It grants various, substantial
privileges to religions it officially "recognizes" - which not
surprisingly excludes Islam to date.  That so-called "concordate" with
the Roman Catholic Church and the Lutheran Protestant church was forged
by Hitler and has not been revised, except that Jewish congregations
were included after 1945. But instead of proposing, like the
aforementioned newspaper does, to make Islam part of this system, I
would like it to be abolished altogether.

> And all those championing the
> cartoons take the bait on this - why not give racist and xenophobic
> representations of Arabs, foreigners and immrigrants in European media equal
> airtime here? 

I fully agree. 

> Why not analyze the weird representations of immigrants by the
> European left?

I agree again. And include the weird representations of Jews in Arab
countries, etc..

> And even Germany has some images that no one can play with without getting in
> trouble, - swastikas being number one.

A law I am very much opposed to. It hasn't changed any old or new Nazi
from becoming what he or she is. Neonazi organizations routinely
circumvent it by using other Germanic/fascist symbols that aren't
outlawed, but look similar.  The only effect this law has had are
bouncing wedding postcards from India, police raids on independent book
and video stores that offered critical documentary books and films on
the Third Reich (but sometimes with swastikas on the cover if they
weren't made in Germany), and crackdowns on art or music that used the
swastika in an ironic and artistic way (such as "The Reich'n Roll" by
The Residents).  In some areas of Germany, access to Neonazi web sites,
but also gore sites like rotten.com, is blocked by the state government.
The net artist and activist Alvar Freude made a satirical work where
people could call a telephone number and listen to a computer voice
reading the pags of those blocked sites. A court sentenced him for
"instigating ethnic hatred" and "aiding in the dissemination of
unconstitutional propaganda". - Fortunately, the sentence was cancelled
by an appellate court.

It's not that I would be happy with people waving swastikas in the
street, to say the least. But my experience is that any (even
well-meaning) attempt to crack down on it using state authority as a
tactical tool routinely backfires and hurts the wrong people.

> Finally, Cramer will probably never agree on this, but one thing I can say
> after spending time in countries where governments are more openly repressive
> and religions carry more weight is that some people there and elsewhere just
> get offended - really offended - by having American and European insist that
> their view of freedom and democracy is the right one and the only one and
> universal. 

Well, I would just say that if there can be routinely anti-European,
anti-semitic, anti-Christian caricatures in Arab media, that are no
better or worse than those in the Danish newspaper. If noone storms Arab
embassies, then it's only fair to expect the same in turn. I fully
agree that the Danish newspaper editors are hypocrites, but the people
who storm the embassies (or, more, precisely: who triggered the
protests) are no better.

> Europeans. Even secular muslims I have spoken to find the imposition of
> American protocols of democracy in the Middle East to be a form of imperialism.

We don't disagree about that. But we're not talking about democracy as in
a political and legal system, but just about human rights. Some
centuries ago, Islamic countries were much closer to them than Christian

- -F

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