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Re: <nettime> a letter to the editor
Brian Holmes on Thu, 23 Feb 2006 16:54:19 +0100 (CET)


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Re: <nettime> a letter to the editor


Florian, with full respect for you and all the good things 
you have done over the years, allow me to clarify.

What I am saying is not that the enemy of my enemy is my 
friend. The people who burned Danish embassies and the 
governments who let that happen are not my friends and I 
make no claims about their superior moral stature in the 
world. Like everyone who listens to critical voices coming 
from the Middle East, I think that Middle Easterners have at 
least as much work to do in civilizing their governments and 
elites as we in the so-called "West" have to do in keeping 
ours from the kinds of grotesque injustices that 
unfortunately they commit so frequently.

I am saying that what is at chiefly at stake in this issue 
is not freedom of expression, but rather the degree to which 
those in the so-called West who defend that freedom in this 
particular case (where, please note, it has not in fact been 
violated) are being enlisted to drum up the caricature of 
"public opinion" that serves as a background both to war in 
the Middle East and to long-term racism here in Europe.

I am also saying, as others have tried to in their ways, 
that in this situation the defense of freedom of expression 
is misplaced EXACTLY TO THE EXTENT that it does not 
recognize both the actual war in the Middle East (which the 
Danes and other EU countries support) and the actual racism 
in Europe and the USA, as well as the long-term problem of 
worsening inequality in a unifying world - which in my 
opinion underlies these conflicts.

I know it's a complicated position and not as easy as saying 
"a right is a right," but that is my position. And by the 
way, I do agree with you that there is very good reason to 
dispell the notion that "my enemy's enemy is my friend," 
because that can lead to some very unfortunate alliances. 
The question is how to help settle a deep and large-scale 
conflict which looks increasingly dangerous for everyone.

best, Brian


Florian Cramer wrote:
> Brian,
> 
> You repeat the mistake of assuming that the enemy of your enemy is
> your friend.  The people who burned down the embassies in their outrage
> about "blasphemy", demanding that the Danish government shut down the
> newspaper are no good allies for your cause. Just like the
> state-organized "anti-imperialist peace demonstrations" in Eastern
> European countries before 1989 were no good allies for Western
> pacifists.
> 
> That's all I am saying.
> 
> -F


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