Saturday, February 18, 2006

Mon Coloc et Mes Politiques

Here's my portfolio article about all this wild Mohammad cartoon stuff. The tune of the post is brand-new- destined-to- be-classic Zdarlight by Digitalism, part 2 of my hommage to the explosive new German electroclash outbreak. On l'a vu le jour de l'an a la S.A.T., et j't'dit que ca tue. Ca s'en vien bientot, la nouvelle album.

Franz Ferdinand


A Personal Response to Blasphemous Cartoon Publications

When the rusted perimeters of crumbling empires grind tectonically together, as they so often do, there exists a state of potential energy. There exists a possibility of something small knocking dominoes on an entire generation. Who threw the first rock in the Gaza Strip, whose momentum we still feel today, amplified in a wave pattern over the phonograph tunnel of time? If Rosa Parks met Franz Ferdinand, and they checked it out on Google, what would they say about the squabble over recently published Mohammed cartoons?

It is sure that words turn into bullets, and bullets, in turn, to bombs. Bombs to radiation, radiation to genetic alteration. There is a logic puzzle that proposes that the wind off a butterfly’s wings millions of years ago could have had a profound subsequent effect on our current reality. And for all the quantum probabilities we’re finding hidden in uranium atoms in dusty corners of physics labs, it seems this might be a reality we’re living. So if, for the sake of argument, these are the framings, and little things sometimes do explode like Margaret Mead’s “small groups of concerned individuals”, are we now witnessing it in Denmark’s infamous Mohammed Cartoons? Who are the players in this row over a lost game of marbles? Is it simply freedom versus religious rights, as the media has quickly framed it, or is it more culturally rifted?

I think we're about to see that the debate over "free speech" or publishing rights is more or less moot in this situation. You can absolutely find many fully justifiable defenses of the original publishing of these comics, just as you can find an equal number of honest arguments respecting Muslim beliefs. But the bottom line is, as much as the US and EU would like it to, the Islamic world does not always play by the imposed western rules. Muslim people all over the world are going to make their own decisions, and as Muslims become more and more prominent in the world arena, and more and more informed, the west is going to have to deal with boycotts, election of "terrorist" groups like Hamas, and maybe even the odd embassy take-over. It's de facto: as we have every right to publish such diatribe in our society, so do they, in turn, have the right to reject our values, especially on their own territory. This is culture clashing, not just a bruised knee over freedom of the western press.

The question not being asked in the media is: what tumor are we going to let this cell mutate into? Can we make it a Rosa Parks and (eventually) find a common understanding on the other end of the bus ride? Or is this Danish newspaper like Franz Ferdinand, waiting to burst into a global conflict: Samuel Huntington’s “Clash of Civilizations” rearing its head? Where, in other words, is the last straw for the oppressed East and the frightened West? And as these two beasts lock horns as so many times in the past, we’ll see if anybody has learned the differences between freedom and tolerance; response and reaction.

Originally published February 8th, 2006