Thursday, November 10, 2005
  The Holy Cow is wholly inappropriate
Nice to see that the tumultuous riots in Paris are useful for some of us. Just as bacteria take delight in migrating towards human waste, so various right-wing fanatics like the America satirist PJ O'Rourke jumped at the chance to gloat about the unrest. The registered Republican beefcake-fruitcake-nutcase was questioned on the events on Andrew Marr's political show, and his answer was really rather astonishing. He said that it was funny, since France couldn't have done more to support Saddam, and now, well just just look at this mess. I suppose someone should have told him that grown-ups were talking. So, while Andrew Marr described him as a "satirist", I was left wondering if there was some alternative definition to the word that I had yet to learn. He couldn't possibly have meant a commentator who employs irony and wit to poke fun at current events. His interpretation of "satirist" was a cretin who twists events in a moronic and witless afshion. After all, this was the man who once labelled us as "Euro-weenies" in his highly satirical book Holidays in Hell.
He's not the only right-winger from the US with a chip on his shoulder over France. On 06.07.05 John Gibson of Fox News said that he wanted Paris to win the nomination as host of the 2012 Olympics because it would have been a joy to see how they coped with the terrorist threats. The day after London was savagely attacked, and the same stupid prick remorsely stated that he wanted the Olympics in France so that they could blow up Paris, or, as he so nicely put it: "They'd blow up Paris, and who cares?"
In the UK we also have our fanatical morons. Melanie Phillips is more of a cultural and religious supremacist than a weenie-bashing nationalist. This is once more made evidently clear in her diary entry, where she once again seizes the chance to bash those non-western Muslims.
In the French and the majority of the British papers the riots are seen as the result of unemployment, a lack of integration, disenchantment with life as an immigrant, alienation, living in undeveloped or under-developed areas and poverty. David Aaronovitch, with whom she often sympathises, wrote in The Times yesterday: "c'est l'economie stupide." Such bothersome background details such as these are of no use to someone as stupide as Mrs Phillips. In her diary she angrilly and witlessly demands to know why more is not being made of the fact they are Muslim? Not in the sense that they are from a different culture it seems, but rather because perhaps their religion is turning them into hardcore jihadists.
The obvious reply to her is that their religion is next to irrelevant. It is well-known that the aforementioned background details provide us with the fuse, which was lit when two teenagers died in an electricity substation in a suburb of Paris. We don't kow if they were being chased by the police or panicked near a crime scene, but the result was a riot in the poor suburb of Clichy-sous-Bois, which has a large population of penniless North African immigrants. The Islamic factor is rather absent here. As the influential professor Juan Cole wrote this morning:
"The young people from North African societies such as Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia are mostly only nominal Muslims. They frequently do not speak much Arabic, and don't have "proper" French, either. They frequently do not know much about Islam and most of them certainly don't practice it-- much less being more virulent about it than Middle Easterners."
I myself have a well-paid job, am well-integrated with my fellow countrymen and feel not a trace of alienation here in my home country. If In were to convert to Islam, would this all go down the tubes in some crazed new quest to petrol bomb London? This woman is unbelievable. When her faith, Judaism, is omitted from a list of four world religions, used as a piece of bridge-building rhetoric (see below), she snarls that her religion is under attack and implies that he is an Anti-semite. Yet she rushes to her keyboard to attack other religions (I'm applying her standards here; if criticizing a Christian or Jew for their actions, religiously motivated or not, is bigottry, then it must follow that the same holds true for those who draw attention to Muslim crimes. In this case she fully deserves her 2003 accolade as "Most Islamophobic Media Personality of the Year" from the Islamic Human Rights Commission) in her diary.
To be fair, she does attempt give some evidence for her case by mentioning some worrying events in Denmark. She cuts and pastes the details out of some blog rather than getting them from a more widely known source, but no matter. On the BBC website it reports that a major Danish newspaper called Jyllands-Posten published some cartoons of the prophet Mohammed. To a Muslim this is outrageous since he is not allowed to be represented pictorially. Two of the illustrators received death threats, while there were demonstrations and riots. Shocking and abhorrent though this is, Melanie Phillips leaves out one detail that, while not excusing the developments, certainly gives them a bit more context than linking them to the Parisian violence (and implying some dormant jihadis are about to errupt on "Eurabia"). This detail is:
"A letter from the ambassadors said the cartoons published in Jyllands-Posten last month showed the Prophet as a stereotypical fundamentalist."
She doesn't allude to this. She reverts to the moronic and witless definition given above. She says they were "satirising" him. Ha ha ha ha. Mohammed as a fundamentalist. Almost as funny as Jesus being "satirised". I wonder what the reaction would be if some bright spark put Jesus in some lewd Jerry Springer opera. Think they would be good sports about it? Funny, because I seem to remember riots and death threats.
Anyway, the events in Denmark were indeed a ridiculous reaction and should not be allowed to encroach on freedom of expression (ditto the film-maker Theo Van Gogh, murdered almost a year to the day by fanatics in Holland). But what is the connection between the two stories? Are the riotters in Paris part of the same "cell" as the fools in Denmark? Who knows. Perhaps it is Jihad. Perhaps Al Qaeda are involved, and are pissed at France for not helping convert Iraq into a giant terrorist training camp and extremist recruitment centre. Or perhaps we should accept multiculturalism's benefits, sensibly address any of its excesses and not pave over or restrict the culture of others.
Thanks for sticking up for Paris ... it's rare but reassuring to find another Brit who tells the 'talkers' to 'listen'.
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