Thursday, February 23, 2006

Debating the 'Cartoon Wars'

Here's a condensed version of a week-long debate in mid February over the Danish anti-Islamic cartoons and the protests against them.

It started with a few comments on the Workers World Party position, then turned into a debate between myself and a few Trotskyists, with a few other comments added in. The main substantive comments were left in in their entirity, while a few side issues and gratuitous comments were left out.

The entire thread is at the site Five asterisks ***** separate one persons comments from the next and, save for myself, most people sign their posts with 'handles' rather than their real names.

Carl Davidson


Starting Point

Workers World EDITORIAL
Denmark's racist cartoons
Published Feb 16, 2006

Text of Editorial

'Outrage continues throughout the world in response to the offensive, hate-mongering caricatures of the Muslim prophet Mohammad that were published first in the Danish publication Jyllands-Posten and later in newspapers around the world. Just between Feb. 9 and Feb. 14, protests were reported in Bangladesh, Canada, Kenya, Malaysia, Pakistan and Russia. A demonstration is scheduled for New York City on Feb. 17.

Throughout history, cartoons and illustrations have been used to demonize oppressed groups of people, from Jews in Nazi Germany to people of color-Native, Black, Latin@ and Asian-in the United States. Such depictions have simultaneously been a reflection of, and an attempt to justify, governmental policies of discrimination, exploitation and repression toward those people. And often the capitalist media joyfully assists.

In true form, reactionary government officials in imperialist countries have responded to the outcry surrounding the recent caricatures by whipping up even more animosity and hatred. Italy's Reform Minister Roberto Calderoli has produced t-shirts of the drawings; Reuters reports that leaders of his organization, the anti-immigrant Northern League party, 'say the cartoon violence shows the danger of allowing Muslim immigrants to settle in Italy.' In another article, Reuters paraphrased U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Europe Dan Fried, who said in Brussels on Feb. 14 'that the United States and Europe should respond to the row ... by intensifying efforts to nurture Middle East reform'-a euphemism for regime change.

Fried also told the press: 'Governments don't tell or shouldn't tell newspapers what to publish. In free societies newspapers work this out for themselves.' He seems to have so quickly forgotten the case of former New York Times reporter Judith Miller, who was spoon-fed fabrications to justify the war in Iraq by none other than Karl Rove, President Bush's chief political strategist.

Hand-in-hand with their governments, media outlets ... continue to unapologetically publish these images under the banner of 'free speech'-that is, freedom for the wealthy who control the capitalist media to put out whatever biased, racist, pro-imperialist propaganda suits their agenda...
The continuing protest over this injustice by Muslim followers and anti-racists is not just a response to the current images-it's a response to the collusion of imperialist governments with the media, time and time again, in seeking to legitimize oppression over resistance. What's clear is that more and more of the world isn't buying it.'

End Editorial

Add your comments


In Solidarity

The issues here are imperialism and capitalism, not religion or 'free speech.'

Not 'free speech' for two reasons. One, because when one considers it, the only significant political speech in the USA is reserved for the few who control or own large media. Two, the First Amendment is a restriction on state powers over personal political expression and not on groups of concerned private citizens and residents going out and expressing outrage over some outrage.

The events in Europe are definitely a reaction to the chauvinist racist demogogery of the ruling elites there trying to stir up the waters, to cover their war criminal terrorist crimes, both present and future (planned).

Although, I will not be out for your demo for various reasons, don't let anyone discourage you from acting. Of course we must go beyond mere symbolic demos and take the war to the criminals themselves, where they live and sleep. We must also set the stage for the replacement of both them and their racist criminal political and economic order. Earth is no longer large enough for the both of us. They must go.

Concerning your demo, way to go! Don't let anyone tell you different.


What Would You Have the Danes Do?

Carl Davidson

So what would you have the Danish and other Western governments do, WWP? Demand that they shut down the offending newspapers? Create a state-run censorship board for prior review of materials for hate speech? Put the editors on trial for publishing unpopular or hateful ideas and jail them if found guilty?

Be careful what you wish for. There's a slippery slope here that could trip up many newspaper publishers, including your own.

The First amendment, after all, wasn't insisted upon by early American radicals to protect popular or acceptable speech, which doesn't need much protecting. It's unpopular and unacceptable speech that needs protecting, and more often than not, that benefits the left more than the right.


oh yeah...

the burningman

1) Denmark has a state Lutheran church, paid for by everyone whether they believe it or now. They include Christian indoctrination in their public schools and have a cross on their national flag. Denmark is not fully secular.

2) They are an imperialist country that regularly denigrates the people they profit from. These cartoons do not mock religion as such, just the religion of those 'inferior' to the 'enlightened' Danes.

3) Denmark is currently helping with the colonization of two predominantly Muslim countries and has the most vicious anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim (as opposed to anti-religion) governments in Europe.

4) I'm sure Carl will be running the complete Amos and Andy, along with Howard Stern highlights. Free speech, dude.

5) The right-wing assholes who published those cartoons do not represent Denmark. They aren't the Danes anymore than George Bush is us.

I'm not surprised Carl returns to his usual mishmash of imperial chauvinism, half-hearted leftism and total myopia about what's actually being discussed. Not at all really. He equates the Palestinian right of return with the physical extermination of Jewish people. (Really.)


Why No Answer?

Carl Davidson

It's interesting, Burningman, that despite all the rhetoric, neither you nor anyone else answered my question -- what exactly would you have the Danish government do to the publishers of the cartoons? Put them on trial and jail them? Shut down their newspapers? Would you want similiar legal and/or administrative measures passed here?

The Danes as an imperialist power? I suppose so. They used to own the Virgin Islands, the Faroes and still take a hand in running Greenland, make a small contribution to NATO and are part of the ever-dwindling 'coalition of the willing' in Iraq.

But the Danish MLs, at a Maoist Red Youth summer camp I attended back in the 1970s, used to have a chant about prowess of their army. It went something like, 'What do our soldiers do? Keep the enemy soldiers laughing until real soldiers arrive!' I'm told it was very funny in Danish.

I'm as steadfast and determined an organizer against the Bush regime and the war in Iraq as anyone, BM, even if we disagree about what's possible or not in Israel/Palestine. No handwringing liberal in this corner.

Nor am I anti-religious. I don't care for the three religions of The Book, since I think the Story of Abraham and God's ordering him to kill his son, a point of faith that the three all hold in common, is the root of both fanaticism and blind submission to authority in our overlapping cultures.

But I am a student of Zen and The Way, and find much to admire in liberation theology and the contribution people like the Quakers made to the struggle against slavery. As Marx so poetically put it, religious belief was the sigh of the oppressed creature and the heart of a heartless world, as well as opium for the masses.

But mostly I also understand the value of consistent democracy and civil liberty, even if it means tilting in the direction of the liberatarians. We surrender these propositions to the right at great peril to ourselves, believe me.


Since you asked...

Hoipolloi Cassidy

'What exactly would you have the Danish government do to the publishers of the cartoons?'

The liberal-democratic (Lockean) theory of government holds that the Danish government should mediate among the competing interests of its constituents - and that the Jyllands-Posten, the newspaper that published the cartoons, has represented certain such interests, which it has. In fact, the Jyllands-Posten has represented the interests of Danish fascism, on and off, for almost a century. Because the swing votes in the Danish Parlement are held by the xenophobic far right, the J-P has been enboldened to exert tremendous pressure on the Danish Government to take repressive measures against middle-eastern immigrants and Danes of middle-eastern descent, of which the 'cartoon' episode is only one instance. Other such forms of pressure have included unsubstantiated accusations of terrorist plotting by muslims residing in Denmark.

Eventually, the representatives of Danish muslims, who were unable to stop the escalating provocations on their own, sought help among fellow Muslims, with the results that we all know, except that we seem less concerned with some results than with others. 'Cutting off the hands of the infidels?' Yadda, yadda, the real problem for the Danish government is the boycott of Danish goods throughout the Muslim World, and we're not talking Leggos, honey, we're talking of a huge dairy industry (mostly fake Feta, BTW) which had already projected losing 1,000 jobs within the first weeks of the boycott, and there's no end in sight. Kiss your cradle-to-grave social system good-bye, Bjorn. The irony here (or lack thereof), is that the Danes most likely to suffer from this are the fat farmers of Jutland, the ones who've been supporting the Far Right in Denmark anyhow.

Last I heard, the Danish Government was in negotiations with a couple of middle-eastern governments. Presumably the White Danes (as they style themselves) will offer to lay off the Other Danes, in exchange for which the Syrians and others will order everyone to buy Leggos. At this point, I don't think there's any chance of an agreement, because protests against the cartoons have become an outlet for a far wider, deeper resentment of Eurocentric high-handedness by muslims world-wide: you can order demonstrators into the street but you can't order them back home again that easily, especially not if they have reasons of their own.

Hope this answers your question.


Some points

rose of the prophet

- None of the posters supporting this call have yet to answer what the Danish government should do with newspapers they consider fascist or racist.

- Not only fascist and racist newspapers have 'unapologetically' republished the cartoons. You can download the entire cartoon page on the fascist and racist Wikipedia.

- The boycott of Danish goods, happening primarily in the gulf states, does not mean that a similar boycott over the occupations of Iraq and Palestine or the potential invasion of Iran could work in the same way.

- Death threats towards the cartoonists, including today's promise of a one million dollar death bounty from a Pakistani cleric, continue to spiral out of control.

- In Iran the Danish pastry has been renamed 'Roses of the Prophet' proving that Islamists and Neocons love danish pastries and french fries so much that they will convert them to their respective belief systems to continue eating them.

See The Cartoons For Yourself


What should Denmark do?

Leon Trotsky

The answer is so obvious that it illuminates the intellectual poverty of the fake-left chauvinists posing this question.

* Withdraw its troops from Iraq, stop aiding the US/UK 'war on terror', & pay reparations to its victims
* Grant full citizenship rights to all immigrants
* Eliminate Lutheranism as a state religion

Of course capitalist, imperialist Denmark will never do this, neither will any imperialist power. Only socialist revolution can solve humanity's burning crises.


Think this over, folks...

Carl Davidson

The Daily Illini, the student paper at the University of Illinois, also printed the cartoons. The staff later made an apology, but is that enough? Should this paper be shut down and its editors put on trial for hate speech and jailed if convicted too? Where do you really want to go with this, folks?


Revisionist Carl's Red Herrings

Leon Trotsky

Revisionist Carl Davidson, who substantially reflects the political orientation of the national-chauvinist clique that runs UFPJ, keeps throwing red herrings because he swallows the bourgeois propaganda that this is about 'free speech'. It's about imperialism, and the racist, chauvinist hate campaigns that are needed to sell imperialist wars to the public. The fact is that a minor college newspaper has joined in with it's big brother capitalist newspapers in a major campaign of racist propaganda against victims of imperialist war. And real socialists, unlike revisionists, say that muslims and their allies are right to demand that this hate propaganda campaign stop.


What if?

What if?

I find Workers' World to be offensive. They should self censor themselves and close shop.

While the cartoons may be distasteful, it is still free speech. I know, I know, 'should we let fascist publish their hate fueled papers?' Well, frankly, yes. But we should meet them with stiff resistance. Censorship of any sort is unjust. Now, I know how you folks at Workers' World have all the answer and that anyone who disagrees with you should be censored. And in your perfect world, your little vanguard would have your Committee for Proper Revolutionary Rhetoric and Speech so none of those 'anti-revolutionary' ideas get out there. But guess what. You don't. What if a fascist party took control of the U.S. (a real fascist party, not the republicans) and shut down Workers' World, you guys would be up in arms about how that is unjust. Well, the world is filled with many ideas and, while some are just downright shitty, whose right is it to say what can be said and what can't.

Another thing that really bothers me is that so many people here are standing up for the religious 'establishment'. While people are free to believe how they wish, it is irresponsible not to look at the ills of ALL organized religions. Pat Robertson calls for Hugo Chavez's assasination and everyone throws a tiff. Muslim clerics are calling for the death of the artists and people are fine with that? Religion has been a cause for death, war and inequality for centuries. To ignore that, or condone it for one religion and not the other, is ridiculous. I guess what I'm saying is, get rid of organized religion all together. The world would better without it.


More Artful Dodging...

Carl Davidson

Well, 'LeonT,' I would urge people to stop printing cartoons like this, too, if they asked my opinion. I would offer it even if they didn't ask.

I favor the deconstruction of stereotypes, especially chauvinist ones, as part of my spiritual practice of 'right speech,' 'deep listening,' and putting yourself in the other guy's shoes as a way of seeking liberation and spreading compassion.

You argue that:

'The answer is so obvious that it illuminates the intellectual poverty of the fake-left chauvinists posing this question.

* Withdraw its troops from Iraq, stop aiding the US/UK 'war on terror', & pay reparations to its victims

* Grant full citizenship rights to all immigrants

* Eliminate Lutheranism as a state religion

Of course capitalist, imperialist Denmark will never do this, neither will any imperialist power. Only socialist revolution can solve humanity's burning crises.'

But you dodge several points here. First, Denmark could do all these things and still be capitalist, your dogmas notwithstanding, and some publisher there could still publish nasty cartoons. Second, chauvinist cartoons could even be published under socialism, even a socialism that you would approve of, I suppose.

(But be careful here. Doing away with any 'state religion' as a demand may get you in trouble with some of your new allies, who may find it offensive.)

So call it a 'Red Herring' or whatever else you prefer, but you're still dodging or begging the question.

You're for 'demanding' that the state of Denmark 'stop' this, but you are apparantly too shamefaced about how YOU would handle matters like this to spell out exactly what you would have THEM do to the publishers, editors, cartoonists and their newspapers, not only in Denmark, but around the world by now.

And please, don't tell us only socialist revolution can cure nasty cartoons -- unless you plan on spreading a real wave of laughter across cyberspace.

But if you want to implement some real internationalism, I wouldn't worry so much about Danish imperialism, and instead urge getting a batch of American people who have yet to protest the U.S. war in Iraq to go to their first demo on March 18, when there will be a new wave of nationwide actions.

And finally, 'revisionist' doesn't bother me at all. These days it's a sign that you still know how to think, rather than parrot holy writ. Just stick 'neo-Bukharinite' in front of it to identify my particular flavor of revisionism.


Revisionist Carl Davidson Doesn't Get It

Leon Trotsky

There he goes again, falling for and promoting the bourgeois propaganda line that this is about 'free speech' or 'censorship'. It's about imperialism.

* If Denmark, the USA, and the other European powes weren't carrying out genocidal wars of conquest and occupation against the world's oppressed people, many of whom are muslims, then these racist cartoons would not generate the massive protests.

* But if these countries weren't imperialist, the capitalist press wouldn't print the cartoons in the first press, because the function of the capitalist press is to justify the crimes of imperialism, usually using racism and other divisive ideologies.

If real socialists, unlike your chauvinist fake socialists were in charge of Denmark, we would withdraw all Danish troops from the 'war on terror' and pay reparations to the victims of Danish imperialism. This, along with the expropriation and workers control of Danish industry, would eliminate the material basis for racist cartoons in Jyllands-Posten. And most likely the workers would not choose to fund the publication of a racist, anti-worker rag. Now that would be the beginning of real 'freedom of speech', something which under capitalism is only a hypocritical slogan.


Davidson burns Leon T.


I am just reading these comments and the below struck me as funny.

Carl Davidson says in reference to 'Leon Trotsky',

And please, don't tell us only socialist revolution can cure nasty cartoons -- unless you plan on spreading a real wave of laughter across cyberspace.


I rest my case...

Carl Davidson

Sigh....Well, 'LeonT', I think I'll just rest my case.

You've shown you can regurgitate the holy writ reasonably well, but your critical thinking skills leave a bit to be desired. Your screed hasn't changed a whit since, say, the 5th Congress of the Comintern back in the 1920s.

So your solution is a socialist Denmark, Trotskyist style of course, where the 'material base' of nasty cartoon making will wither away, and there will be no need to suppress the workers from expressing nasty thoughts, since they won't have any, at least any that won't be swept away by outbursts of pure proletarian solidarity that will past all tests of political correctness unrestrained. Of course, there are always us lingering petit-bougeois elements, and we can be 'dealt with' by the worker's state.

Of course, you still don't spell out how nasty cartoonists, petty bourgeois of course, might be dealt with, by the workers state or any other, so we're back to square one.

Truth be told, I don't think you really have a position on all this. All you really have is a puffed-up militant posture.

Nothing new here. We've been there and seen that, so to speak, and I seriously doubt if you'll find many takers, even among, say, West Virginia miners or Pittsburgh steelworkers, where I come from. And certainly not very many among the cyberradical denizens of the internet.


Don't Waste Your Time Anymore Carl

Let it Go

I think you are arguing with people - one, or perhaps two people that are just trying to piss people off.

I think you agree that the cartoons are bad, and must be looked at in context.

Anyone who can't agree that free expression and an independent media is a necessary predicate to a free society is a moron, and anyone who thinks that free expression should be trumped by the tenents of Islam because of the fact that people from predominantly Muslim contries have gotten the shit end of the stick forthe last 100 or so years is not thinking, or is not being honest with themselves.

It took a long time for this principle to work in the West, like more than 1900 years. So, whn the pope died, and the new pope took over, and commentators in both mainstream and alternative media demonsized the old pope and the new pope in words and with satirical cartoons, catholics, did not gather by the tens of thousands and attack embassies and buildings. I am not saying that catholics are 'better' than Muslims, but that the principle of free speech is embedded in the West to the point that nearly all catholics understand that they cannot engage in violent activity over even mean spirited attacks on their religious leader in media.

I am sure that in about 5 seconds, I will be labled a racist facsist imperialist petty bouegious etc. . . in a contentless post that ends with 'go and die now.'

The bottom line Carl, based on my conversations with people outside of the anon internet world, I am sure that most people in and out of progressive circles side with you on this issue.


So it's freedom of expression in the West?


Okay, so why aren't all the European papers publishing nazi images in solidarity with papers and groups in Germany or Austria that are charged for displaying nazi images, which is a crime in Germany and Austria? What about other European nations that have 'hate crime' legislation making such images or nazi-like speech criminal? There are plenty of European countries that have laws against CERTAIN types of speech and images considered hateful or 'inciting' hatred. Do any of you here, who are insisting the issue is merely 'the right to offend', feel that IMC should publish nazi images and racist cartoons to show solidarity with those in Europe imprisoned for using such images?

The idea that this is a matter of 'Western respect for freedom of speech and to offend' is b.s., because no such thing actually exists. There is censorship and there are laws governing many forms of speech and ideas, but just like the governments, some of you prefer to pick and choose what is protected and when.

There is a much deeper context involved here, but it continues to be ignored because the more simplistic notion that it's about 'free speech' and 'religious fanatics' makes it much easier for some people to hold myopic views.


And how about some other 'censored' speech?


How about all the people who protested the 'Dixie Chicks' for their remarks about Bush? How many conservatives held such deep respect for freedom of expression and freedom to offend when it was THEIR beloved president/religious leader who was the subject of ridicule? And what of Peter Arnet's statements which resulted in Freepers launching an online attack against him for speaking on Iraqi television, and he subsequently lost his job over the very limited campaign to smear him?

Angry Christians and rightwingers boycot and denounce free speech all the time and feel that the offending parties should be held accountable by loosing their right to earn a living. And, obviously, many on the left take actions to target offending persons or corporations through boycotts and protests. So we all feel that, when it's OUR sensibilities that are offended, it's perfectly acceptable to protest speech. We very frequently feel that editors or others in decision-making positions should be held accountable when they choose to carry out actions or speech we oppose. When you seek to use negative publicity and actions to adversely affect someone as punishment for their choices about speech, you can claim you aren't trying to 'censor' them, but in fact you ARE and more to the point you are attempting to send a message that anyone else who dares engage in similar offensiveness will be likewise targeted, so the end result is an attempt to limit future speech through intimidation. How can anyone fail to recognize and admit this is true?

In this instance, it was several MONTHS before Muslims finally took to the streets in protest, after months of attempting to have their grievances addressed through negotiation etc. And the protests REALLY took off only after a large number of other European papers responded to Muslim anger by once AGAIN publishing the same offensive images.

People have a right to publish offensive images, YES, that is not in question. The question isn't whether one has the RIGHT to do so, but whether it is RIGHT to do so. And, just as the papers have freedom of speech to publish, Muslims or anyone else have the right to freedom of expression through protest. That some protests resulted in property damage, as do many protests here in the U.S. or in Europe or elsewhere, is true but does nothing to negate the issue of whether Muslims are correct in assuming that the publication of the images was offensive and indeed INTENTIONALLY offensive. Or whether it was part of a broader climate of religious hatred and oppression directed against Muslims. And as far as the property damage and violence of the protests, keep in mind that for the first week or so, all the people being KILLED during the protests were PROTESTERS, killed by police or soldiers. Now, there are claims that bullets from protesters resulted in several deaths, but police were also present and engaging in gunfire at those places and the only source saying it was protesters' bullets are sources in the POLICE.

In the event, attempts to censor offending speech by using protests and intimidation has a long history in Europe and the U.S., it happens almost daily here, so the repeated comments posted here about respect for 'freedom of speech and freedom to offend' are a bit disingenuous, at best.


Are we for death warrants for nasty cartoonists?

Carl Davidson

If it were just protests, even militant ones, they could be responded to positively -- dialog, negotiation, learning from each other. But yesterday, we had an Imam putting a price on $1 million on the head of the Danish cartoonist, for anyone who would purge him from the earth. We're back to Salman Rushdie, but on a wider scale. Puts things in a different light, I'd say.


Carl Davidson makes this a 'free speech' issue

Not a Member of the Fake Left

It is not. Rather it is a political empowerment issue. For decades the racist coprorate media have been villifying the Arabs, Muslims and 'peoples of the east' while western armies have invaded and occupied their lands, murdered them in masse and stolen and exploited the resources on and under the lands in which they have lived for millenia. Also eastern peoples (the 'wogs' as British racists used to refer to them) are discriminated against and oppressed when they immigrate to western countries. These demos are a reaction to that and as such fall within the rubric of political expression (and speech).

Also it is unacceptable that posts taking Carl Davidson to task for his racism concerning the Palestinian people (apologizing for zionist ethnic cleansing) are removed from New York Indymedia, undoubtedly at his urging.
The sheer hyprocrisy of that is only matched by New York Indymedia's complicity in such shameful acts. It is a insult to all New York Indymedia readers (they are intelligent enough to decide for themselves the merits of such postings) and an abridgemnt of the the 'free expression' rights of the posters.


More foolishness...

Carl Davidson

I have long opposed Zionism and its ethnic cleansing and supported self-determination for Palestine, and need make no apologies to anyone, except for not doing more, which applies to many of us.

Perhaps perhaps my views or activities regarding Israel/Palestine are not to your satisfaction or in your variation, but that's another matter. Readers who what to see the debate in question, with 'burningman,' can go to and read it for themselves and make up their own minds.

If any posts here or anywhere critical of me were trashed or put in the hidden bin, it was entirely without my knowledge. I have never tried to censor any critiques of me, whether serious or otherwise. If fact, I'd love to see them and respond, if appropriate.

I understand the conflict between oppressor and oppressed, and how these conditions fuel these incidents.

But I also understand fascist and theocratic demagogy, and that there are forces on both sides of the global divide that want to egg on a 'war of civilizations' that serves neither the interests of people in the Islamic world nor those anywhere else.

A few on the left here, unfortunately, cannot or will not. But greater numbers every day in the Islamic world do not want to see the self-defamation of their faith by reactionary zealots, as well as by imperialism and backward-thinking, short-sighted cartoonists. Unfortunately, they will not have the cheerleaders here of the zealots elsewhere on their side.

And when $1 million 'death warrant' price is put on the head of cartoonists for their execution, however nasty or misguided, I'd say, yes, this is certain a matter of free speech, and we surrender to the demagogues at our peril. The kindest thing I can say about your denial here is that it's foolish.

You want to fight ethnic cleansing? We've plenty of it right here at home, in the struggles of the native Americans. Go and take up their battles for land, water, mineral and other rights to their 'white' neighbors.

As for the conflict between imperialism and the Islamic world, if you really want to do something useful, bring new batches of ordinary Americans who are critical of this war but have yet to take an action, especially among vets, soldiers and their families, to the next round of antiwar actions March 18 demanding 'Out Now'. That's the test of real internationalism today, not posturing over the cartoon wars.


Where to draw the line

Leon Trotsky

Will you stand with oppressed people when they resist the racist propaganda used to justify their oppression?

Or will you attack them, pretending that you are only defending the right of imperialist corporate monopolies to 'speak' war propaganda with impunity?

The fake left is showing its true colors: the bloody banner of national chauvinism.


With the oppressed? Or with the Zealots?

Carl Davidson

Where to draw the line, indeed, 'LeonT?'

Standing with the oppressed?

Who are you standing with in Nigeria? The oppressed Muslims burning the churches of oppressed Black Christians and murdering them to protest the cartoons? Or the oppressed Black Christians defending and counter-attacking?

How long do you want this slaughter, that you've become a cheerleader for, to go on? How much more blood of the oppressed, of whatever religious beliefs, do you want to see spilled?

Now they're again debating whether to confine the women to the burka and the house again in Afghanistan. Your oppressed anti-cartoon zealots are on one side, and the oppressed of the oppressed, the women and girls, are on the other. Who are you standing with there?

The problem for you is one of setting aside some idiotic and dogmatic formulas and slogans, and instead begin learning to actually think critically and affirm some radical and democratic values, and growing some compassion for all those truly suffering in this turmoil. It's not, after all, the families of Europeans grieving for their dead in these clashes, and if it does come to slaughter in the capitals of Europe, what follows then?

In principles or values are beyond you, 'LeonT,' look at it in purely practical terms. When this ends, and it will, who will come out ahead? Will there by greater solidarity between the masses of the Islamic world and non-Islamic peoples, in the third world or in the West? Go out in the streets of your city and talk to ordinary people. Are they gaining respect and understanding of other peoples and faiths? Or are we being pushed backward? Most Muslims I know, whatever they thought of the cartoons, think this is an utter disaster for the standing of their faith in the eyes of the world, and more are calling for an end to it. Do you stand with them?

But in one round-about way, I would guess that you really don't give a damn about that prospect; you're just interested in third world masses rising up against symbols of the West, and fanning the flames, under whatever leadership, with whatver politics. If Islam becomes more divided and hated around the world, you really don't care. In a way, that's a stand far more contemptuous of the Islamic faith than anything some Danish cartoonists came up with.

As I said before, if you want to stand with the oppressed where it counts, get some new folks out to the upcoming 'out now' demos, and work on defeating Bush and the war, and preventing wider war on Iran. Set aside this cartoon diversion, a spectacle creating and sustained by reactionaries on both sides of it, and do something serious instead.


And There We Have It

When Harry Met Sally

By the last posting Carl, one gets the impression that your heart is not in this. Maybe its a time for a [long] rest... perhaps at that 'radical summer camp' to which you have referred?


Both Sides Are SHIT!


'Set aside this cartoon diversion, a spectacle creating and sustained by reactionaries on both sides of it, and do something serious instead.'

It's indeed a strange feeling to find myself in agreement with Carl...but he is ABSOLUTELY CORRECT on this one!

Both sides are SHIT and the idea that we 'must choose' between them is simply disgusting.

I will only add that even if you can only do 'something unserious', that would STILL be better than getting embroiled in a SQUABBLE AMONG REACTIONARIES.


Revisionist Racist Carl's Cheap Debating Tricks

Leon Trotsky

Popular resistance does not spring fully ideologized from the pages of 'What Is To Be Done' and the Communist Manifesto. It begins in partial, incohate, and self-contradictory forms. The capitalist media is exaggerating and caricaturing the righteous resistance of muslims to its own exaggerated, racist caricatures. And Carl, who cares most for the free speech of racist millionaires, joins right in with them and smears all anti-racists and anti-imperialists with the same brush.

The position and demands of the fake left keep changing, although they orbit erratically around the refusal to solidarize with the resistance of the oppressed. What should Denmark to? What about 'free speech' (for racist millionaires)? What if the resistance against racism is violent, and isn't precisely directed as we would do it (if we weren't abstaining from the struggle because we value the 'free speech' of racist millionaires above all else)?

The position of the revolutionaries is clear: Oppressed people have a right to resist. Denmark & all imperialists out of the middle east & hands off the world. Open the borders and give full citizenship rights to all immigrants. Stop the racist demonization of oppressed people. Workers and oppressed peoples of the world, unite!


ya but

the thing is

Yeah but the thing is muslims already have their own ideology and morals and view of the ideal state. They don't want liberalism, they don't want communism and they certainly don't want anarchy.

It's one thing if it's just some random people rioting. Fine, they aren't going to have some grand theoritical narrative guiding them.

But muslims, by definition, already have their own ideology, and it is in complete contradiction to any 'leftist' ideologies. It's not like you are going to pass out a leftwing pamphlet to them and suddenly they are going to turn leftist.


unfurl your banner


Is the 'partial, incohate, and self-contradictory' rage of white nationalists in the u.s. anti-imperialist? Many of these men and women come from the poorest sections of the country. Is their rage anti-imperialist because it is directed against global power systems even if they are perceived to be under the control of shadowy non-aryan forces? Are they potential revolutionaries after we, the vanguard, educate them in true internationalism? How about those Christian fundamentalists who come from poverty? Is their rage against the godless corporate media and companies that support abortion potentially revolutionary? Or the mobs of Nigerian christians who just murdered six muslims and burned their mosques over the past weekend? Are these victims of western oppression anti-imperialists?

The old internationalist left is in serious need of troops so they adopt the same trick they use at marches where two internationalists run up to the front of the crowd and unfurl their banner to give the illusion that a sea of internationalists is marching with them down the street. They are doing the same thing with the mobs of religious intolerance. You'd think the internationalists would fare better in latin america with Chavez, Morales, etc. but those countries don't want the old red banners speaking for them either. The new left of latin america is engaged in domestic struggles that have global implications not the other way around.


Again with the Islam-Bashing

Leon Trotsky

Muslims in general are as set in their ways ideologically as believers in any other religion -- that is, not much. If you say the left can't reach out to them in solidarity, then there is really no hope. Thankfully, you're wrong.


'Cheap Tricks'? What a Hoot...

Carl Davidson

Whenever I hear 'cheap debating tricks' as a rejoinder, I figure I've won the argument.

Whenever I hear 'free speech for racist millionaires' (or 'equal rights for bourgeois women like Jackie Kennedy,' -- Bob Avakian used that one against me when we were debating the Equal Rights Amendment back in the 1970s -- he opposed it, I supported it), I know the accuser doesn't understand anything about consistent democracy for the working class or anyone else, and is clutching at straws.

And you, 'LeonT', still can't answer a simple question: If you were a Danish communist, at a mass meeting of Danish printers and newspapers workers, what would you have them specifically demand that their government do to these cartoonists and the publications concerned, besides more general matters like getting the Danish troops out of Iraq?

As I said, you don't have a position. You have a posture, one of a cheerleader that you think is going to win friends for you in the Islamic world. Genuine progressives among Muslims will see through your rhetoric, while the theocrats will see you as a foolish but useful infidel.

If you really want to help Muslims, work on the 'Out Now ' demos March 18. Bring some new faces. If you have time left over, organize a meeting in your neighborhood of opened-minded Jews, Christian, Muslims and secular humanists for a joint discussion as to how they can promote tolerance and mutual understanding in the midst of this reactionary spectacle.

That would be real internationalism and anti-chauvinism, not your silly leftish posturing.


Answer the question

Reader of this thread

'And you, 'LeonT', still can't answer a simple question: If you were a Danish communist, at a mass meeting of Danish printers and newspapers workers, what would you have them specifically demand that their government do to these cartoonists and the publications concerned, besides more general matters like getting the Danish troops out of Iraq?'

Leon T,

I have been reading this thread and am a non-affiliated leftist. I don't know Carl Davidson or yourself, but I think Davidson has a point, which is WHAT WOULD YOU DO IN THIS SITUATION? Please respond.


Answer the question

Reader of this thread

On line it is very easy for people to make big claims, personally attack others and act differently than they would if they had to actually face up to what they write.

So I am just asking for a little accountability here. Leon T. answer the question, what would you do if hypothetically speaking, the CP had control over a country and a paper released those racist cartoons?

Simple question, lets see what Leon T has up his/her sleeve.


Bravo Carl

Nice Job

It is refreshing to see insight and honest analysis. LeonT and the idiot who posts flames under various idiotic tags such as 'The Only Good Imperialist is a Dead Imperialist' 'Scab Busters' 'Working for a Scab Free World' 'Viva La Falluja' etc. . . are really revealed for what they are here - dead wrong and deadly wrong.

I tend to disagree with you Carl, on many issues, but you couldn't be any more on the money on this one.


Carl and his ilk are a waste of time

Its Time to Say Sayonara

They are what happens to a thing after the vultures have flown in and the last bits of flesh lie hanging from the bones.

Carl's postings are neither inciteful or intelligent, they are pathetic.


Veiled Threats?


'are really revealed for what they are here - dead wrong and deadly wrong.'

Save us the fawning. Carl's remarks are neither incitefully or particulary intelligent. For decades people like Carl have been spewing out by rote the same unimaginative musings and pronouncements that have taken anyone fool enough to believe them nowhere. By accident or design? It little matters.
Its time to give Carl and his ilk the credit that they deserve... pay them no heed. Its time to move on and develop strategies that will actually lead to something. Read more!

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