Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Our Cartoons and Theirs

The decision by Islamists to publish a variety of anti-semitic cartoons, notably the Anne Frank raped by Hitler item, and the Iranian anti-semitic cartoon competition illustrates their confusion and helps us dissipate our own.

1) It is entirely their business what they publish in Iran. We may find it ugly, vicious and indicative of future danger, but that’s it.

2) The Anne Frank cartoon is shocking, and deeply offensive to any Holocaust survivors and relatives of Holocaust victims, but it isn’t inciting hatred and doesn’t deny the Holocaust. Muslim and other exponents of tastelessness should be free to publish and be damned in our eyes.

3) No major western paper would print such a cartoon (except to discuss it) because it would be a very poor reflection on its readers to assume they would wish to see it in a normal context.

4) What this comes down to, in the context of the caricatures of Mohammed, is that there are European majority sensitivities and the sensitivities of our Muslim minority. Neither can dictate to the other – in Europe, at least. Perhaps we can accommodate each other, but that’s likely to be a long process and should be mutual.

5) Denial of Genocide is a very different and more complicated matter. There are laws about it in Europe because we Europeans see such a denial of our own history as leading people into danger, like deliberately distracting people from looking both ways before they cross a road. We know the truck is there, and we know the harm it has done.

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