Saturday, February 11, 2006

A man of principle: Garth Turner

Conservative Garth Turner, on leadership, September 21, 2005:

Maybe I’m too simple, but it seems to me that once you pick a leader, you support that leader. It also strikes me the leader is but one aspect of a political party and what we all should be doing within that party. The political process is a deeper and bigger than one man, regardless of what the media tells you.

I agree. But does Garth Turner agree with what he once wrote? There is also this quote a day later:

So when I got home last night here was a note from Laureen Harper, Stephen’s wife, whom I have not met....

It was an honest and moving note, and spoke of the ups and downs of leadership, and the disappointment at seeing the infighting Canadians, and Conservatives, seem to be so good at. She was frank, refreshingly direct, and encouraging.

....We are a society in which success is rewarded with envious venom, and yet Canadians constantly bemoan the lack of strong leadership.

To become a leader in this country is to open up yourself to endless criticism, of the kind Harper is now receiving. It is hurtful and often destructive. Whether it is standing at the front of a public meeting letting your opponents rip away at you, or opening your Globe and Mail and reading about your shortcomings, leadership is hard. But as much as the leader endures, the family feels even more. This I have learned, and will not forget.

What do you think?

Russia's G8 begins

From Correspondent, Michael K, Tomsk Russia:

I do apologise for the clumsy links. My browser is not very responsive at the moment.

“It is this biased, unbalanced, unipolar world in which a handful of Anglo-Saxon nations have an inflated notion of their own importance in which Russia, as President of the G8 has the chance—and the obligation—to make its mark in 2006.”

Yes, that’s right, Russia, the model for justice and democracy is hosting the ‘Group of Eight’ this summer. Currently the finance ministers of the G8 are meeting in Moscow conducting talks in preparation to this summer’s conference held in St. Petersburg.

Since the announcement in 2002 that Russia would host the 2006 G8 summit many questions have been raised regarding the legitimacy of Russia taking an active role within the Group of Eight.

There has been talk of a possible suspension of Russia from the G8 over concerns with “selective prosecution of political opponents”, “suppression of free media” (Reporters Sans Frontiers rates Russia at 140th out of 167 for press freedom--this is a ranking only one notch up from the Democratic Republic of Congo), military abuses in Chechnya, and for selling military equipment and technology to both Syria and Iran.

But as of lately there have been few loud voices of contention. Russia’s dominance as an energy producer at this thirsty epoch has hushed governments’ opinions over the matter. Energy security is the topic of choice and Russia may not be one of the 8 in economic size but it’s resources give reason to boast. Russia controls the largest natural gas reserve, the 2nd largest coal reserve and lays claim to being the second largest exporter of crude.

Russia’s energy policies with Ukraine and Georgia, the former, which affected several EU countries, have spooked the EU with sudden realisations of its own energy dependence on Russia. Gazprom, a state controlled Russian company and the world’s largest gas producer currently supplies a quarter of Europe’s gas. With Europe’s need for reliable energy they are in a position to appease and not oppose Russia’s presidency of the current round of G8 talks.

‘The Foreign Policy Centre’ a centrist British think tank composed a scorecard for the G8 nations.

Scores from 1 to 5 are awarded for: openness and freedom of speech, political governance, rule of law, social capital, economic weight in the world, inflation, economic stability and solvency, unemployment, trade volume, level of protectionism, energy market conditions, and discernible stance on key international issues.

Perhaps not surprisingly, Russia did not score above a 3 -- "sporadic compliance with G8 norms" -- in any category.
In its "key findings" section, based on published sources ranging from the U.S. government-backed Freedom House to the World Bank and Russia's State Statistics Service, the report declared: "The size of Russia's economy does not merit its inclusion in the G8; Russia is neither politically nor economically free; Russia's presidency of the G8 is correspondingly anomalous; the other G8 nations must develop a concentrated policy to force Putin to live up to his international obligations."

In defence to any criticism of Russia leading summit talks, Pravda published this:

“The new role performed by the Russian Federation will allow this giant the chance to assume its rightful position as a major player on the world stage as regards both its external and internal policies.

Externally, the Kremlin can stress Russia's role as a defender of a multi-lateral approach to crisis management based upon the rule of law and not lies, deceit and blackmail and using the UN Security Council as the forum for dialogue, discussion and debate, not belligerence and bullying, the Bible and the bullet. While some nations have not thought twice about breaking international law, breaking the UN Charter and breaking the Geneva Conventions while carrying out the most shocking acts of butchery, Moscow, alongside Berlin, Paris, Brasilia, Beijing and others, has pressed for a world order based upon international law and respect for the terms of treaties, charters and conventions signed.

Russia can also take the opportunity to present its important reserves of oil and gas as a strategic asset for the future, upon which larger economies will rely.

Internally, Russia will benefit from the feel-good factor as its citizens see their country's resources controlled by Russians and not foreigners and see their country at the hub of international affairs, enjoying a status which had been missed since the heady days of the Soviet Union.” (

Granted, Pravda is not the most newsworthy source, but it fairly represents a large portion of Russian opinion.

In the coming months more will follow on Russia, its domestic and foreign policies and the upcoming G8 summit.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Curse of the Moderates: the Mohammad Cartoons

Charles Krauthammer on printing the Mohammad Cartoons: "The issue now is solidarity."

"The mob is trying to dictate to Western newspapers, indeed Western governments, what is a legitimate subject for discussion and caricature....The point is who decides what can be said and what can be drawn within the precincts of what we quaintly think of as the free world.

"The mob has turned this into a test case for freedom of speech in the West. The German, French and Italian newspapers that republished these cartoons did so not to inform but to defy -- to declare that they will not be intimidated by the mob.

"What is at issue is fear....The unspoken reason many newspapers do not want to republish is not sensitivity but simple fear. They know what happened to Theo van Gogh, who made a film about the Islamic treatment of women and got a knife through the chest with an Islamist manifesto attached."

Debating the David Emerson defection and banning MPs who switch parties

An articulate reader makes a very convincing case for Emerson to step down:

"What duty of good faith did David Emerson breach? .....

Clear indicators of the absence of good faith on the part of Emerson are:

(i) the timing (negotiations apparently started a few days after the election!);
(ii) the absence of major disagreements of principle with the party’s policies;
(iii) the absence of any proactive steps taken by Emerson to attempt to influence the policies of the party in order to reconcile his principles with such policy;
(iv) the stark contrast between his statements about the Tory policies while running for office as a Liberal candidate, and his speedy acceptance of the policies when elected;
(v) the agreement to accept a reward in the form of a Cabinet posting;
(vi) the absence of any discussions between Emerson and the Liberal party officials in his riding regarding his decision to switch parties.

David Emerson has no moral authority to represent his riding in Parliament, and should resign and seek re-election as a Tory."

I agree with the reader on one important point. It was likely morally wrong. It was dishonest, in some ways. Perhaps he should resign. The problem with resigning, though, is a matter of self-preservation. If MPs are not allowed the freedom to act in their own interests, they become ineffective as representatives and slaves to Party whips.

Thus, I do not think any law should be made banning party switching. How many people in the world are likely to give up job security for what your neighbours think about you? Not many. In many ways, acting benevolent runs contrary to self-preservation. The MP is thus put in a tricky spot: either he loses his job or sits quietly in a party he no longer wishes to be whipped by.

Like all matters of morality and law, there are laws that enforce morality (ie. murder) and morality that is not enforced (blasphemy). MPs switching sides, in my opinion, is best left to the public to decide in general elections, not a law dictating their freedom.

I favour the freedom of MPs. A law restricting the movement of MPs does not really "solve" anything but restrict the liberty of MPs to act as machines rather than personality.

  1. For example, some would ban MPs switching sides. This is because the people voted for an MP of a particular party. It would be dishonest if the MP changed his party affiliation.

    But if the MP's only freedom would be to sit as an independent, I don't see how that changes the above principle. People did not vote for an independent, but an MP with a party affiliation. Sitting as an independent, thus, is just as dishonest as if the MP were to switch parties.
  2. For an MP, then, with crossing the floor or sitting as an independent being dishonest with voters are left with two choices: resigning or sitting with the party that the MP was originally affiliated with. I will take up the latter option: staying in a party. This option must be rejected as a matter of principle.

    If MPs are forced to sit with a party, the leader of that party will exercise considerable control over MPs. MPs will become the voting machines for the party whips and leaders. In essence, a travesty of democracy - when the elite few decide for the rest of the party how to vote, only the interests of the few are truly important. I don't think it is neccessary to elaborate more on why this situation is undesirable and elitist.
  3. The final option is resigning. If MPs can't cross the floor, sit as independents, and can't stomach sitting with the party they were originally affiliated with, there seems to be only one option left: resign and run again.

    This is the most honourable and principled thing to do. But consider the factors into play here: if the MP can't cross the floor or sit as an independent, do you really think he wants to give up his job based on principle? Few do. Canadian history has shown the few politicians in recent memory are real principled through and through. My guess is that MPs would rather stick to the party they dispise rather than face the electors. How man MPs would risk their job for virtue? Not many.

    And the result of a disgruntled MP forced to vote with the party line out of fear of losing his/her job is bad for democracy and ultimately bad for constitutents. He cannot represent them if he lacks the freedom to represent them.
Thus, I am against laws restricting the liberty of MPs, no matter how immoral crossing the floor or sitting as an independent may be.

Garth Turner p.2

I am not the only one who thinks Turner has been digging himself into a grave, rather than Andrew Coyne's assessment that Turner has been sentenced for "for the crime of calling the Conservative party back to its senses."

Sage editor Ezra Levant has these wise words:

Back to reality, please. This is a showboat MP acting out -- someone who resents not being in cabinet, who expected that he would be. He knows that he can get as much airtime as a cabinet minister if he dishes his own party, all in the name of democracy.

I repeat, for the benefit of critics of the cabinet appointments, that there are legitimate criticisms to be made. But what Turner is doing -- at this early stage, in this showy manner -- is not genuine, constructive criticism. It is undermining; it is fomenting; it is splitting. There might be a time or an issue for such desperate measures. This is not it.


Is a showy, public venting of a disagreement more important the the resultant weakening of the party's ability to govern? Or is this just Turner scratching his own political itch for fawning press?

Well said. | NDP requests investigation into Emerson crossing

Oh brother:
"The NDP is asking the federal ethics commissioner to investigate MP David Emerson's decision to quit the Liberals in exchange for a Conservative cabinet post.

What next? Banning phone calls between MPs? Here is the relevant ethics code that MP Peter Julian quotes:
"When performing parliamentary duties and functions, a Member shall not act in any way to further his or her private interests or those of a member of the Member's family, or to improperly further another person's private interests."

I think it is pretty clear that any plain reading of this section of the Conflict of Interest Code refers to actions as an MP that would, say, increase the value of shares in a certain company by acting arbitrarily to do so.

I mean, a broad and general reading of the code, otherwise, might even ensnare someone like MP Garth Turner, who is acting in his best interests by speaking against the Tory leadership so that he doesn't get an office in the haunted basement in Parliament. I mean, why else air dirty laundry but to gather support for his causes?

Of course, this interpretation is clearly stupid. I suppose that is my point of the NDP request too; it is a stupid accusation based on an overly general reading of the text.

That said, it wouldn't surprise me if the Ethics Commissioner sided with Julian, given how aloof he acted in the Grewal-Dosanjh affair.

Garth Turner MP speaks out on Emerson

Conservative MP Garth Turner isn't happy about Emerson's move to the Tories. Some people are applauding Garth Turner's outspokenness. I am not. Stunts like Turner's, in the corporate world, will get you fired, or 'dooced.' And rightfully so. It is not the airing of a public greivance that I take issue with. It is Turner's lack of tact that is objectionable.

It is one thing to say "I dissent." It is quite another to tar a brush on the leader of your party by painting a martyr of yourself. Look at me, fighting for the people, and Harper's leadership will now sentence me to the Parliamentary underworld for life. Turner needs to get over himself. His cause is admirable on principle; his delivery is not.

Now, Turner is the news. "I think it is now safe to say my career options within the Conservative caucus are seriously limited." Well if it already wasn't limited before meeting with Harper, it is seriously in jeopardy now.

First rule of tact: keep your cards close to your chest. Turner, who may have held the moral high ground for merely acting principled, has clearly given it up by making himself a martyr, for no cause other than himself. Read the relevant post for yourself. Is using the media to talk about your boss and solve your own problems even remotely intelligent? You decide:
"Speaking of offices, after today I’m expecting the Whip will be assigning me a renovated washroom somewhere in a forgotten corner of a vermin-infested dank basement in Ottawa. That should go well with my seat in the House of Commons that will be visible only during lunar eclipses.

Uh-huh. That kind of a day. This one MP came face-to-face with the party machine in a series of unhappy meetings including one tonight with the prime minister. I think it is now safe to say my career options within the Conservative caucus are seriously limited. If you would like a course on how not to be popular in Ottawa, then take a seat." : Controversy dogs Emerson move : Controversy dogs Emerson move:
"Former Liberal David Emerson's defection to the Conservatives two weeks after last month's election continued to generate controversy Thursday, with at least one new caucus colleague saying he still thinks voters should have a say when a politician crosses the floor.

'I said during the campaign that I think anyone who crosses the floor ultimately should go back to the people for ratification and I stick by it,' Ontario Conservative Garth Turner told reporters in Ottawa."

What's done is done. I can't believe this is still making news headlines. Tories just need to go into hibernation mode while they still can. And of course this fellow Turner is killing his chances in the Party. You don't go around openly exploiting an open wound to the media. They thrive on it. The Liberals thrive on it.

If this Emerson controversy has done anything, it has pitted Tories against themselves - a bad thing. It was obviously a bad political move on Harper's part, no matter how good of a minister he is.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

The Dallas Morning News Blog

DallasMorning Views Blog: "A telling moment"

This really happened.

It's a day or two after the 9/11 attacks, and I find myself sitting in a room in Brooklyn talking with about eight young Arab adults. All are Arab Christians, and all are worried that they will be mistaken for Muslims by outraged Americans, and suffer physical assault in the anti-Muslim backlash everybody was sure was coming (but which, in the end, didn't, thank God). All these Arabs in front of me are telling me that they live in a predominantly Muslim part of Brooklyn, and their Muslim neighbors are great guys, just the best.

I ask them if these Muslim neighbors support terrorism. Well, yes, they say, and give examples of things they'd heard the Muslim neighbors say. But really, they insist, you have to realize that these are good people.

Later, I wrap up the interview, and tell them I will be sure to quote their defense of their Muslim neighbors, despite the fact that these neighbors have in the past voiced support for terrorism. Suddenly, the Arab Christians' eyes get wide, and they all insist that I can't quote them. Please, they say, don't do it. Why not? I ask.

Because they'll hurt us, they say. All agree that to publicly criticize anything about their Islamic neighbors would open them up to physical assault. The only one who agreed to be quoted was a Maronite who had fought in a sectarian militia prior to emigrating to the US -- and even he was nervous.

"That's really interesting," I say. "You've all been telling me that we have nothing to worry about from your Muslim neighbors, but you won't allow yourself to be quoted saying that in the same article in which you say you've heard them make remarks supporting terrorism -- because you are afraid you will be physically injured. What does that tell us?"


Mohammad Cartoons published 5 months ago in Egypt to a whimper

Those Danish Cartoons depicting Mohammad were re-printed 5 months ago in an Egyptian newspaper. Also see here.

You heard correctly, 5 months ago in an Arab country. No violence. No Danish or Norwegian flag burnings. No "Death to Europe" chants on the streets. No priest killed in Turkey.

....Which goes to show that these riots are a farce. A show. And the West has sopped it up and done nothing but appease the people putting on the show.

Postscript. The Egyptian blogger who posted the Egyptian newspaper scans comments:
If Denmark resigned to the war launched by Muslim Arabs to receive apology from the government of Denmark, I am sorry to say that Denmark will simply be saying we do not believe in what we stand for. Denmark will be sending the message that we apply freedom of expression but we do not really believe in it.

Denmark will be sending the message around the world that Arab citizens who are ruled by the one party, president for life regimes and state-owned press and writers are imposing their lack of freedom on the free world, hence the prevailance of the culture of oppression, tyranny and ideologies of hatred.

Censorship and judgement: on those Mohammad Cartoons

Eric Mink, commentary editor at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, explains in a column today:
"If a government controls what can and cannot be distributed, it’s called censorship. If a media outlet decides for itself what to include and exclude from its products — whether for journalistic or economic reasons, out of respect for possible sensitivities of some readers or concern about possible impact on its community — it’s called editorial judgment."

Wednesday, February 08, 2006 - Toronto lawyer wants to be Liberal leader - Toronto lawyer wants to be Liberal leader:
A relatively obscure Toronto lawyer has become the first declared candidate for the Liberal leadership.

Martha Hall Findlay threw her hat in the ring Wednesday, undaunted by the fact that much higher profile contenders have been dropping from the race like flies.

And which riding will she be running in? Last time she ran she was beat out by Belinda Stronach in the riding of Newmarket-Aurora. Perhaps her offer to be the Liberal leader is to challenge Ms Stronach to run for Liberal leadership.

The Conservatives weigh in on the cartoon affair

It has been a disappointing few days for Conservatives. First, the appointment of Harper's friend into the Senate. Now, Foreign Affairs Minister Peter McKay strikes out with this press release:
Foreign Affairs Minister Peter MacKay today issued the following statement:

“The publication of cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed has caused offence to Muslims and non-Muslims around the world and in Canada.

“Freedom of expression is a legally enshrined principle in Canada, but it must be exercised responsibly. We commend those Canadians who have acted appropriately.

“However, we condemn the violent protests that have occurred in some parts of the world, and find the attacks on foreign diplomatic missions particularly deplorable.

“This sensitive issue highlights the need for a better understanding of Islam and of Muslim communities. Respect for cultural diversity and freedom of religion is a fundamental principle in Canada. The Government of Canada will continue to promote a better understanding of Islam internationally, in partnership with Muslim communities.”

First of all, if Conservatives really want to know the pulse of their base, they should try tapping into the Canadian blogosphere. Coyne and Kinsella have been particularily harsh. Although I think it is particularily amusing to hear Warren Kinsella say that "There are some who I like, but who put partisanship ahead of common sense this week." Never thought, back in 2000, that I'd see the day. Small Dead Animals also has harsh words to say about those who rip Denmark and the free press. Don't forget Ezra Levant of the Western Standard either.

  1. "We commend those Canadians who have acted appropriately." And to those that have excercised their free speech? Reprimand? At least in Muslim countries, the cartoons are being shown by Muslims everywhere - unlike Canada. Otherwise, they are rioting over cartoons they have never seen.
  2. The Government of Canada will be promoting Islam? Imagine if McKay said the government would be promoting Christianity internationally? Clamour!
  3. "Respect for cultural diversity and freedom of religion is a fundamental principle in Canada" - Respect for cultural diversity is not a fundamental principle in Canada. Freedom of expression and freedom of religion are actually in the Charter. Nope, I can't find "cultural diversity."
Whoever Peter McKay has hired to be his Foreign Affairs advisors needs to be fired immediately. A little "advisor diversity" may have stopped this disaster of a press release before it was submitted to the public and the blogosphere for scorn.

The double standards of the press continue

Via Powerline:

Michelle Malkin notes that CNN has decided not to show the Mohammed cartoons that have been printed in several European and American newspapers "because the network believes its role is to cover the events surrounding the publication of the cartoons while not unnecessarily adding fuel to the controversy itself." Well, sure. That would explain why CNN didn't show the Abu Ghraib photos.

Actually, it did. And so did most other newspapers.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Muhammad Cartoon update

It takes guts to quit your job over principles.

A gut check is exactly what the New York Press Editorial staff has done today:

The editorial staff of the alternative weekly New York Press walked out today, en masse, after the paper's publishers backed down from printing the Danish cartoons that have become the center of a global free-speech fight.

Editor-in-Chief Harry Siegel emails, on behalf of the editorial staff:

New York Press, like so many other publications, has suborned its own professed principles. For all the talk of freedom of speech, only the New York Sun locally and two other papers nationally have mustered the minimal courage needed to print simple and not especially offensive editorial cartoons that have been used as a pretext for great and greatly menacing violence directed against journalists, cartoonists, humanitarian aid workers, diplomats and others who represent the basic values and obligations of Western civilization. Having been ordered at the 11th hour to pull the now-infamous Danish cartoons from an issue dedicated to them, the editorial group -- consisting of myself, managing editor Tim Marchman, arts editor Jonathan Leaf and one-man city hall bureau Azi Paybarah, chose instead to resign our positions.

We have no desire to be free speech martyrs, but it would have been nakedly hypocritical to avoid the same cartoons we'd criticized others for not running, cartoons that however absurdly have inspired arson, kidnapping and murder and forced cartoonists in at least two continents to go into hiding.

Mohammed cartoon row a case against religion?

Getting upset over....

Does the violent reaction to anti-muslim cartoons make Christopher Hitchens right?

For most of human history, religion and bigotry have been two sides of the same coin, and it still shows. - Hitchens, The case for mocking religion

Of course I find it rather ironic that for all his accusing religion Hitchens forgets that people putting together anti-muslim illustrations are not expressly religious which would suggest that bigotry, religion, and secularism are all going to be somewhere together on that coin of his.

Still, religious things do give a group of people something in their relation to another group of people to be upset about. Cartoonist Doug Marlette recounts his experience with religious groups:
I have outraged Christians by skewering Jerry Falwell, Catholics by needling the pope, and Jews by criticizing Israel. Those who rise up against the expression of ideas are strikingly similar. No one is less tolerant than those demanding tolerance. Despite differences of culture and creed, they all seem to share the notion that there is only one way of looking at things, their way. What I have learned from years of this is one of the great lessons of all the world's religions: we are all one in our humanness. - Marlette, I Was a Tool of Satan

That's a victory for secular humanism against religion.

But then we come back to Denmark, a country that the Spiegel's Jürgen Gottschlich says has Europe's most xenophobic government. There Danish voters, perceiving Muslim immigrants as social welfare freeloaders, elected a government to impose stricter immigration controls. This isn't religious bigotry, this is secular bigotry.

Jurgen goes on to consider the bankruptcy of secular values,
Instead of participating in a disingenuous battle for free speech, it is high time for some in Europe to return to the virtues of Enlightenment to help them find reason. The situation is difficult enough already and there are idiots on all sides. Indeed, neither is free of guilt.

The Telegraph's John Casey hasn't forgot history nor the culpability of the Enlightenment's nation states in today's violence.
Have we in the West become so historically ignorant that we forget how closely, within living memory, Christian attitudes to the sacred resembled those of Muslims? ... There is little doubt that only a generation ago the blasphemy laws would have been used against Jerry Springer, the Opera. They would certainly have been used against Gibbon had he not concealed his assault on Christianity in The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire under layers of irony.
The current political violence by Muslims can be traced to two quite clear events. The first was the fatal decision of President Sadat of Egypt to bring the Islamists into politics as a weapon against the Left. The second was the creation by the Americans of the Mujahideen to fight the Soviets in Afghanistan. This Frankenstein's monster has stalked the world ever since. - Casey, This is folly, not a clash of civilisations

Give Islam some time to evolve, says John Casey, accusing the badly drawn cartoons as inhibitors of progress.

But where are we going, Casey? That's the question progress poses. And that may only be a question that religion can answer, unless we start to claim that secularism actually has an eschatology other than that day when religions will exist no more. Because that would just be intolerant and bigotted.

Casey mentions Gibbon. To what end did he work? I know a little about Gibbon and his "irony". Joseph Levine in his Autonomy of History draws a number of similarities in his comparisons of Gibbon's historical method with that of Erasmus in his work The Autonomy of History. Erasmus came to similar conclusions as Gibbon (centuries before Gibbon) and was called blasphemous for chopping off the Johannine Comma and among others little work entitled The Praise of Folly.

And we know what end Erasmus worked for.

David Emerson fallout

Quick questions regarding the Emerson affair:

1) :: Should we hold a by-election every time an MP falls behind, in popular support, to another candidate?

2) :: Should we hold a by-election every time an MP votes against his party?

3) :: Should we hold a by-election every time an MP acts with his own judgment rather than what a survey indicates constituents want?

As much as I think the Emerson affair is a bad moral (it was dishonest) and political move (the public is spazzing), I am beginning to think that the whole affair is not as "undemocratic" as some people think.

Democracy requires the greatest flexibility for those in government. Otherwise, MP's are at the behest of party whips. People will have their democratic say during the next election, which will be soon, just as they did with Belinda Stronach. We don't live in a direct democracy people.

Spreading Ignorance

Matthew Good notes on his blog that the Jyllands-Posten refused to publish Jesus cartoons. Oh no, further proof that the Jyllands-Posten is anti-Muslim! Well, er, not so much.

Had he read the whole article in the Guardian, it would have been obvious that Juan Cole (the blogger where he got the story from) was only telling part of the story:

“But the Jyllands-Posten editor in question, Mr Kaiser, said that the case was “ridiculous to bring forward now. It has nothing to do with the Muhammad cartoons.

“In the Muhammad drawings case, we asked the illustrators to do it. I did not ask for these cartoons. That’s the difference,” he said.

“The illustrator thought his cartoons were funny. I did not think so. It would offend some readers, not much but some.”

Forgive me for appearing merciless at this slip up. I just think it goes to show that us humans look for evidence, if even partial, that confirms our beliefs. As one university professor once asked me, "did you come to university to challenge or confirm what you already believed?" I took it quite seriously then, and I take it quite seriously now. Even what I have posted on this blog, no doubt, often serves what I believe. But if I post the selective truth, I still like to be called on it. ie. Good one, you got me there.

To be fair, I think Mr. Good's previous comment on the situation, that, "at its core, this entire business revolves around the corruption of faith – faith in higher powers, in sublime ideas, and in our neighbours" is bang on.

The issue is a "corruption of faith" in many respects. I would go further and say it is even broader than an issue of faith deviation. It is an issue of ideas. I think the world over has boughten into the idea of adhering to our own ideas about things and coercing others to adhere to our ideas. That was Charlemagne's Christianity; it is, perhaps, still Mohammad's Islam in many countries; and it even exists in atheist states like China or Cuba, where adherence to the state's ideas about things are supreme.

It all reminds me of Jesus and the old Grand Inquisitor in Dostoyevsky's Grand Insquisitor. Culture craves “something that all would believe in and worship." The Inquisitor says, “they (man) have set up gods and challenged one another, ‘Put away your gods and come and worship ours, or we will kill you and your gods."'

But Jesus remained a prisoner in the story. When he was let out, he kissed the G.I. Dostoyevsky writes, "The kiss glows in his heart, but the old man adheres to his idea.”

Can the answer to this clash of civilizations merely be to opt out? To kiss the enemy? What would that mean? How could you go about achieving such an end?

UPDATE: To his credit, Good has fixed his post to accurately reflect the views of the Danish newspaper.

Muslim cartoon fallout:

Here is a roundup of what is currently happening around the world:

SPIEGEL Interview with Ayaan Hirsi Ali: 'Everyone Is Afraid to Criticize Islam':
"Ayaan Hirsi Ali, the Dutch politician forced to go into hiding after the murder of filmmaker Theo van Gogh, responds to the Danish cartoon scandal, arguing that if Europe doesn't stand up to extremists, a culture of self-censorship of criticism of Islam that pervades in Holland will spread in Europe."

Suspicious package found at the Danish embassy in Auckland, New Zealand:
A Defence Force bomb squad has been called to a downtown Auckland building, after Danish trade officials reported today that they had received a suspicious package.

Iranian paper runs Holocaust cartoon contest. Boy, they will be sadly disappointed if they think the West will throw a temper tantrum. The contest is shocking. But the response? Yawn.

Iran’s biggest-selling newspaper has chosen to tackle the West’s ideals of “freedom of expression” by launching a competition to find the 12 “best” cartoons about the Holocaust, the Associated French Press reported on Monday.

Farid Mortazavi, graphics editor for Tehran’s Hamshahri newspaper, said that the deliberately inflammatory contest would test out how committed Europeans were to the concept freedom of expression.

“The Western papers printed these sacrilegious cartoons on the pretext of freedom of expression, so let’s see if they mean what they say and also print these Holocaust cartoons,” he said.

While the Media wrestles with publishing the cartoons.....the National Post says this:

"On the question of can we run it, yes we can," Douglas Kelly, editor in chief of the National Post, wrote in an editorial last week. "The question is, should we run it? The depiction of this image in a newspaper is offensive to some readers and that is of concern."

How about some Western solidarity with those kicking around the Danes?

Meanwhile, Iran has cancelled trade with the Danes. But will the Danes cancel trade with Iran?

The BBC asks and answers
their own questions regarding the cartoons:

What are the issues raised by the cartoons?

In many European countries there is a strong sense of secular values being under fire from conservative Islamic traditions among immigrant communities. Many commentators see the cartoons as a response to this.

There are also issues of integration - how much should the host society compromise to accommodate immigrant populations, and how much should immigrants integrate into the society they are making home.

Some commentators have defended the cartoons, saying they address fault lines in changing European societies that need to be discussed more openly.

The BBC also interviews a fellow, literally, a visiting fellow at Oxford, is right and wrong:
Tariq Ramadan, visiting fellow at St Antony's College, Oxford, argued that Muslims had overreacted: "The idea that this is a clash of civilisations is to be driven by extremist views and emotional statements. The Muslim reaction is far too excessive and not the way forward."

I agree, Muslims are being "far too excessive" in their violence. I disagree with his assessment that this is not a clash of civilizations. I mean, what more clash do you want? A war between East and West? It is not an extremist view. Sure, we may briefly riot if they cancel Guns-'n'-Roses on us....but at the end of the day, Western culture does not throw violent hissy fits all over the world over an insult or offense. By the virtue of opposite reactions to similar problems do I conclude that there is indeed differences between Western values that amount to a clash from time to time. Is it so hard to believe?

Monday, February 06, 2006

See what havoc those Muslim cartoons are creating

Judging from the traffic we and other websites are getting, people really want to see those Muslim cartoons. You know, the ones Western newspapers aren't printing because they are afraid of provoking violence. The same ones who believe in freedom of expression.

The traffic suggests it also might be a good way to sell papers. - Harper debuts his team - Harper debuts his team:
Key members of the new cabinet
# Jim Flaherty, Finance
# Peter MacKay, Foreign Affairs
# David Emerson, Int'l Trade
# Tony Clement, Health
# Gordon O'Connor, Defence
# Vic Toews, Justice
# Rona Ambrose, Environment
# Stockwell Day, Public Safety
# Monte Solberg, Citizenship
# Maxime Bernier, Industry
# John Baird, Treasury Board
# Rob Nicholson, Democratic Reform"

Yup, that's right. David Emerson is staying on. He crossed the floor.

Telegraph | News | Cleric calls on Mohammed cartoonist to be executed

Telegraph : Cleric calls on Mohammed cartoonist to be executed:
"'We are not saying ourselves to go there and start to look to him and kill him, we are not talking about that. We are talking about Islamic rules. If anybody insults the prophet, he will have to take a punishment.'

He said if countries refused to put people on trial for insulting Mohammed they must 'face the consequences'."
And while Omar Bakri Mohammed is termed by the article as a radical Muslim cleric, the question that still persists in my mind is, wouldn't administering "a punishment" (nothing short of an execution (!!!)> to the cartoonist be the ultimate demonstration of Western tolerance?

Who would have thought?

Give David Suzuki some credit. He gets postmodernism, perhaps.

Now, I never minded being called an "environmentalist." In fact, I wore it as a badge of honour because it represented some of my core values. But the older I get, the more I realize that most people don't like being labeled. They don't like being typecast or pigeonholed. Labels are exclusionary by their very nature and they push people to their ideological corners, like boxers ready to come out for a fight.

The fact is, for every declared "environmentalist" there are 1,000 people who care profoundly about the environment. And there are another 10,000 who recognize almost intuitively that human health and well being is intimately connected to the world in which we live. As a leader and as a father, Stephen Harper, I am sure, recognizes this connection too. Polls show that the vast majority of Canadians certainly do.

The greatest environmental victories of the future will not be made by environmentalists, but by millions of concerned people taking small steps towards a common goal and ensuring that governments help us take those steps. These people have no labels. They may be Liberals, Conservatives, New Democrats, Bloc Québécois, Greens - it doesn't matter. They simply see that taking care of our environment means taking care of us. It makes sense for our health. It makes sense for our economy and it makes sense for our well being.

A panel discusses the Muslim cartoon situation. Watch the video here.

What is striking about this is what offends these Muslims who are protesting and these imams. Does the slaughter of innocent people in many parts of the world in the name of Allah offend them? Is that a sacrilege worthy of protest? No, not in the least. No, cartoons published five months ago in a -what- for people who live in Gaza and Damascus is an unknown and unheard-of newspaper--that's what's offending them.

Good points.

You know, in 2002, 15 Saudi schoolgirls burned to death when Saudi religious police wouldn't let them escape their building because they were not in hijab.

Waiting for my fellow Muslims to react to that kind of criminality with the same impassioned outrage they save for offensive newspaper cartoons has been rather like waiting for a desert-blown Godot. Our community leaders, as always, fail us.

New Zealand goes Freedom of Expression in the Muslim cartoons controversy

The Age: Ignorance is bliss:
"NZ Prime Minister Helen Clark yesterday described the cartoons’ publication as “gratuitous”.

“New Zealand press is free and politicians don’t say what the press can print and what it can’t. It is a question of judgement and I don’t think myself either the publication, nor the reaction to it, do anything to bring communities and faiths together here or around the world.”"

Yes, not talking will bring people together.

Oh no, cartoons! - Why has a cartoon turned into a crisis? - Why has a cartoon turned into a crisis?:
"This context shows there is a great deal of mutual ignorance. However, it does not prove any inherent incompatibility between Muslims and non-Muslims, as extremists on both sides would have us believe."

Oh no? There may not be any inherent incompatibility with Muslims and non-Muslims. But why such a one sided demand for respect from the West? I mean, wild anti-semetic cartoons are common in Arabia. Compatibility between people essentially boils down to mutual tolerance - something that isn't happening at the moment.

Whenever "mutual respect" is uttered in this context, it typically means respect from the West.

The violence just goes to show how unready some of these people are to be assimilated into the West. I mean, were the French riots this past year only the beginning?
Read the whole thing, :
The issue, though, is much larger than the question of how to balance press freedom with religious sensibilities; it goes to the heart of the conflict with radical Islam. The Islamists demand no less than absolute supremacy for their religion--and not only in the Muslim world but wherever Muslims may happen to reside. That's why they see no hypocrisy in their demand for "respect" for Islam while the simple display of a cross or a Star of David in Saudi Arabia is illegal. Infidels simply don't have the same rights.


"The support shown in the past few days by newspapers around Europe reprinting the cartoons is very welcome. But the vast majority of Europe's media didn't join the battle. And so in the end, it was too little, too late, coming just after the Danes were forced to 'confess.'

'Those who have won are dictatorships in the Middle East, in Saudi Arabia, where they cut criminals' hands and give women no rights,' Jyllands-Posten's editor in chief, Carsten Juste, told the AP.

But what really sealed the Danes' fate--and possibly Europe's--was the lack of solidarity from other governments. The European Union likes to call 'emergency meetings' for the most trivial topics, from farm subsidies to VAT rates. But when one of their smallest members came under attack for nothing else than being a European country, for defending the values and norms the EU is based on, there was nothing but silence from Europe's capitals. That silence has been heard and understood in the Muslim world."