Okay, it isn't possible not to discuss the "Danish cartoon flap." It's simply too important. My position is simple, that the cartoons are banal, pretty tame, and for the most part, not funny. The paper had the right to run them, and yes, Muslims had a right to be offended by some of them. Had they taken non-violent action against the paper, or even its advertisers, I could have no question with this. I couldn't have supported it, but would have accepted it as their right -- I've boycotted a few things in my life that offended me.
But once they started pressuring the Danish government, and once they started threatening violence, the situation changed. At that point it became necessary to support the publication, and to republish the cartoons. (I'd link to them here, but they are too generally available.)
But what I find fascinating is some of the side facts. The heroism of the Jordanian editor who published them, and King Abdullah's criticism of the protestors. The cowardice of so many important news media in American and Europe in not showing them. The fact that the worst of the cartoons were forgeries apparently created by Muslims to stir things up -- the pig, pedophilia, and dog cartoons. (I'm going to have a long piece on Muslim paranoia and double standards sometime in the next couple of days.)
But one result of this has been to give me a new hero. Her name -- yes, her, for me the word 'hero' like 'actor' and 'doctor' comes with neither gender nor genitalia attached -- is Ayaan Hirsi Ali. A few months ago Mukhtar Mai was being called the 'bravest woman in the world' for her fight to have her rapists and the Pakistani village council that ordered the rape prosecuted. She deserves the honor, yes, but she should share it with Ayaan Hirsi Ali.
Some of you may know of her. More of you should. Many of you remember the killing of Theo VanGogh for directing the short film "Submission" about the treatment of women in Islam. Ms. Hirsi Ali wrote the film, has written a second one about the treatment of gays in Islam, and is writing a third in which Allah features as a main character.
She is a woman who was born in Somalia, grew up in Saudi Arabia and Kenya, was a pious Muslim, but who 'defected' to the West, or to Western culture after she had been 'married' (an arranged marriage) to a Canadian Somali cousin she had never met. She left the plane they were on in Germany and sought asylum in the Netherlands. She was, then, still a pious Muslim, but as she began to work with Muslim women and saw the position they had been placed in, she rethought her beliefs. She has since become an MP in the Netherlands, despite the death threats she has received for her apostasy and for her films. (The killer of Van Gogh left a letter pinned to the corpse's chest with a knife. It was addressed to her.)
She has been speaking out consistently about Islam, its intolerance, and its treatment of women, and she has been a major speaker in Europe against the reaction to the cartoons. Sadly, though she was profiled in the NYTimes magazine she is not well-known in America. The link above is to her website -- the English version, and I would suggest that anyone interested in the subject do a google on her and read some of the entries, particularly the NYTimes Magazine article -- I was going to post a link, but I'm still learning how to use this new toy called a blog. You might also read the IslamOnLine comments as a comparison. (It's fascinating how sure they are that she knows little about Islam, and how much she in fact does.)
I'd thank the site that told me about her, but I was looking at so many sites yesterday that I am not sure whose it was. I think it was Andrew Sullivan's. If so, thanks. If it wasn't thanx to whoever it was, and thanx to Mr. Sullivan for a great site anyway -- I'm nowheres near as conservative as he is, but I respect him nonetheless.