Denmark’s racist cartoons
Published Feb 16, 2006 1:24 AM
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, [email protected] 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: “Govern ments
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.
their governments, media outlets such as the Western Standard in Canada’s
conservative Alberta province, where Big Oil rules, 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. An example of
this can be shown in a “correction” printed in the Feb. 10 New York
Times: “A Critic’s Notebook article ... referred incorrectly to the
reaction in Auckland, New Zealand. While there were protests after the cartoons
were published, imams there have not demanded executions or amputations for the
cartoonists and their publishers.”
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.
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