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February 4, 2006
This week the US military in Europe has advised its members of possible violent demonstrations. Troops are urged to "remain vigilant to their surroundings and to move away from anything that looks like a protest or civil disobedience."
Such warnings are all too common here - similar cautions were issued during the French riots last Fall. This latest admonition is based on anticipation of possible response by Muslim communities throughout Europe to rumors that Danish right wing groups may stage a Koran burning in Copenhagen.
This is the latest turn of events initiated with the publication of cartoon depictions of the Prophet Mohammed in a Danish newspaper. For background Die Welt has a chronological (English-language) compilation of reports from the European media.
If your first reaction is to declare the while thing absurd, congratulations - you are sane. And condolences - you live in psychotic times.
Tens of thousands took to the streets in Gaza and the West Bank in some of the biggest Palestinian demonstrations in a decade. In Indonesia, the world's largest Muslim nation, anger boiled over as up to 300 hardline Islamist activists went on the rampage in the lobby of a Jakarta building housing the Danish embassy.But there are also voices of reason:
In Afghanistan, President Hamid Karzai said: "As much as we condemn this, we must have, as Muslims, the courage to forgive and to not make an issue of dispute between religions or cultures."Given the current noise level, that may be hard to hear.
Meanwhile, the European/World Left sees opportunity, and fans the flames:
The decision of the right-wing Danish government to defend the newspaper that initially published the cartoons, and of newspapers in Norway, France, Germany, Spain, Italy, Belgium, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Iceland and Hungary, both conservative and liberal, to reprint them has nothing to do with freedom of the press or the defense of secularism. Such claims make a mockery of these democratic principles.They are correct that it's not really about cartoons - and their support of repression over freedom is genuine. But they see themselves as the ultimate victor in a clash between two other factions, and therein lies their motivation. They might be surprised to discover most in the Islamic World consider them not at all, while others may find them little more than useful idiots - temporary allies at best. This blind spot can be attributed to the fact that this is exactly how the Left views view the Muslim population. Both ideologies are based on a presumption of ultimate world domination - one faction convinced the sweep of history is on their side, the other supported by the will of Allah.
Bear in mind the above reactions are to cartoons - any ill-advised Koran burning will be followed by escalation well beyond that. And US troops aren't the only ones who've been advised about it:
Yesterday one of the leading Christian Palestinian clerics in Gaza, Father Manuel Mussallam, said that "Mohamed is a high Arab personality".Note that Fatah and Islamic Jihad are cited as sources of the Koran burning story. The warning issued to US military personnel in Europe does not specify what press reports were used as basis for concern, but notes (rightly - given last year's Koran flushing stories) that mere allegations of such an event could spark violence.
DAMASCUS - Angry crowds stormed the buildings housing the Danish and Norwegian embassies in Damascus on Saturday, setting fire to both in protest over the publication of cartoons depicting the Prophet Mohammed, an AFP correspondent said.It should be noted that response from the European Muslim community has been relatively quiet thus far.
Let's ignore for the moment the miscalculating (and marginally significant) Left - the Islamic world sees them as part of the decadent West anyway - and encapsulate this "clash of civilizations" as it stands today. One group has a large percentage of members quite willing to die in large numbers to defend their faith. Their perceived opponents are perfectly capable of making this happen, but thus far reluctant to oblige. The tipping point comes when actions reduce that reluctance sufficiently to allow reaction. (Think 9/11 - and the results of that represent a very small percentage of the destructive ability of a modern superpower - because destruction was not the goal).
Thus far in this case the element of absurdity (westerners aren't going to war over cartoons) is prohibitive. No doubt most are hoping that as with the Newsweek-engineered "Koran flushing" outrage last year this tempest will ultimately recede, cool heads prevail, and an uneasy calm will be restored. This will most likely be the case (I certainly hope so) but while such a result may keep the peace for some undetermined period of time there is an element of civilized self deception involved. While those in the West may like to perceive such events as discrete flare ups, those on the "other side" most disposed to achieving that goal of dying for the cause view this very much as an ongoing conflict - and the next chapter will most likely not involve cartoons.
Until then, here's a second, and equally accurate description of the current state of affairs: They are perfectly willing to use cartoons to justify killing us, and we are incapable of believing it.
Update: More on the origin of the "cartoon wars" here -don't miss it.
Or this must-read from Jeff Goldstein.
Posted by Greyhawk / February 4, 2006 8:00 PM | Permalink
(See all of my Muhammad Cartoons posts here.) Muslim protesters target embassies over cartoonsFires set at Danish, Norwegian embassies in Syria DAMASCUS, Syria (CNN) -- Muslim demonstrators in Damascus, Syria, torched the Norwegian Embassy and the buil... Read More
November 26, 2010
I think anyone who's ever pondered the "comment" option - once only available on blogs and bulletin boards, now ubiquitous on almost any web site - will appreciate this:
The so-called faculty of writing is not so much a faculty of writing as it is a faculty of thinking. When a man says, "I have an idea but I can't express it"; that man hasn't an idea but merely a vague feeling. If a man has a feeling of that kind, and will sit down for a half an hour and persistently try to put into writing what he feels, the probabilities are at least 90 percent that he will either be able to record it, or else realize that he has no idea at all. In either case, he will do himself a benefit.
That's wisdom from the past, captured for posterity at the US Naval Institute, shared via the web on the institute's 137th anniversary.
From their about page:
"The Naval Institute has three core activities," among them, History and Preservation:
The Naval Institute also has recently introduced Americans at War, a living history of Americans at war in their own words and from their own experiences. These 90-second vignettes convey powerful stories of inspiration, pride, and patriotism.
Take a look at the collection, and you'll see it's not limited to accounts from those who served on ships at sea, members of the other branches are well-represented.
I'm fortunate to have met USNI's Mary Ripley, she's responsible for the institute's oral history program (and she's the daughter of the late John Ripley, whose story is told here). She also deserves much credit for their blog. ("We're not the Navy nor any government agency. Blog and comment freely.") We met at a milblog conference - Mary knew (and I would come to realize) that milbloggers are the 21st-century version of exactly what the US Naval Institute is all about. Once that light bulb came on in my head, I mentioned a vague idea for a project to her - milblogs as the 21st century oral history that they are.
"Put that in writing," she said (of course - see first paragraph above!) - and here's part of the result.
Shortly after the first tent was pitched by the American military in Iraq a wire was connected to a computer therein, and the internet was available to a generation of Americans at war - many of whom had grown up online. From that point on, at any given moment, somewhere in Iraq a Soldier, Sailor, Airman or Marine was at a keyboard sharing the events of his or her day with the folks back home. While most would simply fire off an email, others took advantage of the (then) relatively new online blogging platforms to post their thoughts and experiences for the entire world to see. The milblog was born - and from that moment to this stories detailing everything from the most mundane aspects of camp life to intense combat action (often described within hours of the event) have been available on the web...
And et cetera - but since you're reading this on a milblog, you probably knew that. And you know that milblogs aren't just blogs written by troops at war, that many friends, family members, and supporters likewise documented their story of America at war online in near-real time, as those stories developed.
The diversity in membership of that group is broad, the one thing we all have in common is the impulse to make sense of the seemingly senseless, and communicate the tale - for each of us that impulse was strong enough to overcome whatever barriers prevent the vast majority of people from doing the same. Everyone at some point has some vague idea they believe should be shared - we were the people who, from some combination of internal and external urging, found and spent those many half hours persistently trying to write it down.
But where will all that be in another 137 years? Or five or ten, for that matter. That's something I've asked myself since at least 2004 - when I wrote this:
Membership in the ghost battalion has grown in the years since, and an ever growing majority of those abandoned-but-still-standing sites are vanishing. Have you checked out Lt Smash's site lately? How about Sgt Hook's? If you're a long-time milblog reader you know the first widely-read milblog from Operation Iraq Freedom and the first widely-read milblog from Afghanistan are both gone from the web. If you're a relative newcomer to this world you may never even have heard of them - or the dozens upon dozens of others who carried forth the standard they set down.
If you have a vague notion that something should be done about that, (a notion I've heard expressed more than once...) then you and I and the good folks at the US Naval Institute are in agreement. Preserving the history documented by the milbloggers is just one of the goals of the milblog project, the once-vague idea that we're now making real.
And it's a big idea, if I say so myself - too big to explain in one simple blog post, so stand by for more. Likewise, it's too big a task to be accomplished by just one person. So if you're a milblogger (and exactly what is a milblogger? is a topic for much further discussion on its own) I'm asking for your help. All I'll really need is just a little bit (maybe just one or two of those half hours...) of your time, and your willingness to tell the tale.
We've already made history, it's time to save it.
(More to follow...)
The Mudville Gazette is the on-line voice of an American warrior and his wife who stands by him. They prefer to see peaceful change render force of arms unnecessary. Until that day they stand fast with those who struggle for freedom, strike for reason, and pray for a better tomorrow.
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