"Patriotism is the willingness to kill and be killed for trivial reasons." Bertrand Russell

Sunday, February 12, 2006


(last post on this topic)

Lenin has a go at explaining what I had found to be a logical brick wall. Not because I didn't think there was a truth in the matter, but because I couldn't put my thoughts into a convincing argument, without going off on tangents.

"Okay, I said I would do this and I'm doing it. This is by no means a rounded case, as I'm too tired for that. I notice that some of the commenters on the Muhammad cartoons business take the position, as anti-racists, that this cannot be a manifestation of racism because Muslims are a religion, not a race. I assume that this involves an implicit purview that there are things called 'races' and that the problem with the racist is that they valorise that, distribute the 'races' in polygenic hierarchies in order to discriminate against and dominate them. Whereas the anti-racists commenting here would presumably say that there is no inherent value in being from one 'race' or another. I want to argue a different case entirely.

Firstly, I want to suggest why these cartoons are racist. The depictions of Muhammed as a glowering, hook-nosed Oriental beardie with untold malice in his eyes is straight out of the lexicon of antisemitism. Jud Suss is the kind of image I'm thinking of here. Second, the depiction of Muhammed as a terrorist in fact suggests that Muslims are terrorists, or at the very least followers of a terrorist. One cartoonist deliberately transcribed a passage from the Quran and embossed it on the bomb that Muhammed supposedly wears in his hat. This is a not-too-subtle message that Islam is essentially about terrorism. In this view, the only acceptable Muslims are those who recant, repent and convert. The other thing to consider is that most Muslims are non-white: from the Middle East, South Asia or Africa.

Some people have suggested that the issue is one of piety and sacredness. If that is the case, how come thousands of images of the Prophet, easily available on Google, have not generated this level of anger?

Some have suggested that the images can't be racist, because Islam is not a race. Nor, for that matter, is Judaism but it did not prevent the old psyklon B from being applied. In fact, there is not a coherent biological entity that corresponds to the notion of 'race'. Human variation does not work in this way: there are not polygenic hierarchies of human families based on originary communities and different biological marks vary in distribution in different ways - tooth length, nose form, haemoglobin S etc. Hence, race is always a fictive discursive practise rather than a real account of human beings. "Muslim" is constructed as a race, just as "Irish" and "Jew" were (and still are by some).

Some people have suggested that those protesting are being manipulated, which reduces Muslims to a passive substrate to be operated on by evildoers. It denies the possibility that Muslims are genuinely offended by racism.

Now, it seems to me that if I am right and these pictures are racist, then we might want to consider what the point of publishing them is. Jyllands-Posten, the number one Danish newspaper and a right-wing rag with a history of supporting fascism to boot, has refused to publish much milder pictures of Jesus Christ in the past. It has just announced it will not be publishing the antisemitic cartoons that are being solicited by some Iranian newspapers. So, what's the difference here? Well, racist imagery and vilification of this sort is used to justify discrimination, and - in the last analysis - violence. It was not accidental that the BNP spread racist lies about Asian gangs prior to the Oldham riots, any more than it was accidental what the European fascists said about the Jews in the 1930s. The very genesis of modern, dominative racism is to be found in the Atlantic slave trade and the development of colonialism, which - because it emerged coterminously with an ideology of free labour - had to be justified on the basis that black people were an inferior 'race' of people. As Chomsky once said, when you've got your boot on someone's neck you don't say you're doing it for profit - you say it's for their own good, they need this treatment, and so on.

If you wanted to bomb Iran, invade Syria, continue to massacres in Iraq, demonise the 'enemy within' in a way that diverts people from their real problems, what better alibi could you have than a popular perception that Muslims are terrorists, that it is essential to their being and so on?

That's it. I'll let those who want to respond do so and come back in the morning."

For counter arguments follow the link: Media Lens Message board

Have a look at Lenin's Blog too: Lenin's Tomb

"Craig Murray's Book Banned By Foreign Office"