Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Non Haiti Round Up

Since I have been focusing on Haiti so much recently, I have ignored the other stories.


The big one in the eyes of the American media is the continuing and violent protests over cartoons depicting the prophet Muhammed in a Danish newspaper in September. Other papers in Europe reprinted them in an act of "free speech solidarity." While, of course, they have the right the cartoons were originially solicited to ask for conservative rural danes to express their views on Islam. All 13 cartoons received were published, as far as I can tell without any discussion of what they mean about Danish Representation of Islam rather than what they say about Islam itself.

The violence in the protests also seem absurd in comparison to the cartoons. Amy Goodman had two days of discussions on the topic (i think on February 6th and 7th), that I found pretty good. The analysis of the Angry Arab As'ad AbuKhalil and Raul Mahajan, each featured on a separate day with Amy Goodman. Though, to be honest, As'ad got pulled into a shouting match with Fox news favorite Irshad Manji.

Mahajan and AbuKhalil both argued that Syria, Iran, Egypt and Saudi Arabia were allowing arabs to blow off steam on an issue that was of little political significance to the ruling classes of these nations. While protest directed at the U.S. and Israel or at the corruption of Middle Eastern dictatorships could cause actual political upheavels.

AbuKhalil in this way trivializes the cartoon uproar "You have your outrages; and I have my own outrages... I choose to be outraged over this: "Aya was the second child killed by the Israeli army last week. Soldiers near Ramallah shot 13-year-old Munadel Abu Aaalia in the back as he walked along a road reserved for Jewish settlers with two friends. The army said the boys planned to throw rocks at Israeli cars, which the military defines as terrorism." Angry Arab also featured a post which says that CNN host Jack Kafferty referred to the cartoon crisis about the Prophet Elijah Mohammed.


The real big news was the video of British troops beating shoeless Iraqi teenagers after a crowd had thrown rocks at the soldiers base. The violence, while brutal and mindless, is not altogether surprising given the other evidence of torture and brutality. The real shocking thing about the video is that it shows how minor the skirmish that led to this violence was, and, moreover, the troops shooting the video were getting so sadistically excited about the beating that it was almost sexual. Furthermore, the video was shown around the unit and to Corporals in England before a whistleblower told the News of the World newspaper. The fact that he went to the press (rather than starting a courtmarshall proceeding) suggests that the whistleblower was of low rank. One just has to wonder what happens on the other side of the wall any time any Iraqi is dragged off the street that goes untaped.


Lastly, I had meant to return to my blog yesterday and point out that Cheney was the first sitting Vice-President since Aaron Burr, who shot and killed the secretary of the treasury Alexander Hamilton in a duel, to shoot a man. By now the Daily Show with John Stewart beat me to it.

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