Saturday, February 04, 2006

Cartoon Wars

I've been following the recent furor over cartoons with an air of disbelief. I'm surprised that on both sides of the Atlantic, something so inane could generate so much controversy. There are 2 sets of cartoons that have created a huge row both inside the US and Europe.

Lets start with the US. This cartoon, from the Washington Post, has a LOT of people very upset. Including the all of the Chiefs of Staff of the military services.

The Army Chief of Staff was particularly blunt, saying something to the effect of that he probably would have used even stronger language to describe his feelings about the cartoon.

Toles responded to Editor and Publisher Journal and was quoted as saying:

Reached by E&P, Tom Toles said, "no comment." But he told Kurtz he did not regret what he drew. The Toles cartoon shows a soldier, a quadruple amputee, in a hospital, being visited by a Dr. Rumsfeld who is scribbling on a form. Rumsfeld says, "I am listing yourcondition as battle hardened." At the bottom a smaller figure of the doctor adds, "I'm prescribing that you be stretched thin. We don't define that as torture."

Talking to Kurtz, Toles cited recent remarks by Rumsfeld about "battle-hardened" troops and "what came soon to mind was the catastrophic level of injuries the Army and members of the armed services have sustained . . .Ithought my portrayal of it was a fair depiction of the reality of the situation. I certainly never intended it to be in any way a personal attack on, or a derogatory comment on, the service or sacrifice of American soldiers."

As for the Joint Chiefs' letter, he said: "I think it's a little bit unfair in their reading of the cartoon to imply that is what it's about."

The letter, signed by Gen. Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs, Admiral Edmund P. Giambastini, Jr., the vice-chairman, and the four other military branch leaders -- and addressed to the Post's managing editor, Philip Bennett -- reveals that they were "extremely disappointed" in the Toles cartoon."Using the likeness of a service member who has lost his arms and legs in war as the central theme of a cartoon is beyond tasteless," they wrote.

They observed that the paper is "obviously free to address any topic," even use exaggeration. But they added: "While you or some of your readers may not agree with the war or its conduct, we believe you owe the men and women and their families who so selflessly serve our country the decency to not make light of their tremendous physical sacrifices."

Now when I read the cartoon I focused on the front of the bed and the caricature of Rumsfeld. And those two parts make a good point which is being backed up by current events, namely that the Army and by collorary the rest of the Armed Forces are being "strained" by repeated deployments. Rumsfeld has repeatedly denied that and he did use the term battle hardened:

The cartoon was a reference to comments made by Rumsfeld at a Jan. 25 Pentagon news briefing in a discussion about whether the Iraq war has stretched U.S. ground forces too thin.

In the briefing, Rumsfeld insisted the force is not broken and is capable of functioning in a very effective way.

In addition, he said, the force is battle-hardened it is not a peacetime force that has been in barracks or garrisons.

Toles was clearly out of line with his choice of imagery. I really believe he could have gotten his point across, about how Rummy can't add, without using something so obviously gruesome and unfair. Especially if you have ever seen someone who has had to go through recovery from an amputation. So IMHO the JCS are right to object. In Tole's poor choice of drawing he has, in the end, negated the impact of his real message, a very real concern that is held by more than a few people, that force structure cuts in the middle of a war are just plain wrong.

Toles should apologize and soon. So should the Washington Post.

The other cartoon controversy is more puzzling, however I believe is actually pointing up the real heart of the struggle that is going on in the world today: Islam is an apostate religion that is holding back progress of its adherents. Either it needs to go or they do. I vote for Islam to go...soon. I'm sick to death of hearing Islam described as a religion of peace. It's not. Its a faith that is the result of a historical accident. The influence of that historical accident is all out of proportion to what it should be.

What started it was publishing of these cartoons in a Danish paper.

These are pretty benign if you ask me. Hell I've seen worse cartoons making fun of Europeans. So why are people so worked up to print signs like this:

Odell over at Hemlock sums up why these people need to get a life:

OK let's have some pictures round here! This Muslim guy recently wrote to the SCMP complaining that the paper had called some place a mecca for wine lovers. It was offensive of course. Guy probably reads the paper every day looking for something to be offended by. Is he reading this??? Cos you've come to the right place. Your religion is a freakin pain in
the ass (and I'm a Mormon so it's not like I don't know what I'm talking about).

So the big news story today is about Muslims having a cow because of
cartoons in a Danish newspaper featuring the prophet Mohamed So what happens? Hilarious! Tons of other newspapers print the SAME CARTOONS just to make a point about free speech. Should've just kept their mouths shut right? Mormons get a LOT of criticism and insults, especially from fundamentalists who claim we're not really Christian and of course from people who get pissed about all the proselytizing and about the weird shit but do we have hissie fits about being offended? Do we threaten violence, bombs and shit? Nope. If your religion's so pathetic that you can't handle a cartoon, get a new religion.

That sums it up pretty well.

Drawing picutres of Mohammed is considered to be blasphemy, or so the Muslims say. Well, last time I checked, blowing up innocent people with car bombs is not exactly a way to score points with God either. Want the cartoons to stop? Then get off your Islamic ass and get your co-religionists to stop planting bombs all around. Islam is the one point every terrorist group from Morocco to the Philippines have in common. That is a hard fact for many European Muslims to accept. But they need to if they hope to understand why westerners such as myself don't like them so much.

And while we are on the subject, as I have pointed out before, its up to the Muslims living in Europe to assimilate into the European culture, not have Europe make accomodations for them. If they don't like that, go back to any one of 15+ countries where there are more Mosques than cathedrals. Oops, I forgot, these Islamic individuals left those countries because you wanted to make more money! Well there is a trade off involved folks so just get used to it.

Maybe Piglet sums it up best:

These Muslims are also welcome to have coffee with Tim Blair:

As more European newspapers reprinted the cartoons, what started off as a row between Denmark's press and its Muslim population has grown into a full-blown clash of civilisations. - from a Newspaper.

Tim Blair's response- "No; that would require two civilisations. "

Look! Here comes Tim with your (halal) coffee now!

That's all for now. I'm going to go read something fun, like Calvin and Hobbes! They are only cartoons for God's sake............



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