Outraged at the news, again. Sigh.
OK, I was writing a nice post about Lincoln, but the news this morning was so annoying I thought I would spread my annoyance around. This will make the upcoming weekend all the more pleasant in comparison, since I don’t usually post on weekends. See how I look out for my readers? Yes, this rant is for their own good.
Moving right along, yes, the lady and the teddy bear case continues to make far larger headlines than it warrants. She was convicted of insulting Islam (but cleared of more serious charges) and sentenced to 15 days in jail and deportation. OK, fair enough, she avoids the lash but a sop was thrown to the orthodox Muslims. Unfortunately, some of them weren’t happy with the verdict, and there have now been demonstrations in the Sudan calling for her to be executed. Lovely, just lovely.
My problem here is that a demonstration by hundreds of extremists is given front page news, but statements by Muslim groups with memberships in the tens of thousands condemning the verdict as ridiculously out of proportion to the offence…get short shrift. So people who basically only keep up with the headlines will get the impression that Muslims are all violent extremists. Again, lovely, just lovely. It’s as if all people were ever saw about Christianity in the headlines was stuff like the Westboro Baptist Church or Jim Jones.
While in this case I do believe this to be an innocent cultural misunderstanding on the part of a good natured but possibly somewhat naive teacher, incidents of this kind are not always so innocent. Many of the newspapers who published the insulting images of Mohammad a few years back were basically Nazi rags trying to stir up trouble. The point is that there are powerful people who want to demonize Islam for their own purposes, and one should always look at whose fingers are in the pie when stuff like this happens. That many in the west now believe that all Muslims are medieval terrorists because of their religion…shows just how effective propaganda really is.
It wouldn’t surprise me now if there was more fallout from this. Muslim extremists everywhere can get excited about this sort of thing, and the supercilious judgemental western press just adds fat to the fire. Heck, here’s a chance for the Pope to get back into the news by making some backhanded slam at Islam. He hasn’t managed to get any headlines lately.
Moving right along, I am also annoyed by some legal cases in the news…and Bush’s weird attempt to sign a permanent treaty with Iraq without actually calling it a treaty so that Congress doesn’t have to approve it. The legal stuff deserves a post of its own, since lawyers are second only to global warming as an existential threat to humanity. OK, I exaggerate, but still, some stuff in the legal system in the US now is pretty strange. How did we get to the point where the rich are legally entitled to make obscene profits, and society has to provide it if they don’t?
However, back to Bush. Yes, he and the Maliki government of Iraq have signed a long term agreement to provide the Iraqi government with 50,000 soldiers to protect them from their own people, permanently. Well, it’s on a piece of paper, but no one has actually signed it. And it’s not a “treaty” it’s a “set of principles.” Some of us aren’t fooled, this is bullshit. An agreement with a foreign government to permanently station troops in their country is a treaty no matter what one calls it. That the Bush administration is trying to make a blatant end run around both Congress and the will of the US people shows just how little Bush really stands for freedom and democracy.
And as I often state, legitimate governments don’t need foreign troops to keep them in power, so for all practical purposes now we are admitting that Iraq is an occupied country like the old Soviet occupied Eastern Europe. The Eastern European communist regimes all called themselves democratic states too, that apparently is what one calls an occupied country with a quisling government these days. While we are not as bad as the Soviets in that we are not trying to force some sort of ideology down their throats, the fact is the plan to occupy Iraq forever is because American oil and weapons companies stand to make so damn much money in Iraq that the numbers are incomprehensible. With this kind of wealth sniffing at the Bush family’s door, it isn’t a surprise that they will resort to any subterfuge to keep the USA in Iraq.
Will America go on to democratize central Asia and the Middle East, and coincidentally enough control the lion’s share of the world’s energy and mineral resources for decades or centuries to come? Or will the Russians and Chinese be gleefully picking up the pieces after the US effort self immolates itself with deficit spending and blowback? We’ve already made China, Iran, and Russia vastly richer and more powerful than they dared dream even a decade ago…so it’s not looking good. Stay tuned and have a great weekend everyone.
(The above image of few Muslim men embarrassing their faith is a low resolution grey scale copy of the original work and is claimed as Fair Use under US copyright law. It is not being used for profit and is central to illustrating the post. Credit: AFP)