Saturday, March 04, 2006

12 Angry 'Men'

On Friday, Andrew Sullivan wrote about how the daughter of one of the Mohammad cartoonists was threatened by twelve Muslim men at her school. He used this as an occasion to note that "fascism is alive and well in Europe" (still no mention of the neo-fascist British National Party's enthusiastic support of the Danish cartoons on his blog, though).

Today, Sullivan was good enough to issue a correction because the story was bogus. The twelve Muslim men were actually a half-dozen 6th-grade girls (budding members of the shot put team, I suppose?) and their "attack" will presumably not require the cartoonist's daughter to go into hiding as Sullivan claimed on Friday.

In today's post, Sullivan says that Jens Rohde, the source of the false rumor and spokesman for the Danish prime minister, "has retracted [the allegation]." Let's listen to Mr. Rohde retract that statement:
Jyllands-Posten: Aren't you guilty of misinforming in the Mohammad-case, just like the imams have been accused of doing?

Jens Rohde: Now I'm being compared to the imams? Honestly, I'm not making this up. But seen in the light of hindsight I shouldn't have taken that meeting and stood up for the cartoonist and the members of Danish Union of Journalists, if they think it's so terrible now.
Truly heartfelt, no? It is worth noting that the ruling "Liberal" Party in Denmark is a right-of-center party with a history of exploiting anti-Muslim prejudice in Denmark (details here) and the prime minister played a part in kicking the cartoon crisis up to the next level by ignoring diplomatic protocol and refusing out of hand to meet with 11 Muslim diplomats to discuss the issue back in early October of 2005 (details here).

Full marks to Sullivan for running his correction, but I still can't help thinking he really wishes the story were true to bolster his "creeping fascism in Europe" theory. He's right to say that threats of violence against the cartoonists are unacceptable, and the fact that they have received over 100 death threats is disgusting. Divide that by 12 (the number of cartoonists), however, and you still don't get as many death threats as the dozen Martin Scorsese got for The Last Temptation of Christ. He was forced to attend the premiere accompanied by four bodyguards. Was fascism alive and well in America in 1988?

He'd never say that for a couple of reasons: first, he is comfortable with American society; second, he is comfortable with Christianity. Not so with Islam, which he naturally views as somewhat more alien. What Sullivan doesn't know about Islam could fill a book—and has filled a bunch of them, most of which are available at the local library. Perhaps he should check a few of them out.
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