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Dilemmas for Progressives I: Cartoons of Muhammad

02/02/2006 09:42 pm 21:42:41 | Updated May 25, 2011

Ok, I'm sure most of you are aware of this, but here's the nutshell: "a Danish newspaper that had inspired a huge outcry in the Islamic world by publishing" cartoons of the prophet Muhammad that put him in "an unflattering light" has just been supported by other European papers that republished the cartoons in order to express free-speech defiant solidarity with that Danish paper, which came under various threats of violent retaliation (remember Rushdie's fatwa?) and actual retaliation in the form of an instantaneous and successful mass populist boycott of Danish products in various Muslim countries.

I'm quoting from the story in today's NYTimes, a piece by Alan Cowell.

My question is: where do American progressives stand on this? In one way, we have looked to Europe as an ally against Bush and all he stands for in Iraq and the "War on Terror," right? Haven't we felt supported every step of the way by European countries condemning those policies? Hasn't there been a sort of agreement about Bush, that primitive cowboy, the Europeans agree with us and we with them, about that, us enlightened ones together? But don't we also conveniently forget that, for example, France won't let Muslim school girls go to school with head scarves? That's just one example of actual European responses to Islam that don't quite fit with our multicultural version of what "progressive" means. Are we busy avoiding that whole side of this issue? For good tactical reasons, of course.

So, without going on and on analyzing the dilemma, let me sum it up with this way; will progressive American publications republish those cartoons? If they do, how will they explain it? If they don't, how will they explain it?