Tuesday, February 07, 2006

The Power of Symbols

To hell with hyperlinks. This dog remembers back to a conversation in 1969 or '70 with several Europeans who were bashing racism in the US of A. The dog's lack of patriotism takes second to no one's, but he had to laugh and tell them that the only reason Europe wasn't experiencing significant racial unrest was that the demographics weren't right for riots. Their minority populations were still too small to register on the political scene. The demographics have changed in some areas, especially major cities, and continue to do so. Racism, fear, prejudice and discrimination boldy strut through the land.

The keys to any multicultural society are tolerance, understanding, curiosity, fairness, justice, equality of opportunity, and they can be born of necessity--as in otherwise we'll tear each other apart--or of empathy, a desire to understand another person and their culture. That said, a person does not have to and, indeed, must not tolerate in their own or another culture, injustice, inequality and brutality toward individuals, women, children, and minorities. Although certain Christian evangelicals might like to forget it, Jesus threw the money lenders out of the temple--no turning the other cheek there.

Ignorant of racial politics--and often deeply prejudiced themselves--any number of Europeans mistake delivering racist insults with freedom of expression. Ooops, a dogian contradiction, a retreat from previous blogs---negative.

Anyone can deliver an ethnic insult, just like any one can cheat another out of money. It takes a decent human being to forego the cheap slur, no matter the provocation. The editors at Jyllands-Posten, who first published the Muhammad as terriorists cartoons in September, and the papers that followed suit in the ensuing months were, it appears, after publicity and money--or they were making a stand on principal for merde. Jyllands-Posten cannot plead not guilty to bigotry and racism, even if they arose from a total lack of self-awareness, since just 18-months earlier its editors refused to publish cartoons mocking Jesus's supposed resurrection on the grounds that they might offend some people, according to the Guardian. Uh. Duh.

The dog has argued in earlier blogs that the right to free expression is fundamental, and so it is, even when the expression is designed deliberately to offend. I don't approve it, and I don't condone it, but I won't censure it. Exposed to day, it can be dealt with--I hope. And what of the speech that does actual damage to people--the shout of "Fire" in a crowded theatre, when there is none, that causes a stampede resulting in death? That cry was intended to provoke an event that would produce death and injury in a captive audience, whereas there is no "captive audience" for the cartoons.

It is becoming increasingly clear that racist, xenophobic, religious fanatics on both sides are using the liberality of the enlightenment as a shield--Jyllands-Posten and other publications to conceal their ugly racism, the radical Islamists to launch their own pet racist projects and use them to oppress humans, dogs, you name it. The hypocrites are dictating events on both sides, and the chief hypocrite, the Bushbucker himself, is calling for an end to the violence.

Every age has its name; this one I dub the Age of Hypocrisy.

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