Consider this story from yesterday’s News 24 (Hat tip: reader MR):
An Italian magazine close to the influential Catholic conservative Opus Dei group has published a cartoon showing the Prophet Muhammad in hell, sparking outrage among Muslim associations in Italy.
The drawing is published in the March issue of Studi Cattolici.
According to the Italian news agency Ansa, the cartoon shows the Italian poets Dante Alighieri and Virgil on the edge of a circle of flames looking down on Muhammad, whose body is cut in half.
“Isn’t that Muhammad?” Virgil is shown asking Dante.
“Yes, and he’s cut in two because he has brought division to society,” replies Dante.
Well, Studi Cattolici is showing more of the requisite manly equipment than Comedy Central, isn’t it? Maybe this is Italian journalism’s equivalent of Fabrizzio Quattrochi.
The story continues:
Studi Cattolici editor Cesare Cavalleri said: “I hope the publication of this drawing won’t lead to attacks, because if that happened it would only prove the idiotic positions of Islamic extremists.
“Sometimes a politically incorrect satirical cartoon can do some good. It’s only a reference to a passage in (Dante’s) Divine Comedy.
“In any case, Muhammad was sent to hell by Dante.”
Just for the record, some of us think there may have been an additional influence at work in the consignment of the Prophet (pbuh) to the Inferno. But let that ride.
Now the usual suspects have to be trotted out to condemn insensitivity, inflammatory actions, racism, etc.
The cartoon drew immediate fire from Italy’s Muslim community.
Roberto Piccardo, an official of the union of Italian Muslim communities, said: “With all the efforts made in the Christian and Muslim world for inter-faith dialogue, there are nevertheless always minorities that inflame things and cause provocations.”
Have you noticed that the spokesmen for western Islamic organizations generally have less ethnically-sensitive surnames — Hooper, for example, and now Piccardo — than the people they represent? Do the organizations pick them for their bland monikers, or does Walid Abu Husseini al-Masri get a name change to go with his appointment?
And now the Bureau of Unlikely Juxtapositions brings you a second Easter egg, summarized in this AP story:
Teheran has trained suicide bombers to attack British and American targets if Iran’s nuclear sites are attacked, a newspaper reported Sunday.
The main force — the Special Unit of Martyr Seekers in the Revolutionary Guards — was first seen in Iran last month when members marched in a military parade, dressed in uniforms with explosive packs around their waists and detonators held high, The Sunday Times said.
Dr Hassan Abbasi, head of Iran’s Center for Doctrinal Strategic Studies in the Revolutionary Guards, said 29 Western targets had been identified.
“We are ready to attack American and British sensitive points, if they attack Iran’s nuclear facilities,” The Sunday Times quoted Abbasi as saying in a tape recording of a speech the paper said it had obtained. He said some sites were “quite close” to Iran’s border with Iraq.
Abbasi warned the would-be martyrs to “pay close attention to wily England” and vowed that “Britain’s demise is on our agenda,” The Sunday Times reported.
The paper quoted unidentified Iranian officials as saying 40,000 Iranian suicide bombers have been trained and are ready for action.
Why do I get the feeling that “interfaith dialogue” is not going to be of much help to defuse the crisis in Iran?
But, of course:
Iran insists it is interested only in the peaceful use of nuclear power, but the United States and other nations suspect it wants to develop arms and are demanding a halt to enrichment activities.
Now, the New York Times and NPR may believe the above. NPR never mentions the Iranian uranium program without saying, in that sneering skeptical tone it always uses when it quotes the Bush administration, “The United States charges that Iran is enriching uranium in order to build nuclear weapons.” As if NPR had nothing to do with the United States. As if they found all those checks from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting in a dumpster, and hated to see them go to waste. As if they broadcast from a tiny planet up in the clouds, looking down impartially on “both sides”.
But the public record is as full of evidence of Iran’s intentions as the Völkischer Beobachter was of Hitler’s.
After all, nutter-in-chief Mahmoud Ahmadinejad recently called Israel a “rotten, dried tree” that will be destroyed by “one storm.”
And, as the dhimmi news networks have hastened to point out, this was his moderate stance: last year he said Israel should be “wiped off the map.” Do you think the Israelis are reassured?
These two Easter Eggs — the blasphemous Italian cartoon and the 40,000 willing Iranian shahids — fit together as pieces in the strategic jigsaw puzzle of the Great Islamic Jihad. Anticipate a round of carefully-choreographed mob responses to the Italian cartoon. Embassies, consulates, cultural centers, and so on — the usual targets — torched and roughed-up in order to send messages to certain European members of the Security Council, or to put a little extra sparkle into British or Dutch elections.
Then the 40,000 shahids get dispatched to do their work all over the place, at oil terminals and pipelines, stock exchanges, tourist hotels, etc. All designed to inflict severe economic suffering, and, above all, drive up the price of oil.
In fact, the repeated threat to use them should be enough to make the requisite knees quake.
So on the one hand we have the Europeans, cowering in their lace-trimmed camisoles while Abdul and Mahmud torch their cars and buildings.
On the other hand we have a boatload of American politicians facing re-election in 2006 or 2008, absolutely terrified of the idea that voters might be paying $4 or $6 or $8 a gallon for gas when then time comes for them to start punching chads.
These joint Iranian operations are part of a strategic whole, designed to drive the nuke issue to the UN Security Council, where it will languish in discussions and negotiations while envoys shuttle back and forth and ambassadors consult with their governments and everybody does the jaw-jaw through as many election cycles as possible. “Grave concern” alternating with “constructive dialogue” will become the order of the day, indefinitely.
My dyspeptic and pessimistic opinion is that even John Bolton can’t do a thing about it. His government has decided that the UN is the way to go, and we all know that the Russians and the Chinese, at the very least, will never allow anything to happen that comes within radar range of resolute action.
Which means that the Iranian issue will not be seriously addressed until the Iranians actually nuke someone. Until then, in order to cover its assertion that “Iran must not be allowed to develop nuclear weapons,” the administration can pretend that it doesn’t really know that Iran has nuclear weapons.
But the fact we aren’t willing to face is that Iran is a collective suicide bomber, an entire regime with a nuke strapped to its chest, ready to ride it down to doom. Wake, up, Imam #12! It’s time!
We’ve set it up so that the only way that we can know for sure that Iran has the bomb is when we see the mushroom cloud.
And where do you think that mushroom cloud might appear?
At that point, the glow-in-the-dark Palestinian survivors can emerge from the rubble of the West Bank and dance in what used to be the streets.
UPDATE (from Dymphna): Our commenter, xavier, sends the news. As he says, "too late."
Opus Dei caved. That is a serious implosion, since this organization is extremely conservative and famously militant in their loyalty to an old-line Catholic world view. The only parallel I can think to offer you is this: to consider what it would mean if the U.S. Marines started apologizing to their adversaries.
Here is Opus Dei’s capitulation:
In response to the publication in the Italian magazine Studi Cattolici of a cartoon offensive to Muslims, we wish to express our solidarity with the Muslim communities of Italy and the world.
In recent months, many Catholics, including this office, have said that there is no need for more caricatures of any religion. As always, but especially at the present time, we all need to work for harmony, tolerance, and understanding.
We consider it deplorable that this cartoon should appear in a magazine that has the name Catholic in its title. Its publication shows a lack of sensitivity and Christian charity. Although Opus Dei has no responsibility for this magazine and each person is responsible for his or her own actions, we wish to ask forgiveness for the offense given.
Religions and their symbols should be respected and religious sensibilities should not be subjected to ridicule. The only road to peace and brotherhood is respect for others’ convictions and practices. Such respect cannot remain at the level of theory, but should be expressed in concrete gestures and actions
This is tripe. Everyone who has elected to publish any sort of cartoon about Mohammed has done so in the name of freedom of speech and in solidarity with those poor souls in Denmark whose necks are being threatened by the scimitar of Islamic intolerance, fear and bullying coercion. Once that freedom to speak, or draw, or symbolize, is abrogated or relinquished we are that much further along the road to dhimmitude.
That Opus Dei just gave us a big shove down the path, during Easter Week of all times, is an indication of our peril.
Look around the mine shaft, fellows: the canaries are dying all over the place.
And who would have thought it would be Comedy Central that would have the principled honesty and integrity to admit what all of the Brainstem Media has resolutely lied about: their motivation for blocking the cartoon of Mohammed was pure and simple: fear --
Comedy Central’s belief in the First Amendment has not wavered, despite our decision not to air an image of Muhammad. Our decision was made not to mute the voices of Trey and Matt or because we value one religion over any other. This decision was based solely on concern for public safety in light of recent world events.
With the power of freedom of speech and expression also comes the obligation to use that power in a responsible way. Much as we wish it weren’t the case, times have changed and, as witnessed by the intense and deadly reaction to the publication of the Danish cartoons...
“Deadly reaction” is the operant phrase there. Soon it may be impossible even to be that honest. Soon we may all be forced to dissemble or die. It is one thing to “believe” in the First Amendment; it is quite another to practice it. An unused limb atrophies.
The fate of the civilized world has not seemed this dark since the nadir of World War II when the advances of the Axis Powers were beginning to look inevitable.