Caricatures of Controversy

The controversy over a Danish newspaper’s publication of caricatures of Muhammad has highlighted the scale of the Western ideological assault on Islam as justification for anti-immigrant scapegoating and imperialist war. At the same time, the crisis highlights the failure of the anti-war movement in the U.S. to champion the civil liberties of Arabs and Muslims, even as their plight worsens. This controversy didn’t start with the publication of the cartoons. It was triggered by years of political campaigns against immigrants in Denmark and across Europe. The U.S. media, however, have focused on the protests in Muslim countries – including the burning of Danish embassies in Syria and Lebanon. They portrayed the issue as one of freedom of expression, playing up racist stereotypes of Muslims as intellectually backward and violent.Somehow, the deaths of well over 100,000 Iraqis as the result of the U.S. invasion and Washington’s support for monarchs and dictators across the Middle East are seen as irrelevant to the protests of the cartoons. Instead, politicians and pundits alike are using the specter of an irrational and violent Islam as an unstated but unmistakable after-the-fact justification for war and occupation in Iraq and Afghanistan – and in the future, a possible Israeli attack on the Palestinian Hamas party and a U.S. military strike against Iran.This is an issue that Students Against War, here at UVM wish to take up and incorporate into the anti-war movement in Vermont, as well as nationwide. We will be discussing this issue on Tuesday at 7pm in L/L 315, encouraging anyone to join in the debate and get active.