|by Flemming Funch|
It is always interesting to uncover exactly who did what as part of a sequence of steps that led up to some monumental event. Pearl Harbor involving the US in WWII, the Tongking Incident getting US into the Vietnam War, the Gulf War starting after Iraq invaded Kuwait. In each of those, things weren't quite what they seemed. Somebody desired the end result, somebody wanted the war, but they needed an excuse, so they engineered things so that the other party clearly looked like the aggressor, in a sufficiently offensive way. And history easily overlooks the fine details of who said what to whom just before.
It is a simple psychological principle of how person C covertly can create a conflict between person A and person B. Quietly tell each of them a different offensive story about each other. "Hi A, B said that you're a pig", "Hi B, did you hear that A thinks you're a moron". Sometimes that's all it takes. If that little act of mingling remains hidden, A and B can't easily figure out why they don't get along, because the cause of their strife is a fabrication.
Now, here there's the current angry and violent uproar in the Muslim world against, well, some cartoons. And the bewilderment and counter-reaction that creates for everybody else. And any neutral observer might be puzzled how come a few seemingly insignificant cartoons published in a Danish newspaper can create such a reaction in populations far away who never have seen that newspaper or been anywhere close to Denmark.
It turns out that it isn't really what happened. Turns out that a group of prominent Danish Muslims travelled to a series of Muslim countries, arranged for meetings with high-ranking government officials and clergy and presented them with a 43 page dossier, meant to demonstrate how badly Muslims are treated in Denmark, and to invite support to influence the Danish government in opening up for more immigration of Muslims.
It is just that these lobbyists padded their case quite a bit. They tried to gather newspaper articles to show that Muslims and Islam are treated badly. And they included those, now famous, 12 cartoons from Jyllands Posten.
They also got the bright idea of including some material that hadn't been published anywhere, like some hate mail some of the muslim organizations in Denmark had received. You know, some racist anti-Muslim letters, and some offensive cartoons and pictures. Yes, some pictures that a Muslim maybe legitimately could find reason to be offended by, that aimed deliberately at denigrating Islam. Again, it was stuff that some anonymous individual had sent to some Muslims in the mail. A picture of a "pig person" taken from some French news service from a totally different context, where somebody had added the text "Here is the true image of Mohammad". And a picture of a praying muslim, with a dog jumping on his back, trying to copulate with him, and the text "That's why Muslims pray".
Now, most European newspapers wouldn't think of publishing anything like that, and they didn't.
But this little group of lobbyist presented to the Muslim world that this is how the Danes see them, this is what is published in the newspapers, this is how they're treated.
Which is false. It is a fabrication. If it wasn't a deliberate attempt of instigating anger against Denmark in the Muslim world, it was at least terribly dumb of them to twist the evidence.
But, as any kind of conflict that has been created through false information, it is very hard to clear up. It is usually the worst part that sticks in people's minds, and when one is far from the actual scene, one easily mixes up who's who, and one ends up generalizing things unreasonably.
Note also that often it is crusaders for one cause or another who end up perpetrating that which they're crusading against. The U.S. Government is the biggest distributor of child pornography in the world, because the FBI and the Postal Service tries to set up and catch pedophiles. So, they print and mail child pornography to people to see if some of them happen to keep it, so they can arrest them for it. Likewise, in this case, the people who have unleashed an avalanche of anti-islamic cartoons on the Muslim world is a bunch of Islamic leaders from Denmark. A few Imams from a little nordic country have succeeded in making all members of their religion look like barbaric lunatics in the eyes of most of the world. They've succeeded better at that than countless suicide bombings, terrorist attacks, etc. Well done. Maybe it wasn't exactly what you had in mind, but this was probably the only chance you'll get, so tough luck.