Leading PostsMarch April 2006

CARTOONS AND THE “STREET ARAB”

I.Shukla

And then the US launched its wars. One of the major disconnects in the present  conflict is the way in which European and American analysis obsesses with the apparently anarchic outbursts of violence in the “Arab street” without taking in how brutally violent the post-9/11 “coalition” assault has been, not only physically but psychologically.
Mobs throw stones through the windows of European consulate offices, and the legion of CNN watchers recoils with horror. Meanwhile, unmanned drones fly across stretches of desert to drop loads of fire on the heads of subsistence farmers in their villages; children die, but CNN is not there.James Carroll in the Boston Globe/13 Feb. 06.

The contemptible “street Arab” is a smart lexical innovation of the West, quite a popular creature for mass dissing by the general populace. The not so clever inversion,now being made similarly popular in common parlance, is the “Arab street”. The West has been in the business of solving many a problem lexically: dictionary turned into a weapon of mass diversion and dreadful brainwashing.

The two problems hinted at in the quote above are: interminable, barbaric, and gratuitous violence rained on the “Arab street”, which, in the Western mind, kills only the “street Arab”, who are even otherwise disposable; and  the contemptuous notion of freedom of expression which is so skewed as to be blatantly inhuman and immoral.

In sum, the right to perpetrate violence and smash the right to resistance; the right to hop, skip and jump in the matter of freedom of expression, and to top it all, claiming in the name of Judeo-Christian values, the right to lie, conceal, distort, bar, manipulate, spin, mangle and manage news “patriotically”, a presstitute media in tow. These are savage simplisms to which the West has long been religiously wedded. Its capacity to think shriveled long ago. A very instructive guide to its deficit in rationality is THE CLOSING OF THE WESTERN MIND: The Rise of Faith and the Fall of Reason by Charles Freeman, Knopf, 2003. As to how this erosion of reason is continually boosted by a systemic dumbing down of the population via educational infantilism forms the content of a very illuminating work THE TWILIGHT OF AMERICAN CULTURE by Morris Berman, Norton, 2000.

Naked terrorism and fake freedom of expression were mingled in a dangerous mix in the Danish cartoons, replicated in various European newspapers. Much has been written on it to need any recapitulation here. The crime was compounded with justification by European papers ganging up in the name of solidarity, reprinting the offensive cartoons as a massive slap in the face of the “street Arab”, and daring him as both imbecile and impotent. This was a publicly defiant avowal to persist in perfidy and call it European democracy. Those in the re-colonized world not sworn to historical amnesia remembered that Nazis in the 20s and 30s were not a rare and freakish phenomenon specific just to Germany. The whole socio-political climate of Europe reeked of anti-Semitism, which approvingly spurred and facilitated Hitler. See WHY DID THE HEAVENS NOT DARKEN?  by  Arno  J. Mayer, Pantheon, 1988.

Inconvenient though it be to the West, the “street Arab” would not subscribe to, nor is willing to be forced to believe in, the right to invade and destroy as freedom, the right to rob others’ wealth and sovereignties, rape and desecrate sanctities as democracy, the right to overthrow regimes and occupy the “Arab street” in nation after Islamic nation as sowing civilization. In his historical world-view it is barbarians he is confronting, and it is slavery, endless slaughter, torture and tyranny, mega terrorism, rapine and muzzling of dissent and independence that he is up against, countering colossal crime as manfully as possible, handicapped though he may be in a thousand ways. It is just his moral stamina that he is reliant on when blasted by the genocidal assault of WMD that the West has a monopoly and abundance of.

Has the “Arab street” over-reacted? Certainly it has. And, there are two points that need to be highlighted, to its chagrin. One, this Danish cookie was a mean and mischievous bait, orchestrated, pre-planned and well-timed, that it fell for. Two, its outrage chose to go somnolent when monstrous atrocities were being committed by the West in Afghanistan, Iraq, and by Israel in Palestine, and when those with Muslim names were being massively hurt and humiliated, detained and deprived of their rights and livelihoods ad nauseam all the world over. Their secret tortures in Bagram, Guantanamo, and European cells failed to rouse the so-called ummah. That emboldened the concordat of evil, unrelenting and ubiquitous, to stalk the globe unchallenged and unhindered, thanks in part to the Arab Street’s insouciance. The ascription “Arab Street” negates whole nations, and ignores and invalidates massive demonstrations of non-violent protest and resistance.

Is the “Arab street” to blame for its lack of spine and rage in the major and many matters of moment? Yes, but only partially. The “Street Arab” is horrified to find that the Arab palaces are in cahoots with the vicious vilifiers and victimizers of the “Arab street”. The “Street Arab”, dispossessed by aliens and their native enforcers, finds himself literally on the street now. His response to his trauma and tragedy is, understandably, though not excusably, blind and mad. He is confronted with terrorism, intractable, implacable and insurmountable. And, he is reacting with what little he is left with: his body. He is sacrificing himself, but needlessly.

He must realize this NOW. Whether others do so is immaterial.

Is that too difficult to understand?

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