“Mobile” vs. “Immobile” Civilizations

That’s how Reuven Brenner, in this recent column, characterizes the struggle between the democratic West and Islamic fundamentalism. Brenner’s argument is interesting.

It is easy to criticize both grandiose thesis and narrow ones. To come up with a different way of perceiving the events and offer solutions is a bit harder. Yet this brief does just that. It shows that today’s conflict between Islamic groups and the West, as well as within Islamic societies, can be viewed as one between “mobile” and “immobile” civilizations, whose members can be found in every society. What distinguishes the US is that it has far more people sharing the outlook of a “mobile civilization” than any other country. And what characterizes many Islamic countries is that they have a large number of people sharing the values of an “immobile” civilization. “Relativist” orthodoxy notwithstanding, one point I make is that although one can understand the values and ideals of “immobile societies”, as fitting certain situations, there cannot be a compromise between these two civilizations. Today’s circumstances – demographic in particular – require moves toward “mobility”.

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Sweden Confirms Its Neutrality Between Good And Evil

The Swedes are throwing a hissy fit because the Israeli Ambassador, visiting a museum exhibit associated with a Swedish government-sponsored conference on genocide, took offense at a display of offensive “art” and literally pulled out its plug.

(The Israeli government says that the Swedes promised not to link the conference to the Arab-Israeli conflict — which, BTW, Reuters mislabels “the Middle East conflict.”)

Meanwhile, the “artist” — a lefty Israeli “peace” activist — said, essentially: Hey, what are you so upset about? It’s just an exhibit, we were trying to raise consciousness about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, what about freedom of expression, etc., etc. And a representative of the Swedish government expressed outrage that the ambassador had the temerity to damage sacred art, etc., etc.

To the “artist” and the Swedish government, I say: fuck you. Yeah, the Israeli ambassador lost it, but you provoked him. He took the bait and now you get to tut-tut about his emotional reaction and make sanctimonious statements about “art.”

The message I get is that the Swedish government cares more about art exhibits and moral posturing than it does about the lives of Jews. Would the Swedish government tolerate, at an official conference, an “art exhibit” portraying Hitler sailing in a lake of Jewish blood? More to the point, would the Swedes tolerate an exhibit showing the Jewish mass murderer Baruch Goldstein sailing in a lake of Arab blood? Would they tolerate an exhibit that could be interpreted as insulting to Muslims or Arabs? To ask this question is to answer it.

Maybe I, like the Israeli ambassador, am overreacting, but my impression is that the ambassador isn’t the problem here.

UPDATE: I am happy to learn that the Israeli government is supporting the ambassador:

Sharon said he called Mazel Saturday night and thanked him for his stand against rising anti-Semitism. “We are witnessing a rise in anti-Semitism, and will increase our efforts to fight the phenomenon,” he reportedly told the cabinet.

Good. Let the bastards worry about offending Jews, for a change.

(Link: Yehudit)

UPDATE 2: Bjørn Stærk has a contrary view.

Thought for the Day

“It’s a complex fate, being an American, and one of the responsibilities it entails is fighting against a superstitious valuation of Europe.” –Henry James

Conspiracy theorists revving up

Not this is a real eye-opener:

BERLIN, July 23 (Reuters) – Almost one in three Germans below the age of 30 believes the U.S. government may have sponsored the September 11, 2001, attacks on New York and Washington, according to a poll published on Wednesday.

And about 20 percent of Germans in all age groups hold this view, a survey of 1,000 people conducted for the weekly Die Zeit said.

Asked whether they believed that the U.S. government could have ordered the September 11 attacks itself, 31 percent of those surveyed under the age of 30 in the poll answered “yes”, while 19 percent overall gave the same answer.

Die Zeit said widespread disbelief about the reasons given by the United States for going to war in Iraq and suspicion about media coverage of the conflict had fostered a climate in which conspiracy theories flourished.

Granted, huge events like 911 are bound to generate conspiracy theories, especially if they happen this unexpectedly. The anti-globalization crowd and anti-American press (not the majority of publications, but certainly the loudest ones) around the world have done everything they can to capitalize on the situation, but there really is no excuse for this. It seems that about 20% of Germans and about 30% percent of Germans under 30 badly need a reality check. Americans who heard of the poll rightly reacted incredulously; Rachel Lucas summed up very well why:

“They obviously can’t wrap their brains around the concept of transparency – you can get away with certain things in America, but you can’t get away with much. Especially if you’re a politician – everyone watches everyone else, everyone’s out to get everyone else, and that creates an environment where it would be impossible to keep the kind of secrets that would be necessary to hide something like the federal government’s sponsorship of 9/11”.

Of course, claims (in the blogosphere and elsewhere) that France and Germany opposed the war on Iraq because they allegedly had armed Iraq with WMDs as a proxy against America were met here with similar incredulity, for the same reason. What goes for America goes for Germany and France, too. Both countries are democracies, with the same transparency that Rachel claims for America. No German or French government could have armed Iraq with a huge arsenal of nuclear, biological weapons without the opposition parties and the press getting on to them. Don’t forget, all those reports about German arms sales to Iraq were originally published by the German press, for example (something for which it got no credit from the bloggers who posted them). Europe’s economies may be more strongly regulated than the American one, but you couldn’t get away with bad craziness like this over here any more than you could in America. So, and no offense, but a reality-check in regards to this issue might also have been useful. ;)

Prominent pro-Arab lobbyist Möllemann dies, very likely by suicide

Möllemann published an anti-Israeli flyer during the federal election campaign last year causing a scandal that cost the FDP (Freie Demokratische Partei) a lot of votes, unfortunately just enough to let Schröder squeak by with a tiny majority of about 6.000. It turned out later that Möllemann may have financed the flyer by illegal campaign contributions and is also possibly guilty of fraud and other offenses. After months of investigations the Bundestag revoked his parliamentary immunity on Thursday, shortly afterwards police raided 25 buildings in four European countries. Less than 30 minutes later Möllemann plummeted to his death while parachuting; since there are no signs that his equipment was sabotaged suicide seems very likely.

Stefan Sharkansky has more; he has kept an eye on Möllemann for over a year and has even devoted a website to him: moellemann.com.