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(DV) Zatzman: There's Something Rotten Far Beyond the State of Denmark







There's Something Rotten Far Beyond the State of Denmark
NATO's Caricature of “Freedom of Speech” and its Allies 
in the Peace Movement 

by Gary Zatzman
February 7, 2006

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At the ideological level, the racism of those by-now-notorious Danish cartoons is clear enough. The denunciation of this racism is growing and this is positive.  However, in terms of the forces actually organizing and mobilizing something quite dark by means of this allegedly light-hearted caricature of a "war" among caricaturists, it is seriously incumbent on all of us also to penetrate its political significance. 


What is being organized via Danish media, in some semi-respectable garb, is nothing less than a pole of public opinion that is not just religiously bigoted in its racism. This is a pole of public opinion that surpasses the Hitlerian dimension in its effort to justify the extermination of literally billions of other fellow human beings on this planet. As the following vignette illustrates, this has been on the agenda of Western military forces for some time, and even political forces long assumed to be part of the "peace movement" have been or are being compromised into its service. 


What is now happening around these Danish cartoons was prefigured in eerily similar incidents elsewhere, and earlier, within the NATO alliance; the NATO aggression in Afghanistan is the linchpin. Consider the Canadian military port city of Halifax on the Atlantic coast of the province of Nova Scotia, where the local newspaper is an avowedly military newspaper. Thousands of Canadian troops reside in the area. Many were dispatched to Afghanistan under U.S. and British command on October 7, 2001. 


The leading and senior Halifax-area member of the national Parliament, Alexa McDonough, was leader of Canada’s “Left”-ish New Democratic Party (NDP) at the time. Far from issuing any denunciation of this utterly unjust war -- 9/11, the justification for this aggression, had as much to do with Afghanistan as Saddam Hussein -- the NDP leader turned out at a hastily-called peace demonstration to have a front-page photo-op in the local newspaper, while confining her remarks in the rally to demanding a brief bombing halt to let in some "humanitarian aid." Otherwise -- even when a community-wide coalition intervened to stop bullying incidents victimizing Muslim children at a local school, in which the perpetrating children all turned out to be from families of Canadian military service personnel -- Ms. McDonough, the NDP and those sections of the local peace movement that it was manipulating at the time were silent as the grave and nowhere to be found. 


On October 27, 2001, three weeks into the Afghan aggression, the local pro-military-newspaper, The Chronicle-Herald, published a cartoon (below) that came literally straight out of Der Stürmer, the Nazis' official anti-Semitic rag whose publisher, Julius Streicher, was the only journalist to be convicted at Nuremburg for crimes against humanity and hanged. During the 1930s, amid widespread public disquiet about the ongoing economic and political problems occasioned by Nazi rule and its termination of social and political rights, Der Stürmer blamed all difficulties on "the Jews." It popularized a line of cartoons that repeatedly portrayed hook-nosed stereotypical representations of mediaeval Jewish moneylenders, conspiring together in a counting house and cackling over the misfortunes befalling the German people. 



By the end of October 2001, the stories had already started about al-Qaeda sending mysterious anthrax-filled packages through the mails. In the town of Sydney, the province of Nova Scotia possesses the worst toxic waste dump in all Canada comprising the tailings piled outside a disused 110-year old steel plant and known as the Sydney tar pond. The Chronicle-Herald’s caricaturist put the two together, drawing a Der Stürmer-looking pair of hook-nosed but otherwise turbaned gentlemen cackling over whether to send anthrax or material from the Sydney tar ponds to enemies in America. 


The local outlet of the federal government's Canadian Broadcasting Corporation seemed all set to make an issue of these racist cartoons and have a public forum-discussion between the cartoonist and people who opposed the cartoon -- until someone stepped in behind the scenes and uttered the magic words: "Department of National Defense," "NATO", and "national security." 


Months ago, after their initial appearance and the initial response of Muslims throughout Europe, the Danish cartoons seemed a minor racist tiff. In the intervening period since, however, NATO has been called upon to expand its agenda of annihilation in Afghanistan as part of enabling the US to exfiltrate 4,000 troops from Afghan duty to the Iraq front. There is clearly an attempt under way in the name of "freedom of the press" to reprint and spread the cartoons far more widely throughout the NATO countries, making use of the insult to Muslims and their vocal response to justify this spreading by republication. 


Once again, meanwhile, back in Canada, the NDP's silence about this remains most remarkable. Their new leader Jack Layton says NATO needs to be "reformed." However, neither he nor Ms. McDonough said a word against the government committing 2000 Canadian troops in Afghanistan to let the U.S. bolster its unjust and illegal aggression in Iraq. She was re-elected in the 23 January 2006 election, but not before the people of Halifax put forward, for the first time, an explicitly anti-war candidate. [1] His message, and especially its sharp and extensive exposure of the NDP incumbent's public alignment with the State of Israel's oppression of Palestinians, resonated with -- among others -- Palestinian and Arab students in Halifax. [2] Inside so-called "all-candidate meetings" to which all but one of the other parties conspired not to invite the anti-war candidate, and taking a bold step forward in defense of the rights of all, they demanded these views be heard and not censored from public discourse. This reduced Ms McDonough to an incoherent, raging public hissy fit against people who she claimed were "misrepresenting my positions." 


However, since -- in a letter to the Canadian then-Minister of Foreign Affairs Bill Graham on 12 February 2004, she has publicly defended the right of the State of Israel to build the annexation wall in Palestine, and had declared in radio interviews that "the Occupation [of the West Bank and Gaza Strip] must be humanized" and not eliminated, it was difficult to figure what she could possibly have left to anyone's imagination to "misrepresent": Muslims, Palestinian Arabs, Iraqis -- to Ms. McDonough, it seemed to be all the same. 


This matter is actually a major question both for supporters of Palestinian rights and for the anti-war movement. NATO and the U.S. empire are the source and basis of this hysteria and the most deserving target of people's outrage. There is nothing to be defensive about. In order to defend the social and political rights of all, "freedom of speech" either for Zionists to exterminate Palestinians or for genocidally minded militaries of NATO to exterminate the Muslim world must be exposed, and denounced. 


Gary Zatzman is co-editor of Dossier on Palestine. He can be reached at: noidrocca@yahoo.com.    



1. The anti-war candidate was Tony Seed, editor and publisher of Shunpiking Discovery Magazine and the Dossier on Palestine

2. Inside so-called "all-candidate meetings" to which all but one of the other parties conspired not to invite the anti-war candidate, and taking a bold step forward in defense of the rights of all, they demanded these views be heard and not censored from public discourse. According to eyewitnesses, this reduced Ms McDonough to an incoherent raging in public against unnamed but apparently sinister forces she believed were "misrepresenting my positions." However, it was difficult to figure what she could possibly have left to anyone's imagination to "misrepresent": in a letter to the Canadian then-Minister of Foreign Affairs Bill Graham on 12 February 2004, she had publicly defended the right of the State of Israel to build the annexation wall in Palestine, and on returning from a "fact finding" trip to the State of Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories, she had declared in radio interviews that "the Occupation [of the West Bank and Gaza Strip] must be humanized" and not eliminated.  Muslims, Palestinian Arabs, Iraqis -- to Ms McDonough, it seemed to be all the same. 


Halifax being the site of a Danish government consulate, a large contingent from the local Muslim community demonstrated on the afternoon of Saturday, 4 February, outside its offices on the city's busiest downtown thoroughfare. The additional material in the Appendix below lifts some of the veil on how disinformation has been launched and sustained, in and through corporate monopoly media, surrounding the larger significances of the Danish cartoon controversy. What is of particular importance here about "disinformation" is its anti-people intention. This becomes discernible mainly -- sometimes only -- in its effects and impacts, which notably include the infliction and spread of a certain paralysis, either temporary or longer-term, amid the very forces that need to mobilize against the unleashing of yet another heinous act of imperialist aggression. 


Although, as already discussed, the Danish cartoon began life as just one of possibly thousands of similar, everyday, garden-variety, Eurocentric racist acts of degradation of Islamic conscience, evidence continues to mount that, as opposition to it mounted from Arab states, as well as from Muslim organizations within Europe, the NATO establishment was also taking note. The inner meaning of the IAEA reference this weekend of the Iranian dossier to the Security Council can only be that an entire military, diplomatic and economic intervention against Iran has been in preparation for some time, with the EU-3 playing a crucial delaying role. 


Proceeding further and stepwise along the chain of logic and reasoning opened by such considerations, there must have been decisions taken at a very high level regarding the reprinting of the cartoon throughout various parts of the EU. The reprintings went ahead in those European countries where it has become an urgent matter of the highest priority, as part of planning a further military strike in central Asia, to disable and isolate Muslim opinion at home and thereby pre-empt the emergence of any massive _expression of anti-war feeling in their own countries. (One possibility that springs to mind as soon as one looks at a map is to set up a NATO-protected corridor on the Afghan side of the Iranian border to prepare a US-led invasion of the Islamic Republic.) 


The re-printing of the cartoon was intended to provoke European Muslims' rage in a manner that would serve to isolate them from the rest of the societies where they are living and working. That is part of a general and ongoing strategy of pre-emptive attack on the antiwar movement. As noted in the summer 2005 edition of Shunpiking magazine: manipulating sections of the peace movement in these ways has become an essential component of NATO strategic planning of all its interventions, from Haiti to Afghanistan. ("'Ooh-la-la!' or the gunboat policy à la Haiti? On the occasion of the 'visit' of the French NATO fleet to Halifax in mid-June, Tony Seed dissects the spurious methods and aim of an exercise in 'information operations.'" 


The other huge piece of the current context is the victory of Hamas in the Palestinian legislative elections. It is precisely in Palestine that the world imperialist system has been jolted. On 25 January, they were utterly convinced as to what was absolutely and unconditionally their strongest link, namely, the "Jewish state" reportedly armed with 200+ nuclear warheads, highly-organized and ever-ready state terrorist squads, formal and informal ("settlers"), prepared to kill anywhere among a captive Arab civilian population living on occupied territory. The next day on 26 January 2006 their indisputably strongest link was converted completely unexpectedly, by a certifiably free and fair democratic election devised in fullest possible conformity to the "National Endowment for Democracy" standard of the present-day American Empire, into one of their weakest links. Even though the revolutionary flow of the 1970s is now in retreat and the present political landscape is pockmarked with many signs of darkest reaction, we are nevertheless approaching an historic turning point, eerily akin -- in an increasing number of ways -- to the moment the people of Iran turfed out the Shah back in 1979. 



-- Introduction – 


On Sunday, 5 February 2006, in light of the coverage given nationwide by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation to the Halifax Muslims' rally, the author sent the submission below  to a number of listserves under the heading "State-terrorist slaughter of Muslim civilians is a laugh-riot at the CBC." 


The Chronicle-Herald also covered the Muslim community's downtown Saturday rally in an article headlining its peaceful character. This was, however, tucked away in the lower right-hand corner of a page otherwise taken up with the international wire services' story of the demonstration in Damascus, Syria. Highlighting this larger article was a large-sized reproduction of the photo of the Nordic embassy building ablaze there. On the editorial page of this edition, Bruce McKinnon, the same Chronicle-Herald cartoonist who had produced the October 2001 tar ponds-anthrax caricature of a Der Stürmer cartoon discussed above, published an image that indicated just how much further the crimes of the Bush administration and other revelations since 9-11 had served to enlighten him. His latest piece depicts a cartoonist, impaled on the sword of a kaffiyehed gentleman whose sword-wielding arm is tattooed with the word "Extremists." The cartoonist stares at his drawing pen with its tip broken, remarking: "Well, there goes that theory..." 

-- The Letter to the CBC --


The following letter was sent to the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. website in response to their coverage of Muslim community response in Halifax, Nova Scotia (Canada) to the rash of racist cartoons recently reproduced in 


European news media deliberately directed against Muslims: 


Your online report of the Halifax rally-demonstration on Birmingham Street on Saturday 4 Feb 2006 contains the following passage: 


"The satirical depictions of the Prophet have spurred days of demonstrations throughout the Middle East and elsewhere by Muslims, who were offended because Islamic law forbids any depictions of Muhammad in order to prevent idolatry." (from: "Muslims rally in Halifax over Muhammad caricatures," as last updated Sun, 05 Feb 2006 00:42:14 EST) 


Clearly these “depictions” were not received in the “satirical” spirit your report implicitly ascribes to their author(s). This raises the question: by what logic, then, can you call them 'satirical'? 


These cartoons are offensive NOT because of anything “Islamic law forbids,” as your report ludicrously suggests, but because they smear the conscience of 1.2 billion Muslim believers. They are also deeply racist. Moreover, they were re-published at a critical and very revealing moment: NATO troops, including 2000 Canadians, are stepping up their infliction of "collateral damage," i.e., slaughter, on Afghani civilians in the name of "rooting out scumbags," as Canadian Chief of Defense Staff Rick Hillier so felicitously put it some months back. 


These cartoons, and especially the diversionary controversy whipped up around them, prepare an atmosphere in which further such genocidal assaults throughout the Muslim world by the US and NATO can be rationalized. 


How “satirical” indeed, as we all convulse in hilarity at the onset of World War Three.