Lars Vilks, the “controversial” Swedish cartoonist, who showed a dog with Mohammed’s head in one of his works, thus causing a world-wide Muslim hysteria, visited Toronto last week. It was a rather sad event, because out of four events scheduled in North America, only the one in Toronto wasn’t cancelled. Little bit later I am going to explain why I found sadness in it.
The presentation was fascinating, Lars Hedegaard from the Danish Free Press Society appeared together with Vilks. The event was unlike anything that I have previously attended in my life. It was little bit scary, because for starters, the cartoonist came with six large, not very friendly guards dressed in black suits, who dispersed around the hall and tensely observed every move of the audience. In addition to that, the JDL members kept their own watch, starting with checking everybody with a metal detector. Then they continued patrolling around the building.
I am not going to cover the event in detail, the Canadian blogger Scaramouche has already done it in such detail that I highly recommend that you read his post on the topic.
I only want to comment on why I think this event was sad.
Do you remember the Cold War? It was a time of fear and confrontation in which two titanic forces stood against each other, the capitalist West and the Communist block. Both had their own plans for restructuring the world and in many ways they were at the same level. Each of them was trying to outsmart and out produce the other topping its achievements in industry development and weapons. The issues of arts, culture and religion were not that important in the struggle.
The enemy was clearly defined. Even the leftists in the West were not that eager to sabotage too openly their countries. However, everything changed after the Communism collapsed. The initial jubilation of the coming “end of history” (Fukuyama) that would bring unobstructed development was quickly replaced with confusion and gradual loss of values. The easy-to-understand bi-polar world became a chaos of weird and unpredictable forces.
Even in my wildest dreams I would have never imagined that a cartoonist will at the forefront of the clash of two world forces. Stalin and Brezhnev had never made an issue of cartoons depicting them, there was something in their attitude that kept their attention focused on real battles and from that point of view, you could have some respect for them as decent enemies.
The contrast with the current situation is more than startling. For the second time in a few short years, cartoons have become a major issue in the confrontation between the West and the Muslim world (first the Danish cartoons in 2005 and then Lars Vilks’s in 2007).
The silent threat of the Soviet diplomatic coldness has been replaced by hysterical crowds of sweaty savages in dirty clothes, who want to chop off a cartoonist’s head. As it has became clear from Vilks’s presentation, they were too dumb to even spell his name correctly in their posters (calling him “Larish” instead of “Lars”) and making the Swedish flag they burned green instead of blue. And those crazy crowds obviously had the silent support of the rest of the population, because nobody of the so called “moderate” Muslims condemned them.
Even the leaders of those countries are not that different. They vary from theocratic regimes that severely oppress any anti-Muslim dissent (like Saudi Arabia) through clown-like dictators like Iran’s Ahmadinejad to certified psychopaths like the “desert Colonel” Gadaffi.
And that is not the depressing part: there had always been plenty of savages and crazy dictators in the world. The really depressing issue is the West’s response, instead of confronting those bizarre threats, the Western governments offer apologies hand over fist, persecute everybody who wants to affirm the Western values, allow backward Muslim laws and curb the freedoms of their own people in the name of multiculturalism. All that is done is appease people who still live in the Middle Ages and who have no chance of ever taking over the West by military force. They dream of establishing a new world Caliphate, yet can’t rule their own countries.
I don’t remember a single case where the Western countries showed such docile attitude in dealing with the Soviet Union. Everybody knew that a confrontation with them would be deadly, yet backing off was out of the question.
Now they are afraid of a ridiculous enemy, which can blow few bombs (mostly attached to the fighting idiots), but can never cause the potential damage that the Soviet Union was capable of causing.
The West has lost its ways and values… We have no other chance to survive other than to re-establish them. And that’s the invaluable contribution of people like Lars Vilks – they provoke us, they attack our slumber with the hope that one day we will wake up and stand up for ourselves.