06 Feb 2006

Identity Politics and Islamic Privilege

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Jeff Goldstein notes that Islamic sources are successfully applying the language and tactics of the Western left to brand Danish protesters proposing to retaliate for the widespread Islamic burning of Danish flags, and the burning of two Danish embassies, by publicly burning the Koran as “racists” and “extremists,” while simultaneously depicting violent Muslim demonstrators as “offended victims.” Western political correctness is being successfully assimilated to the Islamic claim to privileged immunity to mockery or criticism.

This battle over the Danish cartoons highlights all of these philosophical dilemmas (which I have argued previously are the result of certain linguistic misunderstandings that are either cynically or idealistically perpetuated); and so we are brought to the point where this clash of civilizations—which in one important sense is a clash between theocratic Islamism and the west, but in another, more crucial sense, is a clash between the west and its own structural thinking, brought on by years of insinuation into our philosophy of what is, at root, collectivist thought that privileges the interpreter of an action over the necessary primacy of intent and agency and personal responsibility to the communicative chain—could conceivably become manifest over something so seemingly trivial as the right to satirize.

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