poetix (old content)

oh build your ship of death

Not in Front of the Children

Slavoj Zizek has a line about how the liberal projection onto other “communities” of an extreme racial/religious sensitivity is one of the ways that racism works nowadays: “we” are not intolerant, are overweeningly tolerant even, but must police our own and others’ language and behaviour in essentially intolerant ways for the sake of this supposed hyper-sensitive community of others (who are politically infantilised in the process).

The Dutch newspaper cartoons contravene the Islamic prohibition on making images of the Prophet, but I doubt that’s the most offensive thing about them from the point of view of most Muslims; what’s offensive about the bomb-in-a-turban cartoon is the crude stereotyping, and the palpable ill-will behind it.

It seems to me that Muslims are simultaneously being insulted, and told that their sense of insult arises from an irrational religious taboo that civilised people have no time for; that it is not possible for any non-Muslim to share in their sense of insult, or to recognise the wrong done to them. At this point, the intolerance-by-proxy of liberal tolerance kicks in, arguing that it’s not *safe* to contravene these barbarians’ irrational religious taboos; but both sides of that argument effectively agree that the insult is not real, that it is a question of the degree to which one should indulge the other’s “cultural sensitivities” rather than a question of whether or not it’s OK to indulge in malicious stereotyping.