Two quick points:
1. In my humble opinion, freedom of speech is not the same as freedom to insult and abuse others; especially when it is aimed at the individuals and minorities of different religious or cultural heritage.
Free expressions of opinions are to facilitate a better understanding of a wide spectrum of ideas. We hope that in the long run, through the process of debate and enlightenment, better ideas would eventually prevail.
Quite on the contrary, recent campaigns of hatred, camouflaged under the fig leaf of free speech , are intentionally aimed at stirring up the worst emotions among the masses of the host countries. They are meant to start a fire, and not to create light. They have a clear political agenda.
The intents of the publishers of both the Muhammad cartoons and this one are to dehumanize and demonize the target groups. This is usually the first step to lull the ignorant masses (and yes, even the intellectuals) into accepting the atrocities that are being planned against the target groups; be it the minorities in their midst (Jews in Hitler's Germany, Moslems in todays Europe) or "savages" in far-away countries.
In the latter case, the hysteria stirred up by the media portrays the Japs, the vietnamese gooks, and the barbaric moslems as different species: they are not humans, they do not suffer the way we do.
As a result, we are justified to commit any atrocity to drag them into the modern civilization, or at least to eliminate their threat if all else fails. Nothing is a taboo or off the limits: Fire bombing half of Tokyo's civilian population in one night, nuking the Japs in Hiroshima and Nakazaki, napalming the gooks, "accidentally" bombing dozens of civilians in Iraq on a weekly basis, and now getting ready to bomb the hell out of Iran are not only justifiable, but necessary actions.
But it is now amply clear that RE-publication of the cartoons by the right-wing paper in Denmark was INTENDED to flare up the worst emotions against the immigrants to solidify the right-wing government's power.
Interestingly, the very same paper refused to publish another cartoon that depicted Jesus in a less-than favorable light. I have given up religion a long time ago. Yet I cannot accept piling up insult and abuse on the believers under the guise of free speech.
It is no accident that we have witnessed a flurry of, first anti-arab and anti moslem , and now anti-Iranian articles, cartoons, movies, jokes, etc. Naive Americans can accept, if not support, massive air strike against Iran if the casualties of these bombs are bunch of cockroach-like creatures. We must oppose publication of such racist, xenophobic, hatred-filled material regardless of who the target is.
2. FYI, NIAC has sent the following letter to the Dispatch.
Embedded in the story is a link for sending comments to the editor of the Dispatch .
I have also copied the latest petition by NIAC against a likely attack on Iran.
Monarchists, neocons, and other pro-war groups in the US have started a vicious campaign against NIAC and other anti-war activists in the US.
I think NIAC and other like-minded Orgs in the US are badly in need of our support (at least financially) to perhaps avert this impending disaster.
PS Sina, could you please forward this material to our friends on your mailing list?
Sep 09, 2007 Columbus, OH - The Columbus Dispatch published a cartoon last week depicting Iran as a sewer on a map of the Middle East with cockroaches crawling out of it. Dokhi Fassihian, member of NIAC's Board of Directors, immediately contacted the newspaper on behalf of NIAC to protest the racist nature of the cartoon. Her letter to the Dispatch was published by the Ohio newspaper on September 8. Click here to read letter.
By publishing this shocking cartoon, the newspaper's editors have insulted and propagated hate against a large segment of the American population that traces its roots to an ancient and proud civilization.
Iranian-Americans have been living in the United States as early as the 1950s and 1960s, first as students, then as immigrants seeking a better life.
In a short time, they have established themselves to be one of the most successful and highly contributing immigrant groups that have settled recently in this country.
It is a community that boasts among its members both the founder of eBay, Pierre Omidyar, and the world's first female space tourist, Anousheh Ansari.
Up until the late 1970s, the United States and Iran enjoyed a close alliance.
Many Iranians immigrated here to escape the turmoil of the Iranian revolution of 1979 and to demonstrate their opposition to the turn of events in that country.
Nonetheless, Iranian-Americans are proud of their heritage, despite the disputes that grip the United States and Iran today.
The American people, 80 percent of whom oppose military conflict with Iran, deserve better from The Dispatch's editorial page.
They expect content that explains the complexities and challenges America faces in the world. They demand information that describes how the rest of the world perceives us and explores how best to make peace with the people of the world.
The bigotry demonstrated by the publication of this cartoon not only betrays the newspaper's mission to inform readers, it endangers our country at an extremely sensitive time in our nation's history by serving to further divide us at home and thrust us toward further conflict abroad.
Board of directors
National Iranian American Council Washington