A Danish match to a Global fire…

In the debate on Slugger the Jyllands-Posten has been described as “a right-wing Danish newspaper”. To my knowledge, it is simply the paper of choice of most Danes in Jutland. Having only a rudimentary grasp of Danish, I cannot comment further on its actual content. I do know that despite living in a small ‘c’ conservative society, most Danes are culturally well disposed to engage with new ideas. Ian Jack, editor of Granta magazine reckons that the Danish cultural editor had no idea what kind of touch paper he set alight. In the same journal, Salil Tripathi argues that freedom of expression is not simply a European/Enlightenment thing.

  • M. Gibbs, Chicago

    You display some ignorance of readership patterns in Jutland, where newspapers with editorial lines reflecting many different political tendencies are available and read. Jyllands-Posten circulates in all of Denmark, where it has the second-highest circulation, and is mainly read by persons who share its right-wing Weltbild. The job I would least like to have at this time is that of an advertising space salesperson trying to attract ads from the milk-processing industry. The decision to publish those cartoons was made in the full knowledge that it would offend Danish Muslims, who have long been the butt of nasty and niggling comments from Jyllands-Posten and the people to whom its editorial line appeals. The mistake they made was to fail to understand that the Danish Muslims would refuse to accept such slander and could count on the support of their co-religionists in other countries. All in all, it was a stupid decision and Denmark (not to mention the people killed in many parts of the world) have paid dearly for it. The Cultural Editor who decided to publish the cartoons later claimed to have been defending free speech and suggested he would be equally insulting to other religions. I wrote to him and suggested they publish a cartoon showing Denmark’s comely Queen giving the Pope fellatio (a blow job in plainspeak) witha caption about a prominent Protestant giving the head of the Catholic Church just that, strengthening ecumenism and all that. I reckoned he could prove his point if he got no negative feedback from Catholics, Lutherans, Monarchists or even Ian Paisley. He never replied and has long since been sent on “extended leave” (Danish for “fired” by the paper, which seems to have had a reality check. Nuff said.

    Just back from the big peace march here in Chicago. Looks like my fellow-Americans are waking up to realities at last. Let’s get our boys home and leave those poor people to sort out their own future.

  • brian kelly


    i think that in addition to being unfamiliar with how j-p has figured in denmakr’s march to the right, you’ve also seriously misread the very piece you’ve posted, from granta. reread the text, where jack writes:

    …If the answers to the above [questions] – a resounding yes in each case – came as a surprise to [Rose] he must have led a very sheltered life.

    Not only did the cartoons depict the Prophet (sacrilegious to most Muslims in itself) but one or two of them depicted him as a terrorist. Jyllands-Posten might just as well have had added a line below its masthead: ‘The paper that is looking for trouble, see page 53.’…”

    That doesn’t sound to me like an assertion that the editor ‘had no idea’ what he was walking into. and if you put this together with what I’ve submitted elsewhere about Rose’s long record of provocation on the immigration issue, islam, there’s not much of an argument for naivete, imho.


    The Blanket has now published the second of the cartoons, with an article and biography of the cartoonist, it makes for compelling reading.

    One thing is clear from actually studying the facts surrounding the case that the imagery of someone lighting a touchpaper to a primed explosive is very misleading.
    First of all it is based upon the premise that the Moslem world is a powderkeg of extremism, waiting to explode, and this is not just wrong, but a serious slander on the overwhelming majority of Moslems, who are reasonable and peaceful.

    Secondly, this controversy didn’t “erupt”, it took a lot of effort and hard work, not to mention downright lies and falsehoods by some extremist Imams to get a controversy going in the first place.
    Look at what has happened since the intial cartoons were published ?
    The cartoons, and many more cartoons featuring the prophet, have been published in other places, including here in France, And yet there hasn’t been the same reaction, or anything like it.
    Why not?
    Simply because the reaction was an overreaction that was manufactured by sinister elements, and that hasn’t been repeated.
    Despite what some commentators hinted at in this site, I seriously doubt that the Blanket will suffer anything worse than losing a few highly strung lefties with an overinflated sense of their own importance.


    On a slightly different tack.

    I’m surprised at the lack of attention given to the Iranian newspaper competition to find the best cartoons dealing with the Holocaust.
    Surprised because the competition has actually turned up some pretty brilliant (in my opinion) cartoons.

    The competition winners can be viewed at this link.


    What the winning cartoons tell us is that not only are there some great satirists in the Islamic world, but rather than go for the most insulting image they could find, the editors of the newspaper took their job seriously and picked the most thought provoking and “legitimate” examples of cartoon satire.
    The pity of these competition winners not being given more prominence in the Western media is that we seem to have missed a chance to see that a healthy and robust exchange of opinions with our Islamic neighbours is possible.