February 20, 2007

The Editrix Apologises or: Roncesvalles Multiple Redux II

I am sorry! I'm really sorry! I'm deeply and seriously repentant.


It is, because I have called the Rhenish carnival a heathen spectacle where pissed-as-a-newt scum hits the streets (or something to the same effect).

I am sorry. I repent.

This year, the valiant carnivalists of the city of Düsseldorf, one of the three strongholds of the Rhenish carnival (Cologne and Mainz being the others), where more than half a million people watched the traditional Rose Monday Parade, sent one themed wagon (or is is a float?) on its way, carrying two identical "mullah" figures, each wearing a suicide-bomber's belt and brandishing scimitar and gun. One was labelled "the cliché," the other one "the reality."

The messages of the floats have to be, naturally, succinct, and frankly, as much as I hate so say it, that's a seriously good one! Succinct, to the point, illustrative, illuminating.

Of course, Muslims were miffed. Aiman A. Mazyek, Secretary General of the Central Council of Muslims in Germany, found that
This hasn't got anything to do with humour. I am reading the message like this: 'We love our prejudices, we'll defend them, even even with flagrant lies, if necessary.'... "As a born-and-bred Rhinelander, I am rather laid back about it. I'm sure most of the Jecken [carnival celebrants] don't want to make Islam-despising cynicism acceptable.
Then why say anything at all?

That is the same Aiman A. Mazyek, mind you, who wants to see more jokes about Islam.
I, too, would have liked to smile and laugh at Muslims. Is that not permitted? Who is prohibiting it? Maybe a Fatwa? A body of censors? Notabene, I am talking about laughing, not hurtful sneering at or dirty jokes about Islam. One can very well make fun of a Muslim without hurting his dignity or can't one? One can waffle about his putative flaws without besmirching his religion.
Well, he is saying it loud and clear himself, or isn't he? It is only permitted to make jokes about PUTATIVE flaws of the religion od peace. The real ones are taboo.

And, Aiman, as much as I hate to say it, you are NOT a "born-and-bred Rhinelander". A pig that is born in a kennel is no dog either. A Rhinelander has a sense of humour, however grotty it may be. He will be able to laugh about himself and his ilk. And if that is too involved a concept for you, here is an example, picture included: Rhinelanders are Catholics and here you see a float from the 2005 Cologne parade with a theme that was certainly very offensive to a lot of Rhinelanders (and other Catholics), namely Cardinal Meisner burning a woman who had had an abortion at the stakes. Nobody rioted, nobody was miffed, and if they were, they kept their traps shut. It was, after all, carnival.

At the same time when you and your co-religionists took offense, the parade in Mainz showed Pope Benedict colliding in his Papamobil with a minaret, thus making fun of his perfectly justified criticism of Islam. Guess what? I found that offensive. And I am sure a lot of others did too. But I kept my trap shut because it was carnival. And I am not even a Rhinelander (Thank God for that!).

However, you and your ilk have one advantage over the pig born in a kennel. You can change -- theoretically, that is. Yes, you could become dogs. You would just have to accept the culture into which you were born as yours. I mean really accept. Not just the affluent lifestyle, the concept of charity (of which you are only too often at the receiving end), the freedom and the tolerance towards yourself, but the sides you don't like as well. For example the concept that freedom, tolerance and charity are not a cul-de-sac.

Read the great satirical online-magazine The Onion, Aiman. Specifically the bit about the Crazed Palestinian Gunman who felt hurt by the negative portrayal of his people in the media and thought that he should not "have to live with stereotyping and ignorance… Any time I enter a crowded temple with fully loaded AK-47s in both hands, people just assume I'm going to open fire… That really hurts."

So The Onion twigged almost to the day ten years ago that you are laughing stock. Maybe it is time that you do, too.

That was all for now!

On an additional note, not too surprisingly, the Green Party stridently condemned the Islam-criticising display. Volker Beck, secretary of the parliamentary group of the Greens within the Bundestag, said to the netzzeitung: "This is all but funny."

That is the same Volker Beck, mind you, who once openly asked for the "de-criminalisation" of sex with children. With getting more politically savvy, he is not so outspoken about it anymore, but, as Mark Twain observed, "You can't reason someone out of something they weren't reasoned into" and professions about being a reformed paederast campaigner sound somewhat lame. However, Volker seems to overlook that he, as a practising homosexual, might, like other homosexuals did, end up swinging from a rope at a crane without even a smidgeon of gratefulness for his as touching as gratuitous tolerance and understanding of other cultures, in which, by the way, homosexuality is a tabooed as widely practised, not to speak of paedophilia.

Which would be all but funny.