The Blanket

The Blanket - A Journal of Protest & Dissent

A Welcome End


Mick Hall • 20 June 2006

The Blanket has finally published the last of the anti-Islamic cartoons, which caused so much controversy across Europe last September, when first published in the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten. Just as this brouhaha began to subside in the rest of Europe, it re-erupted in Ireland when the Editor of The Blanket also decided to publish them. She seems to have had two reasons for doing so, firstly she felt that within some Islamic countries (and communities in the West) the human rights of women are trampled upon, at times in the most brutal manner. Plus the fact that no newspaper or magazine in Ireland had up until that date published the cartoons, thus giving the Irish people no real opportunity to make their own minds up about wether they were of an anti-Islamic nature or not.

I am not sorry we have seen the last of these wretched cartoons, for the decision to publish one cartoon per Blanket update was for me like having a running sore, for as each was published I felt like the scab had been prematurely knocked off a wound only to reopen it to the threat of infection.

So what have we learnt from this kerfufle? Looking back, did The Blanket Editor Carrie Twomey make the correct call when she decided to publish the cartoons, and has her decision had a positive or negative impact? In my opinion, not only was she mistaken in the decision she made to publish the cartoons, but their publication has had a negative impact on both The Blanket and the wider struggle against Islamophobia. The fact is, their publication in Ireland has not helped one iota as far the struggle against anti-Muslim sentiment is concerned, if anything it has only helped make an already difficult situation worse.

It cannot be denied that anti-Islamic bigotry in the UK and Ireland, almost six years after the events of 9/11, is at record levels. The publication of the anti-Islamic cartoons in The Blanket is in no way responsible for bringing this bigotry and intolerance into being, as the blame for this can be laid firmly at the feet of Bin Laden for his murderous massacre in New York on 9/11, and the criminal actions of George W Bush and his political crony Tony Blair when they decided to ignore both the United Nations and international law and rain fire and death down upon the Iraqi people by invading and occupying their nation, nevermind that the Iraqi people and the government that ruled over them had played absolutely no part in the crime committed by Bin Laden's men on that fateful New York day...

Thus I say again, not only has the publication of these anti-Islamic cartoons in The Blanket failed to play any role in reducing anti Islamic sentiment in Ireland, it has not even helped to bring about an understanding as to why many young Muslims are turning towards political Islam in its many differing forms. Indeed, I would go farther and say, as Brian Kelly and Eamon McCann predicted when they first opposed publication of the cartoons in The Blanket, it may well have played a part in reinforcing people's ignorance and prejudice against those who are members of the Islamic faith.

In all probability, there are people who may not read The Blanket on a regular basis, who on hearing that the e-magazine was to publish the cartoons, may well have had their misconceptions and prejudice against those who practice the Islamic faith reinforced, reasoning that if a progressive magazine such as The Blanket thought there might be some merit in publishing the cartoons, then their own ignorance and prejudice could not be beyond the pale.

The main victim of The Blanket publishing these wretched cartoons has been the e-magazine itself. It lost the services of two of the better left wing writers in Ireland in Brian Kelly and Eamon McCann, in the latter case The Blanket lost one of the country's foremost columnists, and despite my having political differences with both men, when push comes to shove both McCann and Kelly have been consistent in coming down on the side of those who are getting shafted by the powers that be, and thus they have been a great loss to The Blanket. What has happened with The Blanket of late is that its political centre of gravity has moved away from the left towards the centre, if not the right.

Having said this, the decision of Brian Kelly and Eamon McCann to with-draw from commentating in The Blanket was in my view a major error, on a par with Carrie Twomey's when she first decided to publish the cartoons. For not only did it weaken those who remained to argue that publishing the cartoons was a major mistake, reducing us to a minority, they have not to date been replaced at The Blanket by any new left-wing commentators, some of whom may well be holding back, not wishing to go where Kelly and McCann refuse to tread.

If one considers The Blanket is published on a regular basis and it is one of the most open and inclusive publication in Ireland, not least because its Editor Carrie Twomey is willing to consider publishing most of the work submitted to her if it stands up and it is not libelous or plagiarized, The Blanket has the potential to be become one of Ireland's foremost platforms for independently minded progressive voices, something which at times and when at its best it has come very close to being. How allowing it to drift to the right or refusing to encourage young leftists to write for it can be to the advantage of the Irish working classes is beyond me. (I am in no way suggesting that either Brian Kelly or Eamon McCann have done this, simply suggesting their boycott of The Blanket may well have that effect.)

What we now need to do is put this controversy to bed along with the last of the anti-Islamic cartoons, make an effort to learn any lessons that arise from the episode, and move forward.

Perhaps in the process, instead of simply taking the word without question of certain middle class intellectuals who have ready access to Western media, we would all benefit by studying Islam in some detail and attempt to view the billion or so people around the world who practice it not as a single slab of unthinking humanity, only too willing to be moulded by the likes of Bin Laden and other satraps, but see them as being much like most of us in the West, a mass of contradictions, opinions, differences, interpretations and political ferment.

We can continue to give support to those who are getting on a daily basis the sharp end of the society we live in, whether they be Muslims, who are often blanketed together and falsely pilloried in the media as being wife beaters, parents who mutilate their children, potential suicide bombers and supporters of Bin Laden, or the millions of ordinary people not that dissimilar from the aforementioned who are engaged in a thousand differing struggles to build a better life for them and theirs.

Whilst it is all to easy to point out the faults and criticize the mistakes of the wretched of the earth, it is not they who have turned what could be a garden of Eden into a world in which those with the sharpest elbows prevail. It is the forces of Capital who have moulded and shaped this world in their own interest, and it is they who our pens must be aimed at, for if we lose sight of this fact, what and whose purpose do we serve?





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The Blanket - A Journal of Protest & Dissent



There is no such thing as a dirty word. Nor is there a word so powerful, that it's going to send the listener to the lake of fire upon hearing it.
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Index: Current Articles

22 June 2006

Other Articles From This Issue:

The Framing of Michael McKevitt
Marcella Sands

Foreward to 'The Framing of Michael McKevitt'
Fr Des Wilson

Demagogues and Demigod
Tommy Gorman

Getting It Tight
John Kennedy

The Restoration of Restorative Justice
Marcel M. Baumann

DUP Analysis
Dr John Coulter

Father Faul
Fr. Sean McManus

Aiden Hulme Repatriation Picket
Paul Doyle

Prison Protest Begins
Republican Prisoners Action Group (RPAG), Republican Sinn Fein, Newry

New Hero, and a Legacy
Dr John Coulter

Charlie's Angel
John Kennedy

The Letters page has been updated.

Profile: Mehdi Mozaffari
Anthony McIntyre

The Blanket, the Cartoons and the End of Left and Right
Gabriel Glickman

The Blanket and the Cartoon Controversy: Anthony McIntyre Interviewed
Martyn Frampton

A Welcome End
Mick Hall

Anthony McIntyre

Freedom of Speech index

14 June 2006

The Mark of Cain
Anthony McIntyre

Debris of the Dirty War
Mick Hall

More Claims
Martin Ingram

Case Unproven
Anthony McIntyre

Chain Gang
John Kennedy

Better to Put the Past Behind US
David Adams

The Gamblers
Dr John Coulter

Diarmaid Ferriter's The Transformation of Ireland
Seaghán Ó Murchú

Profile: Caroline Fourest
Anthony McIntyre

Le «manifeste des douze» fait réagir
Caroline Fourest

Reaction to the Manifesto (English Translation)
Liam O Ruairc

Freedom of Speech index



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