Monday, May 05, 2008


So, I came across this email from a certain professor Wichman at Michigan State which he wrote as a response to the Muslim Student Association in response to their protest about the Muhammed cartoons. He writes:

Dear Moslem Association:

As a professor of Mechanical Engineering here at MSU I intend to protest your protest. I am offended not by cartoons, but by more mundane things like beheadings of civilians, cowardly attacks on public buildings, suicide murders, murders of Catholic priests (the latest in Turkey!), burnings of Christian churches, the continued persecution of Coptic Christians in Egypt, the imposition of Sharia law on non-Muslims, the rapes of Scandinavian girls and women (called "whores" in your culture), the murder of film directors in Holland, and the rioting and looting in Paris France.

This is what offends me, a soft-spoken person and academic, and many, many, many of my colleagues. I counsel you dissatisfied, aggressive, brutal, and uncivilized slave-trading Moslems to be very aware of this as you proceeded with your infantile "protests." If you do not like the values of the West — see the 1st Amendment — you are free to leave.

I hope for God's sake that most of you choose that option.

Please return to your ancestral homelands and build them up yourselves instead of troubling Americans.


I. S. Wichman, Professor of Mechanical Engineering

Apparently, this has made it's way through the various right wing (Jewish and non-Jewish blogs) and of course everyone is hootin' and hollerin' in support...

Here is what I don't understand. Clearly, the cartoons in the papers were intended to insult and provoke. We always complain about, is the fact that the Muslims always react violently to these types of provocations, yet here is the case where they are planning a peaceful protest and what is the message they get - get out of our country, you crazy barbarians? This is the positive re-enforcement we give them?

I don't blame the professor - he says that it was a private email and he regrets sending it. But the way the right wing media is disseminating this as a rallying cry, really baffles and frankly disappoints me.


Blogger Holy Hyrax said...

Personally, I feel the same way (as him). I think its more about festered anger at what these muslims are protesting ABOUT. It makes you question their values and priorities. It makes you feel like everything that is said about them is true, and that the only reason they are having a "peaceful" rally is because their in the USA. Move some of these people somewhere else, and perhaps there would be rioting.

May 05, 2008 7:15 PM  
Blogger e-kvetcher said...

HH, if their religion got insulted, it is their option and their right to protest PEACEFULLY.

The ADL has a flashlight up the ass of every potential anti-semite and makes a huge deal something happens. These guys deserve the same right.

Honor killings in Jordan and beheadings in Afghanistan are not relevant to this particular protest and it is not constructive to bring them up here. Otherwise it becomes a vicious circle. The whole point is we need to show by example of how to protest peacefully and to lead them away from violence to conversation. So, what is the message we want to send them? Go back to where you came from?

"only reason they are having a "peaceful" rally is because their in the USA."
That is my point...

May 05, 2008 7:29 PM  
Blogger The Candy Man said...

Nice post.

Embarrassing and stupid, that e-mail. Racist mishegos. We need to have more interracial and interreligious dialogue and relationships to combat this kind of warped perspective.

Tomorrow night I'm going to a Muslim friend's house for dinner. Her whole family from Turkey will be there. Looking forward to it.

May 05, 2008 7:45 PM  
Blogger Lubab No More said...

> here is the case where they are planning a peaceful protest and what is the message they get - get out of our country, you crazy barbarians?

I agree that we need to support appropriate forms of protest. If we don't we only bolster the argument of the ideology we want to defeat.

May 06, 2008 8:34 AM  
Blogger Orthoprax said...

I agree with you E, but there is a measure of irony when these folks build up the nerve to protest over cartoons when murders for their very cause are completely given a pass.

May 06, 2008 1:11 PM  
Blogger e-kvetcher said...

I agree with you E, but there is a measure of irony when these folks build up the nerve to protest over cartoons when murders for their very cause are completely given a pass.

Yes. The problem of violent extremism is non-trivial. The right thing to do is to deal with it at the macro level - this is what governments should be doing. However, I don't see any right steps taken in this direction by any governments, especially our own.

May 06, 2008 1:18 PM  
Blogger -suitepotato- said...

You know the much-feared phenomenon of the ultra ultra sort taking over in Judaism? It's already happened in Islam to a large degree, and we're not talking nitpicking over chumrot, we're talking as in taking Deuteronomy literally kind of fundamentalism.

We've seen the spread of this, and we've seen well meaning people trying to turn the other cheek and whitewash the whole thing with the "religion of peace" banner but that's not true of it any more than Christianity or Judaism if you judge the ancient texts. What counts is how it is practiced NOW.

Violence is becoming part and parcel of Islam increasingly, the west is not engaging the reasonable elements and supporting them properly, and what but violence and blaming other people, and assuming the mantle of victim is more attractive in this modern world where everyone else is to blame for anything that goes wrong?

It's a strong sell that causes BT extremism, Born Again Fundies, social organizations tying up traffic with protest marches, and kids hanging at the mall in hoodies with dour looks. It's easier to believe that A) your life isn't the candy store someone promised you (you think), B) someone else is responsible for that on purpose because they want to hurt you, and C) that makes anything you do pretty much fair game at some point, especially as not getting your way goes on longer and longer.

Then the human response is once they get their way to like it and not want it to stop. So as Jerry Rubin (I believe) pointed out in the 60s, the thing to do is demand the idiotically impossible, and when the establishment makes the move to address that, change tack like the first demand never happened, and make another equally stupid demand.

Like changing the world to Mecca time. No thank you, Miller time is fine enough for me. Salaam and all, but not changing.

If the world doesn't realize that these are their fellow humans, and thus equally capable with them of horrendously bad things, and stand up and say, okay, time out, time to behave, enough of this blowing stuff up and killing people over religion nonsense, then... well, imagine the Christian Crusades with modern weaponry. Imagine the ancient happy to fight Israeli army given the modern army's weapons.

Jericho would have been a crater in the ground. Acre to Damascus would have been a smoking ruin.

We humans can do really bad things. Muslims are humans. We should keep this in mind as we watch Wahabbist Shia and fundementalist Sunni growing in power. They have the capability of being peaceful just like we do. That doesn't mean they necessarily will and the recent record isn't looking good.

May 06, 2008 6:23 PM  
Blogger -suitepotato- said...

BTW, I DO think the email was a really really bad idea and should not have ever been sent. It is incendiary and hotheaded not to mention childish.

May 06, 2008 6:23 PM  
Blogger -suitepotato- said...

I meant Wahhabist Sunni and fundamentalist Shia.

Age-challenged citizen moment to be PC.

May 06, 2008 6:26 PM  
Blogger The back of the hill said...

On an emotional level I feel the same way as that professor. But I fail to see his letter as in anyway suitable or appropriate. He should've blogged it (blogs are for soapboxing).

If the Muslim Student Association wished to protest the cartoons, fine. If they wished to protest a la Americaine (meaning with stupid rhyming chants, megaphones, and tightly written pamphlets while waving signs), even better.

It is their right to protest.

Whatever horrors may (or may not) occur in Muslim countries are immaterial. They're here, they're not burning consulates or killing Dutch film directors in Michigan (are there any of either in Michigan?), and to the best of my knowledge they have not whacked any priests or Gopts in the entire Midwest.

As an angry scream, the letter is splendid. As a reaction to peaceful protest, it is absurd. As the writing of an academic, it is embarrassing.

Again, he should've put it on his blog. Some of the things I put on my blog I would never write in a letter or say to a person - precisely because I do not wish my broader identity to be determined by my ranting.

May 06, 2008 6:44 PM  
Blogger e-kvetcher said...

suitepotato, both, and everyone - thanks for the comments, all very good points...

May 06, 2008 6:56 PM  

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