Reasonable? Not really
An intelligent, very liberal friend forwarded this cartoon to me yesterday under the title 'A reasonable send up?' I hate to be a killjoy, but it seems to me that the images in the toon are anything but reasonable reflections of the reality of Islamist extremism. They seem to owe more to a tradition of xenophobic and - ironically enough - frequently anti-Semitic caricature than to an appreciation of the world today's young alienated Muslims live in.
The cartoon shows a cabal of archaic Arab Muslim elders concocting the latest in a series of nefarious schemes to disrupt Western societies. In fact, most of the Islamist terrorist attacks of the last few years have been the actions of small groups of young, non-Arab men acting in isolation from any sort of 'central command'.
These young men have not been automatons controlled by Osama bin Laden, but sane, intelligent, cosmopolitan people moved to lash out against affluent societies they believe complicit in the ongoing agony of the Middle East and other parts of the Third World. That their response to this agony has taken a reactionary, deeply counterproductive form - that they look to Osama as a hero, rather than to Che Guevara or Frantz Fanon or Ben Bella - is part of the tragedy of an era when the progressive alternative to imperialism represented by secularism and socialism has seemed in many places to have been eclipsed.
The xenophobic response of many Westerners to Islamist terrorism - 40% of Americans now believe that Muslims should have to carry special ID, and attacks on British Muslims have soared since 9/11 - can only ensure more terrorism.
The cartoon my friend sent me alludes to the dreadful suffering endured by British holidaymakers forced to wait for flights to places like Ibiza and Mallorca. I hope some of them used their queue-time to reflect upon the government policies that have enraged so many of the people of the Middle East and the rest of the Third World.