[Marxism] Background on The Blanket

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Tue Mar 14 10:01:42 MST 2006

To Carrie Twomey and Anthony McIntyre:

As writers and activists who have contributed in the past to The Blanket 
and who had hoped, for a time, that it might play a positive role in 
pushing forward the coalescing of a principled, anti-sectarian Left in the 
north of Ireland, we write to disassociate ourselves completely from the 
journal, and to request that the editors immediately remove from The 
Blanket archives any articles or letters submitted by us in the past. While 
the quality and the political integrity of The Blanket have been visibly 
deteriorating for some time, the recent decision of editors Carrie Twomey 
and Anthony McIntyre to re-publish deliberately provocative, racist 
anti-Muslim cartoons, commissioned originally by the right-wing Danish 
newspaper, Jyllands-Posten, is a step too far. In our view, their 
publication marks the end of any positive role that The Blanket might play 
in a world saturated in anti-Muslim prejudice, a world being dragged from 
one bloody war to the next in the name of superior 'western civilization.' 
The Belfast Telegraph commented yesterday that The Blanket was "known for 
its anti-establishment views," but this decision is just the latest 
confirmation that it has instead been transformed into the cyber-darling of 
an establishment now set on permanent war footing. We will not allow 
ourselves to be associated with such an endeavor at a time when people are 
being assaulted in the streets, subjected to harassment by governments 
across Europe, hunted down by Iraqi 'death squads,' kidnapped and tortured 
in far-flung concentration camps, subjected to aerial bombardment and 
chemical warfare, and shot down in their homes under the guise of bringing 
'civilization' to the Muslim world.

Brian Kelly (Belfast)
Eamonn McCann (Derry)
Barbara Muldoon (Belfast)


Dear Editor

In the Sunday Tribune of the 12th March (page two) Suzanne Breen reports 
that the controversial anti-Islamic 'Danish cartoons' are to be published 
yet again on the Net by one Anthony McIntyre. As spokesperson for the 
Belfast Branch of the Ireland-Palestine Solidarity Campaign, of which to 
date he is still a member, I wish to place on record that we utterly 
repudiate his intended action. He took this decision without informing any 
of his fellow activists, despite the fact that the insulting nature of the 
cartoons might adversely affect our continuing dialogue with the people of 
Palestine. We find his action frankly inexplicable but would like to make 
the position of our organisation absolutely clear.

The Ireland-Palestine Solidarity Campaign is a non-party, 
non-denominational organisation. In principle we support freedom of speech 
and are opposed to censorship. However, we are also opposed to racism in 
all its forms and we regard these cartoons as racist. They conform with and 
reinforce the racist stereotype of the Muslim (and by extension the Arab) 
as terrorist. We reject as dishonest the claim that their publication 
serves some progressive purpose. Given their offensive, provocative nature, 
one wonders what on earth they were meant to achieve. It is doubtful 
whether the Danish newspaper which first published them wished to initiate 
a serious debate, any more than the 19th century Punch cartoonist, who 
depicted Irish people as violent simians, wished to have a dialogue about 
Irish freedom!

Years of self-serving , imperialist interference in Arab affairs have had 
disastrous consequences for the peoples of the Middle East, consequences 
most dramatically demonstrated in Palestine, Iraq and Afghanistan. It is 
hardly surprising, therefore, if the Muslim world views these cartoons as 
adding insult to injury. The Irish people, with their long experience of 
colonial oppression, should understand that.

Caitlin ni Chonaill
Ireland-Palestine Solidarity Campaign
c/o Centre for Global Education
9 University Street
BT7 9FY.


Belfast Anti-Racist Network Statement on Blanket

On 12th March the online Belfast based magazine "The Blanket" became the 
first publication in Ireland or Britain to republish the Dutch anti Muslim 
cartoons that have sparked worldwide protests.  The ARN together with 
others, including the Islamic Centre and journalist Eamonn McCann had made 
last minute appeals to the magazine's editor not to publish the cartoons.

ARN member Barbara Muldoon says "The cartoons are not just deeply offensive 
to Muslims, they are deeply racist.  One of the cartoons depicts the leader 
of the Muslim faith with a bomb in his turban.  This is clearly designed to 
stereotype Muslims as terrorists.  I am surprised that it is a magazine 
that is concerned mainly with a discourse on Irish Republicanism that has 
decided to republish these cartoons.  Have people forgotten the racist anti 
Irish cartoons that were published during the 1970s by newspapers such as 
the daily Mail?  These cartoons did nothing except stoke up racism against 
Irish people and excuse the British government bringing in a whole raft of 
repressive legislation against people here".

Ms Muldoon adds that those who say that this is a question of free speech 
are missing the point.  "Muslims all over the world are suffering dreadful 
racism.  Attacks on Muslims living in Ireland and Britain have shot up in 
the wake of the publishing of these cartoons.  We have seen the humiliation 
of Muslim prisoners in Abu Ghraib and the force feeding of those who are 
being held indefinitely in Guantanamo Bay.  We have seen what is happening 
in Iraq, Afghanistan, Palestine.  A young Brazilian man was shot in London 
for looking like a Muslim.  The world leaders who are responsible for this 
are promoting an idea that Muslims require "civilising" by the West.  These 
cartoons do nothing more than promote that notion"

So far The Blanket has published one of the cartoons.  They say that their 
intention is to publish all twelve, one per issue.  Ms Muldoon says "even 
at this late stage we would ask the magazine to review this decision".

The ARN will host a meeting on the controversy surrounding the cartoons on 
Thursday 23rd March 2006 at 7 pm in the Peter Froggatt Centre at Queens 



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