Monday, October 4, 2010

The Art of Freedom

It was a Lars double-header in Toronto last night as Lars Hedegaard, of the Danish Free Press Society, and Lars Vilks, the Swedish artist who got into a spot of bother with the zanies when he sketched a be-turbaned man's head on a dog's body, were able to speak as planned. The Larses (Larsi?) had been slated to speak in Boston, Philadelphia and Ottawa too, but due to, ahem, "security concerns" ("security concerns" being code for and a manifestation of our de facto dhimmitude, as more and more often these days the fear-averse in the democratic West crumple in the face of supremacist threats) those other IFPS Canada-sponsored events were cancelled. Luckily, Toronto was able to muster plenty of muscle (burly JDLers along with hired private security), and the riff-raff were either kept out, or didn't bother showing up. (Who knows, maybe they'd attended the George Galloway lecture earlier in the day and, since old George can talk your ear off about Zionist perfidy/Palestinian vicitmhood/Jason Kenney--the Galloway trifecta--they were plum talked out come evening.)

Anyway, Danish Lars provided a snapshot of life in dhimmified Denmark--and it's a mighty grim picture indeed. Free speech all but shut down, a casualty of a pervasive and suicidal political correctness. Pockets of the land ceded to Muslims and sharia law--"no go" zones--where Danish police fear to tread. Opponents of the sharia imperative derided and marginalized as "bigots," perhaps charged with a "hate crime" (as Hedegaard has been), while the intolerances of Allah's all-compassing law-for-all are all but ignored. And if you have the misfortune to be a Jew in Denmark, it's much, much worse. Your kids won't be able to attend many public schools in Copenhagen (those "security concerns" again) and the one Jewish school, tucked away behind high walls and barbed wall, looks more like a prison camp than a place of learning. And don't expect any help from the land's Official Jewry. The former chief rabbi, Lars informs us, "is in cahoots" with the Islamists. So if you're looking for the Denmark of old, the Denmark that stood up en masse to the Nazis to save its Jews, you will no longer find it. In one of history's bleakest ironies, the land that once had balls enough to tell say "bite me" to Hitler is now, says Hedegaard, giving up its Jews without a fight.

After Danish Lars' spiel I was thoroughly depressed (not least because his remedies for what ails us--demand a rollback of hate speech laws; put legal instruments in place that strengthen the rights of citizens--were rather a downer). Fortunately, Swedish Lars came along to lighten the mood. The two Lars were a study in contrasts--the Danish Lars impeccably groomed, dressed soberly and neatly, in dark suit and tie, serious both in demeanour and speech; the Swedish Lars dressed casually, looking like he hadn't swung by the barber's the barber in quite some time, puckish, kind of silly, all in all the antithesis of serious. That's because Swedish Lars is an artist. Not a cartoonist. An artist. And he considers everything in which he's involved, including his appearance last night, to be part and parcel of his art. I have to say that as a survival strategy, especially when there's a fatwa and your head for drawing a few sketches of Muhammad's head on a doggy body, such solipsism--seeing yourself as the still, quiet centre in a vortex of hysteria, an artistic vortex of hysteria--is one of the best. So, now, how did these sketches, drawn in what Vilks describes as an "expressionistic" style, come to be? There's a rather complicated back story, a shaggy dog story, if you will, since it involves a huge wooden doggy statue--Vilks' "pet" project for some decades--and something called roundabout dogs. A quirky Swedish folk art phenomenon, roundabout dogs are homemade dog sculputes created by amateur artists that are placed in traffic roundabouts. Apparently, they are--or were--all the rage in Sweden, springing up in droves, origin unknown, when people were asleep. (Vilks showed us slides of some of the canine creations.) Apparently, Vilks's sketches, which he drew for an art exhibition in Norway, were a cheeky reference to both the roundabout dogs and the Danish Motoons controversy. The sketches, which Vilks admits weren't very good (he says his four-year-old daughter could have drawn them) would have languished in obscurity, along with their creator, had not a Swedish newspaper discovered them and featured one in an article about whether artists should be allowed the freedom to "insult" religion. That was enough to alert the zanies both Muslim and P.C. to the Vilks "blasphemy," with predicably incendiary results. Soon enough, Vilks was being slammed by the Sweden's political and intellectual elites, he became the subject of some very rude cartoons drawn by Muslim 'toonists, and religious nutters in places like Pakistan and Bangladesh set Swedish flags (one, strangely enough, coloured a non-Swedish green) aflame. Also, Vilks found himself with a fatwa on his head, and was whisked away in the dead of night by Swedish police who told him THIS IS A VERY SERIOUS MATTER and that YOU MUST CHANGE YOUR IDENTITY AND GO INTO HIDING. Vilks declined to do either, viewing the maelstrom that had sprung up around him as art--art of a particularly chaotic and highly conceptualized nature, yes, but art nonetheless. He did hide out a friend's house for a short time, but since the Swedish media kept writing that Vilks had gone into deep hiding, and had even gotten vicious dogs for protection (actually, the dogs shown in photos with him that turned up on the 'Net belonged to friends), he figured it was safe to return home because that's the last place anyone would be looking for him.

Through it all, even as he checked under his car for bombs as instructed by Swedish police (Vilks showed us a picture of him doing so) Vilks remained amused and unflappable, adamant that his art was life and his life was art. The only occasion that gave him pause--and I include here a riot on the campus of Upsala University when during a Vilks appearance--was when the "Jihad Jane" plot was uncovered; it was one thing, explained Vilks, to be wary of Muslims who might want to kill you, but it was quite another for your assassin pool to now include blonde chicks. In Sweden. He even remained true to his art when a couple of young Muslims engaged in their own type of performance art and tried to burn down Vilks's house. Alas for them, they were amateur artists--and not even of roundabout dog calibre. One of them managed to set himself on fire, and, in his haste to remove his flaming, melting clothing, left his wallet and house keys for police to find. Under the terms of Sweden's excessively lenient laws, the two were sentenced to a mere two years in the slammer,

Vilks wrapped up his presentation with a short film he had made--more performance art. The film featured some drum majorettes wearing exceptionally short skirts (very "cheeky") interspersed with clips of quotes uttered by Swedes about Vilks. The words of one those quoted, a Swedish politician I believe, were sung/spoken over an old Fred Astaire film clip (of Fred dancing to "Puttin' on the Ritz").

So now what--for the Larses and for us? Well, Danish Lars, as I mentioned, will be put on trial for hate speech in his native land (as Geert Wilders, another truth-teller whose "blasphemy" cannot be tolerated by dhimmis and their overlords, is on trial in a now pathetically dhimmified Netherlands starting today). The Swedish Lars still has a fatwa on his head, still a pariah in Sweden, and still committed to getting on with his art. He's even decided to return to Upsala U., scene of some particularly overwrought "art," for another "debate"; barring more "security concerns," he'll be there this Thursday. So far he seems to have weathered the storm very well, in his uniquely artistic fashion. Debbie downer that I am, however, I'd be remiss if I didn't point out that it's all fun and games and Fred Astaire until some jihadi nutjob (who can't do what you can, backwards and in heels) with a sharp blade sneaks up behind you and cuts off your head. That said, it was both delightful and thrilling to be in the presence of someone who, knowing that reality, refuses to be cowed. "The right of artists to have freedom of expression must always be defended," he declared, words that are pure poison to the jihadis, and pure oxygen for all freedom-lovers.

Update: See it now on Mississauga Matt's video (h/t LG&F).


Roz said...

How I wish Jason Kenney and the rest of the Harper government reads this blog. Canada wants to take in more immigrants and that should not sit well with Canadians. Just look to Sweden and Denmark and their lax immigration policies to see where Canada will be headed down the road. Perish the thought! No, wait. Even better, curb immigration from certain countries.

1389 said...

Here's what I had to say about the disgraceful dereliction of duty on the part of US authorities in this regard: News Flash: Lars Vilks US Appearances Cancelled

I wish I could have gone to this event, but I live in the US, over a thousand miles away. Maybe someday...

Blog Wrath said...

That is a very detailed description of the event. I attended the Lars Vilks presentation, but couldn't write down everything. I wrote about it in my blog (from a slightly different perspective) and linked to you from within my post:

Thank you for the great work.