Saturday, February 04, 2006
Denmark isn't actually burning. Not literally. Not yet. Nor is its embassy in Syria, come to think of it: there's nothing left to burn. It's just cold ash in Damascus.
I have heard some people in the media tonight, "How could it come to this?"
I will tell you.
It has come to this because from the very start there have been people in western governments and in the western media without the moral courage to stand up for their own values. There have been influential people who put the appeasement of the Arab street above defense of the very institutions that allow western society to function. And in doing so, they gave that vaunted Arab street a very clear signal. Green light, it said. Go!
Each soothing proclamation by a western leader, each hand-wringing editorial in a major western paper, has poured the fuel of encouragement onto the bonfire of hatred, leading inevitably to the kind of violence we're seeing today.
You have paved the way for this, you apologists. Your good intentions have consigned tiny Denmark to the wrath of the barbarian horde.
We would not be here, today, had the west drawn itself together from the outset and said, simply and in chorus, "A free press is an indispensable part of western society. It can sometimes wound, but its absence would be fatal. You have every right to be offended and express your dissatisfaction, but neither Denmark nor Jyllands-Posten owes anyone an apology."
Even the Bush and Blair administrations have behaved shamefully, with Jack Straw and a spokesman for George W. Bush both speaking out only in the last 36 hours -- and only to condemn the cartoons as offensive, and to reassure the Arabs and Muslims of the world that of course they respect their beliefs, before ultimately and somewhat parenthetically conceding that, well, yeah, after all, they did support the freedom of the press and all that, yadda yadda yadda.
Hopefully the continuing escalation of this issue will begin to give some westerners second-thoughts about their wobbliness. But it's a shame that Denmark's economy should have to sink, its embassies burn, and its streets be stained with the blood of a nascent intra-Muslim civil war, before the rest of the west has the sense to realize political correctness in the face of a savage and implacable enemy is surrender to barbarism.
What is wrong with the west? This is the civilization that created me, that nurtured me on ideas about civil liberty that began with Plato and Aristotle and ran through Locke and Voltaire all the way up to Calvin & Hobbes. The civilization in which everyone of every political persuasion always told me they might disagree with what I said, but they'd defend to their death my right to say it.
Now that entire civilization seems to be saying, "Sucker!"
I am so proud of Denmark right now... and so ashamed of almost every other country in the free world.
Jeg er en dansker!
What's more offensive, after all... a cartoon, or this:
(Link to article in previous post.)
And now the Danish embassy in Syria has been burned down.
What do Arab journalists think about that?
Are Danes allowed to be offended and insulted yet?
Remember, Oh Men of the West, there is no connection between Islam and violence of any kind!
Leave it to Slate to take the intellectual approach and ask, "What do Arab journalists think about this? "
Guess what they think?
The first journalist quoted, Muhammad al-Hamadi of the UAE, admits unhappily that there is "reason" for these cartoons. "Any harm to the Prophet or Islam is a result of Muslims who have come to reflect the worst image of Islam and certain Arabs who have not conveyed faithfully the life and biography of the Prophet."
And it's all down hill from there. Al-Hamadi comes right back with the unsurprising "on the other hand," arguing:
If Denmark has tried to teach Arabs and Muslims a lesson in respect for the country's constitution and its laws, I believe it did not succeed in choosing the right issue. The justification that one must respect the constitution that guarantees freedom of opinion and expression, including the freedom to denigrate others, was not appropriate—this is the trap that Denmark fell into.
Here's the nub of the whole problem: Denmark didn't fall into any trap. Denmark wasn't trying to teach anyone anything. This whole issue begins and ends with Jyllands-Posten, and it's the Arab world's inability (or refusal) to grasp (or acknowledge) this that's so maddening.
Sati Nur al-Din of Lebanon has little sympathy for the cartoons, but does observe:
The Arabs and Muslims who are moving today against Denmark, its products, and embassies, are not exploiting the caricature issue for any political goal, as Khomeini did. Rather, they are sending what is by any standard the wrong message, choosing a foolish pretext for what is really a caricature of a battle.
So there's one acknowledgment that Muslims have to their own detriment allowed their extremists to become the face of their religion, and another that this is a foolish issue on which to mobilize... and both points are made in the context of larger criticisms either of Denmark or free speech itself.
Has Slate given this issue any other coverage? I don't honestly know. But it strikes me as typically leftist-alternative-academic (in America) to examine any issue by beginning with the "non-western" side of the story... and ending there as well.
How would the editors of Slate react, I wonder, if their ability to "publish" what they want, when they want, were challenged by any one, anywhere, under any pretext? Does the sanctity of Muslim "dignity" (strangely enough, a sanctity not insisted upon by a growing number of increasingly vocal, moderate Danish Muslims) really entitle them to a deference that Jews, Christians, Hindus, and Scientologists don't warrant?
Would they take seriously the comments of an American journalist who insisted that "Christian dignity" made the publication of any provocative editorial cartoons "denigrating" Christianity an abuse of the first amendment?
Why do American and European leftists condescend so to the Arab Muslim world? Why are Arab Muslims held to such a low standard of intellectual honesty?
Part of it is obviously the American leftist-alternative-academic obsession with the "narrative" of "the other." To its credit, I think, American culture is a culture of the underdog. Look at our films, from On the Waterfront to Cool Hand Luke to the Bad News Bears. Our music. Our sports enthusiasms. America loves an underdog. It's programmed into our psyche to appreciate the challenges faced and heroics required to succeed in the face of overwhelming adversity.
If I can overgeneralize for a minute, I think American conservatives tend to turn this into an obsession with the ultimate minority: the individual (an obsession, alas, I probably share). And American liberals tend to turn it into an obsession with minority groups.
There's nothing wrong with trying to understand the other side's point of view. And that's all Slate appears to be doing here: I don't detect any editorial slant within the article: the only slant is in its lack of a complement exploring the "free press" side of the argument. To appease the liberal establishment's obsession with "other" narratives, how about one of these:
What are Danish Muslims saying about the issue?
What are liberal Danish journalists saying about the issue?
What are the "European" journalists we find so authoritative on other issues (Iraq, gay marriage, Christian extremism, oil dependence, the environment, etc.) saying about this one?
What do the cartoonists who've been targeted with multiple death threats have to say about the Muslim journalists who've been fanning the flames of this "debate" with misinformation?
I think the answers to most of these questions would surprise a lot of American liberals.
I still hold out hope that the American left can recognize this issue for what it really is, but I'm also afraid that they've become so reflexively pro-Arab Muslim that they've lost the capacity to assess individual cases on the merits.
Look, I'm a Bush-voting conservative who supports gay marriage and abortion rights, wants to decriminalize marijuana, favors a degree of gun control, and wants to vomit at the notion of "creationism" being "taught" in our nation's public schools. Surely there are some Kerry-voting liberals out there who can find common cause with me, and many Danish liberals, on this?
And yet, without the facts that's going to be impossible. So it really has to begin with the American media. And the sad truth is, if the story is first given the prominence it deserves by, say, the Wall Street Journal, the left will only retreat further into the "narrative of the other."
Friday, February 03, 2006
Here's an excerpt from a Politiken article about American reluctance to come near the issue of these cartoons:
Amerikanske medier siger nejDe amerikanske medier har indtil nu afvist at trykke Jyllands-Postens kontroversielle Muhammed-tegninger, som en række europæiske aviser har gjort denne uge.Redaktører ved flere af de store amerikanske nyhedsorganisationer siger, at de dækker sagen, men at de vil undlade at vise tegningerne af respekt for deres læsere og seere.»Dette er et klart eksempel på noget, folk vil finde fornærmende, så vi kan ikke se nogen grund til bare at gøre det«, siger Keith Richburg, der er udlandsredaktør på dagbladet Washington Post.American Media Say NoThe American media have to this point refused to publish JP's controversial Muhammed drawings, which a bunch of European newspapers have done this week.Editors at several of the big American news organizations say that they're covering the case, but that they want to avoid showing the drawings out of respect to their readers and viewers."It's a clear example something people would find offensive, so we can't see any reason to do it," says Keith Richburg, foreign editor of the Washington Post.
The Washington Post? Really?
Why, that's the very same newspaper that published an editorial cartoon about their own country's military that was so offensive it actually prompted a letter of disapproval from the Joint Chiefs--which letter has now become the free speech issue du jour for the American left!
So let's get this straight: the American media are backing down from supporting free speech to give succor to a liberal ally who is under attack (economically at the moment, with bloodshed routinely threatened) by extremist individuals, organizations, and governments -- because "people would find it offensive" -- but they're perfectly willing to offend when it suits their own domestic political agenda.
Anyone else suspect they really mean "people would find it offensive and try to kill us"?
The American left has gone up in arms and declared "a chilling effect" on free speech (the citation is out there, I accidentally closed the window and don't feel like looking it up again) because its military leaders object to an editorial cartoon by means of a simple letter... but they're ignoring a case in which editorial cartoons in a single paper have generated economic warfare, terrorism threats, recalled ambassadors, vows of jihad, burning of flags, and masked gunmen running amok in political offices.
It is as I feared: this is being viewed as a left-right issue by the American left, and they're going to let Denmark twist in the wind while they work feverishly to get Donald Rumsfeld exiled for writting a letter to the editor of the Washington Post. (In that link to the chatter on the Daily Kos, someone writing from Denmark actually directs readers to a display of the cartoons "so they can judge for themselves" -- but his link includes three particularly loathsome images that were not published! It's important to publish the twelve cartoons all over if only to make sure people know which twelve we're talking about!)
This just isn't a left-right issue. (And I hope American conservatives won't treat it like one either.) A small democratic country is being assaulted by the violent, manic passions of the world's most hideous regimes for having published editorial cartoons that some people found offensive.
Seriously. Read it again.
A small democratic country is being assaulted by the violent, manic passions of the world's most hideous regimes for having published editorial cartoons that some people found offensive.
One more time, and really think about it this time.
A small democratic country is being assaulted by the violent, manic passions of the world's most hideous regimes for having published editorial cartoons that some people found offensive.
And American "liberals" have their panties in a bundle over their free speech rights because of a letter to an editor.
You want a chilling effect? I got your chilling effect right here.
(And that link includes the following beautiful photo, which ought to be titled "Now do you get it?" and sent to every editor of every newspaper in the country.)
Come on, America. This ain't a left-right thing. Someone in America publish the damn cartoons! I don't care if it's the Boston Globe or the Orange County Register or the Springfield Shopper, just be that shining beacon I'm so proud of you for (sometimes) being!
(And drink Carlsberg.)
Oh... one more thing: be sure you've got the right 12 cartoons. (Although I don't like the editorial commenting that's been appended to some of the translations: delete that crap and get a real translator.)
Thursday, February 02, 2006
Maybe the Islamists won't back down after all. I suppose we'll know for sure after tomorrow's evening prayers. But this kind of thing (do read it!) doesn't inspire much confidence:
Decrees by the Saved Sect and the Al-Ghurabaa organizations, both founded by followers of notorious Islamist leader Sheikh Omar Bakri (who was banned from Britain after the July London bombings) have called on British Muslims to "support the jihad against Israel," and to "kill those who insult the prophet Muhammad," in reference to the cartoons of Islam's prophet that appeared in the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten."The kuffar in their sustained crusade against Islam and Muslims have yet again displayed their hatred towards us this time by attacking the honour of our beloved Messenger Muhammad," a message in the Ghurabba website read.
Remeber all of this was triggered by twelve editorial cartoons published in a little, privately-owned newspaper in the Danish hinterlands... and then tell me the cartoons weren't spot-fricking-on. As to moderates who were offended but are trying to soothe the hurt feelings and very angry words (and death threats) coming from the Middle East -- thank you. Your effort is noted and appreciated. But can you not see these reactions and understand why those of us outside Islam associate it with a demented, violent, heavily-armed mania? The fact that you are taking steps to soothe the gorillas in your midst suggests that you acknowledge there are gorillas in your midst, and because they've been louder and more violent than you (moderates) for so many years, of course the rest of us have come to equate Islam with such behavior, which explains why two of the twelve cartoons depicted your prophet with (or as) a weapon.
As for those of you who were offended by political cartoons but now vow death and destruction on happy little Denmark, without any acknowledgement that your very reaction is what those cartoons were satirizing (and really only a handful of them!... we have to stop generalizing about the cartoons, we can't forget there were only a few that could possibly be considered offensive, and several that were supportive of Islam!) -- I can't even articulate my rage, my contempt, my fury.
The editor in chief of Jyllands-Posten, Carsten Juste, thinks that freedom of expression has in fact already lost this battle.
And with yesterday's headline that perhaps a 50-million dollar mosque ought to be built in Copenhagen, and this morning's headline regarding the suddenly-increased interest in establishing an "Arab Culture House" in the middle of Copenhagen -- while Arla shuts down facilities and lays off workers, and Jyllands-Posten is evacuated every night due to bomb threats, he may have a point.
Appeasement is not the answer. Whether or not it's intentional, these "couldn't we do something nice to show our Arab Muslim friends we're not such bad folks" suggestions send a very clear signal: we surrender. Respect for your religion is more important to those of us who don't share it than our own commitment to free expression.
I wonder if these same kind-hearted folks would be ready to build a cathedral or a "Roman Catholic Culture Center" if the Pope issued an encyclical condemning the number of abortions in Denmark or something. Why is everyone only worried about offending Arab Muslims? Why aren't we all apologizing all over the place to offended Jews, Hindus, Buddhists, atheists, agnostics, Heaven's Gaters, Scientologists, vegans, fetishists, teetotallers, New Agers, circus freaks, and blonds?
Yeah, how about offended blondes? Maybe Scandinavia should start boycotting every country where blonde jokes have appeared in the media! Quick, recall our ambassador to America--they're showing reruns of Three's Company!
I'm keeping the faith for now, so I disagree with Herr Juste, but I think we've just about reached the tipping point and I don't doubt it could go either way. Hopefully America and other countries will publish those damn cartoons and the Arab League and OIC will back down and their bullying gambit will be seen by everyone for what it really was.
Wednesday, February 01, 2006
A phrase I never thought I'd hear myself exclaiming this decade: Hooray for France and Germany!
(And Italy and Spain and Holland, too, I think.)
The Muhammed drawing cartoons are being reprinted all over Europe, often accompanied by staunch editorials insisting that the west ought not to yield an inch in its commitment to a free press.
They're still not being reprinted enough for my tastes, but the stakes have clearly been raised for the Arab Muslim militants:
Are you now going to burn the flags of France, Germany, Italy, Spain, and Holland, along with Denmark's? Are you going to chant "Death to France! War on France!" (and Germany, and Italy, and Spain, and Holland) as you chanted against Denmark? Are you going to burn pictures of the heads of state of those countries? Are you going to boycott all of them? Are you going to issue more fatwas? Are your papers going to grind out editorials demand the EU and UN punish all of these countries? Are you going to demand apologies from all of their governments? And then more apologies? And then still more, since the first two weren't grovelling enough to suit your tastes?
My guess is the Saudi masters recognize they've lost this round and retreat. (I don't think any of this could have or would have happened without the active incitement, if not orchestration, of the Saudi Wahabbists.)
If the Wahabbists don't issue an order to stand down, however, this is just so ugly it may well lead to the definitive confrontation of the war on terror to this point.
(I wish an American paper would step up and reprint the cartoons, though.)
Tuesday, January 31, 2006
DR1 has been running "expanded coverage" of the continuing crises the last couple of nights at 9pm. This stuff just makes my jaw drop. I absolutely cannot begin to fathom the virulence, the hatred, and the ignorance of the Arab-Muslim world as portrayed on tv.
My favorite comment came from a woman in, I think, Kuwait. She spoke in English. Asked by the Danish reporter if Jylland-Posten's "apology" was enough to satisfy her, she said, "We need more, we need more, we need your king to apologize."
Okay, lady. We'll send the king right over.
Another beautiful moment--beautiful because it proved me prophetic--was when an Arab Muslim immigrant in Copenhagen explained patiently to a reporter that "even Bill Clinton has said these drawings were wrong, that it's wrong to insult someone's religion."
Even Bill Clinton!
They also had interviews with some of the Arla employees being laid off from their jobs as a result of the company's lost revenues from the boycott. That was sad.
It was also noted that some Danish Muslims are considering a tour of the Middle East to explain to their co-religionists exactly how back-asswards they've got this whole thing. That was cheering.
There was more coverage of the bomb threat that evacuated Jyllands-Posten. That was depressing. (You have offended me with your cartoon portrayals of my prophet, which drawings hurt my feelings. It is therefore right and reasonable that I threaten to kill you.)
And then there was a smarmy journalist from Al Jazeera, in Copenhagen to cover this whole ugly meltdown, explaining with indescribable condescension that if only Anders Fogh Rasmussen had met with the offended ambassadors in October, none of this would be happening.
And I am the king of Denmark.
(So I guess I'm off to Kuwait. . .)
Overheard at a demonstration by Islamic Jihad in Gaza today.
When are we allowed to get "insulted" and "offended"? I know they've already burned the Danish flag, but is it alright to declare that "fury and rage burns in my breast--death to Gaza! War on Gaza!" now that they're calling for the death of my wife and daughter? Does that yet merit the kind of rage that editorial cartoons can apparently understandably inspire, or have we not reached that level yet?
How long do we have to pretend these people actually have a legitimate ground for this disgusting, ceaseless, murderous rage? There are good peaceful people all over the Middle East. It's past time they rein these whackjobs in. Or just have a civil war and shoot them, for ------'s sake. (I almost wrote "for God's sake," but that's kind of the problem here, ain't it?)
One heartening note: "Unge palæstinensere oplyser dog, at ingen danskere skal føle sig utrygge i Gaza, skriver Politikens korrespondent i Gaza, Hanne Foighel." English: "Young Palestinians inform, however, that no Dane should feel unsafe in Gaza, writes Politiken's correspondent in Gaza, Hanne Foighel."
(Islamic Jihad, on the other hand, is counting down their 72-hour ultimatum for all Danes to be out of Gaza.)
Here's a disturbing story from Politiken: apparently the police are advising Danes not to participate in demonstrations in retaliation to the demonstrations we're seeing on the news every day from the Middle East (in which Danish flags are burned, Palestinians chant, "Look out, Denmark, Islam will bury you," and so on).
The head of PET, Lars Findsen, says "Det er noget, vi er optaget af. Hvis den slags gennemføres, kan det medvirke til, at situationen eskalerer yderligere." In English: "This is something we're concerned about. If this type of thing comes about, it can contributed to the situation escalating further."
The PET says the extreme right wing of Danish politics is organizing these demonstrations, which isn't surprising. What's surprising is the gentle request that they not happen. Even if it's fricking neo-Nazis who want to demonstrate, I can't recall a precedent of a government organization advising Danes not to express themselves in any way. (Although the authorities did close down a Nazi radio station last year after one of their "hosts" suggested Muslims had to be driven out of the country or killed.)
I certainly don't recollect the police issuing any "think twice"-type advisories when Muslims demonstrated against Jylland Postens exercise in free expression. Can you imagine? "Muslims ought to think twice about demonstrating, because they'll be sending a message of religious extremism that may not be well understood by ethnic Danes." Maybe you've got a better imagination than I do, but I think it'll rain herring in Riyadh before the Danish police issue any kind of advisory as to what Danish Muslims ought and ought not do.
I don't want to defend these demonstrations, because I don't know enough about them and they may well be more anti-Arab than pro-free expression. But to hear this kind of language from an official source in Denmark is troubling.
But maybe that's just me. Any Danes want to cast some light on this for me? (Trine's off on a play date with Molli Malou, so my default advisor is absent for the time being.)
Oh... Another thing. This whole "Buy Danish" thing seems to be catching on in the states and I love it. I'm going to write an email later tonight urging my American friends and family to drink (imported!) Carlsberg and Tuborg during the Super Bowl. And maybe put some Danish blue cheese on their burgers ( mmmm). And maybe buy some Lego. If I had rich friends I'd urge them on to Bang & Olufsen, Georg Jensen, and Royal Copenhagen.
Oh... baby back ribs, too! And ham! And those cookies in tins! There's all kinds of Danish stuff you can buy!
Monday, January 30, 2006
Denmark adores former U.S. president Bill Clinton. He gets rock star treatment here. I'm wondering if that may change, now that he's basically taken the Arab-Muslim side on this issue ( Danish; English).
He said some startlingly inappropriate things, especially considering he was speaking in Doha, Qatar. Or maybe that makes them startlingly appropriate, given his brilliance at saying exactly what the audience around him wants to hear.
"So now what are we going to do? ... Replace the anti-Semitic prejudice with anti-Islamic prejudice?" he said at an economic conference in the Qatari capital of Doha."In Europe, most of the struggles we've had in the past 50 years have been to fight prejudices against Jews, to fight against anti-Semitism," he said.Clinton described as "appalling" the 12 cartoons published in a Danish newspaper in September depicting Prophet Mohammed and causing uproar in the Muslim world."None of us are totally free of stereotypes about people of different races, different ethnic groups, and different religions ... there was this appalling example in northern Europe, in Denmark ... these totally outrageous cartoons against Islam," he said.The cartoons, including a portrayal of the prophet wearing a time-bomb-shaped turban, were reprinted in a Norwegian magazine in January, sparking uproar in the Muslim world where images of the prophet are considered blasphemous.
Those appalling cartoons. Those totally outrageous cartoons against Islam. Remember them? Have another look. (There's a link below somewhere.)
Out of the twelve images, three are clearly intended to be supportive of Islam and critical of the newspaper's "stunt" in soliciting drawings of Mohammed. Five are simply renditions of Mohammed that don't strike me as being either obviously supportive or critical.
Four are clearly intended to be negative and/or critical: (1) Mohammad, his eyes boxed out (to protect his anonymity?), drawing a blade and scowling, flanked by two startled-looking women in Burqas; (2) a line of apparent suicide bombers arriving in heaven to someone, presumably Mohammed, with outstretched arms exclaiming, "Stop, stop, we ran out of virgins!"; (3) a sort of weird doodly thing with a couplet accusing the prophet of keeping women under the yoke; (4) Mohammed in a turban that's actually a bomb with a lit fuse.
So first of all, only a third of the cartoons can even rightfully be called "appalling" or "against Islam." (And frankly it's only the turban-as-bomb image that I think begins to merit that kind of language, and even then I think it still falls short of it.)
Secondly, as this article makes clear, an enormous amount of the perceived insult in the Arab and Muslim world has to do with the fact that such images of the prophet are considered blasphemous. I have a hard time imagining Mr. Clinton getting worked up about blasphemy.
Thirdly, he (and many other critics) seem to find fault with the images for perpetuating stereotypes. They only have one thing in common that I can see, and that's that of the eleven images that do in some way represent Mohammed (remember, two of them don't even picture the prophet!), all of them feature him in a turban and with a beard. In two he has a halo.
In one he's holding a staff and leading a donkey.
In one his face is partly composed of the star-and-crescent emblem of Islam.
In one he's in heaven.
And, of course, in one his turban is a bomb with its fuse lit. (I've seen some people speak of this as a ticking bomb, but I've never heard a fuse that ticked.)
Fourthly, as I mentioned earlier, while the former president was delivering these no-doubt well-received platitudes, masked gunmen were storming the EU office in Gaza to protest the cartoons... suggesting by example that perhaps there was some little truth that a link did in fact exist between Islam and a certain kind of theocratic militancy, suggesting in turn that perhaps an editorial cartoon addressing this relationship might not be entirely out of line.
So I'd like to ask Mr. Clinton exactly what's so appalling and totally outrageous that he felt the rights of a free press in a secular, democratic state should be shitcanned by a popular former president of the U.S., with all the gravity that connotes. Do you think the Arab world isn't going to hail him as their champion for this show of solidarity with their offended dignity? Do you not think his words are already flashing around the Middle East via SMS? Do you think those words will not be thrown back in the face of every well-meaning Dane trying to explain how a free press works to the furious Muslims whom Bill Clinton has just helped persuade are right to be so offended?
I hope the message isn't lost on Danes. I suspect it won't be.
Thanks, Mr. Clinton.
I'm struck by two idiotic developments in this escalating crisis today.
The first was a report that there's apparently a Danish SMS campaign underway encouraging Danes to boycott "Muslim" businesses (such as pizzarias and kiosks) in retaliation for the Arab-Muslim boycott against Denmark.
Very clever. Let's punish the hard-working, law-abiding, entrepreneurial Muslim immigrants in Denmark to get back at the crazy, violent extremists in the countries they left behind.
The second is the news that a group of masked gunmen stormed an EU office in Gaza. That's right. To protest a Danish newspaper's blasphemous depiction of Mohammed as, among other things, a terrorist, we're going to respond by masking ourselves and waving some guns and grenades around a civilian political office. Good idea. That'll make sure no one ever again mistakes Islam for a religion of terrorism.
I'm frankly astonished things have gotten this ugly this fast. Surely they're going to get worse. Hopefully the prime minister will be well received the the special EU meeting today and the EU and NATO can make it crystal clear to the hysterically overwrought Arab League and OIC that in our civilization, freedom of speech and of the press trumps all things ecclesiastical.
(One is certainly tempted to ask: if their civilization is so respectful of other belief systems, why do such awful things about Judaism make such regular appearances in their media? Has any western media outlet referred to Muslims as pigs and monkeys? Is there an anti-Islamic equivalent of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, and, if so, has it appeared on any state-owned western media? Has anyone written a book accusing Muslims of secretly controlling the Vatican, the World Bank, and Major League Baseball?)
See, there I go again, trying to inspect all this from a rational perspective. It doesn't work. This is a terrifying kind of religious mania that probably can't be extinguished without. . . well, hell, I don't even like to think about it. So I won't.
Lunch is over, and I think I'll spend the rest of the day in denial.
Sunday, January 29, 2006
Norway's government is sorry, it's really sorry.
Which is ironic, given their longstanding historical commitment to freedom of expression.
My question about the courage of the European left has been answered. When democratic Israel is insulted and outraged, we get paragraphs like this:
Youngstorget Square "is the place where political opinions are traditionally expressed in Norway, and it is not for us to decide what is acceptable or not," the official, Oscar Halvorsen, said.
Ms Herzl said it was unacceptable to link Israel and the United States to Nazism, but Mr Reddy said that the ambassador was using the fascists' own tool, censorship, and that his art challenged nationalism.
But when you anger the democratic governments of Saudi Arabia, Iran, and Kuwait, you get paragraphs like this (my own hasty translation):
The caricature drawings in the Christian magazine Magazinet are not constructive toward building the necessary bridge between people with different religious faiths and ethnic backgrounds. They contribute sooner to creating mistrust and unnecessary conflict.
Got the message, everyone? Terrorism works: the Norwegian government has been terrorized into willfully renouncing freedom of expression and genuflecting to the imperious commands of theocratic dictators . Hell, the government even advised its diplomatic corps to play down the notion of a free press when talking the situation over with protesting governments!
But don't go blaming Norway as a whole. They may be lousy whale-snarfing bastards, but they wouldn't have been put in this position if one of their magazines hadn't republished the JP photos in an act of ytringsfrihed solidarity.
Quislings, thy name is still Quisling...
And remeber this, in Sweden? Is it safe to assume our friends across the sound will close ranks with Denmark and defend the Muhammad drawing "Art" with the same admirable dedication to the sanctity of free artistic expression that they exhibited in the face of Israeli protests?
(Lastly, from time to time I ought to re-post a link to the twelve drawings that inspired Saudi Arabia to boycott Lego. You think Jesus comes off much better in South Park?)