February 07, 2006

Western Dhimmitude


NOTE: The Danish cartoons and caricatures of the Prophet Mohammed can be seen at MohammedCartoons.com. Our other related cartoons are: Image Problem and A Right to Blasphemy.

CNN continues to add a caveat to its coverage of the Cartoon Jihad: "CNN has chosen to not show the cartoons out of respect for Islam." You can see the admission at the end of this story: More deaths as anti-cartoon riots spread.

Some on the left appear to be taking a "blame the victims" approach best exemplified by Antonia Zerbisias in Hate behind right-wing blogburst.

In issuing their fatwa on the Muslims who are calling for the heads of people whose mightiest weapon is the pen, the North American pyjamahadeen have gone too far, using the incident as another reason to bash Muslims and sow further divisions between what are already "clashing civilizations."

In other words, let's not go "too far" and openly criticize those who would kill us for exercising our freedom to criticize Islam -- we'll only make it worse! Yeah, right. And let's make western woman wear burqas so they won't provoke rapists. This is not about "bashing Muslims" -- it's about highlighting why we're in a war. Zerbisias seems to have forgotten that thousands of us have already been murdered by Islamic fundamentalists. We're way past "further divisions."

As Glenn Reynolds noted: "You'd expect lefties like Zerbisias to side with people like [Instapundit commenter] McDowell, and [Iraqi Muslim blogger] Zeyad, over a bunch of sexist, homophobic theocrats -- but that would require that they side with America, too. Which is right out." (Michelle Malkin also responded.)

Daniel Pipes has a must-read editorial on the subject: Cartoons and Islamic Imperialism.

The key issue at stake in the battle over the twelve Danish cartoons of the Muslim prophet Muhammad is this: Will the West stand up for its customs and mores, including freedom of speech, or will Muslims impose their way of life on the West? Ultimately, there is no compromise: Westerners will either retain their civilization, including the right to insult and blaspheme, or not.

Pipes rightly notes where America shamefully forfeited the first battles for our freedom to criticize Islam:

In 1989, Salman Rushdie came under a death edict from Ayatollah Khomeini for satirizing Muhammad in his magical-realist novel, The Satanic Verses. Rather than stand up for the novelist's life, President George H.W. Bush equated The Satanic Verses and the death edict, calling both "offensive." The then secretary of state, James A. Baker III, termed the edict merely "regrettable."

Even worse, in 1997 when an Israeli woman distributed a poster of Muhammad as a pig, the American government shamefully abandoned its protection of free speech. On behalf of President Bill Clinton, State Department spokesman Nicholas Burns called the woman in question "either sick or … evil" and stated that "She deserves to be put on trial for these outrageous attacks on Islam." The State Department endorses a criminal trial for protected speech?

Meanwhile, AP reported yesterday that Danish Companies Hurt by Muslim Boycott.

The boycott of Danish goods called by Islamic countries to protest the publication of Prophet Muhammad caricatures is costing Danish businesses millions of kroner (more than a million euros, dollars) a day, analysts and companies said.


You can still help to counter the boycott by buying Danish products. A list of products and information available at the Buy Danish Web site.

Also yesterday, Jeff Jacoby noted that We are all Danes now.

That anything so mild could trigger a reaction so crazed -- riots, death threats, kidnappings, flag-burnings -- speaks volumes about the chasm that separates the values of the civilized world from those in too much of the Islamic world. Freedom of the press, the marketplace of ideas, the right to skewer sacred cows, the ability to disagree with what you say while firmly defending your right to say it: Militant Islam knows none of this. And if the jihadis get their way, it will be swept aside everywhere by the censorship and intolerance of sharia. ...

Across the continent, nearly two dozen other newspapers have joined in defending that principle. While Islamist clerics proclaim an "international day of anger" or declare that "the war has begun," leading publications in Norway, France, Italy, Spain, Holland, Germany, Switzerland, Hungary, and the Czech Republic have reprinted the Danish cartoons. But there has been no comparable show of backbone in America, where (as of Friday [Feb. 3]) only the New York Sun has had the fortitude to the run some of the drawings.

Malkin notes that a couple of additional U.S. newspapers have since reprinted some of the cartoons.

We added this to an update yesterday, but it deserves reposting. From Speigel magazine: 'Everyone Is Afraid to Criticize Islam', an interview with Ayaan Hirsi Ali, the Dutch politician forced to go into hiding after the murder of filmmaker Theo van Gogh. (via Free Thoughts)

SPIEGEL: But Muslims, like any religious community, should also be able to protect themselves against slander and insult.

HIRSI ALI: That's exactly the reflex I was just talking about: offering the other cheek. Not a day passes, in Europe and elsewhere, when radical imams aren't preaching hatred in their mosques. They call Jews and Christians inferior, and we say they're just exercising their freedom of speech. When will the Europeans realize that the Islamists don't allow their critics the same right? After the West prostrates itself, they'll be more than happy to say that Allah has made the infidels spineless.

For more coverage, check out Small Wars Journal.

UPDATE I: Some anti-dhimmitude in NYC: NY Press Kills Cartoons; Staff Walks Out. (via InstaPundit and Tom Pechinski)

New York Press Editor-in-Chief Harry Siegel emails, on behalf of the editorial staff:

New York Press, like so many other publications, has suborned its own professed principles. For all the talk of freedom of speech, only the New York Sun locally and two other papers nationally have mustered the minimal courage needed to print simple and not especially offensive editorial cartoons that have been used as a pretext for great and greatly menacing violence directed against journalists, cartoonists, humanitarian aid workers, diplomats and others who represent the basic values and obligations of Western civilization. Having been ordered at the 11th hour to pull the now-infamous Danish cartoons from an issue dedicated to them, the editorial group—consisting of myself, managing editor Tim Marchman, arts editorJonathan Leaf and one-man city hall bureau Azi Paybarah, chose instead to resign our positions.

We have no desire to be free speech martyrs, but it would have been nakedly hypocritical to avoid the same cartoons we'd criticized others for not running, cartoons that however absurdly have inspired arson, kidnapping and murder and forced cartoonists in at least two continents to go into hiding.

Our hats are off to them.

And, I forgot to mention earlier that one of three cartoons added to the orginal twelve has been exposed as a fraud. See NeanderNews (who credits "The Celtic Semite" for the lead): Danish Imams Busted!

UPDATE II: Why is it important to publish the Danish cartoons? Thomas Kleine-Brockhoff, a bureau chief of the German newsweekly Die Zeit, explains why in The Washington Post: Tolerance Toward Intolerance. (via TIA Daily)

News people make judgments about taste all the time. We do not show sexually explicit pictures or body parts after a terrorist attack. We try to keep racism and anti-Semitism out of the paper. Freedom of the press comes with a responsibility.

But the criteria change when material that is seen as offensive becomes newsworthy. That's why we saw bodies falling out of the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001. That's why we saw the pictures from Abu Ghraib. On such issues we print what we usually wouldn't. The very nature of the discourse is to find parameters of what is culturally acceptable. How many times have we seen Janet Jackson's breast in the course of a discussion of the limits of family entertainment? How many times have we printed material that Jews might consider offensive in an attempt to define the extent of anti-Semitism? It seems odd that most U.S. papers patronize their readers by withholding cartoons that the whole world talks about. To publish does not mean to endorse. Context matters. ...

In this jihad over humor, tolerance is disdained by people who demand it of others. The authoritarian governments that claim to speak on behalf of Europe's supposedly oppressed Muslim minorities practice systematic repression against their own religious minorities. They have radicalized what was at first a difficult question. Now they are asking not for respect but for submission. They want non-Muslims in Europe to live by Muslim rules.

UPDATE III -- Feb. 7:
Editor & Publisher: Publish or Not? Muhammed Cartoons Still Vexing U.S. Editors
Michell Malkin: CNN's New Stupid Excuse and Video: Alan Dershowitz Gets It. Transcript excerpt:

DERSHOWITZ: ..I was informed yesterday that Time magazine was seriously considering publishing the cartoons. That would take an act of courage.

CNN has shown no courage. It claims it won't publish the cartoons because they're offensive. But they have published previous cartoons that are offensive. The fact is, they're frightened. The fact is, that this kind of religious and intellectual terrorism is working. It is persuading journalists who would otherwise cover this story with the cartoons to back away--not on ideological reasons or not for reasons of protecting or preserving integrity or anything of that kind, but out of physical and economic fear. This is economic, physical terrorism directed at journalists and it is working. They have succeeded in the United States. They have failed in parts of Europe, but they have succeeded in the United States.

...When the burning down of embassies and the fear of fatwas and physical and economic retaliation are what determines the policy, it means that the terrorists have won. And the United States and other European countries have a policy: Never give in to terrorism. Well, they're now giving in to terrorism by not publishing these cartoons--not because they're offensive, they publish plenty of offensive cartoons, but because they are frightened and because they lack the courage to confront this kind of terrorist threat.

UPDATE IV: Under the headline "Publish or Perish," TIA Daily's Robert Tracinski recommended a Washington Times editorial by Tony Blankley: Cartoons, but not the funnies. As Tracinski put it: "Blankley explains why it is vital to republish those cartoons, as a form of defiance against the fear and submission demanded by Muslims." Excerpt:

Those who argue for republication of the Danish cartoons are not 'instigating' a clash of civilization. Nor are they pouring gasoline on a fire. Rather, they are defending against the already declared and engaged radical Islamist clash against the Christian, secular, Jewish, Hindu, Chinese world, by expressing solidarity with the firemen. In this case the firemen, perhaps surprisingly to some, are the European press. French socialist newspapers, the BBC, and other major secular European media stand shoulder-to-shoulder with a right-wing Danish newspaper against what they correctly see is an unyielding demand by radical Islam that Europe begin to start living under sharia law. The American media is proud of its alleged tradition of speaking truth to power and reporting without fear or favor.... But in truth, it doesn't take much courage to criticize a president or corporation or Catholic priest or labor-union boss in America.

UPDATE V -- Feb. 9: From the Ayn Rand Institute: The Twilight of Freedom of Speech by Onkar Ghate.

In the face of the intimidation and murder of European authors, film makers and politicians by Islamic militants, a few European newspapers have the courage to defend their freedom of speech: they publish twelve cartoons to test whether it's still possible to criticize Islam. They discover it isn't. Muslims riot, burn embassies, and demand the censorship and death of infidels. The Danish cartoonists go into hiding; if they weren't afraid to speak before, they are now.

How do our leaders respond? Do they declare that an individual's freedom of speech is inviolable, no matter who screams offense at his ideas? No. Do they defend our right to life and pledge to hunt down anyone, anywhere, who abets the murder of a Westerner for having had the effrontery to speak? No--as they did not when the fatwa against Rushdie was issued or his translators were attacked and murdered.

Instead, the U.S. government announces that although free speech is important, the government shares "the offense that Muslims have taken at these images," and even hints that it is disrespectful to publish them.

Why does a Muslim have a moral right to his dogmas, but we don't to our rational principles? Why, when journalists uphold free speech and Muslims respond with death threats, does the State Department single out the journalists for moral censure? Why the vicious double standard? Why admonish the good to mollify evil?

The answer lies in the West's conception of morality.

UPDATE VI -- Feb. 10: From Washtington Times: Cartoon Rage by Diana West. (via Michelle Malkin)

This is the lesson of Cartoon Rage 2006, a cultural nuke set off by an Islamic chain reaction to those 12 cartoons of Muhammad appearing in a Danish newspaper. We have watched the Muslim meltdown with shocked attention, but there is little recognition that its poisonous fallout is fear. Fear in the State Department, which, like Islam, called the cartoons unacceptable. Fear in Whitehall, which did the same. Fear in the Vatican, which did the same. And fear in the media, which have failed, with few, few exceptions, to reprint or show the images. With only a small roll of brave journals, mainly in Europe, to salute, we have seen the proud Western tradition of a free press bow its head and submit to an Islamic law against depictions of Muhammad. That's dhimmitude.

Posted by Forkum at February 7, 2006 04:48 PM