Censorship by the Muslim Mob
Christopher Hitchens is outraged that Western governments, the United States’ in particular, have not done more to defend Denmark against the radical mullahs who have ignited violence over some cartoons.
The incredible thing about the ongoing Kristallnacht against Denmark (and in some places, against the embassies and citizens of any Scandinavian or even European Union nation) is that it has resulted in, not opprobrium for the religion that perpetrates and excuses it, but increased respectability! A small democratic country with an open society, a system of confessional pluralism, and a free press has been subjected to a fantastic, incredible, organized campaign of lies and hatred and violence, extending to one of the gravest imaginable breaches of international law and civility: the violation of diplomatic immunity. And nobody in authority can be found to state the obvious and the necessary—that we stand with the Danes against this defamation and blackmail and sabotage. Instead, all compassion and concern is apparently to be expended upon those who lit the powder trail, and who yell and scream for joy as the embassies of democracies are put to the torch in the capital cities of miserable, fly-blown dictatorships. Let’s be sure we haven’t hurt the vandals’ feelings.
It is indeed quite odd, especially as we are war ostensibly promoting democracy in the Middle East. Sure, there have been plenty of officials condemning violence but that’s easy. Much harder is standing up for the right to free speech.
I am one of the few people to have publicly defended David Irving’s right to publish, and I think it outrageous that he is in prison in Austria for expressing his opinions. But my attachment to free speech is at least absolute and consistent. Those who incite murder and arson, or who silkily justify it, are incapable of rising above the childish glee that culminates in the assertion that two wrongs make a right.
Interesting, the Right Blogosphere–indeed, most of the Blogosphere, period–took this position, on both issues, instinctively.
The preposterous person of Karen Hughes is quoted in the same New York Times article, under her risible title of “Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy.” She tittered outside the store she was happily giving away: “The voices of Muslim Americans have more credibility in the Muslim world frankly than my voice as a government official, because they can speak the language of their faith and can share their experience of practicing their faith freely in the West, and they can help explain why the cartoons are so offensive.” Well, let’s concede that almost any voice in any world has more credibility on any subject than this braying Bush-crony ignoramus, but is the State Department now saying that we shall be represented in the Muslim world only by Muslims? I think we need a debate on that, and also a vote. Meanwhile, not a dollar of Wahhabi money should be allowed to be spent on opening madrasahs in this country, or in distributing fundamentalist revisions of the Quran in our prison system. Not until, at the very least, churches and synagogues and free-thought libraries are permitted in every country whose ambassador has bullied the Danes. If we have to accept this sickly babble about “respect,” we must at least demand that it is fully reciprocal.
Hughes’ job is incredibly difficult and Hitchens’ dismissal is too casual. She’s a crony, in the sense of having a long professional relationship with the president, but she’s demonstrably no ignoramus. That said, I was worried about putting a non-diplomat into such a sensitive post from the beginning.
Furthermore, it should go without saying, that the quarrel is with the president, not his plenipotentiaries. Hughes is carrying out administration policy, not making it up out of whole cloth. Bush has tried to balance the fact that we are at war with Islamist fanatics while at the same time trying to win the respect of moderate Muslims. That is laudable and crucial. Unfortunately, it needs to begin with honesty and the “religion of peace” meme is anything but.
The piece includes this amusing Mike Luckovich cartoon:
Sadly, the nightmare is in danger of becoming a de facto reality. The impulse to not offend Muslims is decent and understandable. In the context of Muslims murdering innocents over free speech, however, it is also dangerous.
See these cartoons in full size here.
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