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:

Mike Luckovich Cartoonists Nightmare mullah as editor

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.


Danish Muslim Cartoons - Click to enlarge

See these cartoons in full size here.

Related entries below the fold.

FILED UNDER: Democracy, Europe, Terrorism, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. McGehee says:

    The impulse to not offend Muslims is decent and understandable.

    I used to think the impulse to not offend anyone was decent and understandable. But I’ve seen enough Offended-Americans in action looking for something to take offense at, as though they aren’t truly alive unless inhabiting the highest possible dudgeon, to know that trying not to offend people is just asking for trouble.

    Fuck ’em all.

  2. McGehee says:

    The impulse to not offend Muslims is decent and understandable.

    I used to think the impulse to not offend anyone was decent and understandable. But I’ve seen enough Offended-Americans in action looking for something to take offense at, as though they aren’t truly alive unless inhabiting the highest possible dudgeon, to know that trying not to offend people is just asking for trouble.

    [CENSORED] ’em all.

    (the fact my comment won’t post with the word I meant to use — in a thread about censorship — is just [CENSORED] hilarious.)

  3. John Burgess says:

    I’m not sure that having a diplomat running Public Diplomacy is a given plus.

    The last diplomat to head that office (then USIA) was Henry Catto.

    In the course of a long and distinguished diplomatic and government career, Henry Catto has been director of the United States Information Agency (1991-93), U.S. Ambassador to the United Kingdom (1989-91), Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs and Pentagon Spokesman (1981-83), U.S. Representative to the United Nations Offices in Geneva (1976-77), Chief of Protocol, White House and Department of State (1974-76), U.S. Ambassador to El Salvador (1971-73), and Deputy Representative to the Organization of American States (1969-71).

    Clearly qualified (he and his wife owned a bunch of radio stations in Texas, too).

    But while he didn’t do any harm to USIA, he didn’t particularly do a lot of good, either. There were no terrific, new initiatives (though there was rapid expansion of existing programs into the former Soviet Union).

    His tenure was between that of two of the biggest disasters the agency had, Bruce Gelb and Joseph Duffey. In my opinion, the first simply slept through the job while the second worked to actively dismantle USIA. He succeeded when USIA was “reorganized” into State.

  4. James Joyner says:

    John makes an excellent point. In theory, a Middle East expert, preferably an Arabist, would hold the position. But it may be the case where a PR pro–which Hughes is–is the right way to go.

  5. Herb says:

    While I have a lot of sympathy and can understand how the Dames feel about not getting more support from the US, I must say that the Danes and the Europeans have brought this upon themselves. Thier ultra liberal policies have welcomed Muslims in their country, fed them, clothed them and provided them with housing at the expense of working Danes. The Danish people is who I feel sorry for. They are getting the brunt of this entire fiasco. The only course of action the Danes can take to earn any credability is to deport the Muslims back to their homeland where thay can riot, kill and steal anything they want.

    For the US, our leaders never learn, (Dems and Reps>) and the people will end up paying for the failed policies that cater to the so called moderate Muslims. If there are Moderate Muslims, where the hell are they, I haven’t seen any indications of a muslim movement against the muslim extremist movement. For me, I just don’t have any trust in what any Muslim says or does and the sooner we, here in the US, realize that the better off and safer we all will be.

    It will take another 9/11 for anyone to wake up and take back our country from those who subsctibe to appeasement.

  6. G A PHILLIPS says:

    One more time, there are no moderate Muslims just non-believers, And Herb is right, our leaders pay no attention to history, then again not many do.

  7. anjin-san says:

    So I guess when Bush censors photos of flag draped coffins coming back from Iraq it is GOOD censorship, as opposed to BAD censorship by Muslims.

    Censorship is just bad. Lets put more focus on the state of freedom in our own country. Pointing fingers at others is a way of fooling ourselves that it is not in decline here.

  8. LJD says:

    Anjin San, once again way out in left field…

    Flag draped coffins are not ‘censored’ as you so ignorantly put it. The soldier and their family is honored by preserving the sanctity of their sacrifice from whackos like Code Pink.

    Get a grip.

  9. LJD says:

    Further, no one has been killed in riots over ‘flag draped coffins’.

    If you can’t see the difference, you are blind to reality.

  10. LJD says:

    I suppose disrespecting those who made the ultimate sacrifice, for your right to ‘prove’ the war is wrong, is a fair trade to you.


  11. Mook says:

    GO LJD GO!!
    Let us know how you really feel. 🙂

  12. LJD says:

    I will. As a Veteran from a long line of American patriots, this kind of ‘free speech’ makes me lose my mind. If I only had the opportunity to witness such tripe in person, it might look a lot like Muslims rioting over cartoons.

  13. anjin-san says:


    Sorry pal, it is not up to you to decide what respects or disrespects fallen combat soldiers coming home from Iraq. You can thump your chest and shriek about your patriotisim all you like, but like the rest of the Bushites, you have no corner on that market, except in your own mind.

    In the minds of millions of Americans it is a disrespect to censor the photos of returning coffins in an effort to try and minimize the ultimate sacrafice made by these brave young men.

    You know LDJ, Bush has left our military with severe manpower issues. I would think that as a vet and as one of the only patriots in America, you would have voulenteered for combat in this war you believe so deeply in. Guess its easier to talk tough when it is some other guys ass on the line.

  14. anjin-san says:


    Sorry pal, but deciding what “disrespects” brave young men who have fallen in Iraq is not up to you.

    I know that as a Bushsite, you are the self-appointed judge of who is patriotic in America, (why don’t you just call yourself “Tail Gunner”?), but millions of us feel that censoring the photos of coffins coming home in a politically-based attempt to minimize the sacrifce of these young men and the carnage in Iraq is really where the disrespect lies.

    As for assholes who disrupt funerals, please don’t try and associate anyone who disagrees with your politics with them. It is pretty weak.

    LJD you must know about the manpower crisis that Bush’s war has caused in the military. I would think that as a vet and the last American patriot, you would have voulenteered for combat duty in Iraq to support the mission you so stongly believe in. Guess it is easy to talk tough on blogs when it is some other guys ass on the line.

  15. LJD says:

    You are truly a moron. If you want to learn more about that which you speak so ignorantly of, maybe YOU should sign up.

    In no stretch of the imagination can EXPLOITING the deaths of our fallen heroes be construed as ‘free speech’.

    THE ONLY citizens in a position to make that call are the family memebers. Unless of course your mom is Cindy Sheehan. Then you better have a damn good Will.

  16. anjin-san says:


    So the families of every single family of a fallen serviceman wants the photos of the coffins censored. And of course you can document this. I am standing by for you to provide the documentation.

    So showing a photo of a coffin coming home is exploitation, no ifs ands or buts?

    Lets extend your “logic”. A family is blow up by terroritst in Iraq. The US media repots it. The White House mentions it at a press briefing. Are the media and the WH “exploiting” the incident? Should they have to contact the families of the victims in Iraq to obtain permission and waivers before proceeding?

    You might want to be careful about using expression like moron dude, there is an old saying about the pot calling the kettle black.

  17. LJD says:

    Not so good with the reading comprehension, eh?

    If you re-read my comment, you will find that I said the decision should be up to the family, not some pinko journalist with a cross to bear.

    There is a BIG difference between reporting a suicide bombing, and showing rows of coffins for the emotional effect that it produces.

    Thank God you’re not in charge of it. I would have to come back from the grave to wring your scrawny neck.