Saturday, February 18, 2006
I linked to the Danish cartoons ,and to the latest abu Ghraib pics, so I might as well include this. Follow this link to see the latest cartoon disrespecting radical Islamists and their mad prophet.
I understand that from the perspective of crisis management, such impertinence as the cartoonist displays is considered counter- productive and an irresponsible incentive to further violence, but that judgment is based on a few extremely dubious propositions.
1) that the violent demonstrations raging throughout the Islamic world are an honest expression of outrage sparked by slanderous journalism. This, of course, is not true. To a great extent the demonstrations are "rent a mob" activity artificially and hypocritically ginned up by radical Islamists and cynical governments in an attempt to intimidate the West.
2) that acquiescence in the face of organized violence will quiet, rather than encourage, further violence. So far, attempts to appease the rioters have resulted only in wider disruption and escalating demands on the part of the demonstrators. What is more, it is clear that in the absence of the cartoons, the organizers of these protests would have found some other pretended "offense" upon which to base their demands. The cartoons, in other words, are an excuse for, not a cause of violence.
3) that appeasement costs us little or nothing. Government pressure to restrict freedom of expression, as has been manifested by several EU spokesmen, and lately endorsed by Bill Clinton, would compromise fundamental principles on which Western liberalism is based. Attempts to avoid giving offense, while laudable, ultimately result in an erosion of essential freedoms. Journalists are often obnoxious assholes [see David Gregory, for instance], but muzzling them is not an acceptable option. They must be tolerated, but not necessarily celebrated.
Certainly journalists have an obligation to act responsibly, and reckless provocation on their part should be noted and denounced, but actions and statements on the part of public officials, including those who are now out of office [yes, I mean you Bill and Jimmah], must also be constrained by standards of responsibility. Right now the ex-presidents and EU appeasers are far more deserving of our opprobrium than the journalists.