Day By Day

Friday, February 03, 2006

The Danish Cartoons -- An Incontinent Descent?

A couple of days ago I linked to the inflammatory Danish cartoons that sparked widespread Muslim protests [here]. Since then the controversy has rapidly mushroomed into a major culture clash. Melanie Phillips provides an historical context for the current dispute here. And Wretchard at the Belmont Club makes a typically perceptive observation, to wit:

The holy grail of every agitator is to find an issue on which both sides are unalterably opposed. Radical Islam has found it the blasphemy of Mohammed and ironically gave those who would rouse the West a mirror issue of their own: the blasphemy of censorship and the extinction of freedom of speech.

Both sides now are in too deep to climb down without damage. For the European press the path to this confrontation has been imperceptible, absentminded and catastrophic. Yet all so terribly familiar.The old warnings come naturally to mind.

... descending incontinently, fecklessly the stairway that leads to a dark gulf. It is a fine broad stairway at the beginning, but after a bit the carpet ends. A little farther on there are only flagstones, and a little farther on still these break beneath your feet.

The fine, broad highway to Hell that is political correctness which has achieved the opposite of its intent: not the universal chorus of harmony but religious conflict at its most primitive level.

And do not suppose this is the end.
This is the beginning of the reckoning.
This is only the first sip, the first foretaste of the bitter cup,
which will be proffered to us year by year,
unless by a supreme recovery of moral health and martial vigour,
we rise again and take our stand for freedom as in the olden time.

But the words are only memories. The men who said them are gone and their heirs are not yet found.

Read the whole thing here.

Oh, by the way, the first quote is from Winston Churchill's "While Europe Slept"; the second is from his October 5th, 1938 speech in the House of Commons denouncing Neville Chamberlain's capitulation in Munich to Hitler's demands.

Are we on a path such as the one that led the western democracies into World War II? Consider this statement made by Mark Steyn on Hugh Hewitt's show?

Referring to the demands for censorship from Muslim leaders Steyn said:
You know, you've got to draw the line. You've got to stand firm against that now. And if they are people who are going to kill you, then the sooner they learn that they can't kill you or you're going to kill them, the better.
Read [and hear] it here.

Is Wretchard right? Are we in too deep to dig ourselves out without real damage being done? Well, when people, even those so peripheral to the national debate as Steyn and Hewitt, start talking about killing, things are starting to get dicey.

And they're not the only ones talking about killing. The Telegraph reports:
A leading Islamic cleric called for an "international day of anger" today over publication of caricatures of the Prophet Mohammed, and a Danish activist predicted that deadly violence could break out in Europe "at any minute".
Read it here.

And Ahmedinejad, who is not peripheral, is on the verge of getting a nuke.

Oh dear!


Gateway Pundit notes an organized attempt among Muslims to exacerbate the current controversy. The details are here.

In Der Spiegel Islamic dissident Ibn Warraq writes:
A democracy cannot survive long without freedom of expression, the freedom to argue, to dissent, even to insult and offend. It is a freedom sorely lacking in the Islamic world, and without it Islam will remain unassailed in its dogmatic, fanatical, medieval fortress; ossified, totalitarian and intolerant. Without this fundamental freedom, Islam will continue to stifle thought, human rights, individuality; originality and truth.

Unless, we show some solidarity, unashamed, noisy, public solidarity with the Danish cartoonists, then the forces that are trying to impose on the Free West a totalitarian ideology will have won; the Islamization of Europe will have begun in earnest. Do not apologize.
Read the whole thing here.

We may be approaching a turning of the tide throughout the West. The unrelenting challenge of Islamist extremism is provoking a response first in America and now in Europe that to my mind is beneficial. The rising tide of multicultural relativism and self-hatred that was engulfing many of our major institutions has begun to abate and give way to cultural assertiveness. Incidents such as the cartoon contretemps can only hasten that process.

Hugh Hewitt adds some words of wisdom.

The cartoons were in bad taste, an unnecessary affront to many of the 1.3 billion Muslims in the world, just as Joel Stein affronted the military, the families and friends of the military, and as Toles did the same to the wounded, and their families, friends and admirers. Of course each of them had the absolute right to publish their screed, and the Dutch (and now Norwegian) governments must reply to demands that these papers be punished with a steely refusal to be dictated to as to their culture of free expression and the protection of the vulgar and the stupid.

But don't cheer the vulgar and the stupid.

There are hundreds of thousands of American troops deployed in Iraq, Afghanistan and across the globe among Muslim peoples who they are trying to befriend. The jihadists like nothing more than evidence that these troops represent a West intent on a new crusade and a new domination of Muslims. Idiot cartoonists make our troops' jobs more difficult, and the jihadists' mission easier.

We rightly condemn and must continue to condemn every anti-Semitic outburst from the president of Iran and every anti-Semitic cartoon published in the hate press of the Middle East. Those condemnations loose some of their force among some of the world if we rush to defend those cartoons that can objectively be seen as anti-Muslim.

The jihadists are the enemy, not the Muslim world. Refusing to recognize how idiot cartoonists can indeed offend Muslims who are not only not Islamofascists but also our allies and even our fellow citizens is to refuse Muslims the right to at least the same level of disgust that Christians display when they denounce stupid NBC series like The Book of Daniel or shows like Will & Grace.

Read it here.

Hmmm..., Hewitt is right for the most part, until he gets to the part about Christian protest. I must have missed something. I don't remember any Christians threatening to behead the writers or producers of those execrable shows. There is a problem of disproportionate response here, one that is highlighted by Leon deWinter at the Free West Blog here.

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