Saturday, February 04, 2006

US State Department Capitulation Premature 

Haaretz reports on the US State Department's siding with the embassy burning, murder-threatening mobs intent on ransacking the West out of rage over cartoons published by non-Muslims in a non-Muslim newspaper in a non-Muslim land:

The United States condemned the cartoons, siding with Muslims outraged that newspapers put press freedom over respect for religion. 'We ... respect freedom of the press and expression but it must be coupled with press responsibility. Inciting religious or ethnic hatreds in this manner is not acceptable,' said State Department spokesman Kurtis Cooper.

Major U.S. publications have not republished the cartoons.

In contrast, some European media responded to the criticism against the Danish newspaper that originally printed the caricatures by reproducing the images and fueled anger that has led to boycotts of Danish products and widespread protests.

The furor cuts to the question of which is more sacred in the Western world - freedom of expression or respect for religious beliefs.

Support for freedom of the press with the all-to-selective exception of when it insults someone's sensitivities is NOT freedom of the press -- it's only freedom of the press to print whatever the government's sensitivity-crats authorize. This sham-freedom is not a new invention, an innovation in the art of tolerance -- they already have this in tens of Middle Eastern theocracies and dictatocracies.

The difference between this statement and the arrest of the Jordanian editor who authorized printing the cartoons in his own country is just the bumpy ride down the slippery slope. I would love anyone to present me an authoritative and comprehensive list of Muslim religious sensibilities, a list that is guaranteed not to grow. And not a piece of satire, a real list. If the world caves on this one, what is the next sensitivity? And the one after that?

Doesn't anyone read the online English newspapers from Pakistan and Saudi Arabia? Don't people realize what editors and writers are arrested for in these countries? Here, I'll give you a head start. Try Afghanistan (yes, the country that has been freed from the even-worse Taliban):

One of the stories published in "Women's Rights" questioned the harsh punishment under Shari'a law for women found guilty of adultery, such as stoning. Another article argued that giving up Islam is not a crime.

The magazine's editor, Ali Mohaqiq Nasab, was arrested on 1 October (2005) following a complaint made to the Supreme Court by a religious adviser to Afghan President Hamid Karzai.
Any feminists in the house?

What about Indonesia?

The publishing permit for a tabloid newspaper called Monitor was withdrawn and the editor arrested in November after the Christian-owned paper published a survey of its readers' views on the world's most influential people, and the Prophet Muhamad placed only eleventh. Shortly thereafter, the publisher of another newspaper owned by the same company withdrew his paper from publication after a letter to the editor was printed about a dream that the writer had had about Muhamad. The letter was accompanied by an artist's rendering of the Prophet, in violation of the Islamic ban on such portrayal. At the end of 1990, the police said they were still hunting for the writer of the letter.
Other candidates were allowed to run against Muhammad? Shockingly offensive.

Or how about Iran?

Last month, the managing editor of the same newspaper, Neshat, was imprisoned for thirty months for insulting Islam. The newspaper had published an article calling for the death penalty to be abolished.
Can I get an amen from the anti-death penalty crowd?

Or maybe Saudi Arabia?

Authorities in Saudi Arabia have arrested a popular poet and dismissed a newspaper editor over the publication of a poem criticising the state's Islamic judiciary. [...]

His arrest follows the publication in Saudi Arabia's al-Madina newspaper on 10 March of Mr Musalam's poem, The Corrupt on Earth.

In it, the poet accused some judges of being corrupt and issuing unfair rulings for their own material benefit.
Don't worry, it was probably a bad poem anyway, and clearly it offended Muslim sensibilities, so what else were they supposed to do?

Think clearly. If you wish to live in a society where your very life is on the line with every word you publish, feel free to point your ski tips down this slippery slope, but don't say there wasn't a sign at the top telling you what you should expect to find at the bottom.

But even without the slippery slope, the State Department's capitulation is just premature. Memo to the US State Department: the world-wide caliphate has not yet been created at scimitar point. The need to squelch any thought that is potentially disquieting to the violence-prone amongst Muslims -- not all Muslims, but sadly, way too many -- won't be a valued survival instinct until AFTER Europe applies for dhimmi status, turning Buckingham Palace into a mosque and emptying the Louvre of all naked or bible-themed paintings. You've got at least a couple years left.

But for the moment, Denmark is a sovereign nation not yet governed by Sharia. The penalty for publishing offensive cartoons there is not beheading but having to weather a slew of angry letters to the editor. Does anyone remember those anymore? Whatever happened to the old letter to the editor? These days all we have are pipe-bombs to the editor.

One further note to the State Department, or anyone else who's instinct here is to grovel or cower. Please don't. Our friends the Danes deserve better than that from us. It is quite sufficient to say, yes, we understand you are offended by these images, and you have your own free speech with which to protest them -- but you do not have freedom of violence, or freedom of threat of violence.

Buy Danish. Anything Danish.

(Hat tip to Yael K at Step by Step for her link to the story of the Jordanian editor's firing.)

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