“Strange it is, that men should admit the validity of the arguments for free discussion, but object to their being ‘pushed to an extreme’; not seeing that unless the reasons are good for an extreme case, they are not good for any case.”
– John Stuart Mill (1806-1873)
The commentariat’s response to the Danish cartoons that mocked Muhammad reminds me of the iconic scene in “Raiders of the Lost Ark.” Challenged to a duel by a scimitar-wielding enemy, Indiana Jones draws a pistol and dispatches the swordsman without further ado.
In my analogy, Indiana Jones, however, is the Muslim world. His showy opponent is the West, which has unleashed its penmen on rampaging Muslim mobs to convolute about the values of freedom of expression, enquiry and conscience.
How have Muslims responded to these lofty disquisitions? As Indiana Jones did, lethally – by calling for the heads of the offenders. From Indonesia to Egypt they’ve kidnapped, killed and set fire to embassies and missions, promising to visit a “holocaust” on those who pictorially depict or misspeak about Muhammad.
We are up against a culture whose adherents think that “offensive” speech is punishable by death. And how do the sclerotic American media respond? The pluckiest mainstreamer was blushing bride, Andrew Sullivan (he’s engaged). “Your taboo is not mine; you can respect a religion without honoring its taboos … We owe all faiths respect,” he sibilated.
Sullivan’s solution: cajoling mulish Muslims to learn to “deal with being offended.” Christopher Hitchens pleaded plaintively: “I, too, have strong convictions.” (“Talk to the hand, infidel,” came the reply.)
What, then, of those who disrespect Islam (and for good reason)? Should they be condemned to live in fear of death? The French author Michel Houellebecq was dragged before a French Revolutionary Assembly (English for a Parisian court) for calling Islam “a stupid religion.” For her contempt of Islam, Oriana Fallaci was forced to flee her native Italy. According to Sullivan’s respect-for-all-faiths fatwa, the hounding by Muslims of Fallaci, Houellebecq and others could be justified.
The media’s other central stupidity was to debate how offensive the cartoons really were and whether or not the barbarians had a case. This, of course, is immaterial – a red herring really.
Here’s how we’re supposed to roll in America: Every human being has the right to speak his mind without being intimidated or threatened with extermination. We didn’t dispute the right of Andres Serrano of the “Piss Christ” fame to freely bare his barren soul and void his prolific bladder. We merely insisted that he (and Amiri Baraka) be removed from the public teat. At no time was this talentless artiste intimidated. The Bill of Rights protects speech that’s untrue, too. Holocaust deniers have every right to speak their misguided minds with impunity.
The myth of moderation was next. Mediacrats were consoled by the fact that only a fraction of the 1.2 billion strong Ummah was out raising hell. That most Muslims were mum was interpreted as a sign of moderation.
However, moderation’s front men in Europe, England and the United States, not least our own Councils on American-Islamic Relations and on Muslim Public Affairs (both defenders of Hamas and Hezbollah) all talked Taqiyya.
Ibrahim Hooper and Nihad Awad of CAIR clucked a bit about rejecting the Looney-Tune inspired mayhem. But they hastened to frame the Danes’ exercise of free speech as an incitement to hate, even invoking “the genocide of Muslims in Bosnia” for their slippery-slope illogic.
Dhimmitude by degrees is what they demanded. To speak freely, we in the West will have to speak responsibly, OR ELSE. Like Patrick J. Buchanan, these “moderates” also called for an apology from “the Europress.” Buchanan dubbed the defiance of the “Great Danes” nothing but “juvenile idiocy.”
More material, polls repeatedly show that the Islamic world, except for a persecuted minority, is rather radical. For instance, Muslims in general don’t believe bin Laden pulled off Sept. 11 – they think the Mossad did the deed and the CIA helped frame him. That’s as moderate as it gets.
Pope Benedict XVI is not wild about Bush’s “religion of peace” appellation. Is the greatest Christian theologian alive suggesting there’s sufficient evidence to consider the term “radical Islam” a redundancy? Indeed he is.
Islam is radical, and by extension, so are its true believers. Some are simply more devoted than others. What consolation is there, then, in the knowledge that only 100 million Islamists are ready to march on the West? Wouldn’t you agree that France’s Muslims more than made up for their minority status during the 2005 riots?
So how does one “bravely defend” freedom of speech, as Jeff Jacoby exhorted, if you’ve invited into your midst adherents of a faith incompatible with a free society? How do you fight for freedom if a potentially dangerous segment of the public views assassinations, riots and terrorism as legitimate tools in a political or religious struggle; and who, in the words of the heroic dissident Ibn Warraq believe the West is “decadent, a den of iniquity, the source of all evil; racist, and imperialist”?
The camel in the room has remained camouflaged throughout. The thing that dare not speak its name is legal and unselective immigration. The state compels Americans to bear the brunt of a multicultural, egalitarian, immigration quota system, which emphasizes mass importation of people from the Third World, more often than not of the Islamic faith. Yet after refusing to restrict admission into the United States, the government proceeds to spy on these “worthies” once they’re in the country legally.
It is the duty of a constitutional government to repel the American people’s potential enemies before they enter the country. Unlike preemptive assault in the absence of a clear and present danger, preemptive defense is perfectly proper.
A culturally coherent immigration policy is the best defense. Unless Bush does his constitutional duty, it’ll be only a matter of time before the first American Theo van Gogh is stuck like a pig on our streets.