Wednesday, February 22, 2006

The Cartoon Wars

I recently subscribed to the Economist, altogether an informative rag, but certainly with a liberal tilt in its editorials. One such editorial dealt with the Muslim rioting inspired over the Danish cartoons. I think they rightly criticized the stream of apologies coming from the West in connection to the cartoons, but for all the wrong reasons, foremost among them an obsession with their own importance as journalists.

When western newspapers lawfully publish words or pictures that cause offense – be they ever so unnecessary, insensitive or disrespectful – western governments should think very carefully before denouncing them… When such a freedom comes under threat of violence, the job of governments should be to defend it without reservation.

First off, when was the last time a western government thought? How does one interview a western government to get its thoughts? People think, and people comprise western governments, and although a person’s position may require that in some cases he be more careful in his pronouncements, most people are used to shooting their mouths off whenever asked to comment. In no cases do such pronouncements immediately constitute the law of the land, except of course in oppressive Moslem states.

And why is it that “such” a freedom requires protection from violence without reservation, read here to mean that a government representative should never criticize the event that precipitated the violence. Suppose, for example, that the KKK had assembled on Martin Luther King day, or even outside the funeral of Coretta Scott King, and proceeded to get its collective ass kicked by the crowd. Would we expect a similar editorial from the Economist vaunting the importance of the right to free assembly, and criticizing the government if it were to criticize the KKK for provoking violence. If, in fact, some member of government were to say that they were going to aggressively seek the prosecution of those responsible for kicking the KKK upside its head, because the right of free assembly is so important, without at the same time censuring the KKK, we’d be hearing about the troubling suspicion of racism in regard to that official.

The media ought to show special sensitivity when the things they say might stir up hatred or hurt feelings of vulnerable minorities.

This is what I call the Christian exception – keep insulting Christianity – submerge crucifixes in urine, throw elephant dung on pictures of the Virgin Mary, make movies where Jesus has sexual relations with Mary Magdelane or even one of his disciples - because Christians are not a minority, and their religion requires them to pray for the enemies of the faith. Not so with the Muslims in Europe – they are a vulnerable minority who are encouraged to kill infidels. So you should tread carefully, but even if you screw up, it is not half as bad as if a member of government criticizes you for it.

In Britain and America, few newspapers feel that their freedoms are at risk. But on the European mainland, some of the papers that published the cartoons say they did so precisely because their right to publish was being called into question.

This is why the cartoons themselves, especially in the aftermath of the murder of the Dutch filmmaker who made a film critical of Islam, are an encouraging sign that continental Europe is beginning to wake up to the fact that their intergenerational Ponzi scheme can only be supported by immigration, and that they had better start cranking out kids or their 1 kid family will, in a matter of 2 or 3 generations, be bowing to Mecca each day. But is it Britain and America’s fault that continental European freedoms are at risk? It should come as no surprise that populations that clearly value security over freedom will see them both erode.

It is no coincidence that the feeblest response to the outpouring of Muslim rage has come from Britain and America. Having sent their armies rampaging into the Muslim heartland, planting their flags in Afghanistan and Iraq and putting Saddam Hussein on trial, George Bush and Tony Blair have some making up to do with Muslims. Long before making a drama out of the Danish cartoons, a great many Muslims had come to equate the war on terrorism with a war against Islam.

Absolutely classic. All of continental Europe reacts feebly to terrorism for five years, and as soon as a Dutch embassy is burned to the ground, the Brits and Americans are accused of feebly dealing with the Muslim threat. And this is the old, “we will make no comment that the perception is accurate as opposed to being spoon fed to oppressed populations by their benevolent Moslem masters, but we’ll blame America and Britain for the perception, wrong as it may be. We won’t even acknowledge that it is wrong, and we will assert that in fact Bush and Blair have to make nice.” All of the people Saddam tortured were Muslims. Same for the Taliban. The vast majority of those killed by the current terrorists in Iraq, which elements of the press insist upon calling insurgents, are Muslims. There were Muslims killed in the World Trade Center. At that time, there were 30 some small wars or ongoing military confrontations going on around the world, and all but one involved Moslems on at least one side, and many involved Moslems on both sides. And guess what, if Al Queda defines the war as a war against infidels, then any military response to such a declaration is obviously going to be interpreted by those who define the war in that matter as a war against Islam. Would the Economist just have us stand here and take it, lest we be perceived as fighting against our own slaughter?

And the freedom of expression, remember, is not just a pillar of western democracy … It is also a freedom that millions of Muslims have come to enjoy or aspire to themselves.

Gee, I wonder why millions of Muslims have come to enjoy or aspire to freedom of expression? Must be the inspiration of the French standing up to US and Britain in the Security Council of the UN. Yeah, that’s it.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I saw a cartoon that mocked Chartreuse and I tried to form a violent protest. I could only get one bum from in front of the Reading Terminal Market to join in. I have to admit, I am jealous of the Imams' skills at organizing mass protest.

11:03 AM  
Anonymous Jim O said...

"At that time, there were 30 some small wars or ongoing military confrontations going on around the world, and all but one involved Moslems on at least one side, and many involved Moslems on both sides."

Yeah, but that's just torture and slaughter. THIS involves INSULTS, which are much, much worse than mere torture. Just ask the Imams

Feh. Torture. It's LUXURY compared to being insulted.

1:21 PM  
Blogger Hatcher said...

Hey, who you calling a bum? Next time I'm out!

1:22 PM  
Blogger Incredible Dirigible said...

Yeah, it seems that radical Muslims don't have much of a self-deprecating sense of humor.

To paraphrase Bill O'Reilly's column last week, "When a newspaper prints a picture of artwork exhibiting a crucifix in urine or the Blessed Mother covered in elephant dung, Christians are taught to turn the other cheek. When a newspaper prints a comic strip mocking Allah, radical Muslims are taught to have an entirely different response."

2:34 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


Lately, you have been spending a lot of time trying to be cute, instead of serious. Your last few columns have been pretty light in terms of real content. Cheney, peace activists and now this.

Is this the intellectual depth of your thoughts about the conservative movement? I'm hoping to see you redeem yourself by posting something serious and substantive soon. This isn't exactly "Capitalism and Freedom".

Hope all is well with you in DC. It sounds like I might be moving to the econ department at MN for a job this June.


9:23 PM  
Blogger Professor Vic said...

It's encouraging to see Hatch reading the economist. It's discouraging to see that Hatch thinks its got a liberal tilt.

The Economist endorsed Bush in 2000 and favored the invasion of Iraq. It is pro-free trade, pro-globalization, pro-democracy, pro-free markets, pro-free speech, and generally libertarian on social issues. Exactly what does a magazine have to do to not be accused of being liberal in Hatch's eyes?

Well the Economist is also anti-torture, anti-invading Iraq without a plan to occupy the country, anti-detention without rights, anti-illegal wiretapping, anti-corruption, anti-going to war under false pretenses, and anti-incompetence in general. Apparently, in Hatch's eyes any otherwise conservative organization (like the Economist) that points out the unbelievable multitude of errors that the Bush administration has made must have a liberal tilt.

I think the only tilt the Economist has is calling it like they see it.

1:57 PM  
Blogger Hatcher said...

PatB, if this isn't exactly Capitalism and Freedom, there is a compelling explanation - I aint exactly Milton Friedman.

2:40 PM  

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