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Freedom Of Suppression
Kathleen Parker on how the instinct not to offend kills free expression and lets religious fanatics rule:

The past several days of mayhem throughout the Muslim world — all thanks to a handful of mild cartoons depicting the prophet Mohammed — have provided a clarifying moment for those still uncertain about what the West faces from radical disciples of the Islamic faith.

What's clear is that East and West are not just cultures apart, but centuries, and that certain elements of the Muslim world would like to drag us back into the Dark Ages.

What is also clear is that the West's own leaders, both in Europe and the USA, as well as many of our own journalists, have been weak-spined when it comes to defending the principles of free expression that the artists in Denmark were exploring.

Instead of stepping up to passionately defend freedoms won through centuries of bloody sacrifice, most have bowed to ayatollahs of sensitivity, rebuking the higher calling of enlightenment and sending the cartoonists into hiding under threat of death.

Many U.S. newspapers have declined to reproduce the cartoons out of respect for Muslims, setting up the absurd implication that an open airing of the debate's content constitutes disrespect. Both the U.S. State Department and the Vatican have declared that Muslims were justified in being offended, while former president Bill Clinton, speaking in Qatar last month, called the cartoons "appalling."

Mob rule

Of course, one can always justify being offended because taking offense is always a subjective act of volition. What is appalling, meanwhile, is appeasing crazed radicals in betrayal of moderate Muslims courageously trying to speak truth to insanity. Appalling is our official genuflection to an irrational horde that has no interest in compromise or reason but only in submission. Ours.

While our government is issuing sanctimonious sympathy notes to the hysterical mobs, a Jordanian editor is arrested for publishing three of the cartoons and urging Muslims to "be reasonable." While President Bush and Clinton were feeling the pain of religious fanatics, marauders were burning Danish government buildings in Beirut, and Damascus, Syria, and promising Londoners a 9/11 of their own.

Such are the fruits of appeasement.

Then she combats the protests of the tenderheaded:

Two common apologist arguments beg rebuttal. One of them compares printing inflammatory cartoons to crying "fire" in a crowded theater, implying that one shouldn't express things certain to offend others. Never mind that all political commentary would cease by such a standard, but the reason crying "fire" is forbidden is practical. People panic and stampede when they hear it, and it is false. It is imperative to cry "fire" when there really is a fire. It is also imperative to cry foul when cartoonists face death threats for doodling.

And finally, there's this -- correcting the fallacy that the Danish cartoons are comparable to caricatures of Jews in Nazi Germany, and of blacks in the segregationist South:

The correct comparison, in fact, for Nazi and Klan terrorists are their brothers under the hoods — the jihadists who issued a death sentence on writer Salman Rushdie, who beheaded journalist Daniel Pearl and businessman Nick Berg, and who kidnapped an innocent American female journalist and showed videos of her sobbing and terrified among armed men holding guns to her head.

These are the fascist thugs, not the artists who draw cartoons in the service of democracy and truth. And those who out of a misguided sense of cultural sensitivity and niceness try to justify Muslim outrage over a cartoon are, frankly, lending aid and comfort to the enemies of civilization.

Posted by aalkon at February 9, 2006 4:55 AM

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