Now that the embassy burnings and the calls for the extermination of all those who slander Islam have subsided just a wee bit, is there anything of value that can be learned from the great Danish-Muhammad-cartoon kerfuffle of 2006? Or is it, rather, just one more not particularly useful example of what we already knew, which is that it doesn’t take a whole lot to send Islamic fanatics into riotous tumult the world over?
Actually, I may have to amend the very first sentence of this column already since even as I type, new reports of cartoon carnage are coming out with the American embassy in Indonesia being assaulted and at least 15 killed in a Nigerian rampage, the deadliest confrontation yet. Man, they just don’t quit, do they?
So it looks like this goes on for a while. Nonetheless, there is one overridingly important and simple lesson to be learned: If the West cares anything at all about preserving its way of life, including freedom of speech and expression, then it shouldn’t placate or kowtow to the most extreme members of the world’s most intolerant religion and culture. That’s because giving in to the calls for the censorship of all things offensive to Islam could be, in effect, paving the way for eventual Islamic hegemony. And make no mistake, worldwide hegemony is the ultimate goal of Islam.
Right now you might be thinking, okay, so a bunch of backwards fanatics got all hot and bothered about some stupid cartoons. So what? Such people can’t possibly defeat Western civilization and become the dominant force in the world, right? Well, in any kind of conventional or military sense, that’s certainly true. But that’s not to say that the West can’t just give the store away through a combination of negative demographics, an irrational adherence to extreme multiculturalism and a mystifying indifference to defending its own culture and heritage.
So, while we may be scoffing today about the primitiveness of the cartoon rioters and the seeming absurdity that their ilk might one day rule the world, our great-great-grandchildren’s favorite television program might end up being “Shari’ah Law and Order” just by default.
It certainly doesn’t help when people in positions of power in Europe are chomping at the bit to make needless concessions to Islam in this clash of civilizations that is becoming as hard to ignore as the proverbial elephant in the living room. Take, for instance, European Union vice-commissioner Franco Frattini, who wants media to sign up to “a voluntary code of conduct on reporting on Islam and other religions” in order to try and avoid future cartoon-type commotions. He wants this because he believes that the cartoons in the Danish paper Jyllands-Posten “humiliated” millions of Muslims.
Granted, there’s something fishy about a globally synchronized outburst of humiliation that doesn’t manifest itself until several months after the cartoons first appeared. One could almost get the feeling that something funny was going on, like maybe a cabal of radical Islamic imams and clerics deliberately stirring up a hornet’s nest and then exploiting the resultant Muslim outrage in order to gain another small victory over the mostly quiescent Western world.
Hey, these guys aren’t stupid. Fanatical, devious and a bit crazy, yes. Stupid, no. They understand the perverse mentality of post-Christian Europe with it’s guilt-ridden self-loathing and they know how to take advantage of that weakness. They know there aren’t going to be any military conquests of Europe, but they’re a patient lot and a slow, insidious Islamic infiltration over the next century or so will do just fine.
In any case, according to Euro-minister Frattini, by agreeing to a charter “the press will give the Muslim world the message: we are aware of the consequences of exercising the right of free expression, we can and we are ready to self-regulate that right.”
But if you translate Frattini’s statement into non-weasel words, they come out more like this: we can and we are ready to deprive ourselves of the right of free expression in order to try and appease the rising tide of radical Islam.
It shouldn’t come as any surprise that those who are proposing voluntary “self-regulation in cases where sensitive religious issues are involved” are really only talking about sensitive Islamic religious issues. That’s because those are the particular ones that stir up global hubbubs, get people killed and threaten to destabilize European societies that have significant populations of surly, unassimilible Muslims.
If you think the Eurocrats — or their American counterparts, for that matter — give a hoot about offended Christians, Jews or others who don’t regularly take to the streets in rage, you’ve got another thing coming. Crucifixes immersed in urine? Provocative and challenging “art.” Portraits of the Virgin Mary festooned with pornographic images and elephant dung? The same. Jesus Christ depicted as a homosexual in theatrical productions? Yep, ditto.
Whenever people have questioned the wisdom even of the government subsidizing such provocative works of “art,” they have usually been portrayed as right-wing religious nuts out to impose puritanical standards on a free society. But let some honest-to-goodness religious nuts pitch a deadly global tantrum over some newspaper cartoons and then it becomes a matter of acknowledging “the importance of respecting religious sensitivities.”
Which can lead to preposterous and humiliating scenes being played out, like the one in Oslo which was orchestrated by Norway’s minister of labor. The editor of a Christian publication called Magazinet was prevailed upon to issue an abject public apology for having reprinted the Danish Muhammad cartoons. The apology was accepted by one Mohamed Hamdan, chairman of the Supreme Islamic Council in Norway. Given that Muslims comprise a tiny percentage of Norway’s population (at the moment, anyway), that there even is a Supreme Islamic Council in Norway seems preposterous, but should also serve as fair warning to those Norwegians who like to think that 100 years from now their country will bear some resemblance to the Norway they know now.
To most rational observers in the West, the entire cartoon kerfuffle, with its rioting mobs and nonsensical chants of “Death to Denmark,” is seen as the absolute zenith of absurdity that can be attained by sentient human beings. Unfortunately, too many of those same observers don’t see the absurdity of appeasing such absurdity, but rather see it as appropriate sensitivity that ought to be accorded religious folks — or at least those religious folks who regularly go bananas and carry signs that say things like “Behead those who insult Islam.”
Appropriate sensitivity or gutless submission? You be the judge.