Friday, February 10, 2006

The Friday Furo Questus

Questus Furore - Cartoonish Anger
You may have heard about the protests and violent riots that have torn throughout the Muslim world as a result of the publication of twelve political cartoons in a Danish newspaper. If not, you may want to check
this site out.

The cartoons have had a long, strange trip. The cartoons originally published can be found
here. In their travels to the Muslim world, they have been added to, specifically three truly outrageous cartoons depicting the prophet Mohammed engaged in graphic acts. These last three cartoons were not published by the Danish newpaper - but they are claimed to be.

That these cartoons may have caused offense is not surprising, and is understandable. That the offense was sufficient to justify the burning of embassies and consulates and the murder of at least three people (that we so far know of, not to mention the deaths of at least ten more as a result of rioting) is not understandable.

The solution suggested is the restriction of free speech, a self-imposed censorship by a media frightened by the juvenile tantrums of a strange people. That is not acceptable. Peace cannot be purchased by a surrender of principles. To acquiese now will only buy more trouble later.

These protests have also brought a large part of the global scene into sharper focus. While the protesters undoubtably represent a minority of Muslims, they due represent a large body of people, and the unwillingness or inability of their more moderate co-religionists to restrain them is a cause of great concern. There is a large body of radical Muslims, begging to be manipulated, radicalized, and used to create havoc.

Sadly, this situation has also served to show the thinking of American media decision-makers. When presented with the choice of showing the cartoons in order to clarify what the story is about, CNN and most major American newspapers have chosen not to show the cartoons for fear of offending Muslims. Such consideration was not given when the story was the offense of Christians or Jews. (Remember "Piss Christ"?)
Such deliberation was not needed.

All this is not to say that going about deliberately causing offense is good. But the freedom to question, when such questioning may cause offense, is necessary. If society is to progress, to become better, that freedom is vital. That such freedom is under attack by those who have no stake in it, and who are unable or unwilling to understand it, is something that should concern all those who do.

UPDATE: More on this story at Cox & Forkum, especially here and here.

Recommended Reading
Victor Davis Hanson,
"Losing Civilization."
The latest Islamic outrage over the Danish cartoons represents an erosion in the very notion of Western tolerance. Years ago, the death sentence handed down to Salman Rushdie was the dead canary in the mine. It should have warned us that the Western idea of free and unbridled expression, so difficultly won, can be so easily lost.

Claudia Rosett, "Rage Against the Western Machine."

National Review editorial,
"Culture War."

Diana West,
"Cartoon Rage," Washington Times.
"This is the lesson of Cartoon Rage 2006, a cultural nuke set off by an Islamic chain reaction to those 12 cartoons of Muhammad appearing in a Danish newspaper. We have watched the Muslim meltdown with shocked attention, but there is little recognition that its poisonous fallout is fear. Fear in the State Department, which, like Islam, called the cartoons unacceptable. Fear in Whitehall, which did the same. Fear in the Vatican, which did the same. And fear in the media, which have failed, with few, few exceptions, to reprint or show the images. With only a small roll of brave journals, mainly in Europe, to salute, we have seen the proud Western tradition of a free press bow its head and submit to an Islamic law against depictions of Muhammad. That's dhimmitude. "
Thought(s) of the Week
"In such a performance you may lay the foundation of national happiness only in religion, not by leaving it doubtful "whether morals can exist without it," but by asserting that without religion morals are the effects of causes as purely physical as pleasant breezes and fruitful seasons."
-- Benjamin Rush (letter to John Adams, 20 August 1811)

"The deterioration of every government begins with the decay of the principles on which it was founded."
-— Charles-Louis De Secondat

Churchill Quote of the Week
"Courage is rightly esteemed the first of human qualities... because it is the quality which guarantees all others."
Winston Churchill


At 6:40 PM, Blogger Nathan said...

Seriously, what logical free-thinking person would resort to violence over a cartoon.

I think everyone should stop for a minute and ask themselves:

"What would Mohammed do?"

let's put it on bracelets and stuff and ship it overseas to the rioting whiners.


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