I'm a Dane

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I'm a Dane

by Ari Armstrong, February 8, 2006

Muslim terrorists have threatened to kill Danes in retaliation for a Danish newspaper publishing some cartoons depicting Mohammed, the central prophet of Islam.

In this case, I'm a Dane, too. In this case, every civilized person in the world is a Dane. And Colorado is Denmark.

Only the willfully blind can ignore the threat posed by Muslim fanatics to the civilized world.

Michelle Malkin compiled some photographs of Muslim protesters. Their signs read:

"Freedom Go To Hell"

"Be Prepared for the REAL Holocaust!"

"Europe you will pay, your 9/11 is on it's way!!" [sic]

"Behead those who insult Islam"

"Slay those who insult Islam"

"Europe you will pay Demolition is on its way!"

"Butcher those who mock Islam"

"Massacre those who insult Islam"

"Exterminate those who slander Islam"

"Annihilate those who insult Islam"

"As Muslims we unite & we are prepared to fight"

A Muslim terrorist murdered a Catholic priest in Turkey. UPI reports, "TEHRAN, Feb. 7 (UPI) -- Hundreds of angry Iranian demonstrators stormed the Danish embassy building in Tehran, trying to set it ablaze before they were expelled by riot police. The Iranian News Agency, IRNA, said the protesters threw stones and inflammable material at the building which they managed to enter for a very short time before being kicked out by police who took control of the building immediately. The demonstrators, screaming 'death to Denmark' and 'death to America,' were protesting against cartoons carried in the Danish media depicting Prophet Mohammed as a terrorist with a bomb in his turban. The cartoons touched off uproar and similar protests throughout the Arab and Muslim world and Danish missions were burned in Damascus and Beirut last week in a move largely seen by the Europeans as orchestrated by the Syrian regime."

A "religion of peace," indeed.

Some Muslims have criticized the violence, to their credit. For example, Jean Torkelson reports for the February 7 Rocky Mountain News, "Mohammad Noorzai, executive director of the Colorado Muslim Council, [said]... 'We totally condemn these kind of (insults) about any religion -- especially our own. In the meantime, we don't believe in rioting and violence... People are emotional about their religion. But two wrongs do not make a right'." Torkelson adds, "Rima Barakat, a local Muslim activist, said, 'The cartoons were very offensive, but we have to rise above this and recognize we have challenges as Muslims that are greater than cartoons.' Among them, she said, are women's issues, extremism and terrorism."

And Muslims are not the only terrorists -- Colorado has suffered incidents of eco-terrorism, and the AP reports (February 7) that "[f]ires damaged four more rural Baptist churches overnight following a rash of suspected arsons..." But the difference is obvious -- in America and the rest of the civilized world, acts of terrorism are universally condemned, whereas, in the Muslim world, acts of terrorism frequently are rationalized, excused, or even promoted by governments, journalists, and religious leaders.

The central issue regarding the cartoons is freedom of speech. If followers of some religion can prohibit the publication of cartoons and statements that offend them, either by legal means or by threats or acts of violence, then free speech is dead (as is freedom of religion and freedom of thought and expression generally).

The Rocky Mountain News recognizes this fact, and it published an outstanding editorial on February 7 -- along with one of the "offensive" cartoons. The News states, "People in Europe have become frightened of saying things that Muslims might find offensive, for fear of violence and the threat of violence... Nothing [but the threats] could better illustrate the total lack of understanding of the foundations of a free society... [F]reedom must imply the right to offend religious believers -- as well as the members of every other organization or group. Otherwise, we will have ceded our freedoms to the veto of the most intolerant among us."

The News thereby showed both moral courage and clear thinking.

Colorado blogger and philosophy student Diana Hsieh also posted an excellent summary of the situation. She concludes by describing a worst-case scenario: "If the prospect of accommodating that barbarity cannot inspire a civilization to fight for its life, then nothing will. Just imagine how much would be lost if Europe slid into yet another Dark Ages, this time of Islam rather than Christianity. And if that happened, America would stand alone on the front lines of an ever-expanding cultural empire of Islam. Would we have the knowledge and determination to fight for the values of Western civilization? Or would we be overrun by our own Christian barbarians and embroiled in a religious war between two evils: Christianity and Islam?"

Hsieh also argues, "Apparently, CNN is not alone in refusing to show the images, even though readers and viewers absolutely need to see the actual cartoons in order to properly judge the issue. What cowardice!"

I quite agree (as does Malkin), which is why all twelve of the cartoons are reproduced below with critical analysis.

The Muslim protesters -- in an unsurprising but disturbing alignment with the nihilist left in America and in Europe -- argue that it's wrong to publish offensive images and comments, regardless of context -- unless of course the target is America or the Westernized world.

Daniel Cooney writes for the February 7 AP, "[A] prominent Iranian newspaper, Hamshahri, invited artists to enter a Holocaust cartoon competition, saying it wanted to see if freedom of expression -- the banner under which many Western publications reprinted the prophet drawings -- also applied to Holocaust images." Cooney quotes "Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei," "The West condemns any denial of the Jewish Holocaust, but it permits the insult of Islamic sanctities."

Presumably, the signs quoted above are motivated by an idea something like, "If you want free speech, how do you like this free speech?!"

This "moral equivalence" argument demands two retorts. First, no matter how offensive a cartoon or statement, violence is never an appropriate response. In this case, Muslim terrorists and fanatics are demanding violence against the cartoonists as well as unrelated parties in Denmark, Europe, and the U.S.

Hamshahri already has its answer, as summarized in a column by Cal Thomas: "Throughout the Middle East, state-controlled newspapers regularly depict Jews and Israeli leaders in despicable, stereotypical and anti-Semitic caricatures. These cartoons show Jews with hooked noses; Stars of David morphing into swastikas; Palestinian and Arab blood drips from Jewish hands and Jews are blamed for creating AIDS. Neither those newspapers, nor Arab embassies have been attacked by Jewish mobs."

As Andrew Stuttaford writes, "Protests have been followed by boycotts, bluster and, now, violence. The protests and the boycotts are fine. They are all part of the debate. Violence, and the threat of violence, is something else, and, as many more moderate Muslims understand, it is doing far more damage to the reputation of Islam than a few feeble caricatures."

The second retort is that not all offenses are created equal -- sometimes an offensive cartoon or statement is warranted by the facts, and sometimes it is not.

Obviously the Holocaust did happen, it was a horrible atrocity, and it was mass murder perpetrated by fascists against innocent victims. So publishing a cartoon or statement in order to suggest the Holocaust didn't happen, or that it was a good thing, would be morally wrong (though within one's political rights, excepting incitement to violence [see my further explanation of this point]). Similarly, publishing a drawing or statement in order to promote racism would be morally wrong, though free speech protects expressions of racism. (Of course, in order to criticize a racist or otherwise immoral message, it might be necessary to reproduce it, as I have reproduced the immoral messages of Muslim protesters above.)

However, publishing a drawing or statement to the effect that Hitler is a moral monster would be totally appropriate, even if it offended some neo-Nazi. To generalize, whether an image or statement is offensive to some party is utterly irrelevant to whether that image or statement should be published. What matters is whether the message is true or false. Racism is by its nature irrational, and thus racist messages are always immoral (although, again, politically protected).

What about the cartoons of Mohammed? Two preliminary points are in order. First, [some] Muslims believe that any image of Mohammed should not be published. That's an inherently irrational view, and thus of no moral standing. Second, Islam is an ideology chosen by its practitioners. Thus, there is no analogy between the cartoons and racist messages.

The "offensive" cartoons (except perhaps in a single case) convey meaning that is totally warranted by the facts of reality. Thus, while, as Stuttaford says, "protests and the boycotts are fine" in the sense that they should be politically-protected activities, they are not fine in the moral sense. If the cartoons offend, it is only because their messages are true. And that makes all the difference (to a rational person and society).

Of the twelve cartoons, two of them criticize the Danish paper. One labels the effort a "PR-stunt;" the other (according to a translation attached by a party unknown to me) calls the paper's journalists "a bunch of reactionary provocateurs."

Of the remaining ten cartoons, four are not remotely "offensive" (except that three depict Mohammed):

In other words, half of the cartoons either depict Mohammed in a neutral way or make fun of the Danish paper.

Of the six "offensive" cartoons, the most widely published depicts Mohammed with a bomb in his turban:

The message seems to be that Islam tends to be violent and self-destructive. Is that the case? As others have pointed out, the Muslim reaction to the cartoon demonstrates that the cartoon's message is correct.

The next cartoon puts Mohammed in a good light; he is restraining violent Muslims:

Perhaps the most poignant cartoon shows homicide bombers going to Heaven, where Mohammed says, "Stop stop we have run out of virgins!"

Is it the case that numerous Muslims have become homicide bombers? Yes, it is. So the cartoon's criticism is right on target.

The following cartoon seems to gratuitously insult Mohammed by painting devil's horns on him (though I can't be exactly sure of the intended meaning):

I'm not sure what the following cartoon intends, but its message seems to be that Islam tends to be violent and that it oppresses women:

But does Islam promote violence, and does it oppress women? In many Muslim countries, that is precisely the case. Criticizing a religion for its real and obvious faults is morally appropriate.

I'm assuming that the text with the image below is original with the cartoon; its message is that Islam oppresses women. I have no idea what the graphics are supposed to represent, though they have a vague similarity to a human face:

* * *

It is a crazy sort of world in which the publication of a dozen cartoons is used as a pretext for riots, violence, and threats of mass murder. Those behind the violence and threats are morally reprehensible, and they are enemies of liberty and of civilization.

The Colorado Freedom Report--www.FreeColorado.com