I Finally Saw the Danish Cartoons...

...And boy were they a letdown!  Hell, I have had members of my own immediate family portrayed far worse than this in political cartoons.  I have just about lost all patience with those who try to "understand" and "explain" and "sympothize" with the violence that has erupted, ostensibly due to the publication of these cartoons.  There is no excuse for the recent violence, and I am tired of tiptoeing around the sensibilities of Muslims who are quick in their own turn to denounce anything Western in the most inflammatory and grotesque of terms. 

I am particularly flabbergasted that those who lead the charge to soften the criticism of Muslim violence are the same people who are most flipped out about the influence of fundamentalist Christians in this country.  I'm not particularly thrilled with the legislation that some of the Christian right tends to propose, but my God even the often egregious Pat Robertson is a bastion of secular reasonableness when compared to many Middle Eastern Muslim leaders.

Anyway, the controversy may at least serve some purpose, in forcing Western media to confront its own double standards in criticizing or not criticizing religions  (as a note, let me make clear that I am for having an open season on anyone believing anything, as long as one has his facts straight).

Jeff Goldstein is always a good read, particularly on this topic:

even now
you have Kos commenters contorting themselves
into positions of self-righteous progressive onanism that are a wonder
to behold"”suddenly, free speech is not a universal right worthy of the
crafting of puppet heads and the defacing of Starbucks' windows, but
instead is a culture-specific gift that needs to be filtered through
the religious precepts of the culture of the Other.  Unless, of course,
that "Other" happens to be, say, Evangelical Christians.  In which
case, such extremists MUST BE SHOUTED DOWN with free speech.

Pretzel logic, clearly"”and the dilemma that is at the root of an
incoherent philosophical system that favors the sociology of group
identity over the universality of individual rights.  Ironically,
George Bush, each time he argues that freedom is universal, is acting
in a manner far more progressive than self-styled progressive

Again:  note the crux of the debate, as framed by the voices for
Muslim protest, and take care to listen for the broad-stroked
rhetoric"”usually this kinds of gambit is more carefully crafted by
those who have, through years of experience, perfected its vocabulary,
cadence, emotional appeals, and key words"”of the "tolerance" movement,
the justifying force that cynically underpins all identity politics:

12 cartoons ... have caused an uproar in the Muslim world and drawn a
new cultural battle over freedom of speech and respect of religions."

"Free speech is good so long as it tolerates our right, as an identity
group, to dictate which free speech is authentic and allowable.
Otherwise, y'know, we get to torch shit."

But of course, freedom of speech"”reduced (for purposes of this
debate) to its core, animating mandate and protection"”is PRECISELY the
ability to look religion in its pious face and flip it the bird.
Freedom of speech includes the freedom to criticize religion, just as
freedom of religion is supposed to protect the rights of the religious
not to have their religion established for them by a government"”a
counterbalancing right that is lacking in theocratic states and in
religions where pluralism is denied legitimacy.


  1. Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of ...:

    The Problem is Not Freedom of Speech

    Over at Coyote Blog, the poster is sick of the pretzels that the left has contorted themselves into to apologize for Muslim behavior. I certainly agree – but I don't think the true issue is actually freedom of speech – at least not in the way that e...

  2. Gene Hoffman:

    I had the same reaction you did but then noticed an even more annoying fact that at least makes some of this make sense. The "road show" that a Danish Muslim put on over the Pilgrimage included some faked cartoons as well.

    See my Further Update on http://www.hoffmang.com/archives/000501.html#000501

  3. Rick Kirby:

    By Dennis Prager

    (Dennis Prager's nationally syndicated radio show is heard daily in Los Angeles on KRLA-AM (870). He may be contacted through his website: http://www.dennisprager.com)

    "The rioting in France by primarily Muslim youths and the hotel bombings in Jordan are the latest events to prompt sincere questions that law-abiding Muslims need to answer for Islam's sake, as well as for the sake of worried non-Muslims.

    Here are five of them:

    (1) Why are you so quiet?

    Since the first Israelis were targeted for death by Muslim terrorists blowing themselves up in the name of your religion and Palestinian nationalism, I have been praying to see Muslim demonstrations against these atrocities. Last week's protests in Jordan against the bombings, while welcome, were a rarity. What I have seen more often is mainstream Muslim spokesmen implicitly defending this terror on the grounds that Israel occupies Palestinian lands. We see torture and murder in the name of Allah, but we see no anti-torture and anti-murder demonstrations in the name of Allah.

    There are a billion Muslims in the world. How is it possible that essentially none have demonstrated against evils perpetrated by Muslims in the name of Islam? This is true even of the millions of Muslims living in free Western societies. What are non-Muslims of goodwill supposed to conclude? When the Israeli government did not stop a Lebanese massacre of Palestinians in the Sabra and Chatilla refugee camps in Lebanon in 1982, great crowds of Israeli Jews gathered to protest their country's moral failing. Why has there been no comparable public demonstration by Palestinians or other Muslims to morally condemn Palestinian or other Muslim-committed terror?

    (2) Why are none of the Palestinian terrorists Christian?

    If Israeli occupation is the reason for Muslim terror in Israel, why do no Christian Palestinians engage in terror? They are just as nationalistic and just as occupied as Muslim Palestinians.

    (3) Why is only one of the 47 Muslim-majority countries a free country?

    According to Freedom House, a Washington-based group that promotes democracy, of the world's 47 Muslim countries, only Mali is free. Sixty percent are not free, and 38 are partly free. Muslim-majority states account for a majority of the world's "not free" states. And of the 10 "worst of the worst," seven are Islamic states. Why is this?

    (4) Why are so many atrocities committed and threatened by Muslims in the name of Islam?

    Young girls in Indonesia were recently beheaded by Muslim murderers. Last year, Muslims — in the name of Islam — murdered hundreds of schoolchildren in Russia. While reciting Muslim prayers, Islamic terrorists take foreigners working to make Iraq free and slaughter them. Muslim daughters are murdered by their own families in the thousands in "honor killings." And the Muslim government in Iran has publicly called for the extermination of Israel.

    (5) Why do countries governed by religious Muslims persecute other religions?

    No church or synagogue is allowed in Saudi Arabia. The Taliban destroyed some of the greatest sculptures of the ancient world because they were Buddhist. Sudan's Islamic regime has murdered great numbers of Christians.
    Instead of confronting these problems, too many of you deny them. Muslims call my radio show to tell me that even speaking of Muslim or Islamic terrorists is wrong. After all, they argue, Timothy McVeigh is never labeled a "Christian terrorist." As if McVeigh committed his terror as a churchgoing Christian and in the name of Christ, and as if there were Christian-based terror groups around the world.

    As a member of the media for nearly 25 years, I have a long record of reaching out to Muslims. Muslim leaders have invited me to speak at major mosques. In addition, I have studied Arabic and Islam, have visited most Arab and many other Muslim countries and conducted interfaith dialogues with Muslims in the United Arab Emirates as well as in the U.S. Politically, I have supported creation of a Palestinian state and supported (mistakenly, I now believe) the Oslo accords.

    Hundreds of millions of non-Muslims want honest answers to these questions, even if the only answer you offer is, "Yes, we have real problems in Islam." Such an acknowledgment is infinitely better — for you and for the world — than dismissing us as anti-Muslim.

    We await your response."