Lost Teaching Moment: Danish Cartoons and Hate Speech

For over a decade now a growing chorus of voices has pleaded with the MSM to expose the larger public to the demonization of Jews and Israel in the Arab world. This seemed particularly important in helping people understand the vital role this hate-mongering played in the production of violence in the Middle East (e.g., it’s role in suicide bombing), especially since 2000 and the outbreak of what the MSM (mistakenly?) call the al-Aqsa intifada. (It was really the opening round of a new phase of global Jihad.)

The effort ran up against the wall of a PCP commitment to the “cycle of violence” framework of tit-for-tat with which the MSM preferred to present the conflict. Shoe-string organizations people should consult at least every week, like PMW and MEMRI, try to give just a taste of the avalanche of hatred that permeates the media of the Muslim world, alongside which, the Danish cartoons pale in their “disrespect” for the “other.”

But little has made it through to the public, and now, apparently, we have convincing evidence that little of it has made it through to the political and media elites in this country (we’ll leave Europe out for the moment). How else to explain their current behavior, faced with the Danish cartoon scandal. The obvious response here is:

“Are you kidding? You demonize everyone in sight, including us all the time. Indeed much in the violent demonstrations in your streets comes precisely from this kind of demonization. These cartoons you object to so violently, are mild not only in comparison with your own “political cartoons” about us, but even by our standards. This is part and parcel of a free and reliable press: you make public claims… expect to get criticized. (And oh, do you make claims!) Clean up your own deeply disrespectful act and then come talk to us about our showing respect for the religious “other.”

do you know how offensive that is?
(Thanks to Filibuster cartoons, hat tip Josh Katzen)

But alas, we haven’t heard much like that from our newspapers who have almost unanimously refused to publish the cartoons.
Update: One cheer for the Philadelphia Inquirer, two for the New York Sun.
Instead as one spokesman opined:

“Readers were well served by a short story without publishing the cartoon,” said Robert Christie, a spokesman for Dow Jones & Company, which owns The Wall Street Journal. “We didn’t want to publish anything that can be perceived as inflammatory to our readers’ culture when it didn’t add anything to the story.”

(If that’s our MSM’s idea of serving us well on this issue, then we are in trouble.)

Nor have we heard anything like that from our State Department which issued the following remark: “the publication of cartoons that incite religious or ethnic hatred is unacceptable.” Now were this an opening to denouncing the incitement to ethnic hatred that permeates the Arab press, it would be a courageous statement. But it apparently targeted the mild Danish cartoons, with no reference to the avalanche of this kind of unacceptable material in the Arab and Muslim world.

PCPers will applaud this as a sign of “the peace of the strong”: we will benevolently respect your religious sensibilities without asking for a reciprocal respect and benevolence from you. We who are strong can make unreciprocated concessions. Maybe that will calm your roiling waters and begin the healing. After all, we have injured you, and you feel understandably marginalized and frustrated.

HSJPers see this kind of logic as patronizing and look at our behavior through the eyes of those who fan the flames of these explosions of the “Arab street.” For them, this is about spreading Sharia into the realm of the as-yet unconquered and un-subdued peoples. If Muhammad should not be depicted by Muslims, that is an internal matter. But if we outsiders can’t do that, then we submit to a Muslim law, we voluntarily accept upon ourselves the yoke of dhimmitude. Our “peace of the brave” registers on their screens as the submission of the weak.

We are weak — or at least act weak. As Ibn Warraq puts it, we don’t even know how to defend ourselves intellectually.

Here we have a dispute over a very important modern principle — freedom of the press, separation of Church and State, the right to criticize. We are faced with an effort on the part of an ever-more aggressive global Islam, hyper-sensitive to any criticism however deserved, to claim more territory, to intimidate, to demand at the threat of unleashing violence, the kinds of rights that they do not grant to others. In the history of the battle between decency and fascism, between demopaths and civil society, in the annals of 21st century civic heroism, this seems like a no-brainer. All we have to do to win a decisive victory for freedom, to show courage in the face of threats, and develop real mutual respect, is open their own demonizing book to the gaze of the world and say, “withdraw the beam before you scream about my mote.” What a precious teaching moment!

Instead, this looks like it will serve as yet another key moment in a growing sense of global Islam, an identity, media created and mediated, that links Muslims the world over together in their sense of aggressive grievance and easy resort to violence at the intrusions of modernity. And that identity — full of rage, completely absent of self-criticism, entitled to violence — is not a pretty face. Why on earth would we want to encourage it? Why are we blowing this fantastic opportunity to quietly but firmly administer a lesson in the rules and regulations of free peoples.

Thank God for blogs and Honest Reportings.

16 Responses to Lost Teaching Moment: Danish Cartoons and Hate Speech

  1. Thank God for blogs and Honest Reportings.

    The globalization (noosphization?) of Islam is one important aspect of this episode. The other is that it happened in a post Dan Rather world. Not too long ago, it would have made a difference what the New York Times chose to print or what CBS chose to broadcast. At this point, though, I think we may say that anyone in the West who has the slightest interest in the subject has seen the original graphics, and more besides.

    I note, by the way, that the US State Department, the Vatican, and Ayatollah al-Sistanni all issued essentially identical statements: the pictures were represensible, but rioting about it just makes Muslims look stupid.

    In any case, remember: Carlsberg beer is expensive, but freedom is not free.

  2. RL says:

    the subject came up in class today. 3/4 of the class had not seen the cartoons and wanted to know how to find them.

    your point about the post-Dan Rather (Gutenberg) moment, is hopefully true, but may be premature. the MSM has responsibilities which they have already been failing to meet (that’s what Second Draft is about). The blogosphere cannot replace MSM, only influence it and complement it.

    This issue is a perfect wedge, and those Muslims who are working this for all it’s worth know that.

    freedom sure ain’t free. how have we forgotten that so badly.

  3. […] are battles that can be won without weapons, merely by pointing out — gently — the unacceptable hypocrisy of the outrage. […]

  4. […] ns without touching on the poisonous state of Muslim media, without using it as a critical teaching moment, does not strike me as wise. If […]

  5. […] outrage at being criticized. Not to teach this lesson represents a tragically lost “teaching moment.” But to then turn it int […]

  6. […] ntellectuals respond to the violent reactions of Muslims to perceived insults — like Danoongate or the Pope’s remarks — b […]

  7. […] time the West fails to defend itself ideologically — the Danish Cartoon Scandal, the Papal “provocation” — the Muslims learn that we do not take seriously the […]

  8. […] — Israel, its ally the US, and even non-Israeli Jews. Like the thinking of Europeans with Danoongate and the Pope’s remarks, those who provoke Muslim hostility with their resistance, are […]

  9. […] behavior of their co-religionist on 9-11. But it applies to the rest of the issues from Rushdie to Danoongate to the Pope’s remarks, to all the ways in which Islam tries to bully the West into […]

  10. […] Arab and Muslim world are filled with far more vicious images of the West; why would we allow them to cow us with their indignation? 3) The Pope’s comments on Islam as a violent religion: their response? to riot; our […]

  11. […] pathetic is that. I was critical of the American media not coming to the defense of the Europeans in Danoongate. But this takes the cake… so far. « Insights into the Workings of the […]

  12. […] Nor from Western Muslims, who can tolerate a vast fund of demonizing and essentializing discourse as long as it is aimed at its enemies – Israel and the West – but have no tolerance for the slightest criticism sent their way… […]

  13. martin j.malliet says:

    On that one well known Danish cartoon

    Q: On the basis of what right of yours being violated do you seek an injunction against the publishers of this cartoon?
    A: Because it is an insult to the prophet Muhammed and thereby to all Muslim believers.
    Q: But the prophet Muhammed is dead, how can what you describe as an insult harm him?
    A: It isn’t harming him, but us Muslim believers.
    Q: Again, the same question: how is it harming you?
    A: Because it falsely depicts the prophet Muhammed as a suicide terrorist and we believe in Muhammed as the prophet of God’s message.
    Q: But how is it harming you, as you can easily ignore it and mind your own business?
    A: Because we know it’s out there telling lies about the prophet Muhammed!
    Q: Could it not be that the cartoonist wasn’t telling lies about the prophet Muhammed, of whom everybody knows after all that he was not a suicide terrorist, but that he was saying an altogether different thing?
    A: I don’t understand your question.
    Q: My question is this: how do you know that what the cartoonist is saying is indeed what you think it is, namely a lie about the prophet Muhammed?
    A: Because it looks like that!
    Q: Again, it only looks like that because you look at it like that. Could one not also look at it as a cartoon depicting a suicide terrorist who is inspired by the prophet Muhammed’s message, after the fashion of all those videos put on the internet by the suicide terrorists themselves?
    A: You may look at it every way you whish, but I still see a false picture of the prophet Muhammed.
    Q: So you have no proof at all that the cartoonist is telling a lie, as you call it, you just choose to look at it that way.
    A: But I can look at it that way!
    Q: And you can just as well not look at it at all and mind your own business, instead of harassing the publishers and wasting our time with a ridiculous law suit based on an unfounded accusation. Case dismissed.

    “[Fashionable anti-racism laws etc] suffer from an obnoxious inability to recognise crucial real differences in real situations. Suppose a million individuals, each of them sitting alone in his room, read a phrase in a book filled with hate-speech. If any one of those readers were to get so excited by his reading that he would commit some gruesome crime, the author of the book would not be implicated. That very same phrase, shouted at the top of one’s voice in front of an excited crowd of, say, fifty or five hundred people, is an exhortation that in the circumstances is meant and is likely to start the execution of a crime. The political correctness crowd assimilates the former to the latter situation and accordingly wants to persecute the author as well as the demagogue on the soapbox.” – “Justice – i.e. respect for the natural order of the human world or respect for natural law – requires that we respect the natural distinctions among ourselves in everything we do or say.” – Frank Van Dun


  14. […] response only emboldens the aggressors: riots in response to rumors of Qur’ans in the toilet, to Danish Cartoons of Muhammad, to the Pope’s remarks about a violent Islam, all play their role: Westerners tremble at […]

  15. […] in Kemp’s reading, is like the Muhammad cartoons: a highly emotive issue for Muslims about which they’re known to fly off the handle. […]

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