Who’s Going to Hit Back? Why It’s Easier to Protest Bush’s Involvment in 9-11 than the Imposition of Sharia in Europe

Brussels Journal has a posting on how Belgian authorities have given permission for a march sponsored by United for Truth protesting Bush’s involvement in 9-11, but not for one against the imposition of Sharia in Europe. The reasoning:

Unlike the anti-Sharia demonstration, planned to be held next September 11 in Brussels, the “9/9 United for Truth” demonstration of September 9 has been authorized by the Brussels authorities. Last week the Brussels mayor, Freddy Thielemans, banned the anti-Sharia demonstration because he fears it will upset the Muslim inhabitants of Brussels.

It is a favorite trope of the “progressives” to claim that they are courageous because they “speak truth to power,” or as a French journalist said to me in 2003 while France was protesting the American threat to invade Iraq, “Courage is resisting the powerful, and right now, America is the most powerful.” This goes to the heart of our current dilemma. The most powerful today – the US in the world, Israel in the Middle East – are also the most tolerant of criticism. So any American can say Bush was involved in 9-11 — including congressmen — and at worst, suffer criticism from others. Similarly, a journalist can compare Israel to the Nazis or South African apartheid and still operate freely in Israel. But try criticizing Muslims and you get real problems.

The mayor’s response is reminiscent of the British journalist’s association that gave their annual prize to a disgusting political cartoon showing Ariel Sharon in a Goya-like pose devouring (not his own children as the Goya original depicted) but Palestinian children. Unvarnished blood libel (Sharon’s sure doing it on purpose). When confronted by Martin Himel in the movie: Jenin: Massacring the Truth, with why Arafat wasn’t also in the cartoon, the Peter Benson, head of the British editorial cartoonists’ society which honoured the Independent‘s Sharon-eating-babies cartoon responded:

Himel: My question to you is, why, in all these paintings [sic] don’t we see Sharon and Arafat eating babies?

Benson: Maybe Jews don’t issue fatwas.

Himel: What do you mean by that?

Benson: Well, if you upset an Islamic or Muslim group, um, as you know, fatwas can be issued by Ayatollahs and such, like, and maybe it’s at the back of each cartoonist’s mind, that they could be in trouble if they do so.

Himel: If they do what?

Benson: If they depict, uh, say, an Arab leader in the same manner.

Himel: Then they could suffer?

Benson: Then they could suffer death, couldn’t they? Which is rather different.

Benson is grinning throughout this section of the interview.

And of course, he is right. When the Jews and Israelis objected vehemently to this blood libel, the response was contemptuous dismissal. Wrote one journalist:

“the accusation of anti-Semitism is also a favourite weapon of those who wish to suppress debate on the measures Israel takes in the occupied territories.”

Wrote a member of Parliament:

The labelling as anti-Semitic of Dave Brown’s cartoon, which depicted the Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon as a naked, child-eating ogre, was entirely spurious – but entirely predictable. Nor is it surprising that the lynch-mob was led by the Israeli embassy in London, once a respected diplomatic mission, but now the instrument of Israel’s worst- ever Foreign Minister, Binyamin Netanyahu.

Then, when he received the award for the best political cartoon of the year, Brown “thanked the Israeli embassy in Britain for increasing the cartoon’s publicity by its angry reaction.” So apparently the lynch mob didn’t really lynch… illustrating the weak hold that some British analysts have over the difference between metaphor and carnal reality… “it’s not meant to be taken literally, it’s meant to refer allegorically to everybody in the Zionist business.”

But when it comes to real violence, these people have no problem distinguishing metaphorical from real lynch mobs. The full measure of the cowardice and hypocrisy of this affair came out two year’s later with the publication of the Muhammad cartoons and the really violent response of Muslims. The selfsame Independent which showed it could stand up to the Jewish mafia, all of a sudden found that politeness and concern for hurt feelings of Muslims trumped independence.

…while we `defend Jyllands-Posten’s right to publish, we also question its editorial judgement. It is not a decision we intend to emulate…There is no merit in causing gratuitous offence, as these cartoons undoubtedly do. We believe it is possible to demonstrate our commitment to the principle of free speech in more sensible ways. It is interesting that the entire mainstream British press feels the same way. No national newspaper has printed the cartoons.

In other words, we’re all cowards and our solidarity shows we’re right. As Taguieff put it in describing European anti-Zionism in the 21st century: “When all the fish are swimming in the same direction, it’s because they’re dead.”

Which brings us back to Brussels and the problem of the 21st century. Part of the reason that all the fish are lined up in the same direction in Europe has much more to do with intimidation and appeasement of genuinely violent and demonizing Islamists and genuinely tolerant and self-criticial Israelis/Jews/Americans, than it does with any of the intellectual merits bandied about. And until we begin to understand the impact of this pervasive intimidation, we will have enormous difficulty reality testing.

It’s not talking back to civil power that counts so much as speaking truth about ruthless exercise of power. When the same people who claim to speak truth to power, then turn around and wax sychophantic about ruthless killers with genocidal programs, we’re all in trouble except the thugs.

This doesn’t mean you can’t criticize the USA and Israel. Almost everybody does. It just means that you don’t engage in grotesque criticism and think yourself brave because you get yelled at, but then fall silent about real dangers, like people who’s idea of a good fatwa (a religious ruling on any issue), is a death sentence to people who have offended Islam.

21 Responses to Who’s Going to Hit Back? Why It’s Easier to Protest Bush’s Involvment in 9-11 than the Imposition of Sharia in Europe

  1. Diane says:

    Well argued, Richard. You bring clarity to a topic that is very murky. I’m curious, though. What is your analysis of the Pope’s courageous (foolhardy?) public criticism of Islam and his subsequent backing down re: the same? Why does power itself, after speaking truth, back down?

  2. RL says:

    you can see my comments on the pope here.
    in brief, i think the pressure on the pope to apologize, rather than on the muslims to grow up was a disastrous move on the part of the chattering classes in the west.
    all of these are honor-shame (barroom) showdowns. and we’re constantly blinking, thinking that we’re being magnanimous. instead we’re really being cowardly and hiding behind our “maturity.”
    it’s like pan (robin williams) responding to hook’s (dustin hoffman) challenge to a duel by whiipping out his checkbook.

  3. Sissy Willis says:

    Great piece, Richard. I adore the metaphor of the dead fish. And you know what happens to dead fish after three days [holds nose]. :-)

  4. Michael B says:

    Yep. It reminds of spoiled and ungrateful adolescents, no longer children, who readily whine and complain to and superficially criticize their indulgent parents, all while additionally making increasing demands upon their parents, to be cossetted and protected against the world’s harsh, encroaching realities. Some of that is to be expected during the “growing up” process, but, and now leaving the analogy behind, the egregiously self-indulgent and willfully blind qualities are what is striking, the sense of and even insistance upon entitlement, also the ubiquity of it. It’s cultural and it’s endemic, not merely peripheral or isolated.

  5. fp says:

    Well, once you accept that fear is the underlying emotion here, the rest is trivially obvious.
    I’ve just read a post by hugh fitzgerald that the islamization of europe does not require a muslim majority, only a self-dhimmifying cowed native population.

    As to the pope, he did as bad as bush. It would have been better not to say anything if he did not know for sure he could stand behind it. But to first take islamists on and then to give in to threats is probably the worst you can do: there is nothing that invites further attacks from islamists than yielding to their threats. Practically suicidal if you don’t have any guts to fight.

  6. fp says:

    incidentally, isn’t faith supposed to be better than secularism? doesn’t look like it, never did.

  7. igout says:

    Almace The sword borne by Archbishop Turpin of Reims and wielded by him at the battle of Roncevalles.
    By the time the name of the sword is first uttered, (CLVI:2089) Turpin has already been run through with four spears and is moribund, but he still faces an enemy of overwhelming number and performs the miraculous feat of delivering a blow one thousand times over.

    If we still had clerics like that, damn me if I didn’t get religion!!

  8. fp says:

    the problem with clerics like that is that they will ultimately turn against you too.

    however, the ones that we have now claim they are both christians and muslims, propose to call god allah, and harrass children sexually.

    so between sword and imbecillity there was never much of value in clerics.

    faith by definition requires suspension of judgment. and once you do that, all bets are off.

  9. igout says:

    Clerics like that guarded the West for 1,000 years. You Voltareians are folding after barely 200 years without a fight. Disgraceful.

  10. fp says:

    Guarded what kind of west? Medieval? Thanks, but no thanks. That wasn’t much different than islam.

    Those who fold are not really the Voltairians. They are the imbecillic left who are as much religious and suspenders of judgment as the islamists. Which is why they fit together.

  11. igout says:

    oh, very different from Islam. The West’s dark ages ended. And it ended because the Church, by instruction and deed, inspired the faithful to kick moslem ass.

    But if you don’t like the middle ages, won’t you give a cheer for that navy chaplain who exhorted the anti-aircraft crews at Pearl Harbor to “Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition”?

    Show me some fight, you God-haters.

  12. fp says:

    1st of all, we cannot hate what does not exist.

    2nd, you don’t mean to tell me that god-lovers are devoid of hate, do you? because that would be laughable.

    a difference without distinction. sure they ended, because religion was put in its place, away from governing.

    that chaplain made no difference whatsoever except in the minds of believers.

  13. Michael B says:

    You are posing strawmen and red herrings fp. At what point do you take into account the secularist regimen of the Bolsheviks and their inheritors? Or if you pooh-pooh and dismiss that and say that’s not what you are suggesting with your religion/secular dichotomy (or is it even a manichean script you’re imagining?) and instead are suggesting something along the lines of Enlightenment, modern and late modern forms of governance, when do you applaud the progenitors of those forms of governance, inspired by religionists such as Locke and similar sympathizers such as Montesquieu?

    Or what is it you are suggesting with your reductionist, secular/religion template? Are you speaking to philosophical depths, or are you limiting your suggestions to the social/political sphere solely? I can’t help but wonder as you rarely explain yourself with much probative depth.

  14. fp says:

    You always push into the abstract, while I deal with obvious practical realities.

    Had you read carefully what I’ve been saying in a series of posts you would have seen that I do take into consideration the bolsheviks, and the nazis too. They did not do their crap IN THE NAME OF SECULARISM, like the islamists and christianists did and do in the name of their god; in fact they did it in the name of their secular faiths.

    As to Locke and all that, since whatever parts of their thought I accept does not require, nor is it directly related to their faith, I can applaud it just fine without any problem in my position.

  15. Michael B says:

    Lord almighty, yet again the same deflections. Abstractions? While you deal with “obvious practical realities”? If Locke’s principles and his “secular faith” can so readily be separated from his “religious faith” and dogmas, then instead of simply asserting as much (are such assertions an aspect of your “obvious practical realities”?, if so, nice work if you can get it) or assuming as much, please forward your argument or proof. I don’t pretend to know with any type of sum-certain knowledge, but it’s by no means self-evident and it’s entirely possible, even likely, that the dualism reflected in Xian dogma in this vein is in turn supportive of and reflected in Locke’s “secular faith,” e.g., in his balance of powers and similar principles and in his secular vs. religious conception per se.

    But at least you admitted to the idea (would that constitute an abstraction?) of secular faith, because that’s very much what you’re broadly suggestive of, a faith, not “obvious” realities by any means. You likewise fail to explicate what you do mean by “secularism” in any more positive sense, hence your dodge of the question asked in that vein.

    But perhaps you could summarize how you take the bolsheviks and their epigones into account, how they did not commit their crimes in the name of “secularism” as such? I’ve seen where you’ve stated and asserted as much, but I’ve never read a persuasive argument along those lines. Many other questions could be posed.

    Fact is I don’t take my “abstractions” as seriously as you seem to imagine, I fully understand the rhetorical and tentative import of most any type of “abstraction” and argument, but that includes your own set of assumptions/arguments, as well as mine or anyone else’s. You don’t persuade with much cogency or depth and you tend to deflect questions posed to probe with more depth by making statement concerning your “obvious practical realities.”

  16. fp says:

    I don’t think this exchange is conducive to anything.
    You take what I say and position it in contexts which for me are irrelevant to the subject at hand.

    So let’s agree to disagree.

  17. fp says:

    How the bolsheviks did not do what they did in the name of secularism does not require explanation, it is pretty trivial and obvious: they did not kill or jail all who were not secular. They did it to those who did not accept the communist faith. And in that sense the bolsheviks were akin to islamists and christianists, as Paul Berman argues.

  18. Michael B says:

    Yes, fine. So you like good stuff and don’t like bad stuff.

  19. fp says:

    Of course.

    Except what’s bad and what’s good varies by person.

  20. [...] On the on other hand, when “caught” cheating the indignant response of European journalists is to cry out, like Bruno Stevens after the criticism from the blogosphere during the Lebanese war: “They are trying to get us to stop talking about massacres…” as if such was their right whether or not these events were massacres… as if they applied the same harsh standards to both sides. Or, as the head of the British cartoonists asssociation, shortly after giving their annual award to a vicious cartoon depicting Ariel Sharon as Goya’s Saturn devouring babies, remarked to an interviewer asking why they didn’t do similar cartoons about Arafat — who really did devour his own people’s children — “Jews don’t do fatwas.” [...]

  21. [...] the simple observation, “Jews don’t do fatwas.” On the contrary, the recipient of the award thanked the Jews who cried out in anger at his cartoon, “for drawing attention to my [...]

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