February 3, 2006

"We will not accept less than severing the heads of those responsible."

Said one preacher in Gaza about those cartoons depicting Muhammad. Meanwhile, a U.S. State Department spokesman read an official statement:
"Anti-Muslim images are as unacceptable as anti-Semitic images," which are routinely published in the Arab press, "as anti-Christian images, or any other religious belief."

Still, the United States defended the right of the Danish and French newspapers to publish the cartoons. "We vigorously defend the right of individuals to express points of view," Mr. McCormack added.
That's exactly right, isn't it? We ought to care about what religious persons regard as offensive, but we need also to support the right of individuals to speak even when it is offensive. And, of course, those who want us to care about the offense to their religious sensibilities ought to demonstrate their commitment to decent values. It's bad enough when they don't support free speech. (They should argue against the speech, not try to suppress it.) But when they descend into violence and threats of violence, they utterly surrender the high ground. The demands for respect that would have won many sympathetic supporters lose all effect in that ugly form. The most you can hope for is fear and retreat, which you don't deserve and you aren't going to get.

59 comments:

Gaius Arbo said...

Earlier reports (from Reuters) had the State Department spokesman condemning the cartoons. Period. I'm very glad they clarified that.


verification: nszil - which should be a trade name for an alergy medicine....

chuck b. said...

If I didn't want my tax dollars going to these countries as foreign aid before, I especially don't want them to go there now.

Sloanasaurus said...

I think the cartoons are ugly. Typical of anti-religious types especially in Europe. However, at the same time, the reaction to it in places like Gaza is far worse. These muslim fanatics behave like barbarians.

Dave said...

Remember, Islam is a religion of peace.

And Slick Willie kept it in his pants.

And, when someone says they have a bridge to sell you, you should take them up on the offer.

When will man learn that religion foments violence and hatred?

Mark Daniels said...

I think you're absolutely right on this, Ann.

The cartoons may be offensive, insensitive, or disrespectful. But in pluralistic societies and in a world that is daily shrinking in size, none of these are good reasons for repudiating people's freedom to express themselves.

In the marketplace of ideas, I find that my own faith in Christ and the belittling of Christ--Who, as a Christian I believe is not just a human being, but God as well--are daily features of Western mass media. I may deplore this and speak out against it. But that's a long way from calling for people with whom I disagree to be beheaded. The only way I can be free to practice my own faith is if I afford others that same freedom.

Mark Daniels

AlaskaJack said...

Does anyone really believe that printing these cartoons was well worth the reaction we now see in the Moslem world? From their perspective, they feel they have been insulted and ridiculed with the predictable result that some have reacted irrationally.

If this is a wonderful example of what is meant by the deeper meaning of freedom of expression, then mass media cartoon ridicule and charicature of gays,lesbians and various ethnic and racial groups should also be a wonderful example of freedom and celebrated as such. But wouldn't we condemned the latter as divisive and intolerent?

Johnny Nucleo said...

Nobody cares about offending Christians because everybody knows Christians are supposed to turn the other cheek. (Wussies!)

What about Jews, you say? Who's afraid of Abraham Foxman? He's not scary. (He's foxy!)

What about Hindus? Nobody knows anything about Hindus so the question is moot.

Buddhists? Buddhists use the Force for knowledge and defense. Never for attack.

Hardly any American comedians mock Islam. Hollywood no longer depicts Islamic terrorists in movies. No TV show has ever poked fun at Muslims. It isn't sensitivity or respect. It's fear.

Western artists talk a lot about "courage" (usually the courage to offend their parents) but nobody wants to be the next Salman Rushdie or Theo Van Gogh.

Remember the outrage Hollywood expressed over the murder of Theo Van Gogh? What outrage! I've never seen Hollywood so outraged! Warren Beatty's press conference was classic Beatty eloquence. Barbara Streisand's op-ed in the L.A. Times was a reasoned and moving tribute to free speech. Plus outrage!

Who wants to see a big epic movie about the life of Mohammed? Boring! I think I'll go rent Kingdom of Heaven.

Freeman Hunt said...

When will man learn that religion foments violence and hatred?

Right because atheism foments love and peace. Like in China and the former USSR.

Dave said...

Freeman: You're drawing unwarranted conclusions from my argument.

It says nothing about the alleged peacefulness of atheism.

David said...

The Muslim fanatics tell us time and time again that the infidels, unbelievers, and apostates are enemies of Islam and must be killed.

They believe we are descended from pigs and apes and deserve to die. When are we going to believe them and act accordingly in our own best interests?

Sloanasaurus is correct. These people are barbarians and they are at our gate! soon they will be at our gate with nuclear weapons.

In the meantime we twiddle our thumbs and worry that our phone lines are being tapped along with the terrorists. Discussing the niceties of wartime Presidential Powers is academic. Sending the suicidal maniacs to allah is a matter of survival!

Craig Ranapia said...

I know it's never going to get read, but I've e-mailed both President Bush and Secretary Rice to express my extreme disappointment at their reaction.

Sorry, Professor Althouse, but guess what Europeans are seeing :- America talking a good game about freedom, but when it comes time to walk the walk the State Department and every major media outlet puckered up and kissed Jihadist ass. If the State Department can't tell the difference between these cartoons, and the vicious anti-Semitism that infects Islamist media and websites on a daily basis (and without comment or condemnation in the West) I just despair...

Sorry if this offends some American egoes, but when the French are going to bat for freedom and you're hiding in the dressing room you should be embarrased.

downtownlad said...

The cartoons aren't ugly at all. They are factual. The implication is that Islam is a violent religion. The threats to kill those who publish the cartoons only proves that to be true.

Craig Ranapia said...

Oh, and here's another question for Secretary Rice, President Bush and folks like Alaska Jack.

What message do you think the American MSM and the State Department sent to reformist Muslims from France to Indonesia who have been subject to legal harassment, intimidation and violence (including rape and murder) for not toeing the findamentalist party line? "Don't surrender you faith or your country to the hardliners without a struggle, but don't expect us to back you up when it's inconvenient"?

Steven said...

I'm not in favor of the cartoons being originally published.

However, I am vastly more strongly opposed to the withdrawal of ambassadors, boycotts of Danish products, and other efforts to try to pressure the Danes into criminal punishment of the publishers.

I have accordingly posted the bomb-turban cartoon on my LiveJournal, http://stevenehrbar.livejournal.com/

paintedgoat said...

Bravo to French Soir and all the other papers which reprinted the cartoons. Boo to CNN International which censored the face of Muhammed in its video on this story and double boo to the State Department for caving on this. Buy Danish!

Sean said...

I don't understand the State Department statement. Does this mean that, say, "Piss Christ" is officially "unacceptable" to the government of the United States? In which case, what is the United States government going to do about it? Or is the State Department using "unacceptable" to mean something different from what it means to me.

Dan from Madison said...

I find this whole bru-ha-ha quite interesting and revealing. Most Protestants and Catholics here in the United States and elsewhere simply turn away from ugly or insensitive depictions of their savior, Jesus. As a matter of fact, most of the time they tend to try to reason with or reach out to those who would depict Jesus as a monster or something else that he was certainly not. I am only 38 but cannot remember one time where followers of Christ resorted to violence or threats of violence to solve problems of this sort. They are taught that these things are wrong, and sinful. On the other hand, we have those that react in ways that most folks would see as crazed, unbelievable, or ridiculous (see title of this post). Of course you will hear that this is a deranged fringe of Islam but where is the deranged fringe of Christianity? I have yet in my short life to hear from the "Episcopalian Martyrs Brigade". Two different religions, two different cultures, two very different reactions to the same situation.

Pete said...

I'm entirely confident that Rolling Stone magazine will bravely feature on its cover a hip-hop artist done up in a costumer to look like Mohammed, just like Kanye West was so bravely depicted as Christ.

Ann Althouse said...

Comparisons to depicting Jesus are quite inaccurate. Christians have been enthusiastically depicting Christ for centuries, including showing him near naked, bleeding, tortured, and limply dead. Muslims strongly object to any depiction of Mohammad, even a simple, dignified picture of his face. It's a completely different attitude toward images. I think if you're not in this tradition, you should make a greater effort to imagine how Muslims feel. It does not excuse the violence and threats of violence, but you ought to try to have a better understanding of the offense that is felt. And they ought to try to understand our traditions too. Apparently, free expression is difficult to perceive as a significant value and there seems to be a severely inadequate appreciation of the way we experience violence and threats of violence. We really ought to support mutual understanding here.

knoxgirl said...

Islam's intolerance of anything/anyone not Muslim pretty much voids their demands for tolerance from others. I think every newspaper in the world should run these along with a headline that says: "Grow Up."

This incident scares me more than almost anything since 9/11. It makes me seriously doubt that any of these countries rooted in Islam can ever assimilate into the developed/civilized/21st century world. This reaction we're getting is not limited to the lunatic fringe.

It also disgusts me that newspapers and networks here in the US aren't showing them. Lame.

Pete said...

Oh,pPlease, Ann, the contrarian in you is coming out.

I’m sorry but the comparison to the negative depictions of Jesus is apt. Your examples of how Christians have depicted Christ doesn’t mean it’s open season for the likes of the creator of Piss Christ, which someone mentioned above. As I recall, we Christians were admonished for being offended by that piece of art and scolded for being close-minded about the significant statements that art is supposed to make. My point about the brave people at Rolling Stone is that they don’t mind offending Christians one bit – in fact, they revel in their “controversy-ness.” My, ain’t they brave, thumbing their nose at Christian sensibilities by using Christian iconography in depicting the trials and tribulations of Kanye West after the stupid, stupid comments he made? Surely you don’t think they’re using that cover to foster “mutual understanding,” do you? How many Christians do you think Rolling Stone hopes will pick up their magazine because of this cover? No, if they’re so brave, why do they always pick on Christians when it seems the biggest trouble makers are the followers of radical Islam?

And what’s with this “mutual understanding” wimpiness anyway? No one is saying Muslims shouldn’t be offended. Those of us invoking the examples of the desecration of the image of Christ are saying we know what they’re talking about. We’re just not calling for the cutting off of heads. We understand their offense just fine. It’s their response we have trouble with.

Icepick said...

But when [Muslims] descend into violence and threats of violence, they utterly surrender the high ground.

Only to our Western eyes. In their eyes they are acting according to their holiest traditions. The strom clouds look pretty in the distance, don't they?

Ann Althouse said...

Pete: " Your examples of how Christians have depicted Christ doesn’t mean it’s open season for the likes of the creator of Piss Christ, which someone mentioned above."

I didn't say there's no offense. But it's WAY less. The Christian tradition involves responding to torture and humiliation with forgiveness and love. Mocking Jesus is PART of the story of Jesus. It's pretty obvious to most Christians that reacting violently to offense is unChristian. That doesn't justify greater cruelty to Christians. It seems to me that Christians are called to a high standard of morality that includes responding to hatred with love. If you care about the Christian tradition, you should look for ways to be more Christian, not less. You know what you're asked to do:

"MATTHEW 5:38"You have heard that it was said, 'Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.'[g] 39But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. 40And if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. 41If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. 42Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.
43"You have heard that it was said, 'Love your neighbor[h] and hate your enemy.' 44But I tell you: Love your enemies[i] and pray for those who persecute you, 45that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? 47And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? 48Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect."

Are you following these beliefs? Does your response to the cartoon story reflect these values?

Jacques Cuze said...

In which Ann's echo chamber's inner freeper, green footballer, and roger l simon comes out....

Not just 48 hours earlier, the same chamber was arguing that wearing a Tee shirt was the sort of speech that should be censored, even when a court decision explicitly said otherwise, and since then the Capital Police have apologized to Cindy Sheehan for their own illegal behavior towards Ms. Sheehan and our first Amendment.

Jacques Cuze said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Ronald Reagan said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Chris O'Brien said...

In various parts of the world, Islam is doing battle against pretty much everyone in one way or another. Thats literally battling - not competeting in the marketplace of ideas. Islam is fighting Christians in the secular west, Animists in Africa, Hindus and Sihks in Central Asia, Bhuddists in Southeast Asia and Jews everywhere. Oh and they are also fighting each other in plenty of places too.

I have to ask, now, in 2006, if Islam is a peaceful religion, what would a warlike one look like?

The Drill SGT said...

Ann,

I think I disagree with you on this one. I read the cartoon protests as another unreasonable and violent attempt by Islam to impose Sharia law on unbelievers.

Examples:

- Sharia law in Canadian family court
- No display of miss piggy in the UK government offices
- teaching Islam in German public schools
- talk of legalization of polygamy in Canada
- multi-culturalism in general
- hacking heads off around the world.

need I go on?

The Western World, our culture and society needs to stand up for its fundamental beliefs and support our freedoms, lest they be extinguished throughout the world. When those protesters in China stood in front of tanks with their bodies to demand freedom, they didn't have a statue of Mohammad, they had the Statue of Liberty. The Western World isn't perfect, but it's a lot better than living in the 7th century wearing head to foot black robes.

Ann Althouse said...

I am in no way supporting repression or violence. If that's the way you read my post and comments here, you need to work on your reading. Try reading that Biblical passage I quoted again. Did Jesus say that as long as other people are doing worse than you, it's just fine to concentrate on criticizing them?

Pete said...

Ann,

I don't see how expecting radical Muslims to refrain from lopping off the heads of those who give them offense is un-Christian. By the way, as a Christian, I try my best to live by the verses you cite. As a flawed human, I rarely succeed. Doesn't mean I stop trying.

And I still disagree with your take on the justification of the denegration of the iconography of Christianity but it's clear you won't be persuaded. Though I wonder what your stance is on the example of Rolling Stone magazine that I cited. But, if I may, it sounds like you're saying that it's okay for Rolling Stone to dress up Kanye West as Christ and we shouldn't be offended because of this long history Christian imagery you cite but to dress him as Mohammed would be, well, wrong, because Muslims don't have that tradition and it might offend them. So Rolling Stone was acting sensitively rather than cowardly and the fear of having their collective heads lopped off had nothing to do with their decision.

(Word verification: dryrtat. What I once found on the lint screen of my dryer.)

Ann Althouse said...

Pete: "And I still disagree with your take on the justification of the denegration of the iconography of Christianity..."

Pete, the word "justification" has meaning, and it is plainly inappropriate as a characterization of what I've written. I can't understand why you insist on misreading me. All I've said is that persons in the Christian tradition are likely to feel less intense offense.

hoosthere said...

This is a big reason why I come to this blog and actually read comments! There aren't very many commenters at other blogs that actually engage in clear-minded analysis from both sides of the aisle. Thank you quoxxo...oh wait.

Come on quoxxo (whatever that is anyway!)...please engage on the merits and stop calling names around here. I like reading other people's comments from the left side MUCH more than yours. Please start to realize that insulting Ann does nothing for you.

That said...your argument is as ineffective as it is infantile. Frankly, it is responses like this that reveal the creeping hypocrisy of so many on the left. This is ACTUAL repression of thought (no matter how offensive the content...and it is certainly insensitive). I agree with Ann and with the revised take of State. But until the left stops defending these sort of monsters and begins to shine and equally harsh light on TRUE censorship, they will continue to come off like the boy who cries wolf at lame "censorship" of their own views, like in Ms. Sheehan's case. Because, yes, she was only repressed because of the message she sent. Nobody else was asked to leave the chamber. Oh...wait (again).

verification: "efeza" (Gesundheit!)

hoosthere said...

and one more thing...did anybody cry "Cindy Sheehan must be beheaded!!!"? Get a clue, left.

Jonathan said...

I agree that the comparison between Islam and Christianity is imperfect. A better comparison might be with Judaism, which like Islam is touchy about images. But if the Rolling Stone editors are unwilling intentionally to offend Jews it's not because they fear violence by Jews. I think it's obvious to most of us that Western self-censorship about Islam is driven by fear of Muslim violence. I think it's also clear that radical Islamists have been sophisticated in using our rules and inhibitions against us in a form of nonmilitary warfare. While the State Department's fair-minded comments make sense in our own political and cultural context, they also make it easier for our enemies to gain advantage in the media battle that rages in parallel to military battles. The comments were thus extremely unwise.

"oxdpbtxe"

Chris O'Brien said...

Stop being a quoxxophobe.

knoxgirl said...

All I care about is everyone--the government, the PC police, the religion police, et al -- leaving me alone to do what I want as long as what I'm doing doesn't hurt anyone. I refuse to except that "hurt" includes possibly offending someone, somewhere. The Miss Piggy thing is proof that the threats to our liberties is real.

I don't think particularly highly of the Danish mohammed cartoons. But no way am I going to smile on little baby steps of capitulation that could lead to me wearing a burqa.

To my mind, this is NOT the time for "Christian Tolerance"--or any other kind. Quite the opposite! We need to state our commitment to preserving our rights (to say, think, and yes, insult whomever we want) in exact proportion to the Islamist outrage at these newspapers.

We have separation of Church and State here. The State Dept. better stand firmer on freedom of expression in the future.

PatCA said...

"When are we going to believe them and act accordingly in our own best interests?"

Exactly. Look at the photos of the protests. All of the signs are written obviously by the same hand. And the folks in Gaza are resplendent in their jihad greens. The Danish imam who spread the cartoons to the ME admits he added some fake ones to the collection. Protestors burn the Danish embassy in, quel suprise, Syria.

Do you really think this is all spontaneous? Months after their publication, some cartoons 'ignite' protests. This is all part of jihad, intimidating (and blaming) the West for their ills and exciting the base, from Gaza to London, to violence.

Eugene said...

To strive to not give offense is a laudable moral objective, though one unachievable given the nature of human nature. Hence, attempting to prevent others from taking offense is an existential impossibility, and results in horrors like the destruction of the Bamiyan Buddhas in Afghanistan.

BTW, I wonder how soon we can expect the companion novel to My Name is Asher Lev. To briefly summarize (for those who haven't read it):

"[Asher Lev is] the son of Aryeh and Rivkeh Lev, who belong to the Ladover sect of Hasidic Jews and live in Brooklyn. Asher is brought up learning the Torah and the Talmud. But from an early age he shows a passion for art, which his father regards as frivolous at best and sacrilegious at worst [a violation of the Second Commandment]."

ShadyCharacter said...

Ann, in re your discussions with Pete, where do you get the idea that we Christians "are likely to feel less intense offense."

I can't recall you writing on your own faith, (I'm not even sure what religion you are!) but I believe it's wrong to take the lack of beheadings as evidence that the offense felt by Christians at these provocations is "less intense" than that felt by Muslims. It's called self-control.

There's also the matter of "turning the other cheek" a notion noticeably absent in the Muslim tradition.

Piss Christ and this current cartoon are each equally offensive, basically a glob of spit in the eye. The difference is Christians don't respond by killing the spitters.

Ann Althouse said...

Shady: My poiint is that Christians aren't offended by depictions per se, as Muslims are, and that the depictions that Christians themselves favor involve a lot of extreme imagery already. They already show Christ being horribly abused. The worst that could be done to Christ was ALREADY DONE in the official story, and it has for centuries been depicted in highly admired works of art. Thus, we have a whole different background with respect to images. We are inured to images to a MUCH greater degree. That is certainly not to say that the Christian religion deserves less respect than Islam.

PatCA said...

This is interesting...seems that the offense/retribution meme has a long history. (from JihadWatch.org)

From de Beaumarchais' 1784 stage comedy Marriage of Figaro (adapted by Mozart for the great opera), from the famous Freedom of Speech monologue in Act V, Scene 3:

"I cobble together a verse comedy about the customs of the harem, assuming that, as a Spanish writer, I can say what I like about Mohammed without drawing hostile fire. Next thing, some envoy from God knows where turns up and complains that in my play I have offended the Ottoman empire, Persia, a large slice of the Indian peninsula, the whole of Egypt, and the kingdoms of Barca {Ethiopia}, Tripoli, Tunisi, Algeria, and Morocco. And so my play sinks without trace, all to placate a bunch of Muslim princes, not one of whom, as far as I know, can read but who beat the living daylights out of us and say we are 'Christian dogs.' Since they can't stop a man thinking, they take it out on his hide instead..."

Pastor_Jeff said...

Ann,

It sounds like you're saying that Christians are expected to get over the offense, but violent responses from Muslims are understandable. Isn't that a double-standard? And what does that do for the argument about free speech that you started with?

Personally, I get tired of mainstream Democrats comparing fundamentalist Christians to the Taliban and Osama bin Laden (or the head of the NAACP equating Republicans to Nazis). It's outrageous slander that gets ignored and dismissed because we're supposed to turn the other cheek.

Where's the similar expectation for Muslims? Or are they allowed to act like murderous juveniles? Isn't that "the soft bigotry of low expectations"?

Pastor_Jeff said...

Ann,

Accurate depictions of Christ's suffering intended to foster piety are totally different from "Piss Christ," elephant dung Madonna, and Kayne West, and you know it.

Ann Althouse said...

Pastor Jeff: Christians are welcome to get offended all they want. All I'm saying is that Christians may not appreciate how deeply offended Muslims feel. Personally, I have a Christian background and when I see things like the Piss Christ, I just scoff at the stupid artist who's trying to promote himself by shocking people in that tired old way that artists do.

Maybe my point would be clearer if I compared it to pornography. I wouldn't like to suddenly encounter a hardcore pornographic image, but if, for example, I opened up an email and had one intruded on me, I would just quickly delete it and feel slightly annoyed. I wouldn't freak out or spend any time trying to figure out a way to punish the person who caused me to see it. But I can imagine a very sheltered kind of person who would be terribly upset, undone by the experience. I would feel a lot of sympathy for that person. I would still expect that person to develop the inner resources to handle himself well in the world and not do anything destructive.

People get mad sometimes. Those who don't get mad don't have the same challenge to restrain themselves. Those who do get mad must learn to deal with it. We who are not angry can at least think about how we can be helpful. I don't think this is such a difficult concept.

Of course, I realize that images meant in a hostile way feel different to Christians than the tortures that are depicted by those who favor Christianity. That does not, however, affect my point.

Pastor_Jeff said...

Ann,

Okay, I get that depictions of Mohammed are offensive - although you're really not doing to the Christians here what you're asking us to do for the Muslims - understand the offense. But nevertheless, the point that Muslims are offended means ... what?

You've said that shouldn't restrict speech, and it doesn't excuse violence, so what's the point?

Ann Althouse said...

Pastor Jeff: Are you seriously admitting that you don't see how much of life is left once you exclude the topics of government censorship and violence?!

Pastor_Jeff said...

I don't understand that response at all. Do you really think that's what I mean?

I thought we were talking about how to respond to Muslim outrage at depictions of Mohammed.

I obviously agree that people should get over their outrage at perceived offenses and get on with life. We all do it here in the US all the time. The Islamic world seems not to be able to do that.

Are you saying that the answer is to help Muslims find things in life to focus on other than how the evil Jews and Americans rule the world and torture and kill for fun? I agree, but that's hard to do given that those are the lies fed to them daily by their own media and religious leaders.

Ann Althouse said...

I'm just interpreting your question to me. Your question lacks other meaning. You need to ask yourself what you meant, not ask me what I meant.

Pastor_Jeff said...

Okay...

I think we're having communication problems and should probably shut down for now. I hope you have a good rest of the day.

knoxgirl said...

I think the assertion that religious imagery might be especially offensive to Muslims makes sense. But I think their outrage and offense comes NOT from their religion as much as from living in very un-free societies, where they are not used to being challenged in ANY way. This is indeed sad, but it is also dangerous.

And frankly, I'd be more inclined to be sensitive if I felt they were as outraged at those who blow people up in the name of Islam than some Dutch cartoonist.
Or if I didn't suspect that these same people, if accommodated, would next be demanding that all women put on a burqa.

Craig Ranapia said...

Ann:

Does the university you teach at have an art history department with someone on staff who is an expert in Islamic art? That's not intended as snark, because I was very interested to hear from a Muslim friend of mine who told me that, once again, 'Islam' shouldn't be considered a monolithic mass as it's simply misleading to say there's always been a blanket ban on portraiture (including realistic deptictions of the Prophet Mohammed) in Islam.

Once again, I stand corrected and challened to do some research. And as someone who doesn't like seeing my faith community (the Catholic Church) tarred with the same brush as it's hateful - and sadly politicised - fringes, it's fair comment to be reminded to pay Islam the same courtesy.

Johnny Nucleo said...

Let's say the Christian iconoclasts won and images of Christ were strickly verboten, in fact they were sacrilege.

And let's say the 21st Century world is dominated by Islam, but in this bizarro universe Islam is a worldwide capitalist democracy that encourages liberal values, and Christians are an oppressed minority, opressed by crazy fundamentalist preachers, like Cliff Robertson in Escape from L.A. (which sucked), and Evil Islamo-financiers.

What of China?

Sean said...

I understand what Ann is saying about how images of Mohammed are more offensive than mildly derogatory images of Jesus or Mary are to most Christians (although there aren't any pictures of Jesus in the kind of Presbyterian church I attend). But Ann is evading the point: after all, there are plenty of actions that are offensive to Christians. For instance, there has been a pretty consistent Christian consensus over the past 20 centuries about abortion, but the elite institutions of our society insist that this view is not even allowed be inserted into the public sphere. Indeed, I can't think of an occasion in which an elite, non-elective institution (university, federal court, big city newspaper, etc.) has restrained itself in recent years from what its members wanted to do based on deference to Christian sensitivities. Can anyone else?

Of course, Christians don't generally riot. If Ann is saying that we should be more deferential to those who are more inclined to violence, that is a funny--funny hypocritical, not funny haha--thing for a lawyer to say.

PatCA said...

I would agree with and take Ann's argument one step further. The rioting Muslims (not the probably majority peaceful Muslims) do feel more deeply enraged that perhaps we Christians would, precisely because their faith is so all-encompassing and so divorced from reason. As they say, you love life, we love death.

I would suspect Jeff would kill to protect his child but would never kill a pornographer, which the Piss Christ artist certainly is. However, in today's war against radical Islam, their ecstatic renunciation of anything but their god is their strength. I agree with Ralph Peters when he says our very devotion to process and dignity and legality weakens us. Blair still has not arrested or deported one radical. We consult lawyers before we bomb; they joyously strap on explosive belts and walk towards crowds of children.

It will cost us lives, to be sure. I hope it doesn't cost us the whole war.

Bruce Hayden said...

Before you throw all Christains together, the idea of showing Christ on the Cross in all his suffering is very much a Roman Catholic thing. Part of the Reformation, for at least some sects and, ultimately, denominations, was getting back to the Jewish/Moslem view on a prohbition on idolatry.

The only depiction of Jesus in the Presbyterian Church I was raised in is a wood carving of Leonardo Da Vinci's "Last Supper" on the Communion Table, and I well remember the furor that caused. Needless to say, there aren't any pictures of Saints there either.

Bruce Hayden said...

One recent movie where Islam, and, in particular, militant Islam, was portrayed in a negative light was in "Team America: World Police" (2004).

Coming from the creators of South Park, it is probably no surprise that that movie attacked political correctness by portraying militant Moslems as enemies of the U.S., and, indeed, in a very negative light.

Mike said...

Ann, I think your argument proceeds from the assumption that the violence is a sincere response to a perceived insult. I suspect PatCA's take is closer to the truth; this is about intimidation.

Ann Althouse said...

Mike: Actually, it doesn't. My point is not about the people who are being violent.

PatCA said...

The West, I'll agree, is failing to support reasonable people from the Arab/Muslim world like Salman Rushdie, Azar Nafisi, Orhan Pamuk, Africans in Darfur, and on and on, by kowtowing to these present day "insulted" thugs, spontaneous or government sponsored, who are threatening and burning and killing.

The real question is how it may be possible to support moderate Islam in the face of radical Islam. I believe that strength, rhetorical and military, is the only choice now. History offers no optimistic answer in this regard, does it?

Bruce, I don't think your analogy is on the mark. Being upset is not at issue--violence is.