February 12, 2006

"We are used to seeing ourselves as a permissive and open society on the side of the good..."

"... and it is shocking to see Danes as objects of hate."

Here is an excellent article about the "identity crisis" Danes are having over the cartoon controversy.
"The furor over the cartoons has been a wake-up call for Danes," says Flemming Rose, the cultural editor of the paper, Jyllands-Posten. Mr. Rose, who commissioned the cartoons in the fall, announced Friday that he was taking an indefinite leave of absence from the paper. "We are used to seeing ourselves as a permissive and open society on the side of the good, and it is shocking to see Danes as objects of hate."...

As Muslim protesters across the Middle East burned Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen in effigy this week, he insisted on Denmark's tolerance. "It's a false picture to portray us as an enemy of Islam," he said in an interview on Thursday.

But Muslim leaders have pointed out that such words fail to resonate when the government coalition includes the Danish People's Party, whose leaders have publicly compared Muslims to "cancer cells."...

In a sign that the cartoon crisis is fanning even greater anti-immigrant sentiment, the People's Party leader, Pia Kjaersgaard, wrote in her weekly newsletter that the Islamic religious community here was populated with "pathetic and lying men with worrying suspect views on democracy and women." She added: "They are the enemy inside. The Trojan horse in Denmark. A kind of Islamic mafia."

Imam Abdul Wahid Pedersen, a Danish convert to Islam, with ice blue eyes and a neatly trimmed goatee, argues that Denmark's self-delusions have been destroyed by the cartoons. Imam Pedersen, who converted 24 years ago and speaks fluent Arabic, says that before the cartoon crisis his Muslim identity was embraced by Danish friends. Now he says he is taunted as a "traitor" as he walks down the street and has even received death threats.

"Blockhead right-wing politicians in this country are saying Islam is a terrorist religion, that our prophet is a con man, that we take their jobs and steal their women," he said. "The tolerance it took decades to build up has been torn down in a matter of a few months."

The Danish People's Party insists that the violence spurred by the cartoon crisis has proved that its anti-immigration policies are justified. Morten Messerschmidt, a 25-year-old rising star in the party, said that rather than preaching intolerance, the party was in fact fighting to preserve Danish liberalism — including respect for gender rights and freedom of the press — which he believes has become increasingly irreconcilable with Islam.

"The crisis over the cartoons has been an eye-opener and has shown that the culture clash we have been predicting for 10 years had come to pass," Mr. Messerschmidt said. "These people we welcomed into our country have betrayed us."
How terribly sad and painful this is. How can a liberal society defend itself against illiberalism? We depend heavily on what we believe is the demonstrable good of a free and open society. When confronted with large numbers of people who won't agree with our idea of the good, what can we do?

UPDATE: Here's a BBC report on a big pro-Muslim rally in London:
The event aimed to explain the views of moderate Muslims towards cartoons published in a Danish newspaper which led to worldwide protests.

Organisers also said it wanted to dissociate the mainstream Muslim community from a "minority of extremists"....

A series of speakers gathered to support the Muslim community, including MP Jeremy Corbyn.

In his speech, which was met with cheers from the crowd, he said: "The only way our community can survive is by showing mutual respect to each other.

"We demand that people show respect for each other's community, each other's faith and each other's religion."
That seems encouragingly moderate. But read this too, Mark Steyn's new column:
[The European Union's Justice and Security Commissioner, Franco] Frattini explained it to the Daily Telegraph, "The press will give the Muslim world the message: We are aware of the consequences of exercising the right of free expression. . . . We can and we are ready to self-regulate that right."

"Prudence"? "Self-regulate our free expression"? No, I'm afraid that's just giving the Muslim world the message: You've won, I surrender, please stop kicking me.

But they never do. Because, to use the Arabic proverb with which Robert Ferrigno opens his new novel, Prayers for the Assassin, set in an Islamic Republic of America, "A falling camel attracts many knives." In Denmark and France and the Netherlands and Britain, Islam senses the camel is falling and this is no time to stop knifing him.

The issue is not "freedom of speech" or "the responsibilities of the press" or "sensitivity to certain cultures." The issue, as it has been in all these loony tune controversies going back to the Salman Rushdie fatwa, is the point at which a free society musters the will to stand up to thugs. British Muslims march through the streets waving placards reading "BEHEAD THE ENEMIES OF ISLAM." If they mean that, bring it on. As my columnar confrere John O'Sullivan argued, we might as well fight in the first ditch as the last.

But then it's patiently explained to us for the umpteenth time that they're not representative, that there are many many "moderate Muslims.''

I believe that. I've met plenty of "moderate Muslims" in Jordan and Iraq and the Gulf states. But, as a reader wrote to me a year or two back, in Europe and North America they aren't so much "moderate Muslims" as quiescent Muslims. The few who do speak out wind up living in hiding or under 24-hour armed guard, like Dutch MP Ayaab Hirsi Ali.

So when the EU and the BBC and the New York Times say that we too need to be more "sensitive" to those fellows with "Behead the enemies of Islam" banners, they should look in the mirror: They're turning into "moderate Muslims," and likely to wind up as cowed and silenced and invisible.


elliot said...

I think you're looking at the fatal flaw of multi-culturalism.

Some cultures simply cannot mix.

True assimilation is the only way Western democracies can defuse less tolerant cultures inside their own countries.

Pogo said...

The requirement for multicultural sensitivity is based in part on a refusal to recognize that some cultures and societies are in fact superior to others. The feel-good nature of indiscriminate tolerance enforced a lack of necessary discrimination against beliefs, organizations, and peoples who can twist such openness into demands for submission.

But a liberal view of the world does not need to permit the seeds of its own destruction. Violence and death threats over fake cartoons and even valentine cards are not permissible simply because people are allowed to practice their religion freely here.

We must stand by this message: If you come to the US, you must support and believe in the rights as enumerated in our Constitution. If not, then you must leave. If you decry our freedoms, and militate against them, then you do not belong here, and you are no longer welcome. Go. Now.

This first ditch is indeed as good as the last.

Kevin C. Fleming

W said...
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W said...
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Howard said...

I posted an admittedly cruder, but similar comment today and yesterday as well. All we have to do is look at the entire American(?) media, INCLUDING THE BLOGS, all of whom refuse to publish the cartoons under various excuses (I did not refuse to publish them), all of the pathetic excuses amount to the same thing: "I don't want any trouble." I pointed out that on the same day that the New York Times announced their sensitivity toward the Muslim religion as reason for not publishing the cartoons, they published the most obscene anti-Christian painting any of us have ever seen (I published that one too). Why? Because Christians won't riot, won't burn down the Times Building, won't kill the liberals.

What you leave out of your piece is the proposition: Violence Works. It works every time in our society. We have a history of allowing mob violence as a means of self expression, the most recent that I am familiar with is Blacks burning and destroying campus newspapers every time something they don't like is printed.

Liberal America is a nation of cowards, standing for nothing in particular other than getting along with everyone. Until it is too late and it may be approaching the time when it is too late. Ask not for whom the bell tolls....

W said...

Me mine. Be my Valentine's Day repository.

Mary said...

"When confronted with large numbers of people who won't agree with our idea of the good, what can we do?"

Maybe keep on practicing good, and its inherent worth will win you followers?

For example, you have been fairly adamant about your position in respecting people whose religious views are not tolerable of homosexual "rights". At first, I questioned that, thinking a person must confront openly such attitudes and call them on their beliefs. Lately I've realized, some people, because of their ages, upbringings, religious beliefs or whatever, are not going to change.

But maybe their children, always observing the culture and perhaps seeing the "good" being practiced, will have different attitudes. To me, this is where you maybe can win -- in the next generations.

Mary said...

Follow up:
I should be clear here that I believe people should be prosecuted, or called on if you will, for their "actions" not their thoughts or beliefs.

Violence should not be tolerated, but verbal threats of violence without accompanying plans or credible threats, must be allowed if we are to continue practicing the good of freedom of expression.

Sure it's hard not to overreact, but sometimes you have to let the light shine on ugly words so others in the marketplace can properly evaluate stances.

Also, there is always the hope that people can change, even protestors carrying ugly signs who in time may come to realize the emptiness of their position.

Pogo said...

Re: "...verbal threats of violence without accompanying plans or credible threats, must be allowed if we are to continue practicing the good of freedom of expression."

Really? Who says? Are we to permit a man to threaten to kill his wife so that he might come to see the error of his ways? Must we allow thugs to promise to burn down embassies in order for them to marvel at our patience?

Sorry mary, but leading by example only carries one so far. Once a situation has already devolved into violence, the time for that has passed. These actions cannot be overcome by peaceful resistance. Failing to recognize this fact is to recommit the errors of the 20th century.

The western press, and responses like mary's, are self-defeating. They capitulate, and thus reward violence and threats of violence. These new fascists learn that violence works, because you let it.

PatCA said...

The cartoon wars reveal the emptiness of far left dogma: that the US is deservedly the only Great Satan, and that other cultures behaving badly only do so because colonialism ruined them.

The Muslims are behaving badly today because of their 1400-year-old jihad against infidels, not because of colonialism, and we are paying tribute, just as we did in the Barbary Wars. The Danes are just another iteration of what they hate, and that is western (not American) values.

There were indeed radicals at the unity protest, but the BBC (out of sensitivity?) ignored that angle. And yet not one radical has been deported as Blair promised after the 7/7 bombings.

And so the newest "knife" is the protest against Valentine's Day. What will the world look like one ear from now? I hate to think.

Bob Mitze said...

I remember being taught in grade school that America was the melting pot. All kinds from all over came here to forge a common American identity. That idea seems to have been replaced by the multicultural goal of everyone staying separate, becoming at best hyphenated something-Americans.

Bring back the melting pot, lest we leap from there into the fire.

Semanticleo said...

"Prudence"? "Self-regulate our free expression"? No,"

I agree. I also feel that it is not
necessary to throw gas on the flames
by adamantly asserting our right
to publish whatever we want, with
a, consequences be damned, attitude.

I know that is not is not spelled
out by those who are anxious to say;
"we told you so" about the threat
from Muslim extremism, but it is
rather implicit in the criticism
(suggestively) of those media outlets which have been restained or

With freedom comes responsibility,
and that caveat sometimes requires
those who are right in principle,
to use discretion in whether or not
they insist on that free exercise.

bearing said...

I don't know why anyone should be surprised that being "on the side of the good" wins you hatred from those on the, er, other side.

Charles Chapman said...

How can a liberal society defend itself against illiberalism?

Support those who share our values. Persuade, educate and, if necessary, deter those who do not.

Right now, support Denmark and buy Danish. The links, buttons, badges, banners and icons are referenced on my weblog:
The Is-Ought Problem

If necessary, and only if necessary, punish those who actually act on their beliefs and harm "us" -- including harming those who share our values.

miklos rosza said...

When Mussolini first started his career, he wrote for a socialist newspaper. Then, as he evolved and invented fascism, he discovered that he could get young men to follow and join in -- simply by promising violence.

(And black shirts.)

Hitler and his cohorts used the same technique, going out looking for fights, looking for opportunities to be "outraged" or "offended."

Hot, crude emotionalism provides the engine which powers and energizes the movement (and intimidates the lukewarm).

In America and Europe, where is this kind of stupid power? In which direction is it pointed?

LoafingOaf said...

I can see the truth about Islam with my own eyes. The Muslims can march in the streets for days and days - some of them rampaging lunatics - over a cartoon. When Muslims storm into a school and murder children, or commit any of the other long line of atrocities done in the name of Islam for decades, I don't see much protesting, certainly not anywhere near on this scale. So now we know the Muslims know how to scream and protest over what they call desecrations of Islam, and now we can look at what they DON'T consider desecrations of Islam worthy of protesting with vigor - barbaric, savage terrorism. Islam has become sick and I am sick of people telling me I have to respect a religion. A religion is a belief system and I am not required to respect a belief system. The Muslims don't respect anyone else and I am sick of hearing their stupid tantrums. I would like to now officially declare that I don't give a damn what Muslims are mad about anymore, for as long as they sit idly by without cleaning up their religion.

PatCA said...

That's so true, miklos, history is repeating itself. Look at pictures of Japanese demonstrations before WWII--they are dressed in white like many of these angry people, in white from head to toe. Interesting how uniformity and anti-individualism attracts people. It's a madness, and this cult has awakened it once more.

W said...
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W said...

…except, for instance, the genocide of native Americans….so fuck all of you bitches.

Ernst Blofeld said...

I think the lack of spine displayed by the Euro elites will encourage a swerve to the LePen-style reactionaries. Which would be bad, and, worse, probably wouldn't work anyway.

What's the saying--the dark night of Fascism is always descending on America, but keeps landing on Europe.

Pedro said...

What can we do? How about we kick them out and let less of them in? Who is they and them? Let's not kid, they are young male muslims from arab countries.

miklos rosza said...

"...and the worst are filled with passionate intensity."

Gaius Arbo said...

Personally, I went out yesterday and bought some nice Danish Havarti cheese....

Verification: itchmzci

Cat said...

Mary, there are exceptions to free speech - inciting violence (in this case murder) or endangering others by "yelling fire in a crowded theater" when there is no fire.

Chris O'Brien said...

I know this observation has been made before, but:

Democracy, Multiculturalism and Immigration.

A society can have any 2 out of the 3 and sustain itself. But not all three.

bearbee said...

Hindu gods insulted, leaders up in arms

New Riots

bearbee said...

New Riots