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Not with a bang

Wednesday, 26th March 2008

Any day now, a film made by the controversial Dutch parliamentarian Geert Wilders is due to be released which it is feared will unleash a new wave of violence in the Netherlands and around the Islamic world to rival the reaction against the Danish cartoons. In this film ‘Fitna’, Wilders reportedly tears a page from the Koran and, denouncing it as akin to Mein Kampf, calls for it to be banned. This deliberate act of provocation is designed to throw down the gauntlet on behalf of the principle of freedom of speech within a free world which has been progressively cowed into sacrificing this principle under threat from radical Islamism.

In the Wall Street Journal  Pete Hoekstra, the senior Republican on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, robustly defends Wilders’s right to say something deeply offensive and disrespectful about religion on the basis that, if such expression is suppressed freedom dies. And having itemised the violence around the world associated with the Danish cartoons and the onslaught against human rights by radical Islamism in general, he voices his dismay at the supine response by the western intelligentsia to such developments: 

What is particularly disturbing about these assaults against modern society is how the West has reacted with appeasement, wilful ignorance, and a lack of journalistic criticism. Last year PBS tried to suppress ‘Islam vs. Islamists: Voices from the Muslim Center,’ a hard-hitting documentary that contained criticism of radical jihadists. Fortunately, Fox News agreed to air the film.

Even if the new Wilders film proves newsworthy, it is likely that few members of the Western media will air it, perhaps because they have been intimidated by radical jihadist threats. The only major U.S. newspaper to reprint any of the controversial 2005 Danish cartoons was Denver's Rocky Mountain News. You can be sure that if these cartoons had mocked Christianity or Judaism, major American newspapers would not have hesitated to print them…

 I do not defend the right of Geert Wilders to air his film because I agree with it. I expect I will not. (I have not yet seen the film). I defend the right of Mr. Wilders and the media to air this film because free speech is a fundamental right that is the foundation of modern society. Western governments and media outlets cannot allow themselves to be bullied into giving up this precious right due to threats of violence. We must not fool ourselves into believing that we can appease the radical jihadist movement by allowing them to set up parallel societies and separate legal systems, or by granting them special protection from criticism.
Mr Hoekstra was sorely needed at a conference in London that I attended yesterday to discuss issues arising from the presence of Muslims in Europe. A more stellar display of brazen sophistry on the one hand and intellectual cravenness on the other would be hard to imagine. It was a collection of big-wigs in the dialogue-of-civilisations business, convened by the Community of West and Islam Dialogue of the World Economic Forum in collaboration with Georgetown University and co-chaired by a Saudi princess, HRH Princess Lolowah al Faisal al Saud, and the former Archbishop of Canterbury Lord Carey. The glittering list of invitees included such luminaries as the leader of the Italian Muslim community, Yahya Pallavicini; Mounir Azzaoui of the Central Council of Muslims in Germany; Gunnar Stalsett of the World Conference of Religions for Peace; Ahmed Younis of the Gallup Organisation; Avraham Soetendorp of the Jewish Institute for Human Values; and many others of similar distinction.
I was only present for part of the meeting, but much of what I heard was — with a few brave exceptions, such as a statement that Saudi Arabia was responsible for funding extremist mosques in Britain and promulgating hatred of other faiths, and another statement that radical Islamism was the ‘default position’ among British Muslims prominent in public life including those working in government — an unchallenged sanitising by both Muslims and non-Muslims of the utterly unacceptable. There was the usual outrage that Islam was being demonised as ‘threatening’ to European values when it was, we were assured, nothing of the kind. Yet in the next breath, on the core issue of freedom of speech, Wilders’s film and the Danish cartoons were represented over and over again as acts disrespectful of Islam that should not be permitted. One speaker stated that the issue had
nothing to do with freedom of speech; it comes within the orbit of cultural disrespect.
Publication of such material was thus said to be ‘hate speech’ which would have terrible consequences. Yet how absurd is this! For the truly terrible consequences and eruption of hatred which followed from the Danish cartoons (and which are so feared in connection with the Wilders film) were not directed at Muslims but emanated from Muslims. The Islamic violence that erupted, the riots murders and kidnappings, did in turn inflame people against the Islamic world; but this was on account of what that world was itself doing, not on account of some drawings — which were in any event in themselves a protest against Islamic violence in the first place. To say that a protest against violence committed in the name of a religion is to display hatred towards that religion is an attempt to shut down legitimate and indeed neccessary debate.
There were a couple of brave souls at yesterday’s meeting who tried to put the other side of the argument, but they were outnumbered. With facts, reason and logic turned on their heads over and over again by people deemed to be ‘moderate’ and endorsed by others deemed to be ‘enlightened’, the discussion felt like a dialogue of the demented. This kind of establishment initiative which is so typical is itself part of the problem rather than the solution, because it provides a high-level platform for yet more mind-bending dissimulation. There were repeated statements at this meeting that Europe no longer stood for any recognisable values. They should have been howled down; but apart from some rather feeble disagreement, too many Europeans present either seemed to agree or kept their mouths zipped.
This is surely how a civilisation dies — with a whimper.

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Observer, I find your false equations offensive with more than a faint smell of anti-Semitism. No rational literate person could interpret my defense of free speech with the caveat of truth and context as the right of Jews to criticise, but not be criticised. In point of fact such a privileged status is a constant demand of Mohammedans who are ever ready to use violence to make us respect the Islamofascists who are the guiding force of Islam. But of course, observer, you have failed to observe the Mohammed cartoons and the Mohammed bear incidents.

Posted by paul2 on 2008-03-29 14:17:26 GMT

Observer...what planet are you living on? Don't you know there's a difference between legitimate criticism and disagreement and hate incitement...such kill them where you find them, Jews are apes and pigs, spill their blood, slit their throats... nauseum... (imams in sermons to their congregations!!!... about Jews and other infidels). Look at the Palestinian school books, look at Egyptian TV airing a modern blood libel story against the Jews. Do you really think Jews are exaggerating? Can you really compare the poisonous stuff coming out of the Muslim world with anything the west has produced? Check out the Wilders movie and see for yourself from whence the hatred emanates.

Posted on 2008-03-29 02:06:08 GMT

Offending Muslims or Christians = Free Speech Offending Jews = Hate

Posted by Observer on 2008-03-29 01:36:54 GMT

People like Hoekstra and Wilders (regardless of their politics) are joining an ever growing amount of Westerners overcoming Political Correctness. These people are the new Charles Martels and Jan Sobieskis of the 21st century attempting to make the West aware of the Theo-political nature of Islam as it is promulgated by Islamist ideology and thrust upon the West.

Posted by SlantRight on 2008-03-28 21:45:36 GMT

The Mohammedans have a point: free speech must not extend to degrading, humiliating or intimidating a person or a group. We Jews must protest against hate speech. BUT... Mohammedans demand respect at the same time as they demand the freedom to screech hate and violence against other groups. While that in itself is no excuse to respond in like, the pointing out of hate and violence in conformity with the Koran and hadiths is a matter of free speech - our right as free and modern people -and truth. If the Mohammedans don't like what we say, they can change thier ways. They can speak out against their extremists, like they speak out against us. It is one thing to protest against anti-Semitic assertions that Jews use the blood of gentile children in matza at Passover and that the Protocols of the Elders of Zion is true and quite something else again to deny that 9/11 is a Jewish plot or that Jews have no connection with Jerusalem. In short, free speech must rest on truth and context, not on the self perceived superiority of the speaker as, Mohammedans would have it.

Posted by paul2 on 2008-03-28 13:21:49 GMT