FREEDOM OF SPEECH AND JIHADI-SALAFI INTIMIDATION[ Updated]
The UK Spectator
which was kind enough to link to Zenpundit
today on an unrelated matter has a Telegraph article with the disturbing implication that the Jihadi-Salafi radical movement is succeeding in its campaign of intimidation
over the Danish political cartoon to assert sharia precepts and special exceptions for Islam in Western societies. The moral problem is not one of the general population in Western countries but of elite authority which is reacting, Danish and some EU officials excepted, with truckling cowardice and opportunism.
It is manifestly true that the sharia prohibits artistic representations of the Prophet and that the original cartoon was insulting in a rather juvenile way. The sharia however prohibits a lot of things that are normal states of affairs in Denmark, Britain or the United States - or are considered Constitutional rights
- and as the body of Muslim religious law
, the sharia has absolutely no standing in the secular, liberal democratic West whose populations, while multicultural to be sure, are overwhelmingly Christian. We do not for example, give veto power over our society to Talmudic scholars or the canon law of the Catholic Church, so it might not be a good idea to be backtracking on core Western values in the face of threats from an unrepresentative but violent, totalitarian, minority within a predominantly foreign religion.
The Danish cartoon, however unfairly broadbrush, was aimed at the terroristic activities of these selfsame Salafi radicals and Jihadists
, who naturally, are alarmed at being accurately criticized for prostituting one of the world's great religions with their violent brand of extremist politics. Handing this group concessions instead of, say clapping them into the clink for making death threats, sends entirely the wrong message to moderates and secular intellectuals in the Muslim world at large. If the mighty West stammers in the face of relatively minor, semi-disorganized, thuggery from Islamist radicals, how much more important is it for them to keep their own mouths shut ?
The U.S. State Department, while no doubt relieved that for once somebody else's consulates are on fire, has disgracefully undercut the Europeans on free speech in order to try to win brownie points with the Muslim street
. I grant you that many FSO's are graduates of Ivy league schools where PC values are put on a far higher moral plane than the Bill of Rights but this move was rather dumb on conventional diplomatic grounds. If helping the Bosnian Muslims, Indonesian Tsunami victims and Pakistani earthquake victims barely made a dent in negative public images Muslims have of America, verbal concessions on a cartoon are not going to do the trick. Indeed, it will only invite the contempt of Jihadi radicals who see it for what it is - a retreat borne out of weakness and lack of confidence in core American values. And in Europe, advocates of a " tough" policy on Islamist extremism can only feel that we have pulled the rug out from under them after years of complaining that the Euros were too weak and vacillating in the face of extremism and terror.
It would have better to simply have said nothing at all. Our governmental elite lacks not only spine but sense.UPDATE:Dan
at Duck of Minerva have endorsed raf's post
for its perceptive observations and distinctions within the MENA world on this issue; I concur, very useful effort on raf's part.Memorandum
has more links to blogs posts and pundits on the cartoon crisis than I can even begin to list. Surf away !
I'll also concede that Dan is correct that American humanitarian aid has helped the American image somewhat in the targeted countries - I was thinking along the lines of Arab public opinion instead of the general Muslim world which is, of course, quite diverse in its interests. Nevertheless, State message was still remarkably boneheaded and inept.