Sunday, February 05, 2006

Ready to Kill Over Cartoons

Following a series of lesser acts of terrorism, our own World Trade Center in New York City was destroyed on September 11, 2001 by airplanes full of jet fuel, hijacked and made into massive bombs by Muslim terrorists. The loss of life was in the thousands. Property damage was in the billions. Since then, there has been a seemingly endless series of car bombings, suicide bombings, and assorted other brutal murders in Israel, Iraq, the rest of the Middle East, Holland, Spain, Britain, and around the world, all carried out in the name of Allah and Islam. None of the terrorism has met with any significant or meaningful repudiation by allegedly respectable Islamic organizations or spokesmen. As a result, some people have become impatient with Islam and its prophet Muhammad. This has especially been the case in Western Europe, which is home to relatively larger numbers of Muslim immigrants and their offspring than is the United States and whose Muslim population also contains a relatively larger number of highly militant “activists,” i.e., individuals threatening, and not infrequently carrying out, acts of force and violence.

In this environment, last September, finally tiring of the self-censorship imposed by the desire not to provoke Muslim fanatics, a courageous Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten decided to publish a collection of twelve cartoons that it had commissioned as a test of self-censorship. The newspaper’s editor, Fleming Rose, was standing up against what he very reasonably perceived as a profoundly unjust demand by Muslims. He is quoted as saying, "Some Muslims try to impose their religious taboos in the public domain. In my book, that's not asking for my respect, it's asking for my submission." (The New York Times, Feb. 5, 2006.)

One cartoon published by the newspaper depicted Muhammad as a bomber, another showed him with horns, a third showed him standing blindfolded between two women who were totally covered in black except for a narrow opening over their eyes, which was the size of his blindfold. A fourth cartoon showed him standing at the gates of heaven telling newly arrived suicide bombers that heaven had run out of virgins. (All of the twelve cartoons can be viewed on the website of Wikipedia ( There is nothing in any of the cartoons that would greatly offend anyone in his right mind.

The New York Times’ article reports, however, that a group of Danish fundamentalist Muslim clerics “inflamed the response” by adding “far more offensive cartoons that never appeared in any newspaper, some depicting Muhammad as a pedophile, a pig or engaged in bestiality.” They did this after their demand that the Danish government punish the newspaper and apologize was rejected. Wikipedia reports Denmark’s prime minister as replying, "The government refuses to apologize because the government does not control the media or a newspaper outlet; that would be in violation of the freedom of speech."

The courage of Jyllands-Posten and the Danish government was emulated by newspapers in half a dozen other European countries, which reprinted the cartoons. In the United States, the only newspaper of note to have joined them thus far appears to be The Philadelphia Inquirer. ABC’s Nightline showed one of the cartoons in its broadcast. Practically all others, including the US Department of State and the governments of most European countries seem to be merely trying to pretend that they uphold the right of free speech: they are all for free speech, but it should not be used to offend anyone’s convictions. French President Chirac, for example, simultaneously claims to defend free speech while asking everyone to avoid saying anything “that could hurt other people's beliefs."

The response to Jyllands-Posten’s courage has been a boycott of Danish goods, rioting in several countries, and the burning down of the Danish and Norwegian embassies in Syria, which was almost certainly the work of the Syrian government.

The following, reported in The New York Times of Feb. 4, is an indication of the further response that at least some in the Muslim world desire: "`We will not accept less than severing the heads of those responsible,’ one preacher at Al Omari mosque in Gaza told worshipers during Friday Prayer, according to Reuters. Other demonstrators called for amputating the hands of the cartoonists who drew the pictures.”

The question facing the Western world now is whether it will allow itself to be intimidated by a collection of utterly crazed fanatics and their religious delusions. If the decision is left up to most of the West’s politicians and intellectuals of the present-day, it will probably be to compromise, though hopefully less than to the extent of the severing of just the ears of “those responsible” and the amputation of just their thumbs.

The Muslim fanatics have no idea how revolting and offensive is not only their murderous behavior but also their beloved, utterly barbaric legal code of “Sharia,” with its beheadings, amputations, stonings, and floggings. It is revolting and offensive to anyone who values human life and the dignity of the human person. Let these wild beasts, for that is what they are, tremble lest they offend civilized people beyond the limit of endurance. Let them learn that in the Western world there will never be a “cultural diversity” broad enough and contradictory enough, to incorporate their barbarism into Western civilization.

This article is copyright © 2006, by George Reisman. Permission is hereby granted to reproduce and distribute it electronically and in print, other than as part of a book. (Email notification is requested.) All other rights reserved.