February 11, 2006

Daniel Pipes Channels Verity

Mideast scholar Daniel Pipes has come to the same conclusion as our co-blogger Verity. He wonders why

"The Anglosphere quivers

Strangely, as "Old Europe" finds its backbone, the Anglosphere quivers. So awful was the U.S. government reaction, it actually won the endorsement of the country's leading Islamist organization, the Council on American-Islamic Relations. This should come as no great surprise, however, for Washington has a history of treating Islam preferentially; and on two earlier occasions it also faltered in cases of insults concerning Muhammad.

In 1989, Salman Rushdie came under a death edict from Ayatollah Khomeini for satirizing Muhammad in his magical-realism novel, The Satanic Verses. Rather than stand up for the novelist's life, President George H.W. Bush equated The Satanic Verses and the death edict, calling both "offensive." Secretary of State James A. Baker III termed the edict merely "regrettable."

Even worse, in 1997 when an Israeli woman distributed a poster of Muhammad as a pig, the U.S. government shamefully abandoned its protection of free speech. On behalf of President Bill Clinton, State Department spokesman Nicholas Burns called the woman in question "either sick or . . . evil" and stated that "She deserves to be put on trial for these outrageous attacks on Islam." The State Department endorses a criminal trial for protected speech? Stranger yet was the context of this outburst; as I noted at the time, having combed through weeks of State Department briefings, I "found nothing approaching this vituperative language in reference to the horrors that took place in Rwanda, where hundreds of thousands lost their lives. To the contrary, Mr. Burns was throughout cautious and diplomatic."

We noticed that too. Back on january 27th, Verity asked Where Is the Anger? In that post she pointed out

Why are our cowardly leaders letting the steadfast Mr Rasmussen and the newspaper’s editors take the heat alone? Why has not one American Congressman raised the issue in Congress? No one would expect an unequivocal response from the British prime minister, but is there not one British MP brave enough to support Mr Rasmussen and the Danish people who are, after all, defending the liberty of all of us? Is there not one newspaper editor – even a tabloid – with the strength of conviction to support the Danes? Now Danish livelihoods are being threatened for failing to condemn this infraction against Islamic law, with boycotts of their products.

Is there not one damn’ politician in the entire Anglosphere who will take a stand with Mr Rasmussen? What about John Howard, then? The newly elected Harper? God help us, where is Jesse Jackson?

So far, the sole support has come from Norway – another Viking nation, let us note – one of whose papers printed the original article translated into Norwegian and ran the cartoons. Will not one elected member of an Anglosphere government stand shoulder to shoulder with Mr Rasmussen, who is single-handedly defending Western values and freedom?

Anglosphere values and the good things that came from trying to live up to them did not come from the Good Values Fairy. They are not something that come in our DNA. Rather, they came from centuries of finding out all the bad things that come from ignoring or contravening them. Freedom of speech and freedom of conscience came from absorbing the lessons of the decades of religious and political turmoil following the Reformation, the English Civil War, and the Revolution of 1688. The English and American Bills of Rights were the fruits of these lessons. But rights are a "use it or lose it" sort of phenomenon. Are we in danger of losing them?

This cowardice and confusion in the wake of this assault on free speech is not a good sign.

Posted by James C. Bennett at February 11, 2006 05:54 PM
Comments

..." Freedom of speech and freedom of conscience came from absorbing the lessons of the decades of religious and political turmoil following the Reformation, the English Civil War, and the Revolution of 1688. The English and American Bills of Rights were the fruits of these lessons. But rights are a "use it or lose it" sort of phenomenon. "....

The correct response to complaints of this sort from either the Islamofascists or western Liberals should be "...buck-up and grow up", or "...choke on it". As for it being "Blasphemy"; it can only be blasphemous if you are of the Faith that your blaspheming. You have voluntarily agreed-to the ground-rules, and now have to live with them...and within them. Respect and Tolerance must not be mistaken for Weakness; it is granted but should not be abused.

Posted by: Ted B. at Charging Rhino at February 11, 2006 07:10 PM

Oh please! This is rubbish. The Eurpeans were shamed when Spain voted in a leftist government after the Madrid bombing. It was all over then and both the Europeans and the Islamsis know it. Unlike the Euro-weenies who have nothing left but the politics of gesture and de haut en bas lectures, the US, Australia, and the UK are making a significant effort to fight Islamo-fascism on its home ground and introduce real reform. Maybe, just maybe, the US and UK are thinking strategically. Forebear a little from needlessly bashing the Arabs. Certainly Syria and Iran are thinking strategically. Does anyone seriously believe that these riots are spontaneous outbursts by offended Muslims? Since when do spontaneous demonstrations break out in Damascus? Did anyone notice that a few months elapsed between publication of the cartoons and the riots? Where were the European (or US for that matter) newspapers heralding the millions and millions of brave Arabs who defied the Islamists by proudly waving their ink-stained fingers?

Posted by: jimbo at February 12, 2006 07:30 AM

Maybe, just maybe, the US and UK are thinking strategically. Forebear a little from needlessly bashing the Arabs.

Yeah, well, when I try to figure out why the administration is acting like this, I suspect that the US is trying to prepare a, shall we say, robust response to the Iranian nuclear-weapons program, and views this whole thing as a distraction. Certainly the Iranians are doing their bit to stir things up on the issue, and they may be hoping it will be exacly such a distraction.

But when you look at the long history of backing down on this issue by the US that Pipes cites, and the runaway political correctness of Blair's government and their police comissioners, there is also substance to the charge that many layers of the Anglosphere's political systems aren't facing up to the contradictions between the demands of multiculturalism and the requirements of rights-based constitutional democracy, or worse, are sacrifcing the latter to the former.

Posted by: Jim Bennett at February 12, 2006 10:05 AM

jimbo:
O really? Guess all thos police oprations in Europe that've lead to arrests of hundreds of jihadi wannabes, their recruiters and choking off of some of the money is just weak knee posturing and dismal appeasement para ingrés ver?
By contrast, England has conducted a very vigourous campaign against Captain Hook and the Finesbury mosque...by finally prosecuting him and sentencing him to 7 years for 15 counts of incidement to murder as well as allowing that mosque to flourish as an Al Qu'ida sanctuary for the past 7 years.
Sorry but in the case of cartoons, Britian and the U.S. have pretty much failed to take a stand. Or even take some action like arresting those in London who had placards with death threats- a clear violation of law.

I think this is a case of earnest dogooderism that sometimes surfaces within Anglospheric culture and the naive belief that the Moslems (in this case) are just misguided and sitting down for a nice chat to work out an accomdation will suffice.

Posted by: xavier at February 12, 2006 12:26 PM

Gentlemen, it seems clear that high government officials in the US State Department have received bribes from Saudis and other oil rich arab sources. This demonstrates genius on the part of the Saudis. The bureaucratic service is not elected every 2,4,6, years. Their sinecured positions are permanent. Bribing them is most effective.

Posted by: Marvin at February 12, 2006 01:18 PM

marvin, I agree that bribery would be most effective. How did the information come to you?


Anglosphere -- even in retrospect it is often difficult to identify inflection points, and numerous theories are always offered. For the bigger picture, it is my fantasy that an increasing US/Canada/UK/Aus alliance, formal or informal, would prove attractive to Denmark, Norway, and Iceland. Extending that fantasy further, Japan, NZ, Ireland.

Posted by: Assistant Village Idiot at February 12, 2006 05:21 PM

Tony Blair is in full cultural cringe. His wife makes her living, as did Hillary, as a "human rights" lawyer, and to push some business her way, Blair signed on to the outrageous EU Human Rights Act. Blair has far more power than an American president - thank God for the Founding Fathers - and has run Britain like a fiefdom. Now he's looking for a bigger stage - the "presidency" - unelected, ca va sans dire - of the EU, or the secretary-generalship of his favourite tranzi org - the UN.

Yes, Muslim immigrant demonstrators walked the streets of London calling for the death of anyone who wouldn't turn into a Muslim and London's multiculti police chose to berate two native British people who were passing by and were infuriated. They got threatened with arrest. This is how far we have come since WWII.

Meanwhile, the Viking Anders Fogh Rasmussen has refused to give an inch. Denmark has a population of 4m. Britain, 60m. And the most Mr Rasmussen has said is, he's sorry some people were offended regarding the cartoons, but he's a prime minister, not a newspaper editor. That's like saying, "I'm sorry you don't like it that I parked across from your driveway, but I will probably continue to do it as it's legal."

Blair is a coward. The Foreign Secretary Jack Straw, a Marxist since his college days until today, relies on the Muslim vote in his constituency to slither back into Parliament. There is no one principled in the British government. Not a one. They're all prepared to give their country away for ambition. It's eerie.

Posted by: Verity at February 15, 2006 05:51 PM

A PS - British police have been instructed on how to enter a Muslim home. What the hell difference does the religion of the suspected perp make under English Common Law?

Posted by: Verity at February 15, 2006 05:54 PM
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