Saturday, February 04, 2006

Tolerance and intolerance: the anti-cartoon jihad

So far I haven't written about the recent uproar sparked by the publication of cartoon depictions of Mohammed. It's been covered so thoroughly by others that there wasn't anything I felt I needed to add.

Especially good roundups and discussions are to be found at Michelle Malkin's blog (just scroll down; there are quite a few), at Alexandra's All Things Beautiful (see this and this), as well as at Gates of Vienna (scroll down for many posts).

But it seems I feel the need to add a few thoughts of my own.

What percentage of European Moslems is represented by the fiery protesters, the ones calling for death and destruction? (Please take a look at these photos to see the sort of thing I'm talking about). I don't know, and I don't think anyone knows. I tend to think most people lack a natural bent for fanaticism, so my guess is that they are not in the majority.

But that's just a guess. More importantly, it may be irrelevant. If an extremist minority is sizeable enough, angry enough, active enough, and well-armed enough, it can do a great deal of harm; especially if the majority is silent, and is cowed by that minority.

So I'm really not interested in speculating on what the majority of Moslems in Europe or even in a moderate country like Indonesia believe, and I'm even willing to concede for the sake of argument that they're not in sympathy with the more extreme protestors. What's far more important is that the movement which--for want of a better term--I'll call fanatical Islamicist jihadists (I tried "Islamofascists" for a while, but I've since decided to abandon it as an imprecise use of the word "Fascist") is plenty large, active enough to be a force, angry enough to be taken seriously as a threat, and appears to be seeking to enhance its weaponry (Iran, for example).

So we need to pay attention, and not make excuses or stick our heads in the sand.

I remember back when the fatwa against Salman Rushdie was issued--oh, those innocent days when my ignorance was bliss!--the calls for his death seemed to be a mysterious and surprising anomaly. It was declared by the mullahs of Iran, after all, strange figures who didn't seem at the time to represent much of anything except their own medieval ways, the law of the land only in Iran.

But that fatwa seems to have represented the rumblings of a strain of Islam that has since become bolder, more widespread, and more vocal. In Europe in particular, this strain has been widely catered to in the name of tolerance and diversity. But the Europeans should have recognized far sooner that this may be another case of feeding an alligator in hopes that it will eat you last.

And that's because alligators are never sated; they just grow stronger and hungrier when fed. Islamicist fanatics in Europe have sensed that they themselves just might be (in Bin Laden's memorable phrase) the strong horse and the Europeans the weak. Secular liberal Enlightenment notions of freedom of speech have not caught on with the fanatic Islamicists (no surprise there), probably much to most Europeans' shock. Or, rather, to fanatic Islamicists, European freedom of speech is a useful tool--good when it supports Moslem causes, bad when it does not.

I've written before that one pitfall of tolerant societies is tolerance of the intolerant. When all alternate beliefs are respected and supported, what happens to those who, in the name of the tolerance of others for them, seek to impose their beliefs that freedom of speech be limited to that which does not offend them?

At that point a society must choose, and that's the point Europe is facing at the moment. I have written about this "tolerance of intolerance" question before, here. But I think it bears repeating:

Tolerance should not be tolerant of intolerance, or it sows the seeds of its own destruction.

Why do I call the Moslem demonstrators "intolerant?" Well, take a look at the posters and their slogans, for starters. For an offense of "mere words," they are demanding the death penalty (unlike, for example, demonstators against the "piss-Christ" art exhibit in Brooklyn. The "piss-Christ" controversy, however, is the closest analogy I can think of in which Christians are making the demands. I hope to deal with the similarities and differences between the present controversy and that earlier one in a subsequent post; the issues involved are so huge that if I were to discuss them here, it would make this post even more unwieldy than it's already turning out to be).

The intolerance of Islamicist extremists runs very deep: they feel that they should be able to impose their own standards on the European societies they have entered but not embraced. In their successful attempt--encouraged by European tolerance--to keep their own customs and religion and culture, they have failed to adopt the most important tenet of Enlightenment thought: the idea that they cannot dictate their own mores to others.

There are extremists in every religion, to be sure. These extremists ordinarily believe that others who don't follow their extreme ways are sinners. Often, they also believe that others who don't follow their ways will be punished, either in this life or the afterlife. But even among these religious extremists, the vast majority believes that each individual decides these things for him/herself, and that the extremists cannot demand that others follow their ways or die. The extremists may indeed feel morally superior to others in their customs and beliefs, and seek to convert people to those beliefs. But that's where it usually ends.

For example, some religions prohibit card-playing or dancing, but only for those who have embraced that religion. The esoteric and doctrinal rules of conduct for each religion are ordinarily limited to practitioners of that religion, and enforcement is ordinarily through persuasion and threats of divine punishment, as well as ostracism at times.

Fanatical Islam is quite different. It is the only religion I'm aware of that offers death as the punishment for apostasy (this offense, as well as blasphemy, was the reason behind the anti-Rushdie fatwa). And please don't bring up the fact that in medieval times there were similar penalties against blasphemy in Christianity; we are not talking history here, we are talking about the present. There is no modern movement of any size in any other major world religion that has failed to embrace tolerance of other religions to the degree that Islam has failed to do so, and none that prescribes the Draconian death penalty for leaving the fold.

Because Islam is a religion, its extremists have gotten a great many passes in the name of tolerance. But not everything about a religion must be tolerated, simply because it is a religious belief (in fact, I've written an entire post on this topic). However, many fanatical Islamists feel they should not only be tolerated, but that the secular societies in which they live have a duty to accede to the demands of Islam--for example, that the prophet Mohammed not be depicted in a cartoon in any way that could be construed as negative.

That this demand conflicts with freedom of speech is of no import to those who are demonstrating. They believe their cause to be a higher one which trumps freedom of speech. They either do not understand--or do not care--that the societies in which they live disagree.

But we shouldn't be too surprised that they think they can make these demands, and that Europe will listen. And indeed, who could blame them? Everything in their experience has led them to that notion. In retrospect, the furor over the alleged Koran-abuse incidents at Guantanamo was merely a warm-up act. Islamicist extremists not only think that their beliefs should triumph over the Enlightenment beliefs of their new countries for reasons of moral and religious superiority, but they believe that their beliefs will do so because their experience has been that Europeans will almost always capitulate.

Whether this capitulation by European countries is in the name of tolerance and respect, or of fear of the consequences, is probably not of great importance to the Islamicist extremists. What's important is that they think they have found the soft underbelly of Western Enlightenment nations, and plan to exploit it.

As I wrote earlier:

It's like one of those brain twisters--those paradoxes or syllogisms or whatever they were called--in a course I took so long ago and dropped before I flunked it: symbolic logic. The idea is that, if one takes a certain principle to its extreme, it very often will be found to contain an internal contradiction... Tolerance applied without any distinction can become a trap. That way lies madness--not to mention the seeds of the destruction of tolerant societies themselves.

There are certain universal legal principles that are based at least partly on religious ones: the prohibition against murder, for example. But our Western society has separated church and state, and therefore those religious rules that have not been adopted into the secular legal system are not going to be enforced by that system. Blasphemy has not been a crime in the US for an awfully long time, for example.

Likewise, those acts that violate that secular legal system--for example, polygamy in Utah; or the refusal of some Seventh Day Adventists to allow their children needed blood transfusions --are, at least theoretically, prosecutable, even though those practicing these acts may be citing religious beliefs in their own defense. Although people in our society are most definitely entitled to their religious beliefs, they are not entitled to act on those beliefs in ways that violate secular law.

Similarly, they are not allowed to forcefully and violently impose those beliefs on others who do not share them. Abortion is a good example. Those who oppose abortion out of religious conviction are allowed to preach and to speak out against abortion, and also to peacefully demonstrate against it. Most certainly, they are allowed to refuse to have abortions themselves--no one is forcing abortions on them. But when a few--a very few--religious extremists cross the line into the murder of or injury to abortionists or their clients, then those religious extremists are to be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

The bottom line is that members of a society must adhere to the rules of that society or face the consequences. Islamicist fanatics in Europe see their opportunity to remake the rules, and see a chink in the armor of Europe's Enlightment secularism. How Europe chooses to respond will help to determine the course of its own future, and perhaps much more.


At 3:16 PM, February 04, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great write-up.. some other people online are starting a project to speak out against this, that you and your readers may find interesting:


At 3:37 PM, February 04, 2006, Blogger Brad said...

"That this demand conflicts with freedom of speech is of no import ... They believe their cause to be a higher one which trumps freedom of speech. They either do not understand--or do not care--that the societies in which they live disagree."

Wow, that same statement could be used to describe the people who run university diversity workshops!

the emotive power of Rousseau-driven ideology (lightly seasoned with Derrida and Foucault) far outstrips the power of logic or pragmatism, so don't expect much from Europe anytime soon. Also, the complexity of this problem, with its historical and moral depths, means that even framing the issue is difficult.

At 3:45 PM, February 04, 2006, Blogger gcotharn said...

Fanatical Islamic Jihadis = FIDs

FIDs have no conception that a good person can exercise free will, on an ongoing basis, to resist temptation. It's hard to be tolerant of those who make your life more difficult, due to their constant support of temptation.

At 3:57 PM, February 04, 2006, Blogger ShrinkWrapped said...

The problem you address is even worse when you realize that their censorship demaends are merely a first step. This will not end when the riots/demonstartions die down; it can only end when all non-Muslims are living under their utopian caliphate or radical Islam is defeated.
The one advantage we have is that, as usual, the Islamists have acted prematurely; another 10 years and the demographics would have made Europe easy pickings. By acting now, they have alerted the Europeans that they are serious and the Europeans have apparently begun to notice.

At 4:29 PM, February 04, 2006, Anonymous colagirl said...

But we shouldn't be too surprised that they think they can make these demands, and that Europe will listen. And indeed, who could blame them? Everything in their experience has led them to that notion.

A very excellent point, neoneo. From a behavioral modification standpoint, you don't reinforce behavior you wish to eliminate. Unfortunately, that has happened in these kinds of situations in the past.

At 5:22 PM, February 04, 2006, Anonymous Alan Furman said...

The word "intolerance," implying as it does any punitive reaction from shunning and verbal insults to mass murder, can be a source of confusion.

Now try this on for size:

"Whatever may be open to disagreement, there is one act of evil that may not, the act that no man may commit against others and no man may sanction or forgive. So long as men desire to live together, no man may initate–do you hear me? no man may start–the use of physical force against others.

"To interpose the threat of physical destruction between a man and his perception of reality, is to negate and paralyze his means of survival; to force him to act against his own judgment, is like forcing him to act against his own sight. Whoever, to whatever purpose or extent, initiates the use of force, is a killer action on the premise of death in a manner wider than murder; the premise of destroying man's capacity to live."

Because it answers nonviolent expression with violent enforcement, Sharia (which the Cartoon War attempts to shove down the world's throat) is barbaric and immoral, whatever the jihadists and their multiculti useful idiots may claim.

At 6:36 PM, February 04, 2006, Anonymous hadenuf said...

I'm sure you've read "Under the Banner of Heaven" about extreme Mormonism and the murder of a wife and child after leaving the husband. So far the authorities in the U.S. have largely left that group alone even though they are spawning thousands of welfare households, pedophilia, virtual enslavement of women, etc.

That being said, you are absolutely correct about what the world should be doing about any extremist.

Great stuff. New here, will bookmark.

At 3:36 AM, February 05, 2006, Blogger Dan M said...

Oh yea, the Mormons are equal to the Muslims. All of the world waits in dread for Mormons, {clad in their de rigeur shirt, tie and jacket} explosives carefully hid, to show up at their supermarket, to send one and all to Mormon judgement. Oh yea, see it on the news all the time.

Some of this relativist nonsense is so far beyond the pale of reasoned discourse, that it become SELF-parody.


But as for Neo's piece, there is a bit of over-analysis. Which isn't exclusive to her, attending discussion of the entire issue.

It's really much more mundane.

We have enemies. Our enemies are more or less whacked in the head. Their idea of God is OBJECTIVELY inaccurate. Their idea of what God desires is even more inaccurate. Mohammad cobbled together some sayings of the various gnostic sects floating about in his region. These sayings did not descend from the Almighty, but were conjured up in his little head, and were designed to augment his power and control over his raiding, nomadic people.

As such, the whole thing, the whole damn thing is badly dated, and really deserves to be tossed up on the proverbial ash heap of history.

At 5:21 AM, February 05, 2006, Blogger T J Olson said...

Yes - the struggle IS about contolling other people. Yes - this is depressing in what it says about humanity. And yes - what people are willing to do about it" in the name of God" is utterly dismaying and soul-withering.

To tolerate evil is criminal; to not even speak up in defense of the true is worse. Yet even THAT is what The Boston Globe defends doing (see Satuday editorial).

Unlike Chistianity, unlike the secular liberal West, Muslim's value the purity of their Faith above live itself. Hence they behead innocents, murder apostates, and kill and terrorize civilians by the thousands.

Our friend Neo-neocom is surely right to abandon use of the term "Islamo fascism." Can you please expand upon the difference between "Islamicist jihadism" and "Islamist jihadism?' I'm leaning on simply explaining to people that the GWOT is really an effort to defeat jihadism - to modernize a Medieval religion's normative extremism, which makes it unfit among the worlds beliefs in an age of globalization - what professor Walid Phares rightly calls "the unofficial sixth pillar of Islam." (See also David Cook's balanced and honest examination in"Understanding Jihad," 2005.)

Such honest examination of our real enemy has been prohibited by contemporary political correctness and our craven elites.

The ultimate qestion in the Westis whether or not Danish cartoons satirizing "the Religion of Peace" terrorism will be protected as proper political discourse. If not, we have much greater worries than any Fifth Columns.

For those wanting to join in offending the evil-doers, visit You can copy the Danish cartoons of your choice, save them as jpeg's to your computer, and then upload the image to that site, and have ten or twenty bumper stickers for a nominal fee, and share with friends.

At 5:28 AM, February 05, 2006, Blogger jw said...

Your core concept that tolerance must act against intolerance is exceedingly important. Well thought out!

The whole thing bothers me: To allow people to step on free speach ... while we may need to do so at times, it should always be done after the most careful of consideration by the most dispassionate among us. Allowing political passion free reign to set the rules of society is a problem.

At 6:04 AM, February 05, 2006, Anonymous douglas said...

I have two worries about Europe:
-the first is that they will react too slowly and Eurabia will become solid reality.
-The second is that they will display so much of the tolerance they have been known for historically, and overeact...
I say this as a man married to a woman whose family left the Eastern Bloc more because of anti-semitism than the hardships of communism.

At 7:05 AM, February 05, 2006, Blogger Alexandra said...

All Things Beautiful TrackBack Is Western Liberalism Modifying It's Core Beliefs

At 10:52 AM, February 05, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dan M--doesn't sound like you read the book about the fundamentalist Mormons. You're certainly correct that they're not going to kill you and I--as long as we leave them alone as the US is in two entire cities they control.

But what they are doing to women and children is the same. Followers give their 12 year old daughters to the church leader.

Obviously, extreme Muslims are far worse. But the US is letting pedophilia occur in its own house.

It's all wrong. Any religion that doesn't extend dignity to every man, woman and child of its own faith and tolerance for the faith of others needs to change. Now how do you propose to effect that change without just killing everyone?

At 10:53 AM, February 05, 2006, Blogger stickman said...

Muslims have lost the ability to self-evaluate. A collective persecution complex exists somehow simultaneously with an over-estimation of their own abilities. They cannot therefore accept defeat or responsibilty for their predicament.

Their viability as a culture depends on continuing acceptance of dhimmitude by non-Muslims. Exposure of this weakness therefore becomes a matter of life and death. The Europeans' willingness to publish the cartoons threatens their very existence, thus death for drawing a bomb on Muhammed's head.

At 10:55 AM, February 05, 2006, Anonymous meander said...

The cover article by Ralph Peters in the Feb.6 edition of the Weekly Standard which is available online seems to me to go along very well with your post. It addresses the disturbing military power of the Islamic religious fanatic and the dismaying effectiveness of the suicide bomber as a war weapon. Anyway, I find this whole topic incredibly chilling because I'm not confident we in the Western world have the will to overcome the onslaught of this religious fanaticism. And your post on the danger of our adherence to the concept of tolerence for everything is spot on. Anyway, I really recommend this Weekly Standard's long but worth the read.

At 11:29 AM, February 05, 2006, Blogger lmg said...

What this boils down to is a power play. Islamists are attempting to make Europeans second-class citizens in their own countries: dhimmis. The people running the governments may be willing to comply - note that a law that would have criminalized such drawings in Britain failed last week by a single vote. This move will only be turned back if the people themselves rise up against it.

At 11:51 AM, February 05, 2006, Blogger Promethea said...

Dan M said . . .

"Their idea of what God desires is even more inaccurate. Mohammad cobbled together some sayings of the various gnostic sects floating about in his region. These sayings did not descend from the Almighty, but were conjured up in his little head, and were designed to augment his power and control over his raiding, nomadic people."

This needs to be repeated over and over. Islam is a raiding cult disguised as a religion. There is no central idea in it except to "submit." The parts about giving charity can be found in any decent religion. If Islam disappeared tomorrow, but the charitable impulses of the people remained, the world would be a much better place.

It's time to delegitamise Islam as being among the world's "great" religions. It's more like the Aztec religion, now gone.

At 1:13 PM, February 05, 2006, Blogger neo-neocon said...

TJ Olson: As far as the difference between the terms goes, it's somewhat unsuccessful, but I'm trying to distinguish between the alternative meanings of "jihad" and how they are used. In other words, there's that "jihad of the mind" thing (an internal struggle, etc. etc., over one's own impulses), and the more conventional (and alarming) meaning of the word as armed struggle to gain Islamic control over the globe. "Islamic jihadists" could be the first, but by use of the term "Islamiscist jihadists" I'm trying to focus on the second. "Islamic" just means someone who follows Islam; "Islamiscist" is intended to mean someone dedicated to the expansion, by violence if at all necessary, of Islam to conquer the entire world.

Some would argue that the two are one and the same. I believe there's a sizeable number of each.

At 1:42 PM, February 05, 2006, Blogger Van said...

Excellent post Neo, I couldn’t agree more with you on many levels. The photos are very disturbing, notice that the extremeists are hiding their faces – cowards!

I have a good friend who lives in Denmark – one of Europe’s Enlightened Secularist countries. He’s mentioned recently that although the people are growing tired of the mass influx of Muslims who do not share Western values, the government is slow to respond. This has been the case for several years. Although there have been some changes, many in the government are still hanging on to the idealism of an open society. This has to change if Europe is to survive.

The disconnect between the people and government leads to a larger point. That is, most or actually any effectual change in a society comes from the people – bottom up influence (I’m sure that there is an actual term for this, but I like mine).
Europe is no different than we are in this regard, I hope anyway. We the people have managed to change the course of our government many times, usually with great resistance from the powers that be. The people of Europe are growing tired of this problem, and likely are the only ones that can to change it.

Hopefully, when the European people finally do reform their immigration policies this will not further polarize the Muslims and the West, but it likely will. That is, until they, the Muslims, get tired of being led like sheep by the Mulas.

Incidentally, when did our society learn to relax about blasphemy, particular the images in print media? On the recent cover on Rolling Stone there is a caricature of the crucified Messiah, but it’s actually a picture of Kanya West (I think that the way it’s spelled).
I haven’t heard a lot of protest about this.

At 2:34 PM, February 05, 2006, Blogger Solomon2 said...

The dog did not bark -

At 3:00 PM, February 05, 2006, Blogger Ymarsakar said...

And that's because alligators are never sated; they just grow stronger and hungrier when fed.

There's another aspect to it. Basically, alligators, if fed, will return to the feeding spot for more. Eventually, it will lose its fear of humans and think of food whenever humans come near, instead of fear and run away when they see humans.

This means, that yes while the person feeding the alligator may be mauled, so could a child go down the alligator's jaws if the alligator is hungry and tries to get near people for food.

It is not like the person feeding the alligator cares if people or their children get mauled, so long as they stay safe and can have fun with their alligator pet, and live under the illusion that the alligator obeys their commands and is their servant.

Europeans do not truly care what Islamic terroists do, so long as they don't get harmed. They have never had a long viewing perspective in their centuries long history. Not enough good leaders, and the good ones they did have (churchill) they sacked after they got tired of him.

I do consider the point of good European citizens that want to do good and are willing to fight off alligators and kill/trap them instead of feeding them. People are feel like responsible adults and act like it. Those, I do consider, but for now, they are powerless to change the political machine in Europe. Even without the Islamic terror tactics influencing policies and politicians.

Europe is no different than we are in this regard, I hope anyway. We the people have managed to change the course of our government many times, usually with great resistance from the powers that be. The people of Europe are growing tired of this problem, and likely are the only ones that can to change it.

It is something Americans have warned Europe about ever since the Communists appeared on the world stage.

We have said time and time again, that making the government your masters instead of your slaves, will come to haunt them in the end. And look at what now happens, when the people cry out for justice, the governmet of Europe doesn't do anything. Because the people, in giving the government too much power over them, no longer has any leverage, right, or power left that the government has not usurped.

They do not have guns or weapons to protect themselves, they rely solely on their police. To the detriment of all those harmed in the French riots, which the government doesn't give a fig about if it doesn't affect their political fund raising.

They do not have the power to regulate their own lives, their own aspirations and hopes, and their own virtues. All that has been given over to the government, whether it be Britain, France, or Germany. Prostitution is legal in Germany, which means if you want unemployment benefits, you need to accept the job the government forces upon you, or be cut off. Regardless of your personal protestations against being a prostitute or not, the government says this is what you are, and the government has all the power to make it so.

Do you have guns to fight them off? No. If you had guns, would you know how to use them? No. Are there private employees that have tax breaks, able to employee the poor and downtrodden? Nope again.

The government has all the power, taxes everyone so that they do not have enough money left over to create imbalancing businesses that break a monopoly, and basically forces rich people from the private sector into the political sector, simply to survive. As you can see with the IRS, it just makes rich people pay more attention to it and try to game the system. With the high taxes, businesses merge with government, and you end up with government in control of the politicians, and the politicians in control of you.

There is nothing to little left for the good people in Europe, few though they do exist, to fight with.

There is nothing idealistic about EUropean goverments.

They just don't care, and who is going to make them care? The voters, that can't even elect their government based upon a plurality? That need a Coalition of the extremists?

You see, the reason why europe's definition of Coalition is different from ours, is because when Europe thinks of political Coalitions they think of what they have. Which is basically a minority, SPD, combined with a Leftist extremist minority, and you get a majority.

Americans look at Coalitions, and we tend to see main stream pluralism, the party that gets the MOST votes, not the Communists+Socialists+Isolationists=Majority.

So when America told Europe to shove off, they thought we were going to fail cause without Europe, we didn't have majority support. They just didn't understand that democracies work better under pluralism, not majority rules.

At 4:44 PM, February 05, 2006, Blogger Justin Olbrantz (Quantam) said...

For those wanting to join in offending the evil-doers, visit You can copy the Danish cartoons of your choice, save them as jpeg's to your computer, and then upload the image to that site, and have ten or twenty bumper stickers for a nominal fee, and share with friends.

You're joking. It's just a joke, right? If it's not, that seems amazingly childish to me. I certainly don't think this rioting and death threats and boycotting the entire country are acceptable, but I'd at least expect a little tact from an adult, not this "NYA NYA, WE HAVE SIGNS THAT OFFEND YOU, AND THERE'S NOTHING YOU CAN DO ABOUT IT! *pthbthbthbthb*" are an adult, right?

So yeah, that's my position on all these copycat newspapers that are reprinting these cartoons just because they can.

At 6:09 PM, February 05, 2006, Blogger still realizing said...

I think I'm beginning to see that Europe was never as wimpy as we feared. At the very least, the decadent Europeans won't give up their lifestyles and their privileges to Moslem restrictions.

The Europeans may be on the verge of saying "We've put up with your demands and coddled your differences and agreed to this and that but we're tired of it now and you've become a pest". Having alleviated their potential guilt by kissing up to Radical Islam for a while, the Europeans now feel perfectly justified in telling them to kiss off.

I could be jumping the gun here but that is what I see in that newspapers determination to test their freedom to publish.

At 11:18 PM, February 05, 2006, Blogger Vics said...

I'd love to agree with the person above me but I really think this is wishful thinking. our govt. take this multicultural diveristy seriously, they will not stand up for anything which may jeopardise that.

Even if in doing so the general public lose just that little more faith in them.

At 12:53 AM, February 06, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

One shouldn't get mad over a cartoon, but don't foget that the newspaper that ran said cartoon is officially Fascist.

At 10:32 AM, February 06, 2006, Blogger maryatexitzero said...

don't foget that the newspaper that ran said cartoon is officially Fascist

Are you anonymously claiming that Jyllands-Posten is currently, officially, fascist? That "fact" was not published in any of the articles about this issue.

Do you have any proof?

At 3:38 PM, February 06, 2006, Anonymous ElMondoHummus said...

In regards to Neo's thoughts about tolerance, society, and Islam's difficulty with this: I don't actually have a problem in someone speaking up when responding to imagery they deem offensive. Freedom of speech does not grant immunity from reactions. The viewer is not passive; said viewers have their own ideas, aethetics, morals, and philosophies which they can apply to the viewing of art (I'm keeping the term very loose in order to encompass things like Serrano's "Piss Christ" as well as the cartoons that are at the heart of this current controversy). If someone has a reaction, whether positive, negative, or whatnot, that person has the right also granted by freedom of speech to speak up and render public his/her opinion. If the reaction is that the viewer is offended, then that viewer may say so as publicly as he/she wants. At that point, however, the statement is in marketplace of ideas, and must stand on it's own merits and compete with all the other reactions out there. That is simply the way society works: The offended point of view must be able to stand up to the counter arguments and establish it's own validity to be taken seriously. This doesn't necessarily mean that the piece of art must be censored or removed; the rendering of opinion is the end result of this dialogue of reaction. So there should be no problem in speaking up and registering a reaction to a work.

That said, there is something wrong with how the extremists are reacting. There's something very, very wrong and misguided about it. Their reaction is not even close to being a dialogue with the rest of society, in spite of their own conviction that it is. Their reaction is an attempt at imposition, an attempt at subjection. There *is* no attempt at dialogue, which overturns the whole reason for objecting to begin with. There is no attempt to convince; the current reaction is only a threat to punish. In contrast, my reaction to something like Piss Christ is my own, yet if I choose to speak up about it, my opinion had better be a rational attempt to use logic to convince others of the validity of my point of view. It would ideally be a dialogue, a conversation, a debate even. But not a threat; that would be taking things too far. That is how society gets along: It discusses.

But this current reaction... there's no attempt at dialogue. There's only a demand. There's only threat. The demonstrators could have restrained their reaction to registering complaint and actually have gotten sympathetic answers because merely objecting would have been a natural part of the dialogue between various groups in society. That would've been an attempt to convince, not impose. It's astonishing that they don't see that. It seems as though they feel so separated, maybe even so far above society that they feel no obligation to enter such dialogue. Thus, the protests, and violent threats to the cartoonists, the paper publishing them, and the society that refuses to censor them. The protesters seem to revel in the schism. Add to that a sense of moral superiority, and it's as if their view is that the rest of society must give in to them, not merely enter a dialogue of accomodation where both parties give and take.

But that reveling in the schism... there's something fundamentally nihilistic about that. There's no way an intelligent being can fail to recognize how destructive that is. And that's the ultimate condemnation of the overreaction. Demanding punishment, threatening death, burning down embassies in other countries... there's no care for others in the societies they exist in. There's no attempt to see the cartoons as anything other than an excuse to excercise hatred and contempt. And there certainly is no attempt to make things "better" i.e. there's no attempt to create positive environments for their beliefs, there's no attempt to reconcile themselves with their immediate neighbors, there's no attempt to better themselves in the environment they've ended up with. There's only demonstrations of malicious intents. That, ultimately is the epitome of nihilism: The idea that destruction is desireable for its own sake independent of any constructive possibilities. And that's why I'm troubled by these demonstrators. The act of speaking up itself is a natural, tolerable one, but these extremists seem more to be affirming the schism between them and the rest of society than actually protesting what they see as an insult. They seem to be indulging in the separation, and doing so in the most negative, fanatical way possible. They don't seem to be interested in civil construction, only societal demolition. And ultimately, they only tarnish themselves. The only problem is, they destroy a heck of a lot of the society they belong to in the process.

At 3:35 PM, February 07, 2006, Anonymous Gidgiddoni said...

As to the comments on "Fundamentalist Mormons"; the term really makes no more sense than "Fundamentalist Catholics". Mormonism is founded on the premise of a prophet and apostles who set doctrine and practice for the entire church. The wackos out in the Western deserts have all rejected this most fundamental of Mormon beliefs and been excommunicated, if they were ever in fact members at all. A "Fundamentalist Mormon" who rejects one of the most basic tenets of his faith is an oxymoron; like a "Fundamentalist Christian" who utterly rejects the Bible. The Mormon church is hierarchial by nature, and has very definite rules for who is and is not a Mormon.

You could argue that the polygamists can be given the Mormon title for their obvious connection to the historical roots of Mormonism, but this confuses them with actual members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, who consider them apostates of the first order.

I agree that the polygamists need to be prosecuted and rooted out as aggressively as possible. I don't think anyone detests them as much as actual Mormons; I should know, I am one.

I suppose this could be seen as a "Moderate Versus Radical Islam" type issue, but it doesn't really fit. The polygamists aren't even considered Mormons by anyone in the Church itself, and they're an incredibly tiny minority of the more than twelve million Mormons in the world, most of whom live outside the United States.

At 9:58 AM, February 08, 2006, Blogger cakreiz said...

Very perceptive, neocon. I agree that the rioters probably represent a sizeable minority. What's intriguing to me is the silent majority, who are the sea in which the radicals swim. If there's majority resistance to radical action, radicals are at a decided disadvantage (swimming against the tide, to continue this awful metaphor). If there's mere neutrality or nodding majority approval, radicals coexist and prosper.

The disturbing thing about the cartoon jihad isn't the actions of the rioters- it's the lack of visible resistance by the silent Islamic majority, which is tantamount to approval, even if it's neutral.

At 10:07 AM, February 08, 2006, Blogger Chris said...

Following the above post, religious people who believe that others who do not follow the tenets of their religion are sinners, and who believe that failure to adhere to the strictures of their religion will be punished in the after life, are not extremists. They are orthodox. Nearly all major religions teach that their way is the true path and must be followed. Those who are on other paths are deceived, and are in danger of eternal punishment for their wrong beliefs.

Now, if an orthodox believer attempts to use force or coercion to bring others onto the path he believes to be correct, then he becomes an extremist.

At 12:13 PM, February 08, 2006, Blogger Bezuhov said...

"Europe is no different than we are in this regard, I hope anyway. We the people have managed to change the course of our government many times, usually with great resistance from the powers that be."

This describes our current situation quiet well. We the people have (barely) elected George W. Bush, all-too-obvious warts and all, twice, with great resistance from the true powers that be of our culture: our movie-makers, the mass media, the entrenched state and federal bureaucracy, and the education establishment that raises the next generation while we're out pursuing our two-career lives.

At 3:50 PM, February 10, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mass rioting, bombing, burning, and killing over a goddamn cartoon! Is it not screamingly obvious that these people are F_ _ _ _ E D IN THE HEAD??? It blows my mind that we are having actual REASONING like "well, it IS offensive to portray Mohammed....."
IT'S A CARTOON!!!! Do people riot and murder every day when Christianity and Judaism are far more grossly insulted every DAY? Why is Islam, even the most extreme wackjob splinters of it, deemed by the politically correct to be the only religion worthy of respect? When I was a kid I would get slapped for even POUTING or stamping my foot over something this trivial, and my parents would say "You're almost SIX years old! Grow up!" Yet these childishly homicidal maniacs are taken with utmost deference as if they are not WACKED OUT OF THEIR SKULLS!

At 3:27 AM, February 11, 2006, Anonymous SalientRant said...

There are certain universal legal principles that are based at least partly on religious ones: the prohibition against murder, for example.

Eh? Not murdering people is a religious idea? And here I was thinking it was a common sense prerequisite for any culture that doesn't want to keep itself in the bloody mud. Are you implying lawmakers found it important to pass laws against murder 'at least partly' because it was against their religion?

Excellent post though. I'm nowhere near neo-neocon levels but I am a liberal getting quite pissed about the idiocy of the 'hug a suicide bomber' type liberals.

I wish there were more conservatives like you; ones that (from what little I've read so far) make sense, and less like those at LGF, whose comment threads are flamewars instead of discussions. I'm still looking for more moderate liberals, too. It did take me a couple months to figure out Chomsky was ridiculously over the top... I really wish the rest of 'my side' would catch on to things like that, and say so when they do.


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