I'm in trial and will be close to invisible in the blogosphere for the next three days, so I will leave with just a few more thoughts on press freedom.
As the "cartoon war" develops and the facts clarify, I find myself asking, Whom should we support here? Or, more colloquially, who are the good guys and who are the bad guys in this drama?
- How about the Danish cartoonists? Well, no. Instead of attacking the Islamofascists directly, they attacked them through their religion. Imagine a cartoonist attacking the IRA by depicting a hateful Jesus Christ in miltary gear, armed to the teeth. Should the press have the freedom to publish such material? Absolutely. But just because on can do something does not mean one should do that thing. Yes, I am on the cartoonists' side against the fanatics who now want them beheaded, but the cartoonists' behavior here was not exemplary.
- The American mainstream media? No. They refuse to publish the cartoons because they fear the consequences to themselves. That is not necessarily a bad decision, but they are not admitting the reasons for their "restraint." Instead, they sanctimoniously claim they they seek only not to offend Muslims. Oh, please.
- How about the Danish imams who took it up themselves to visit numerous Muslim leaders in various Arab countries and fan the flames of anger, as David Rennie reports in his interview with the lead agitator? I think this group may bear more responsibility than anyone, as little- publicized as their activities have been. Someone added those three additional photos, which were truly outrageous and were never published anywhere, to the mix and led many Muslims to believe those photos were also in the Danish newspapers.
- The governments of Iran and Syria? No, not a good guy in sight there. They've cynically grabbed hold of this issue and used it to advance their own disgusting goals. Does anyone really think those embassy attacks in Damascus were in any way spontaneous?
- The only "good guy" I can think of is the U.S. State Department, which I think actually showed some leadership in this matter and made a responsible statement supporting freedom of the press, criticizing lack of press restraint, and decrying the uncivilized, violent reaction to the exercise of press freedoms.
All in all, it's a pretty sorry picture. Thanks to Hugh Hewitt, I found this from Joe Carter, who I think has said what needs to be said:
The West is at war with terrorism, not with Islam. But is has become increasingly difficult determining which side of the Islam/Islamicists divide many Muslims are on. Perhaps its simply a matter of moderate Muslim voice being drowned out by the jihadists. If so, then I recommend that they speak louder.
When I joined the Marines I swore an oath to protect and defend the Constitution, including the rights to free speech and a free press. For fifteen years I stood ready to take up arms or, if necessary, to lay down my life in the defense of these foundations of liberty. I believe in protecting the freedom of speech, whether it comes from terrorist-wannabes like Ted Rall, know-nothing pundits like Joel Stein, or religious-bashing Danish cartoonists. I believe that, like religious liberty, this is a divinely permitted freedom that demands due vigilance.
But just once I’d like to be called upon to champion speech that is true, honorable, just, and pure. Just once I’d like to defend a freedom that wasn’t vulgar, degraded, and profane. Just once I’d like to defend freedom that aspired to the ideals of Thomas Jefferson rather than to the inclinations of Larry Flynt.