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Wednesday, 8 February 2006
O'Sullivan weighs in

John O'Sullivan writes in the Chicago Sun Times:

...Nor were the Danish cartoons all as crude and pointless as some critics have alleged. One cartoon shows the Prophet with his turban evolving into a bomb. Insulting? Maybe. Blasphemous? Perhaps. Or maybe a perfectly fair comment on the arguments of radical Islamists that their religion justifies the murder of innocent bystanders, on the subsidies that Muslim governments give to suicide bombers, and on the thousands of Muslims baying for blood in response to a caricature.

Three cartoons were more harsh and insulting than the rest. But these had not been published originally in Jyllands-Posten. They were added by the radical Islamists who distributed the cartoons around the Muslim world. Vile though it is, this trickery by radical Islamists at least demonstrates the uselessness of appeasing their demands for censorship. If they are granted, our concessions will merely be the springboard for a further attack on Western liberty. And if we disobligingly refuse to furnish them with a pretext, the Islamists will manufacture one. We might as well fight in the first ditch rather than the last...

If multiculturalism is incompatible with a free and lively society, as some implicitly now concede, then the sensible response is not to gradually chip away at Western freedom but to ensure that immigration from non-Western cultures proceeds at a rate that is assimilable culturally as well as economically. In other words Muslims coming to Europe or America would automatically adjust to the freedoms of a free society because they would lack the numbers to insist on everyone else changing to suit them -- which is currently the Islamist demand.

That demand is, finally, the reason for applauding those French, German, Spanish and other European newspapers that have reproduced the cartoons as a gesture of sympathy with Jyllands-Posten and those politicians, such as France's Nicholas Sarkozy, who have supported them. Even if the arguments for laws against blasphemy were valid -- and they are not trivial -- that would count as a secondary consideration alongside the need to resist plain blackmail, intimidation and murder. Those who take refuge in the false equivalence of the "two sides" argument are, in the end, guilty of cowardice. They should seek some "Dutch courage" by ordering a glass of acquavit with a Carlsberg chaser.

Posted on 02/08/2006 6:41 AM by Rebecca Bynum
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