Saturday, February 04, 2006

Democracy In A Cartoon

To paraphrase William Blake:

To see a World in a Grain of Sand
And Apocolype in a crescent moon,
Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand
And Democracy in a cartoon.

Ibn Warraq has an editorial up in Spiegal Online:

The great British philosopher John Stuart Mill wrote in On Liberty, "Strange it is, that men should admit the validity of the arguments for free discussion, but object to their being 'pushed to an extreme'; not seeing that unless the reasons are good for an extreme case, they are not good for any case."

The cartoons in the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten raise the most important question of our times: freedom of expression. Are we in the west going to cave into pressure from societies with a medieval mindset, or are we going to defend our most precious freedom -- freedom of expression, a freedom for which thousands of people sacrificed their lives?

A democracy cannot survive long without freedom of expression, the freedom to argue, to dissent, even to insult and offend. It is a freedom sorely lacking in the Islamic world, and without it Islam will remain unassailed in its dogmatic, fanatical, medieval fortress; ossified, totalitarian and intolerant. Without this fundamental freedom, Islam will continue to stifle thought, human rights, individuality; originality and truth.

Read it all, please, because it raises what I consider one of the fundamental problems of our time: the fact that the West seems to no longer be able to defend and stand up for itself--either intellectually or culturally.

This, I submit, is the direct result of the West's descent into the abyss of political correctness and cultural relativity. This descent has been fueled by the ascent of postmodern political rhetoric which, among other things, rejects reason and rationality in political discourse and behavior.

The dual insanity and subversivenss of these two hallmarks of leftist thought are brought together in the following common, but wholly contradictory, threads of politically correct postmodern rhetoric: On the one hand, all cultures are equally deserving of respect; on the other, Western culture is uniquely destructive and bad.

These two mutually contradictory postitions are both firmly held beliefs--one might even say they are considered holy writ by the acolytes of the liberal left.

For years now, these two mantras have been trickling down into the consciousness and belief system of the West. They have quietly been integrated into our K-12 curriculum; they have taken over our Universities (where Free Speech is no longer tolerated if it happens to "hurt" someone's feelings); they regularly appear both directly and symbolically in popular movies and on the news tickers for the mainstream media.

Is it any surprise that this Postmodern PC has now been duly enshrined into the national platform for at least one of our major political parties; and that it even has begun to eat away at the heart of values like freedom of speech in the other.

Let me be blunt. At this point, I don't care who is offended by the Danish cartoons or even how personally the adherents of Islam take the insult. What I care about is the violent and irrational behavior exhibited by muslims, as they scream and burn and generally around throw a hissy fit and act like the thugees in their worship of Kali. The controversy is no longer about the cartoons or how offensive they may or may not be.

It is about freedom. It is about choice. It is about standing up for the values of Western Civilization.

I may hate Tom Tole's and Ted Rall's cartoons (and often, I do), but by god, I will fight for their right to be as offensive and obnoxious as they want as they pave their own way to hell. I will not support them in any other way except for that.

For what is their sin? They have only drawn cartoons that reflect their souls, after all. Any god--even Allah, should be able to sort that out at the appropriate time.

The unacceptable and violent behavior that is now sweeping around the world; and which is being done in the name of the so-called "religion of peace" in response to some cartoons about their founder Muhammed; truly demonstrates the fanatical, oppressive, and totalitarian soul of their religion and culture. AND THEIR BEHAVIOR AND DEMANDS MUST NOT BE TOLERATED BY FREE MEN AND WOMEN ANYWHERE IN THE WORLD.

Bob Dylan once said, “Toleration of the unacceptable leads to the last round-up.”

Unless we think this is the last round-up for Liberty and Democracy, then I suggest we stop tolerating the violent and mindless behavior of Islam and do whatever is necessary to stop it.

UPDATE: Some very interesting analysis by The Volokh Conspiracy about differences in the way the Boston Globe has approached this religious controversy and free speech issues, compared to previous ones. Also, I strongly recommend Jeff Goldstein's post at Protein Wisdom of which this excerpt is particularly relevant:
[...]but it also highlights the dilemma western proponents of identity politics have (and always will have) to face: namely, the point at which the necessary clash of soft, boutique mulitculturalism and the kernel beliefs of identity politics groups threaten to erupt into something much larger than a minor disagreement that can be fixed with a bit of superficial policy manipulation. Which is why even now you have Kos commenters contorting themselves into positions of self-righteous progressive onanism that are a wonder to behold—suddenly, free speech is not a universal right worthy of the crafting of puppet heads and the defacing of Starbucks’ windows, but instead is a culture-specific gift that needs to be filtered through the religious precepts of the culture of the Other. Unless, of course, that “Other” happens to be, say, Evangelical Christians. In which case, such extremists MUST BE SHOUTED DOWN with free speech.

The best you can say for postmodern political discourse is that it is consistently irrational. I am alway surprised that the brains of those who use its majestically ridiculous rhetorical style don't instantly disintegrate from all the mutually contradictory beliefs crashing randomly into each other within its confines.

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