REPUBLISHED FROM MARCH 2006
By David Kennedy Houck
“[T]he best test of truth is the power of the thought to get itself accepted in the competition of the market.” So propounded Justice Holmes in 1919, as he described what has become the great American experiment in the marketplace of free expression. And within this brave new environ, Americans have dabbled in speech that makes the pious blush, the reactionary angry, and the decadent cheer with delight. Over the years, this marketplace of freedom has given no quarter; nothing has escaped examination. Whether Christian, Jew, agnostic, militarist, communist, capitalist, bigamist, entrepreneur or pacifist; all and much more have been the target of opposing speech and passionate intellectual scrutiny. And through the power of the free exchange of ideas, America specifically, and the Western world in general, have achieved a level free expression unsurpassed in all history. However, at present, our world is confronted by a rising tide of Islamism that if not recognized and countered, threatens to silence what has become one of the fundamental elements which defines Western exceptionalism.
Historian and political commentator, Victor Davis Hanson, rightly summarizes the oft ridiculed and widely disparaged notion of Western exceptionalism. Hanson argues that “all cultures, sadly, are not equal” and that “Western liberality and tolerance” are precious and rare in the human experience, “both in the past and present.” Yet, it appears many in the West wholly misunderstand these extraordinary freedoms, or worse, fail to fully comprehend the relentless battering that freedom of speech is now experiencing. Indeed, many Americans now openly question the veracity of the threat against us, and rather than fear those who killed 3,000 in one day of horror, have become fixated instead upon an irrational fear of an overreaching government and the incremental loss of liberties. Meanwhile, in the interim, our true enemy continues to plot our demise and speaks clearly of the intent to destroy world order; and amidst this chaos, Russia and China triangulate, and an apoplectic Europe yawns, uncertain how to assuage its self-loathing, or how it might placate the victims of western imperial hubris.
Sadly, the European mindset has become so steeped in anti-Americanism that it can no longer decipher friend from foe, and it now appears that Europe is willing to slowly surrender its way of life to Islamist totalitarianism. Unassimilated European Muslims, now beside themselves with angst over the alleged blasphemous cartoons, and openly hostile to their host nations, now demand substantive change to EU law to protect Islam from all insult in the public domain. The prophet cannot be caricatured; and the Western free press must refrain from provocation and insult. Indeed, we are now supposed to ignore the gratuitous and offensive images of Jews and Christians daily sponsored by Muslim governments, and in the alternative, offer deference to Islam in every public forum. Does anyone in the Western media have an issue with this: apparently not.
The western media as a whole has largely retreated from protecting free speech, and has instead decided to cave-in into Islamist totalitarianism. Equally unfortunate, most Americans have not seen the Danish cartoons, despite the fact that they represent a major international story. Rather than display the mostly innocuous drawings, most American media outlets fell all over each other seeking that elusive moral high ground where disparaging Christianity is safe and easy, and protecting Muslims from insult is the only sensible tack.
Even now, Hollywood is spending hundreds of millions of dollars to create a film that portrays Christianity as nothing more than a twisted charade; that Jesus Christ was an ordinary man, who secretly married a former prostitute, and fathered children who now perpetrate a noxious lie in perpetuity in the person of the modern day Pontiff. This sort of trope is easy and fun for Hollywood, but it is quite another matter to confront the Islamo-fascist murderers who attacked and killed 3,000 of their own in 2001. That would require real courage, not the vapid and empty courage George Clooney or his epigony allude to. Will Hollywood ever speak truth to this power? Not likely. Consider that in Tom Clancey’s, “Sum of All of Fears,” made years before 9/11, producers inexplicably changed the bad guys from Islamists, to blond-haired, blue-eyed neo-Nazis. If they couldn’t confront the problem before it materialized, what makes one think they will deal with the issue now?
The threat to our freedoms is not a parlor game. Islamo-fascism is not some vague, undefined threat that floats like a specter inside some mysterious paradigm of “Fourth Generation Warfare.” Osama bin Laden and the actions of Al Qaeda on 9/11 became the impetus that ignited a war that has been brewing for decades. America and the West engaged in an amoral policy of Realpolitik in the Middle East since the end of World War II: As long as the oil flowed and the Soviets stayed out, there was little interest in the politics of the region. Since the Iranian Revolution in 1979, Islamo-fascism has been on the rise throughout the globe, and it has now evolved into the greatest threat of our time.
Many in the west still don’t believe this plain truth. Rather than acknowledge the danger before us, they believe 9/11 was a response to American troops in the Holy lands of Saudi Arabia, or the Palestinian question, or some other axiom of victimhood. But these are all canards, mere icing to gloss over the grim primordial reality for every war: envy, fear, hatred and power. The Islamists make no apologies and speak plainly. They intend to kill us, subsume our world into a Sharia paradise and make Islam supreme.
Sounds silly, doesn’t it? What’s really funny is none of the victims of this war can see the humor.
Posted by David Kennedy Houck at 12:46 AM
REPUBLISHED ARTICLE FROM SUMMER 2007
Yet, curiously, the American media shall impose laws of self-censorship when it comes to publishing the 12-Danish Cartoons. Indeed, the list of American media outlets that have deferred from reprinting these cartoons is extensive, if not almost completely exhaustive. This is both shocking and frightening. When did America's newspapers and media outlets suddenly get "religious sensitivity"?
Most will recall how pictures of "Piss Christ," (Christ submerged in a vat of urine) were widely disseminated because the story was, "news worthy." Of course, no one died and no death threats followed this outrage, but the entire world was offered a gratuitous look at the blamsphemous images. More recently, the NY Times, in a display of the media's worsening cognitive dissonance, actually re-published an artists' rendition of Mary, the Mother of Jesus, covered in cow feces from a story 7-years ago. Why did they do this? Inexplicably, it appeared in conjunction with a story about the Danish cartoons of Muhammad that the Times wasn't publishing.
The self-censoring and appeasing reaction from the media is exactly the response Muslim radicals predicted and intended. Remember, these drawings were first published in September 2005 and there was no reaction from Muslims - none. In fact, the cartoons were even reprinted in an Egyptian paper without any public outcry. However, during the interim, a radical cleric from Denmark took these drawings, along with some additional images not a part of the originally commissioned project, and paraded them across the Arab/Muslim world with the sole intent of inciting renewed hatred for the infidels and striking fear in the hearts of any "moderate" Muslims. By all accounts, it has been a smashing success.
Perhaps if there were not so much hypocrisy related to these protests, one might be inclined to understand or even sympathize with outrage on the infamous Arab street. The apparent rage over a few cartoons is confusing, particularly when there was no visible outrage after the events of 9/11; nor are there angry protests denouncing suicide bombings in Israel and Iraq; and, no visible angst over far worse portrayals of Jews and Christians in their own state sponsored media. To watch and listen to westerners argue that we should be "more sensitive" to Muslim beliefs is exactly what the radicals want. Islam must be above criticism. It must be supreme. That is the essence of Islam and Shari'a law. And for westerners to nod approval to such ideas is both dangerous and frightening.
Radical Islam is deeply threatened by the west; Afghanistan and Iraq, if successful, will place these radicals in an untenable position, so they are waging a desperate fight not only against western ideals, but those Muslims who earnestly desire to live free of the oppressive totalitarian yoke of Islamism. Western nations must defend free speech and not be so quick to dismiss this issue. The Islamists want us to apologize; they want our leaders prostrate and asking for forgiveness. It is a picture directly from a Shari'a Court.
Islamic claims of supremacy are prevalent throughout the western world, and these issues, because they are often promoted through non-violence never make it onto the radar; but they are real and transpiring in a neighborhood near you today. CAIR (Council for American Islamic Relations), founded by members of the Muslim Brotherhood (who have avowed destruction of the west), monitor speech across America everyday about Muslims and Islam, and they are constantly engaging in legal threats and action against those who speak poorly of Islam. More recently, legal briefs submitted to the Supreme Court of the United States by the ACLU, in association with Muslim groups, amazingly, have included citations to Shari'a law as legal authority.
As these challenges to our freedoms unfold, it would appear the American media has gone completely off the deep end. Freedom of speech; codified in the First Amendment of our Constitution; the bedrock upon which America is built, is summarily abandoned by those charged with its first line of defense: the press. The American media has withheld showing the Danish cartoons, apparently because the venerable editors have discovered "religious sensitivity" (Read: Fear of Islamists). So, as the Middle East burns and violence erupts across that region, American's must put down the paper or turn-off the network news and access the Internet to get the full story. The media may think re-printing the cartoons is unnecessary; or merely an act of provocation, but that notion is, at best, misguided, at worst, total capitulation. The real issue is whether the American media will continue to "self-censor" in fear; or stand to defend the principles upon which it derives legitimacy.
Based upon the deafening silence, we already know the answer.
Posted by David Kennedy Houck at 12:42 AM