The Muslims' New Program for
By forcing others to 'respect' their tenets,
Islamists are squelching intellectual freedom
[February 6, 2006]
we trace the genius of a nation by their taste in poetry and music, so by
their encouragement of these we may judge of their rise or fall; good
authors have never been wanting in happy climes. Barbarism begins her
reign by banishing the Muses. Those who have ears to hear, let them hear!"
So wrote Philip Dormer Stanhope, the Earl of Chesterfield, in 1749 in a
preface to a pamphlet of his speech in the House of Lords against the
proposed Act for Licensing the Stage, an act supported by politicians who
were being mocked in theaters by satire to the applause of an appreciative
In a not so coincidental dovetailing of events, a bill to regulate "hate
speech" is at present being debated in the British parliament that would
make it a criminal offense to publicly disparage any creed or set of
religious beliefs, in addition to "inciting" violence via words or
pictures against members of any race or religious sect. Ostensively, the
bill is aimed at Muslims who call for jihad in Britain; in effect, it will
silence anyone who questions or criticizes any creed or system of beliefs.
The bill aims to suppress the provocation of thugs and rioters by gagging
those who would call them thugs and rioters.
It will silence everyone but the Muslims.
At the same time, the Muslim "furor" over the publication and
republication in Danish and European newspapers of cartoons that
caricature Mohammed, whose depiction in any form is regarded as blasphemy,
shocked many Westerners from their multicultural apathy. The one cartoon
that seems to have touched the Muslim nerve -- shall we call it
"sensitivity"? -- shows the head of Mohammed wearing a turban shaped as a
lit-fuse bomb. This was a caricature that summed up the thousands of
murders and scale of destruction wrought by Islamic "martyrs" and
jihadists over the past thirty years. It was an astute, stylistic
observation, a justifiable estimate of the means and ends of Islamic
The pit felt at the bottom of many stomachs over this new demand of the
Muslims is fear: fear of mindless retribution, of death and destruction.
It causes those who feel it to shut up in the name of "respect" for Muslim
beliefs. This is the true nature of the "respect" of major American news
organizations, such as CBS, when it refused to show a single cartoon.
The pit felt at the bottom of other stomachs is resolve, of a
determination to stand up now for the freedom to say what one thinks, with
the knowledge that if the West capitulates to Muslim demands, it will have
surrendered the key freedom that permits the fight for all the other
freedoms. Many European newspapers have defied Muslim "sensibilities" and
reprinted the cartoons.
Islamic spokesmen called this action a "provocation." But what is it that
is being "provoked"? Violence. Property destruction. Kidnappings. Murders.
The initiation of physical force and terror. All in the name of Mohammed
and Allah. Hardly the behavior of a "pacific" religion that would persuade
one that it just wants to "get along."
Implied in the claim that images of Mohammed constitute blasphemy, is that
anyone who creates such an image is guilty of blasphemy. What the Muslims
are demanding is that non-Muslims accept that religious tenet. Thus,
"respect" by non-Muslims of the tenet, at the price of surrendering the
right to criticize Islam, means virtual conversion to Islam, a major step
in the direction of actual conversion.
Islamists see the implications of multiculturalism and "diversity" much
better than do the advocates and practitioners of these secular "creeds."
Islamists are infamous for not subscribing to multiculturalism and
diversity. They might claim that it is not conversion they seek, but
"respect." But if one does not "respect" a belief, it is one's right to
question it, or to criticize it in a book, essay, speech, or cartoon.
However, if one "respects" it, then it becomes a taboo subject, off limits
to reasoned enquiry and civil discussion. One tells oneself: I have no
right to say anything about it. And if one is prohibited, under penalty of
prosecution, intimidation, or physical violence, from saying or writing
anything about it, then there is no reason or point to thinking of it,
What a formula for thought control!
The Islamists know it. Most Western intellectuals and politicians do not.
It is time that Muslims here and abroad got used to "offensive" portrayals
of Mohammed, and, for good measure, of Allah himself. After all, no one is
forcing them to look at the cartoons. The West regularly shrugs off the
pictorial vilification of Western institutions, culture, creeds, persons
and icons. Anyone familiar with the Arab press and Arab websites will note
how vicious Muslim cartoonists are.
That would be a fair trade, would it not, an exercise in mutual
"tolerance" and good will? One might say that the solution to the problem
is reciprocity. The Arab press can publish vicious cartoons of the West,
and the West can publish mildly "offensive" cartoons about Islam.
But it is not an issue of reciprocity. Reciprocity is not in the Islamic
agenda. "Islam" means "submission," and it is submission its ill-willed
mullahs and imams demand in exchange for the "peace" of intellectual
torpidity in their rank and file followers, as well as in the West. Islam
is by its very nature intolerant of other creeds and requires absolute,
mindless obedience of Allah and compliance with the prophet's
commandments. It cannot be "reformed" as Christianity has been. Even the
new Pope, Benedict XVI, has conceded that. There are no concessions Islam
could possibly make without triggering its self-destruction.
Fundamentally, there is no such thing as a "moderate" Muslim or a
"civilized" Islam, not when the core beliefs of the Koran and commands of
the Hadith sanction the murder and enslavement of non-Muslims in an
on-going jihad that will end only with the establishment of a global
Islamic spokesman claim that they do not seek to crush freedom of speech
or expression, only to put "limits" on it. Ultimately, however, any
"limit" on speech means no expression, no freedom to say what one thinks
must be said. It means not reaching a conclusion, and settling for only
half a syllogism, or none at all. It means that an idea has been removed
from debate, discussion, and criticism.
This is a defining moment for the West. It must either speak up in defense
and in bold, unapologetic assertion of the idea of freedom of speech, or
forever cringe in "respect" of Islamic tenets, much as in the film The
Godfather, the favor-seeking mortician cringed when gangster Vito Corleone
accused him of not granting him "respect." The fearful mortician
immediately offered his respect and submission. He was seeking mere
vengeance; Corleone required submission and acknowledgement of his power.
This will logically require the ultimate scrapping of another "belief"
system, that of multiculturalism and diversity, and their recognition as
Ever since the Renaissance the genius of the West has been a commitment to
the freedom of men to question the moral claims of others. Reason has
always settled the question. Islamists are demanding that the West banish
the Muse of Reason. Let those who have ears, hear that demand and
understand its fundamental requirement. And let those who understand it,
speak now, or forever maintain a "respectful" silence.
Edward Cline is the
author of First Prize
and Whisper The Guns,
and has written for a variety of publications including the Colonial
Williamsburg Journal and Marine Corps League. His essay on John Locke was
reprinted in the college textbook Western Civilization II, published by
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