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February 9, 2006
Fear Factor

My column in the Daily Standard appears today and discusses the differing treatment of Muslim and Christian outrage and the consequences they portend. Entitled "Fear Factor", it notes that the threat of violence encourages a certain "respect" from Western media that does not appear when non-violent groups protest the mocking of their religion:

The differing reactions of Muslims and Christians to perceived slights is worth examining. ...

THERE IS the curious website We Are Sorry, which appeared this week attempting to apologize on behalf of moderate Muslims for the violent response to the cartoons. The apology on the site not only sounds sincere, but gets to the heart of freedom of speech ... These are powerful words that would go a long way to healing the breach between the Muslims in the street and the Western world--if they truly represented the viewpoint of moderate Islam. Unfortunately, we cannot tell that, because the people behind We Are Sorry have remained anonymous. ...

In each of these cases, fear might well be the difference maker. Western artists can mock Christians with impunity, and so they do. Western new organizations don't self-censor when it comes to non-Muslim faithful because they are not afraid of violent repercussions. And in the West, differing religious factions feel free to make their cases in broad daylight, comfortable in the knowledge that those of the opposite view will not issue fatwas against them.

Speaking of the folks at We Are Sorry, they have expanded their repertoire to include some interesting dhimmitude on behalf of Danes. In a new section of links, the still-anonymous sponsors of the website now offer this apology from a similarly unnamed Dane:

Dear Muslim citizens in Denmark and the World

I wish to state the existence of another Denmark: A Denmark that wants to live in peace with the Muslim world. There is another Denmark, which hopes for and believes in respect and tolerance between religions and different groups of people. As a Dane I have no responsibility for what a single and privately owned Danish newspaper chooses to publish. Even so, I strongly condemn the actions of Jyllands-Posten that have offended muslims around the world, and I understand the need for an apology from the newspaper.

We all have a responsibility for treating each other, our religious faiths, and convictions with dignity and respect. By publishing the caricatures of Muhammad, the newspaper Jyllands-Posten failed their obligation to exercise with care and consideration the right of freedom of speech.

This ignores the fact that Jyllands-Posten already apologized for running the cartoons, but the sellout goes deeper than that. Nowhere does the mysterious Dane acknowledge that Islamic papers run much worse caricatures of Jews for their editorial cartoons, nor does he or she even address the fact that free speech has to include the right to offend. Also, if the newspaper is privately owned, an apology by someone with no connection to it is meaningless. It also demonstrates a cowardice among Westerners, an impulse that comes out when violence is threatened that makes bystanders all cower and point to the one person courageous enough to speak out against the bomb-throwers.

Also, one cannot imagine the establishment of mea culpa sites such as these if Danish newspapers ran editorial cartoons poking fun at the political efforts of fundamentalist Christians. Christian protests would be met either with editorial glee or, more likely, a rousing round of indifference. The only reason for web sites such as Another Denmark is because of the real threat of violence coming from Islamists and the millions of Muslims they've inspired.

This is the real Fear Factor. It's why the Western press won't even show the cartoons so that people can determine for themselves if they crossed over into tastelessness -- which, in my opinion, they did not. It's why bystanders like Another Denmark feel the need to point out that the offense came from only a few Danes working at a private enterprise. It's why everyone wants to show "respect" in this case instead of actually informing people and standing up for free speech.

UPDATE: The domain registration for Another Denmark is as anonymous as the one for We Are Sorry. However, it does have a name quoted at the top -- Claus Jacobsen.

Sphere It Digg! View blog reactions
Posted by Ed Morrissey at February 9, 2006 6:24 AM

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