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CQ reader Peter A in Denmark sends this rather sharp editorial from the Danish newspaper at the center of the Prophet cartoons controversy, and also translates it into English for us. It speaks to the voices of moderation that extol free speech while at the same time scold Jyllands-Posten for exercising it. The author, Per Nyholm, wants the world to know that if freedom of speech has to come with a huge "but" attached to it, it's not freedom at all.
I'm posting the translation in its entirety:
We are being pissed upon by Per Nyholm
I think it was the long departed H.C. Hansen, one of last century's great Danish statesmen who once - while the communists were demonstrating in front of Christiansborg [Ed: the seat of parliament] - threw his gaze across the palace square and remarked: "I will not be pissed upon."
Then he did what was necessary.
I feel that currently my beloved country is being pissed upon rather too much. Denmark has not been neglecting its duties on the international stage. We have supported poor people with acts and advice, we have worked for peace, we have sent soldiers, policemen and experts to all the far flung corners of the world. We have democracy, a state of law and a welfare state. Not all is perfect, but we harbor no malice to our fellow man.
And yet Denmark is being pissed upon. The spokesman of the US State Department is pissing on Denmark, the British Secretary of Foreign Affairs is pissing on Denmark, the President of Afghanistan is pissing on Denmark, the Goverment of Iraq is pissing on Denmark, other Moslem regimes are pissing on Denmark. In Gaza, where Danes for years have provided humanitarian relief, crazed Imams encourage people to cut off the hands and heads of the cartoonists who made the caricatures of Mohammed for the Jyllands-Posten newspaper.
Excuse my choice of words, but all this pissing is pissing me off.
What's happening? I am not so much referring to the threats against Danish citizens and Danish commerce. Nor are the burnt down Embassies what occupies my mind. I am thinking of a word that keeps popping up whenever the Mohammed cartoons are mentioned.
That word is BUT. A sneaky word. It's used to deny or relativize what one has just said.
How many times lately have we not heard people of power, The Formers of Opinion and other people say that of course we have freedom of speech, BUT.
They have said it, all of them, from Kofi Annan, the UN Secretary General to our own Bendt Bendtsen [ed: Danish Politician]. Once we had to be sensitive of the easily hurt feeling of the Nazis, then came the communists, now it is the Islamists. The reason I say 'Islamists' is that I don't for a moment believe all the world's Moslems are pissing on us. I think we are dealing with thugs, fools and misled people. Those are the ones we have to deal with, and then the chickenshit politicians.
The cartoons are no longer something the Jyllands-Posten can control. They have already been manipulated and misrepresented to the point that few know what's going on and fewer know how to stop it. This affair is artifically kept buoyant in a sea of lies, suppressions of the truth, misconceptions, lunacy and hypocrisy, for which this newspaper bears no blame. The only thing the Jyllands-Posten did was that it with a pin-prick made a boil of nastiness explode. It would have happened sooner or later. That it happened more than four months following the publication of the cartoons, raises a question of its own.
Are we dealing with random events or with a staged clash of civilizations? One might hope for the former yet expect the latter.
That's why I say: Freedom of Speech is Freedom of Speech is Freedom of Speech. There is no but.
Initially I was doubtful of the timeliness of publishing the cartoons. Later events have convinced me that it was both just and useful. That they are consistent with Danish law and Danish custom seem to me less important than this: that we now know that remote, primitive countries deem themselves justified in telling us what we can do. Unfortunately we also have to recognize that governments close to us agree with them in the name of expedience.
The just is in the offensive this newspaper has launched in the name of Freedom of Speech, the useful in our newly acquired knowledge. Welcome to a brave, new world, where even our Prime Minister - in spite of his laudable firmness - must gaze out upon a scorched political landscape. It's true, as is custom, his friend in Washington, George Bush, condemns the torching of our embassies, but his Department of State alludes to us being the guilty ones in this case. The suggestion that Danish troops might benefit the democratization is buried under the charred remains of our diplomatic representations in Beirut and Damascus.
Perhaps it's time we started mopping up this mess. Perhaps Editor-in-Chief Carsten Juste ought to remove his apology which has gone stale sitting so long on the front page of our internet edition and which does not seem to interest madmen. Perhaps our government ought to announce to Mona Omar Attia, the strange Ambassador of Egypt, that she is persona non grata.
Perhaps it ought to be announced to the ambassadors that have been called home to fictive consultations in the Middle East that they may spare themselves the cost of the return ticket.
To the degree it is possible, The Lying Imams ought probably to be expelled. And then we ought to make an effort for the Moslems who in a difficult situation have proven themselves to be true Citizens.
We, for our part, have no wish to be a burden for the arab governments. We will happily withdraw our soldiers, policemen and diplomats. If they think our money smells, we will stop our aid. Our trade must make do as well as it can. We promise to not bear a grudge and, in time, we will be glad to return, but we are through with the hypocrisy. We have better things to do than being pissed upon at our own expense.
Turn down our activity in the Middle East. This world holds other opportunities.
I have a couple of responses to this. One, we here in the US understand that the State Department has its own agenda, and in this case their agenda was set by the Arabists at Foggy Bottom. They want to make nice and try to be seen as moderate. Can one be moderate in defense of free speech? Per Nyholm doesn't think so, and I agree with him.
Second, if Denmark feels that it has been pissed upon despite all of its efforts to assist Arabs in general and Moslems in particular, welcome to the club. We helped free Balkan Muslims from a genocidal aggressor in Serbia, and we got rewarded by 9/11. In other words, Demark, we feel your pain -- been there, done that, got the T-shirt. I think Nyhom's response is the correct one; cut off the aid and the support and let the countries promoting these violent demonstrations get along without Danish assistance.
If only all of Europe could show such steel in response.
UPDATE: Yes, that should have read "without Danish assistance." Thanks to the several readers who alerted me to that error!Sphere It View blog reactions
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» If They’re Going To Be Offended Anyway. . . . from Stromata Blog
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Tracked on February 12, 2006 8:48 PM
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