The prosecuting authority here is acting in accordance with the spirit of 'hate crime' legislation, which is the appeasement of Islamist cultural and physical aggression. The hate crime legislation has the intended effect of criminalising criticism of Islamic theology, with unintended side effect of allowing Islamist recruitment to flourish.
The reason that the 'hate crime' legislation is not applied even handedly to those who insult other religions, is that society at large is not, frankly, terribly afraid of other religious groups. People are, however, afraid of Islamists. Rightly so.
The logic of appeasement runs thus: if we do everything possible, including presumably the restriction of basic freedoms, to prevent anyone from offending Islamists, maybe they'll stop trying to blow us up; meanwhile if a few Christians should get upset about pictures of their God Incarnate in some stale urine, well at least they won't kill anyone...and maybe, by tacitly sanctioning the desecration of a very potent symbol of western culture, the Islamists will be satisfied that we're really trying to empathise with their concerns and issues....
Mr Shmulevich should not be prosecuted for placing a book in a lavatory. The man responsible for 'Piss Christ' should not be prosecuted either. Nor should I, for saying that Mr Shmulevich has behaved with rudeness and stupidity, and that Mr 'Piss Christ' is a moron, whose work is vacuous, boring and entirely devoid of merit.
All are well within the bounds of acceptable free speech.
The much more important point is that in passing the hate crime legislation, both your society in the US and mine in the UK, are showing the Islamist that we are terrified of them, physically, culturally and electorally, and that we do not in fact value our freedom. Since their philosophy depends upon the assumption that we can in fact be coerced into abandoning liberty and democracy, in favour of religious submission and theocracy, this kind of legislation can only encourage them.
"They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety. ...
The posture of appeasement serves only to encourage derision and violence.Comment Posted By winston07 On 10.08.2007 @ 16:56
I was intrigued by your worry about confronting the terrorist. We have no choice in my view. I believe the threat we face is existential for several reasons.
The Islamist ideology claims universal jurisdiction, offers the terrorist redemption beyond this life, and challenges the very essence of our system of government as an affront to God. Its combination of moral certainty and the appeal to a nebulous sense of grievance seems to be very attractive to some young men. Its adherents are making their presence felt, through violence, on every continent, and appear to be growing rapidly in numbers. The religious terrorist believes his violence is holy, and knows no moral boundary to his destructive aims. Coupled with access to highly destructive technologies, this makes the threat to us existential. They will find us whether we like it or not.
In response to this assertive ideology, our politicians, academics and journalists have failed to articulate a coherent and inspiring alternative. On the one hand, Islamist ideology offers to the impressionable youth, the percieved opportunity to engage in an apocalyptic struggle against the embodiment of evil (US/UK/Israel), with eternal salvation as the prize for martyrdom, and the recognition of peers meanwhile. The West is presented as vacuous and degenerate, Islam as modest and holy. We, on the other hand, have presented them with no clear reply. Indeed many of our most prominent academics seem only to ready to agree, in their hysterical desire to apologise endlessly for the imperialism and colonialism of previous generations.
It seems to me, however, that we cannot hope to defeat Islamism and Jihadism by force of arms alone. War is won in mens minds. The confident assertion, by prominent political leaders, of the philosophical values which distinguish western democracies, would be a good start. They might remind the world that only in the west can we speak freely, associate freely, acknowledge no ruler but the law, and dismiss our governments. From these values we derive our collective strength. We must speak to Islamists as well as potential recruits, and point out loudly the paradoxes in their world view. Unpalatable though it may seem, this might require us to challenge directly Islamic theology and cultural assumptions, as well as the violence. The doctrine of waqf is easily challenged, as is the intolerance inherent in Shari'a. It is not good enough for all discussion of the theology which inspires Islamists to be left to other Islamists, and when they cease to believe in the cause, they stop fighting(Ed Hussain, Hassan Butt).
We can of course lose spectacularly by the failure to deploy arms where necessary - the forthcoming nuclear arming of the Islamic Republic of Iran offers us the opportunity to be spectacularly defeated by opening up the possibility of nuclear terrorism. Indeed the maxim that war is won in mens minds, might come to apply to us in defeat, if a nuclear attack were to occur in the context of our current mood of confusion and defeatism. Interdicting the spread of weapons of highly destructive character is something we cannot avoid. If you think this is alarmist and imagine that a nuclear armed terrorist would stay his hand, ask yourself this: why would the jihadist not strike? I can't think of a reason either. Iran must be prevented from acquiring nuclear weapons by all necessary means.
I think we face a long, hard conflict, which will be physical and intellectual. It should start with trying to persuade friends who fail to perceive the problem.Comment Posted By winston07 On 5.07.2007 @ 16:59
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