In today's news, the Associated Press confirms exactly why we should fear for our culture. In a move that illustrates the absurdity of calling Islam the Religion of Peace, "Armed militants angered by a cartoon drawing of the Prophet Muhammad published in European media surrounded EU offices in Gaza on Thursday and threatened to kidnap foreigners as outrage over the caricatures spread across the Islamic world."
So, members of the Islamic community are threatening violence, Pakastani student protesters are chanting "Death to Denmark" and "Death to France" (that's what you get for being so tolerant), Iraqi Shiite clerics burning the Danish flag, and the editor who reprinted the caricatures in France Soir getting fired. According to Reporters Without Borders director Robert Menard, "We need to figure out how to reconcile freedom of expression and respect of faith." Actually, what we need to do is keep printing the damn cartoons. Newspapers are full of images that may offend some group or another, but it's only when Muslims are offended that we start rolling over and begging for forgiveness? I think not. We need to respect other peoples' right to practice their religion, but we are under no moral obligation to follow the rules that they have imposed on themselves. Imagine the international rection if the Jewish community started threatening boycotts of television stations that advertise cheeseburgers. We'd all laugh and dismiss them.
While I completely disagree with the idea that art which is offensive to religious groups (like, say, crucifixes submerged in jars of urine) should be supported with public money, the media are an entirely different matter. There is a large difference between plain offensive art, and political critique, and this is a clear case of political expression.
"Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmed Qureia on Thursday condemned the caricatures, saying they 'provoke all Muslims everywhere in the world'." Thats the point of political expression: to provoke, to make people think, and newspapers are the most appropriate and important forum for political commentary. I applaud the Danish press for refusing to back down since the cartoons were first published in September. I just hope the rest of Europe gets behind them, and stays behind them, though judging by the French reaction (the Muslims are pissed? We'd better fire the editor!), this might not be a realistic hope.
-The Quartermaster


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