"Freedom from Fear" (left) and "Freedom to Worship" are two of Norman Rockwell's "The Four Freedoms" series inspired by FDR's rousing wartime State of the Union address in 1941, where he declared "As a nation, we may take pride in the fact that we are softhearted; but we cannot afford to be soft-headed." We blogged about Rockwell's series a couple of months back, noting that corny as they are, "In today's world, again at war with those who would stomp on our freedoms, we see them with fresh eyes." The same goes for FDR's words.
"We aren't going to show you these cartoons because they are so inflammatory," Paige Hopkins of Fox & Friends is saying:
Now the cartoonists are in hiding. They probably never dreamed that it would escalate to this.
First they came for CNN, and we did not speak out because we were not a CNN fan:
Muslims consider it sacrilegious to produce a likeness of the Prophet Mohammad. CNN has chosen to not show the cartoons in respect for Islam
Then they came for the UN, and we commented that for Kofi Annan, some religions are more equal than others:
UN Secretary General Kofi Annan said he is worried about the cartoon issue. His spokesman said that Mr Annan believes freedom of expression should always be used with respect for religion.
Then they came for the US State Department, and we shook our head:
The United States blasted the publication by European newspapers of cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed as unacceptable incitement to religious or ethnic hatred.
Then they came for Fox & Friends, and we switched into double-standard mode, desperately trying to fit their round "We report, you decide" slogan into the square hole of their self-censorship. Maybe it was a bottom-line decision, or how about just good manners? Nobody's perfect? It didn't work. Had the terrorists, after all -- sneaking in the back door while we were busy at the front -- finally won? Fortunately, the bloggers were getting the word -- and in many cases the images -- out, big time. So were writers like Paul Marshall of The Weekly Standard, who gets it just right when he says "Defending freedom of religion and freedom of the press requires distinguishing who is being criticized, and distinguishing criticism from threats":
It is one thing to condemn Jyllands-Posten for offending millions of people. It is a very different thing to criticize the Danish or other governments, since the criticism itself, even apart from invidious calls for cartoonists to be punished by the state, assumes that government should control the media. Saudi Arabia, Iran, and their authoritarian brethren, as well as jihadist vigilantes, are attempting to export and impose their media censorship and version of sharia on the world at large, using economic pressure, international organizations, or violence.
Finally, amid current calls for "toleration" and "respect for belief," we need to be very clear about the distinction between religious toleration and religious freedom.
Religious toleration means not insulting somebody else's religion, and it is a good thing. But religious freedom means being free to reject somebody else's religion and even to insult it. Government should want and encourage its citizens to be tolerant of one another, but its primary responsibility is to protect its citizens' rights and freedoms. The fact that people are sometimes insulted is one cost of freedom. The Jyllands-Posten affair calls us to uphold that principle internationally as well as domestically.
Sometimes the cost of freedom is losing your job. But help is on the way [via Phylax]:
MILAN (Reuters) - Italy's right-wing Northern League wants to hire as its Paris correspondent a French editor who was sacked for printing caricatures of the Prophet Mohammad . . . He is certainly a person with the courage to tell things the way they are, rather than write what his boss tells him," Calderoli told reporters at a Northern League support rally in front of the Danish consulate.
Speaking of persons with the courage to tell things the way they are, how about Muslim writer and TV host Irshad Manji of Muslm Refusenik, author of The Trouble with Islam Today? Listen to what she has to say in a Wall Street Journal commentary (subscribers only) this morning:
Muslims have little integrity demanding respect for our faith if we do not show it for others . . . None of this is to dismiss the need to take my religion seriously. Hell, Muslims even take seriously the need to be serious: Islam has a teaching against "excessive laughter." I am not joking. But does this mean that we should cry "blasphemy" over less-than-flattering depictions of the prophet Muhammad? God no. For one thing, the Quran itself points out that there will always be nonbelievers, and that it's for Allah, not Muslims, to deal with them. More than that, the Quran says there is "no compulsion in religion." Which suggests that nobody should be compelled to treat Islamic tenets as sacred.
Then they came for my funny bone, and I melted in laughter.