"Dr. Seuss’s political cartoons from the early 1940s are just as dead on target as when he first drew them, and especially pertinent today as the ideological heirs of the good Doctor’s 'Appeasement' characters run amok in the streets of Europe and San Francisco," wrote Charles Johnson -- blogged in our "Clueless, then and now" -- two years back. Some people never learn. Click here for larger version of "Remember . . . One More Lollypop, and Then You All Go Home." For one of today's satirists whose work is on a par with Dr. Seuss's, check out Scott Ott's ScrappleFace post today, "Fatwa Adds Riot Duty as Sixth Pillar of Islam."
"Has Jyllands-Posten insulted and disrespected Islam? It certainly didn't intend to," writes Fleming Rose, culture editor of the Danish newspaper that published the cartoons that launched a thousand calls for self-censorship, in a Washington Post op ed that catches the conscience of the thing:
But what does respect mean? When I visit a mosque, I show my respect by taking off my shoes. I follow the customs, just as I do in a church, synagogue or other holy place. But if a believer demands that I, as a nonbeliever, observe his taboos in the public domain, he is not asking for my respect, but for my submission. And that is incompatible with a secular democracy.
This is exactly why Karl Popper, in his seminal work "The Open Society and Its Enemies," insisted that one should not be tolerant with the intolerant. Nowhere do so many religions coexist peacefully as in a democracy where freedom of expression is a fundamental right. In Saudi Arabia, you can get arrested for wearing a cross or having a Bible in your suitcase, while Muslims in secular Denmark can have their own mosques, cemeteries, schools, TV and radio stations . . .
The lesson from the Cold War is: If you give in to totalitarian impulses once, new demands follow. [See Dr. Seuss cartoon, above] The West prevailed in the Cold War because we stood by our fundamental values and did not appease totalitarian tyrants.
Meanwhile, over in the mailbag at The Harvard Crimson, Sean Barrett ’07 has penned a thoughtful letter to the editors re the conservative student publication The Salient's decision to publish the YKW [PBUH]* cartoons that asks the right question:
As The Salient well knows, we are at war, and thus, The Salient should have asked itself, “Does publishing these cartoons help our allies or our enemies?”
But comes up with the wrong answer:
The ensuing riots that some of our allies have struggled to subdue, and the inevitable use of these cartoons as recruiting tools and propaganda by the Jihadists answer this question loudly and clearly . . . The Salient has put its desire to grandstand and challenge the liberal orthodoxy of Harvard ahead of our country’s goal of winning a war it has so eagerly supported.
On the contrary, publication of the cartoons helps our allies -- not our enemies -- by serving as a wake-up call. The Jyllands-Posten's Fleming Rose explains:
Since the Sept. 30 publication of the cartoons, we have had a constructive debate in Denmark and Europe about freedom of expression, freedom of religion and respect for immigrants and people's beliefs. Never before have so many Danish Muslims participated in a public dialogue -- in town hall meetings, letters to editors, opinion columns and debates on radio and TV. We have had no anti-Muslim riots, no Muslims fleeing the country and no Muslims committing violence. The radical imams who misinformed their counterparts in the Middle East about the situation for Muslims in Denmark have been marginalized . . .
Still, I think the cartoons now have a place in two separate narratives, one in Europe and one in the Middle East. In the words of the Somali-born Dutch politician Ayaan Hirsi Ali, the integration of Muslims into European societies has been sped up by 300 years due to the cartoons; perhaps we do not need to fight the battle for the Enlightenment all over again in Europe. The narrative in the Middle East is more complex, but that has very little to do with the cartoons.
With apologies to Shakespeare, Good Freedom Lovers, "cast thy nighted colour off, And let thine eye look like a friend on Denmark." (Hamlet 1.2.68)
Update: "Hey, I believe that this is the first time we've had Instalanche together. ;)," comments our blog buddy, TigerHawk. Be sure to go over and read his thoughtful "Realigning tolerance: Our options in the collision between free speech and Islam."
*YKW [PBUH] = You know who [Peace be unto him]