Blasphemy is in the news. Blasphemy and Mohammad and Charlie Hebdo, most of whose staff was executed by Muslim terrorists in Paris on January 7th, including its defiant editor, Stéphane Charbonnier (“Charb”), who prided himself in publishing cartoons that mocked Mohammad and implicitly Islam.
The terrorists shouted “Allahu Akbar!” and “The Prophet is avenged!” The killers were hunted down and in turn killed.
The new Charlie Hebdo issue, its front page featuring an ironic cartoon of Mohammad shedding a crocodile tear and holding a sign that reads Je Suis Charlie (“I am Charlie”), has sold out in France.
Charlie Hebdo has been avenged, by the French authorities, by Charlie Hebdo’s surviving staff, and even by the French public.
But is this in issue of vengeance? Of tit for tat? Of an eye for an eye?
No. it is an issue of force – of the initiation of force, and of retaliatory force. The Muslims who massacred twelve people at Charlie Hebdo initiated force in “protest” of the paper’s continued mockery of a religious icon. Not a single Muslim was ever coerced to look at the cartoons. They did not write letters to the editor objecting to the depiction of Mohammad as a laughable, pathetic “prophet,” they did not start their own magazine and publish their own outrageous cartoons. No. They invaded the offices of Charlie Hebdo and murdered twelve people. One of the killers subsequently invaded a Jewish food shop and murdered four Jews.
In a brilliant display of retaliatory force, the French authorities extinguished both killers. That was justice, not vengeance. Vengeance is an emotional catharsis, sometimes justifiable, too often not. Justice must be based on facts, not on emotions.
Two fine writers and indefatigable champions of freedom of speech, Diana West and Daniel Greenfield, have addressed the subject of blasphemy in recent columns. West explains why censorship, a government’s or self-censorship vis-à-vis images of Mohammad, are Sharia-imposed and Sharia-compliant, and is a violation of freedom of speech or the voluntary negation of it, and that the West should submit to neither our own government’s censorship and certainly not to Islam’s.
In her January 8th column, “The West Must Reject Islamic Blasphemy Law,” West wrote:
It is not enough now to assert the right to "blaspheme," as many are doing. We, media, citizens, politicians, everyone, must assert and manifest the right to live free of Islamic blasphemy law, the crux of Sharia, or Islamic law.
West explains that we have been incrementally submitting to Sharia law for over two decades. The Islamic assault on freedom of speech is not the most recent instance of submission to Islam. From installing foot baths for Muslims in airports and other public and private venues because Muslims demand accommodation for their degrading prayer rituals, to removing Christian symbols in schools because they offend Muslim students, to purging FBI counter-terrorism training materials of all references to Islam and Muslims because that would be “illegal” “profiling,” to criminalizing criticism of Islam, no matter how crass or cogent, as “hate speech,” the steady Islamification of speech – a.k.a. censorship – goes on virtually unopposed by all but those who see the consequences and aren’t afraid to point them out.
With each Free-World killing or attempted killing (or protest or boycott or death threats), with our every acquiescence or accommodation of this new "normal," the lingering fear factor further chills public expression, further entrenches Islamic blasphemy law, further paralyzes political action to reject Islamic law. To save liberty in the West, vigorous and widespread and complete rejection of Islamic law, beginning with Islamic blasphemy law. is precisely what is needed.
This still isn't happening -- such is the advanced state of our dhimmitude.
In the meantime, in other acts of submission, Duke University will broadcast every Friday the Muslim call to prayer from its Chapel tower. At Oxford University Press, authors have been prohibited from including images and references to pigs and sausage in any future children’s books published by OUP. Are these instances evidence of fear of Islamic retribution, or just plain agreement that Muslims must not be offended?
Daniel Greenfield, in his January 7th column, “The Importance of Blasphemy,” brings his seemingly limitness range of perspective to the subject of Islamic blasphemy law. There isn’t a single religion, he writes, that doesn’t explicitly or implicitly “blaspheme” every other religion.
For non-Muslims, the right to blasphemy is also the right to believe. While we may think of blasphemy in terms of the Charlie Hebdo cartoons, each religion is also mutually blasphemous.
Muslims argue that the West should “respect prophets” by outlawing insults to Mohammed and a panoply of prophets that it gathered from Judaism and Christianity. But Islam considers the Christian view of Jesus to be blasphemous and Christianity considers Islam’s view of Jesus equally blasphemous.
While Charlie Hebdo pushed the outer limits of blasphemy, every religion that is not Islam, and even various alternative flavors of Islam, is also blasphemous relative to Islam.
Greenfield drives home his point:
Everyone’s religion is someone else’s blasphemy. If we forget that, we need only look to Saudi Arabia, where no other religion is allowed, as a reminder.
Blasphemy is the price we pay for not having a theocracy. Muslims are not only outraged but baffled by the Mohammed cartoons because they come from a world in which Islamic law dominates their countries and through its special place proclaims the superiority of Islam over all other religions.
Mohammed cartoons exist because of the Islamic inability to cope with a non-theocratic society. Islamic Cartoonophobia is not only a danger to cartoonists. It’s a threat to all of our religious freedoms.
And to freedom of speech. To freedom of thought and the freedom to say what one thinks must be said. Even if it offends or insults the subject of one’s thought.
When we talk about blasphemy, we must also talk about censorship: force or the threat of force against the practitioners of blasphemy. Government censorship is the direct application of force; threats of censorship through murder and terrorism are what Islam is good at. Islamic censorship can be codified in the laws of an Islamic country; in non-Islamic countries with a purported separation of church and state (or of synagogue and state, or of mosque and state, or of Wiccan temple and state, what have you), Islamic allegations of blasphemy against Mohammad and/or Islam, can result in self-censorship. It achieves censorship without having to resort to government force to still the minds and pens and even Hollywood productions of expressions of one's estimates of Islam and its icons.
A government becomes a criminal when it criminalizes free speech. Criminals, i.e., terrorists, without the intervention of the state criminalize free speech with murder and terrorism, can resort to direct force, or to intimidation, or the threat of force to inculcate self-censorship.
The best species of censorship – if it can be called that – is simply to not look at or watch whatever it is that strikes one as blasphemy. For example, I’d never wish to or be tempted to watch a new TV series, HBO’s “Girls,” which, as Clash Daily, reported, without going into graphic detail, NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams reflected on his daughter’s scene involving simulated anal sex. This is not so much an instance of blasphemy as it is a repellant form of “entertainment” which I’m not really interested in auditing (not even in a critical essay).
Random House, Yale University and other publishers and publications have implicitly become Sharia-compliant, offering the ostensible, lame excuse that they will not imperil their employees’ lives by publishing a book, novel, or image that may offend Muslims and provoke an act of terror.
However, the excuse is not so “lame.” No company can function qua enterprise by becoming a fortress to deter or repel terrorists bent on killing the “blasphemers” and causing material destruction. Businesses are not in the business of erecting redoubts and parapets to repel armies of barbarians.
That is the business of government. It is the task of government to protect one’s freedom of speech or expression. It alone has the resources and the mandate to fight jihadist censorship with retaliatory force.
But our government doesn’t wish to protect freedom of speech. This includes our judicial system.
To censor the expression of one’s thoughts is to suffocate one’s mind. But that is what Islam, which forbids questioning its tenets on pain of death, is all about. It not only forbids Muslims freedom of thought and speech, but is working tirelessly to forbid it in all non-Muslims. Islam is totalitarian, root, trunk , branch, and even twig.
The huggy-bear moment of the Paris Je Suis Charlie march on January 11th was a nauseous thing to behold, because there wasn’t a single “world leader” in it who wouldn’t impose censorship – soft or hard – at the drop of a Mohammad cartoon.
President Barack Obama, who did not march with the millions that day, has promised to put pressure on American journalists to shy away from offending Muslims, jihadists, and Islam, lest Muslims go on another shooting spree. A search of his executive powers does not turn up such an option.
Not that such limitations have ever stopped our Islam-friendly, de facto Caliph-in-Chief.
The Daily Caller revealed January 13th article, “White House: Will Fight Media to Stop Anti-Jihad Articles,” that Obama will be pro-active in squashing blasphemous “hate speech” in the mainstream and alternative media. HIs press secretary, without dithering and without a single blush, claimed that:
President Barack Obama has a moral responsibility to push back on the nation’s journalism community when it is planning to publish anti-jihadi articles that might cause a jihadi attack against the nation’s defense forces, the White House’s press secretary said Jan. 12.
“The president … will not now be shy about expressing a view or taking the steps that are necessary to try to advocate for the safety and security of our men and women in uniform” whenever journalists’ work may provoke jihadist attacks, spokesman Josh Earnest told reporters at the White House’s daily briefing.
The unprecedented reversal of Americans’ civil-military relations, and of the president’s duty to protect the First Amendment, was pushed by Earnest as he tried to excuse the administration’s opposition in 2012 to the publication of anti-jihadi cartoons by the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo.
Dancing between defending freedom of expression and wanting to stuff a sock in journalists’ mouths with the agility of a pro tennis-player, Earnest added:
Throughout the press conference, Earnest repeatedly said the media would be able to decide on its own whether to publish pictures, articles or facts that could prompt another murderous jihad attack by Muslim against journalists. But he did not say that his government has a constitutional and moral duty to use the nation’s huge military to protect journalists from armed jihadis, but instead hinted strongly that journalists should submit to jihadi threats.
That’s the “practical” course of action. After all, one shouldn’t expect our government to propose destroying state sponsors of terrorism. That would be “Islamophobic” to the max, right? But, you read it here: Obama wants to “fight” anti-jihad columnists, not jihad itself.
In the meantime, while the West refuses to declare war on Islam, Islam has declared war on the West. British imam Anjem Choudary opined, in a Breitbart column on January 14th, ”Radical Imam Anjem Choudary Calls Charlie Hebdo Front Page ‘Act Of War’” on the occasion of the publication of the new post-massacre Charlie Hebdo front-page cartoon, that:
… latest front cover was “blatant provocation” and claimed insulting Islam and Muslims is “part of the war that is taking place”. He went on to demand that Western societies be “sensible and sensitive to the emotions and the feelings of the Muslims”, and accused governments of refusing to “nip it in the bud”.
His comments came as Charlie Hebdo announced they had sold out of their first million copies of the post-attack edition. This had been widely expected and the publishers had made provision to print a total of three million copies, using the printing press at Le Monde. The further two million copies are now being printed.
Choudary wants Western governments to impose the equivalent of “campus speech codes” on the Western media, whatever its form: journalism, books, images, the audio-visual media, and even on gestures. If I happened to be on the campus of Duke University, heard the adhan (the Muslim call to prayers) being broadcast and stuck my fingers in my ears, could that be interpreted as “insulting” Islam, or defined as “hate speech”? Very likely, in today’s climate of thought-aborting political correctness – and of submission to an ideology inimical to Western civilization.
Blasphemy, urges Diane West, may be our salvation, not our death knell. It could lead to letting the wind out of political correctness, as well. There was a time when everyone drew Mohammad. Let’s everyone now take part in a “Blaspheme Mohammad Day.”