|Wednesday, February 1, 2006
09:44 - Now that's journalism
Regarding the whole Jyllands-Posten cartoons debacle, I posted the following last night at Tim Blair's:
There’s not a better illustration of the entire mindset of the stunt than this one by Arne Sørensen.
It seems to me that there are two possible purposes behind Jyllands-Posten’s sponsorship of this stunt: a) to prove their belief that Muslims are too mature to overreact to something like this, or b) to prove their belief that Muslims just need a match struck and they’ll explode and take all of the Western world with them.
The former seems far-fetched. It’s possible, as we all know of newspapers too blinded by moral relativism to have any idea what kind of backlash this would have sparked. But this doesn’t feel like that’s the case. I suspect it’s the latter.
And if it’s the latter, it’s succeeded beyond all imagination. Because now the whole world knows what happens. That poor cartoonist in his self-portrait sketch-- he tries to shield the paper (with its studiously inoffensive drawing) from prying eyes, but look how much good that does.
And what Leftist can help but sympathize with him?
I’d love to hear the Leunig/Rall/Fisk/Moore/etc reasoning that exonerates Hamas and its obviously popularly supported boycott versus the poor guy at the writing desk.
In other words, this may be a tipping point, where the Western Left finally realizes how fragile and precious a thing freedom of speech is, and that there are in fact some things worth fighting to defend.
And we’ll have Jyllands-Posten to thank for it.
Well, now look what's happening. Germany, Italy, Spain, and France are already recognizing that tipping point. Whether the newspapers reprinting the cartoons represent widespread popular opinion or not, they're consciously turning this issue into a bigger—much bigger—conflagration, one in which the long-anticipated clash between the diametrically opposite concepts of freedom of speech and religious law will finally occur in a forum that Westerners can't ignore: our own newspapers.
Eventually it'll show up on the evening news. The mainstream media won't be able to ignore the matter any longer, or refrain from publishing the cartoons without asking themselves uncomfortable questions about whether they're rank hypocrites of the highest order, affecting a sanctimonious stateless moral rectitude when it comes to politics and war, but meekly hiding when it comes to a story that touches on sensitive religious matters.
Sooner or later, our media decisionmakers will realize that allowing themselves to be intimidated by Islamic fundamentalism, and allowing themselves to be constrained by laws and guidelines that forbid ridicule on religious grounds, would forbid the ridicule of Christianity—one of our most cherished modern pastimes.
Besides which, they won't be able to ignore obvious outrages like, say, all people of Scandinavian descent being ordered out of the Gaza Strip, even if by some previously unknown terrorist group (hey, look where Hamas' career took it). And it's only going to get worse, too, now that the rest of Europe is joining the fray. Eventually the apologists for this kind of brittle cultural chauvinism will have to reluctantly take sides against it. CAIR will overplay its hand. And there'll be a whole groundswell of protest art—this time, braving all the inevitable comparisons to Nazi portrayals of Jews, and taking a stand against political correctness now that the stakes have been made clear to us. And who knows where it will all lead.
It may be too much to predict that we're witnessing the beginning of the great European cultural upheaval we've all been expecting. It won't be pretty, but it's better to have it happen sooner than later, because postponing it will just make it all the harder for everybody when it does happen.
UPDATE: Oh. Never mind, then.