Chris Ware, Animated
Friday Ephemera

It's Okay to Dislike Islam

Further to this piece, and this and this, the BBC reports that the editor of the satirical magazine, Charlie Hebdo, has been acquitted. A French court rejected accusations by the Grand Mosque of Paris and other Islamic groups who claimed the magazine had insulted Muslims and had incited hatred against them by reprinting cartoons of Muhammad. Of the blog posts I've seen reporting this news, Oliver Kamm makes the strongest point, and one that's all too rarely heard:

Note, however, one aspect of the judgement, according to the BBC report, that troubles me: The cartoons were covered by freedom of expression laws and were not an attack on Islam, but fundamentalists, it said.Do freedom of expression laws not cover an attack on Islam? It is essential that they should. There is nothing wrong with an attack on Islam (or any other sacred belief). There is nothing wrong with giving offence to religious groups. The judgement appears implicitly to reject these principles. Defenders of a free society must assert them militantly.

Let me repeat some of that, because it bears repeating, and probably more than once:

There is nothing wrong with an attack on Islam (or any other sacred belief).

One of the creeping, unanalysed myths of our time is that it is somehow wrong to dislike Islam, or any part thereof, and wrong to take a dim view of its tenets and demands, and wrong to take a still dimmer view of the figure who founded it. I can practically hear the distant tutting and grunts of disapproval. Poor Islam. Poor Muslims. Their beliefs are being mocked. How hurtful. How 'racist.' How terribly unfair.

No. It's not unfair at all. What's unfair is a demand for unearned deference and a unilateral exemption from the testing of ideas. What's unfair, indeed despicable, are efforts by Islamic groups to cow dissent and stifle criticism with a well-rehearsed pantomime of victimhood and the projection of false motives. Pretending to be hurt in order to assert one's will over others, even violently, or to gain unreciprocated favours, or to exert control over what others may say and think, is cowardly and malign. Let me say that once again. It's cowardly and malign.

As I argued here,

Religious freedom is presumed to entail sparing believers any hint that others do not share their beliefs, and indeed may find them ludicrous. There is, apparently, no corresponding obligation for believers to embrace ideas that are not clearly risible, monstrous or disgusting. When given a moment's thought, this protectionist claim is decidedly fascistic in its practical implications. If believers wish to be insulated from any differing opinion, and even statements of fact, they would have to create a closed religious order, somewhere atop a mountain where reality can to some extent be avoided.

Alternatively, likeminded believers could strive to impose upon society a reactionary and intolerant mindset in which intellectual enquiry and dissent are punishable by imprisonment or death. Failing that, a climate of pre-emptive self-censorship, fear and unilateral deference would no doubt be a start. And, ultimately, one has to wonder what kind of 'faith' requires protection of this kind. If a prideful and supremacist ideology requires the punitive eradication of alternative ideas, then what kind of ideology are we dealing with, and just how superior is it?

This is not an entirely trivial point, and it's one I suspect I'll have to restate at depressingly regular intervals. For more on censorship, dominance and the passive-aggressive jihad, see here and here.

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Comments

mww

Spot on, as usual. It is interesting to see the MCB's reaction - admitting, through grated teeth, that it was the right "legal" verdict, but asserting at the same time that it was actually a "moral" question. As if caricaturing Muhammed was somehow an immoral act (which it might be for a Muslim but certainly is not for anyone else). And, of course, they hint darkly at racist motivations too.

Abdurahman Jafar: I don’t think it was ever a strong case. It’s about the right to publish and freedom of expression. It’s about respecting certain cultural, racial norms and sensitivities. Personally, I think it’s the right decision. It’s not a legal issue; it’s a moral one.

David Thompson

MWW,

Yes, I did have to wonder about the bizarre reference to "racial norms.”

“As if caricaturing Muhammad was somehow an immoral act…”

There is, I think, a strong case to be made for the immorality of denying Muhammad’s less savoury deeds and ‘revelations’, and of denying their relevance to acts of barbarity today. And I’m pretty sure there’s a moral case to be made against those who presume to intimidate anyone who dares to register such things.

Randall

I wonder how long it is before prohibition of criticising Islam will be justified by national security concerns.

Actually, such concerns are really the only reason it is even an issue, the real question is how long will it be before they ADMIT that it is national security and not sensitivity/tolerance/diversity/blah blah... that is behind Europe's sudden interest in legally protecting (some) believers from criticism.

Always On Watch

passive-aggressive jihad

What an excellent term! I've never thought of the different kinds of jihad in that way, but passive-agressive is the perfect description.

BTW, I found your blog via a comment you left over at LionHeart's.

sheik er'mami

Thank you so much for this exceptionally well written article. Making sense has become more important than ever in our PeeCee-infected 'tolerant' society where 'tolerance' has become the latest all consuming cult, a cult that tolerates everything except us, the hosts....

http://sheikyermami.com/2007/03/23/dont-worry-its-okay-to-dislike-islam/

alarmedpigfarmer

The very fact that this was put to trial at all was a substantial victory for Islam. And a shameful commentary on what's idealized in EUrabia nowadays. Both tend to chill free speech when it's most urgently needed.

After all, if you can't disrepect Islam, what can you disrespect?

For example, I disrespect the nodding HIV-infected junkie laying in the park down the street. Similarly, I disrespect all Moslems for their adherence to this awful and obtrusive ideology called Islam.

Islofob IS-1

Very well said, thank you. I am looking forward to reading and hearing more.

ron

For the 21st century I was expecting more science,more medical advances,more sophisticated political science and what did I get? ISLAM.
Instantly organized street demos and riots at the drop of a hat. Media recognition of crazed idiots whose strongest desire is to put me in an oven,a muslim neighbor with two wives who is constantly threatening in a veiled fashion,not for what I ever did but for my label and I am not supposed to critizise their absurd beliefs which is setting us up for a thousand years of violent struggle?
Future generations will curse us for our criminal negligence.But of course I had no say in the matter. But I will speak out when and where I can and this or that muslim this or that can stick it where there is no sunshine.

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