Earthlings
Cinematic

Countermeasures

Speaking of pious opportunism, here’s a piece by Robert Tracinski from 2006 on the lessons of the MoToons saga, which I think bear repeating. 

[Republishing the cartoons] is not merely a symbolic expression of support; it is a practical countermeasure against censorship. Censorship — especially the violent, anarchic type threatened by Muslim fanatics — is effective only when it can isolate a specific victim, making him feel as if he alone bears the brunt of the danger. What intimidates an artist or writer is not simply some Arab fanatic in the street carrying a placard that reads “Behead those who insult Islam.” What intimidates him is the feeling that, when the beheaders come after him, he will be on his own, with no allies or defenders — that everyone else will be too cowardly to stick their necks out.

The answer, for publishers, is to tell the Muslim fanatics that they can’t single out any one author, or artist, or publication. The answer is to show that we’re all united in defying the fanatics. That’s what it means to show solidarity by re-publishing the cartoons. The message we need to send is: if you want to kill anyone who publishes those cartoons, or anyone who makes cartoons of Muhammad, then you’re going to have to kill us all. If you make war on one independent mind, you’re making war on all of us. And we’ll fight back… 

This is the final lesson of the cartoon jihad. The real issue at stake is not just censorship versus freedom, but something much deeper: the need to recognise the real essence of the West. The distinctive power and vibrancy of our culture, the source of our liberty, our happiness, and our unprecedented prosperity, is our Enlightenment tradition of regard for the unfettered reasoning mind, left free to follow the evidence wherever it leads.

And from an earlier post, here’s Salman Rushdie on his experience of the same.

When people said they didn’t publish [the cartoons] out of respect for Muslims, what they meant is they didn’t publish them because they were afraid of their offices getting bombed. And when you create that kind of climate of fear, when you concede… you don’t as a result have less intimidation… As a result you have more intimidation…

[T]he question is how do you respond to intimidation, and do you give in to it or do you not give in to it. I think that when the intimidation became as heavy as it did, the only proper response was everybody should have published the cartoons the next day. And not to do that was a way of showing that threats work.

Exactly. It’s a strange, though common, logic that leads a person to believe handing over his lunch money will keep the bully from calling again.

Related. And.   

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