Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Allah, Boycotts, Cartoons, Identity Politics, and Hypocrisy

What a crazy week for the world, all because of some cartoons. Don’t get me wrong; I am aware that cartoons are for grownups, too. But it seems that the publication of a series of cartoons of Mohammed, the Prophet of Islam, has created a bit of a stir in the world and the blogosphere.

Let me be clear; many of the links I will put in this piece go on to link to the cartoons in question. I will not try to link to them directly because I think they are offensive. I don’t directly link to cartoons mocking Jesus, Moses, Buddha, the Blessed Virgin, etc. so I won’t link to something like this, either. However, I am not responsible for outside content and some pages may, indeed, have the cartoons.

I also support the rights of Muslims around the world to boycott Danish products, rename ‘Danish’ pastries as ‘Mohammed’s’ pastries, burn the flags of other nations, march in protest, write angry letters, etc. I think that the attacks on various Muslim groups on Danish and other embassies is obviously illegal and needs to be stopped immediately. But the rest is no different than what any aggrieved group does when offended. Such acts are a key ingredient in an open, free, civil society.

Muslims do have a right to be upset. Even if there were no general ban on or dislike of depictions of Allah and Mohammed, the cartoons are simply offensive. The artist who drew them must have known that they would be seen as offensive and any reasonable person would have suspected that a violent response was possible. This also goes for the editors of the newspaper that printed them and all who reprinted them. Anyone who states that they didn’t expect trouble as a result of the cartoons is being dishonest.

Yes, it took time for the cartoons to stir things up. Yes, other inflammatory items unrelated to the cartoons were included in the evidence used to stir a response. All true. But it took time for the outraged response to the ‘artwork’ that was seen as hurtful and/or blasphemous by Christians, as well as Jews, in a number of instances shows that it simply takes time for people to learn about these incidents.

Despite my belief that Muslims have a right to be upset, they do not have a right to attack embassies and missions or attack people! As Robert Heinlein once said, incitement to riot is no excuse for a riot. Like it or not, however, Muslims do seem to have a history of reacting violently to a wide range of comments about Islam and Mohammed.

So, to sum up: a group of Danish editors and artists create cartoons that would abviously offend Muslims. Muslims do, indeed, get offended and react with boycotts, flag burnings, and violence.

However, all of this is just the background to what I want to look at. And what I want to look at is the hypocrisy of identity politics.

Identity politics is, shortly, the concept that politics is based upon groups and that groups are defined by some inherent ‘identity’ (for lots of details, follow the link). Group identities are usually based upon concepts like skin color/race, gender/sexual orientation, disability, etc., and are also usually defined as disadvantaged, or having a lower social, political, or other position within the general society. While not unique to the Left, identity politics is often integral to Liberals’ political theories and activities in America. One outgrowth is multiculturalism, or the concept that individual groups should remain as they are and be allowed to practice as they wish, and it has led to tolerance being held as one of the highest virtues of a free society.

But that is a problem, because tolerance and identity politics inevitably clash in the realm of multiculturalism. As an example that will be stark to my devout Christian readers, any opposition to homosexuality, its depiction, public demonstration of homosexuality, etc. are immediately branded as homophobia; a bigot, a small minded person, a hater, etc. As a result of the argument that being opposed to homosexuality, its practice, laws normalizing it, etc., being called bigoted, there are now laws on the books that make opposing homosexual a crime; hate speech laws make speaking out against homosexuality. Even in the US speech codes at schools are designed to punish people who speak out against ‘protected groups’, such as gays.

While the gay rights movement is openly political with their attempts to change moral and social attitudes through propaganda and legislation, their opponents risk breaking the law for opposing them. Thus, one side of the debate is free to speak, the other is not. While gay activists label their opponents as bigots and Nazis, while the other side of what should be a debate cannot express itself in any terms without being attacked in some manner. Free speech for one side and not the other, it seems.

But now the diversity crowd is stuck between a rock and a hard place. The same impulse that led MSM outlets to refer to the Muslim rioters in France as merely ‘youths’ to avoid offending Muslims now means that they must struggle to come up with ‘root causes’ for the violence sparked by cartoons. While their advocacy of ‘free speech’ (as they define it) prompts them to call all those who would bar ‘art’ demeaning to Christians as fascist they then decide to not publish the cartoons because they are ‘offensive’. Thus, it is acceptable, even noble, to denigrate and attack one religion, but not another.

I do not think this is a situation where Muslims are violent and Christians aren’t, so the press fears Muslims. No, I think this is much deeper and more dangerous. I truly think that they do think it is noble to attack Christians (the majority of people they hate are Christians) and not OK to attack Muslims (Muslims are poor, oppressed people). But they oppose violence. The result? They have no answer.

Here is the key to the inevitable doom of Liberalism; its contradictions will destroy it. All groups may speak freely except for the ones that are largely Judeo-Christian. Groups that oppose Judeo-Christian values must be allowed to speak. The rights and freedoms enjoyed by Liberals derive from Judeo-Christian civilization. The end result is that modern Liberalism is a suicide pact; they hate the source of their own rights and freedoms as they support those who would take away their rights and freedoms. If they ‘lose’ to conservatives, they will slowly fade away. If they succeed, they will slowly be enslaved. Either way, they do not matter in the long run.

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