In the State of Denmark

Hitchens murmurs a gentle reproach or two.

The incredible thing about the ongoing Kristallnacht against Denmark…is that it has resulted in, not opprobrium for the religion that perpetrates and excuses it, but increased respectability!…And nobody in authority can be found to state the obvious and the necessary – that we stand with the Danes against this defamation and blackmail and sabotage. Instead, all compassion and concern is apparently to be expended upon those who lit the powder trail, and who yell and scream for joy as the embassies of democracies are put to the torch in the capital cities of miserable, fly-blown dictatorships. Let’s be sure we haven’t hurt the vandals’ feelings.

Let’s be sure we surrender as abjectly as possible.

Denmark will host a conference next month to promote religious dialogue following the uproar over the Prophet Muhammad cartoons, the Foreign Ministry announced Thursday. The government will also give “a significant financial contribution” to a UN program aimed at overcoming prejudice between Islam and the West, and support an Islamic festival in Copenhagen, Foreign Minister Per Stig Moeller said in a statement.

Will that be enough? Can we go home now? No?

He said the government was planning a range of initiatives to promote “respectful dialogue,” partly drawing on advice given by Muslim countries. “In Denmark there is a genuine respect for the religious feelings of other people and we acknowledge that many Muslims felt gravely insulted by these controversial drawings,” the foreign minister said.

And so we will grovel and grovel and grovel just as hard and long as necessary until somebody finally tells us we’ve groveled enough. We’ve taken the phone off the hook – we may be on the floor for some time.

Back to ‘No groveling, thanks’ Hitchens.

Could things become any more sordid and cynical? By all means. In a mindless attempt at a tu quoque, various Islamist groups and regimes have dug deep into their sense of wit and irony and proposed a trade-off. You make fun of “our” prophet and we will deny “your” Holocaust…As it happens, I am one of the few people to have publicly defended David Irving’s right to publish, and I think it outrageous that he is in prison in Austria for expressing his opinions. But my attachment to free speech is at least absolute and consistent. Those who incite murder and arson, or who silkily justify it, are incapable of rising above the childish glee that culminates in the assertion that two wrongs make a right.

And then he zeroes in on the real problem.

Within a short while—this is a warning—the shady term “Islamophobia” is going to be smuggled through our customs. Anyone accused of it will be politely but firmly instructed to shut up, and to forfeit the constitutional right to criticize religion. By definition, anyone accused in this way will also be implicitly guilty. Thus the “soft” censorship will triumph, not from any merit in its argument, but from its association with the “hard” censorship that we have seen being imposed over the past weeks.

Or, I would say, that along with its association with the well-meaning but dead wrong idea that it’s ‘progressive’ and lefty and kind to defend religious zealots against their critics, provided the religious zealots in question are Muslim.

You may have noticed the recurrence of the term “One point two billion Muslims.” A few years ago, I became used to the charge that in defending Salman Rushdie, say, I had “offended a billion Muslims.” Evidently, the number has gone up since I first heard this ridiculous complaint. But observe the implied threat. There is not just safety in numbers, but danger in numbers. How many Danes or Jews or freethinkers are there? You can see what the “spokesmen” are insinuating by this tactic of mass psychology and mobbishness.

Yup! Remember the pope? He said the same thing. Insult, belief, billion, people. So what, you authoritarian overdressed fraud?

I feel terrible that I have taken so long to get around to this, but I wonder if anyone might feel like joining me in gathering outside the Danish Embassy in Washington, in a quiet and composed manner, to affirm some elementary friendship. Those who like the idea might contact me at, and those who live in other cities with Danish consulates might wish to initiate a stand for decency on their own account.

If any readers are in Washington tomorrow and amble along to the Danish embassy at 3200 Whitehaven Street (off Massachusetts Avenue) between noon and 1 p.m., let us know how it goes. And give my regards to Mr Hitchens.

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