Reason talks to Flemming Rose.
I am going to write a book about the cartoon crisis and I am going to compare the experience of the dissidents in the Soviet Union to what has happened to people like Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Ibn Warraq, Salman Rushdie and Irshad Manji.
Threat threat threat threat threat – that’s what’s happened to them, and to a lot of other people. Often the threat has been carried out.
reason: Were you surprised by the reaction of those who argued not for unfettered free speech, but “responsible speech?”
Rose: Well, no. I think many people betrayed their own ideals. The history of the left, for instance, is a history of confronting authority – be it religious or political authority – and always challenging religious symbols and figures. In this case, they failed miserably. I think the left is in a deep crisis in Europe because of their lack of willingness to confront the racist ideology of Islamism. They somehow view the Koran as a new version of Das Kapital and are willing to ignore everything else, as long as they continue to see the Muslims of Europe as a new proletariat.
Somehow indeed – the discrepancy between the two K books is large.
Last year, I visited Bernard Lewis at Princeton and he told me: “Your case in unique in a historical sense. Never before in modern times, on such a scale, have Muslims insisted upon applying Islamic law to what non-Muslims are doing in non-Muslim country. It has never happened before. And you can’t really compare the Rushdie affair, because he was perceived to be an apostate.”…Those people who say, “you offended one billion people,” or “you offended a weak minority,” they lack the understanding of the raw power game that was at play here…Naser Khader, a Danish parliamentarian who was very supportive of me and stood up in parliament and said “I am very offended by those who insist on an apology to one billion Muslims, because I am not offended by these cartoons.” But, he said, I am offended by being lumped into this grey mass of “one billion Muslims.”
Exactly. Imagine being a Muslim, and having everyone think you’re such a baby that you get offended that easily. (I’m a baby, I get offended very easily, so I know what it’s like!)
I think Manuel Barraso, who has a background in an authoritarian regime, understood the situation better than others, like, for instance, Tony Blair and Jack Straw, who behaved disastrously…A lot of governments and opinion makers in Europe and the West were driving this line that we have offended one billion people and we should be ashamed of ourselves, free speech and but responsible speech… all this crap…But what really bothers me today—and this hasn’t been reported very widely—is that right after the cartoon crisis, the Organization of the Islamic Conference at the United Nations sponsored a resolution condemning the “ridiculing of religion.” It didn’t pass, but in March of this year the United Nations Human Rights Council, which is the highest international body in the world for the protection of human rights, passed a resolution condoning state punishment of people criticizing religion…[C]ountries like Russia, Mexico and China supported the resolution. And in this resolution, they call on governments to pass laws or write provisions into their constitutions forbidding criticism of religion. This would give a free hand to authoritarian regimes around the world to clamp down on dissidents.
Damn right, as well as to clamp down on all disagreement with religion, which would be global theocracy with a vengeance.