A principle virtually no one contests

Speaking of Al Jazeera…last January it had some issues with Charlie Hebdo. National Review saw the emails.

As journalists worldwide reacted with universal revulsion at the massacre of some of their own by Islamic jihadists in Paris, Al Jazeera English editor and executive producer Salah-Aldeen Khadr sent out a staff-wide e-mail.

Khadr urged his employees to ask if this was “really an attack on ‘free speech,’” discuss whether “I Am Charlie” is an “alienating slogan,” caution viewers against “making this a free speech aka ‘European Values’ under attack binary [sic],” and portray the attack as “a clash of extremist fringes.” “Defending freedom of expression in the face of oppression is one thing; insisting on the right to be obnoxious and offensive just because you can is infantile,” Khadr wrote. “Baiting extremists isn’t bravely defiant when your manner of doing so is more significant in offending millions of moderate people as well. And within a climate where violent response — however illegitimate — is a real risk, taking a goading stand on a principle virtually no one contests is worse than pointless: it’s pointlessly all about you.”

Excuse me? A principle virtually no one contests? If virtually no one contests it, what were all those dead bodies then? If virtually no one contests it, why did the Kouachi brothers murder 12 people at Charlie Hebdo? If virtually no one contests it, why do so many people get in such a rage of opposition to it? What a cowardly, blaming, contemptuous, horrible thing to say. The whole point is that a great many people absolutely do contest it, and a great many of them contest it with violence. They contest it by murdering people. Those guys with machetes in Bangladesh? They contest it. Those people who draw up lists of people to be killed in Bangladesh? They contest it. Those people who threaten to kill my dear friend Taslima? They contest it. That guy who shot up the conference in Copenhagen, killing a Danish film director, and then later killed a guard outside a synagogue? He contested it. I could go on. People do contest it and they use force, they use murder, to make their contesting stick. So yes, actually, the people at Charlie Hebdo were bravely defiant.

His denunciation of Charlie Hebdo’s publication of cartoons mocking the prophet Mohammed didn’t sit well with some Al Jazeera English employees.

Hours later, U.S.-based correspondent Tom Ackerman sent an email quoting a paragraph from a January 7 blog post by Ross Douthat. The New York Times’ Douthat (film critic for National Review) argued that cartoons like the ones that drove the radical Islamists to murder must be published “because the murderers cannot be allowed for a single moment to think that their strategy can succeed.”

I hate having to agree with Ross Douthat, but these things happen.

H/t Lady Mondegreen

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