Wednesday, February 08, 2006

ARI Media

ARI has put out several good letters to the editor and editorials discussing the disastrous response to the Islamists' threat to free speech and to Western values in general. The letters can be found on their letters page, and the editorials on the op-ed page. I particularly liked Alex Epstein's "Muslim Opinion" Be Damned which argues that it is completely irrational to appease Muslim opinion, and Onkar's The Twilight of Freedom of Speech which indicates the deeper roots of the disgusting response of our leaders.

The second editorial also captures the dejection I feel about the chances of our civilization surviving, particularly given that Iran seems close to having a nuclear bomb, and that there is little doubt they would be willing to use it.

2 Comments:

Blogger Wolfgang said...

I like Onkar's analysis, but I think we should not forget one crucial point: some people prefer silence because the have angst. There are threats and acts of violence by Islamists and this atmosphere of intimidation causes people to refrain from condeming the evildoers.

2:00 AM  
Blogger Amit Ghate said...

Hi Wolfgang,

I agree with your point -- it is deplorable that individuals are put in this position because their own governments won’t perform the single thing they are charged with doing, i.e. protecting their citizens’ rights. However, I don’t think that the piece in question denies it. For instance Onkar says:

"In the face of the intimidation and murder of European authors, film makers and politicians by Islamic militants, a few European newspapers have the courage to defend their freedom of speech: they publish twelve cartoons to test whether it's still possible to criticize Islam. They discover it isn't. Muslims riot, burn embassies, and demand the censorship and death of infidels. The Danish cartoonists go into hiding; if they weren't afraid to speak before, they are now." (emphasis added)

This to me acknowledges the issue you bring up and implies that the individuals are right to be fearful. And, in fact, the cartoonists are heroes for even having tried to assert their rights, but unfortunately their government (and Western governments generally) quickly betrayed them (in the name of self-sacrifice).

Also, I think that it is important to understand that some of the discussion in the editorial is aimed at the national level while other parts apply to the individual.

Militarily and politically, the question is what should we do as a nation -- not as individuals standing alone. There is no question that, as a nation, we have the physical power to wipe out the threat, i.e. we could easily take out Iran, Saudi Arabia, Syria and any other nation that actively threatens us or sponsors those who do, but what we lack are the ideas, specifically the morality, required for us to act.

And given that we cannot act due to lack of ideas, the question then reverts to the level of the individual -- since ideas do not pertain to the group per se. And here the key is for each man to begin by first examining his premises and clarifying his own thinking and only then trying to convince others, including his nation’s leaders, of what is right and how they must act.

So, in my opinion, as of yet, it is not necessary for an individual to challenge the fundamentalist Muslims directly, but it is imperative that he work diligently to have his government and society do so. I fear, however, that if current trends continue and the West does not regain a modicum of moral certainty, soon there will be no such luxury, and every individual will have no choice but to confront Islam at every turn: either submitting to its arbitrary edicts or suffering the unspeakable consequences. (And if not Islam then some other theocractic doctrine.)

4:45 PM  

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