Friday, February 17, 2006

Moderate Islam

Here are two good articles, both purportedly on the myth of moderate Islam, but each of which makes other valuable points. The first, from Andrew McCarthy at NRO, reports on new aspects of our State Department's absolute hypocrisy, which can only be explained by an over-riding wish to appease. As McCarthy puts it (in one of a number of examples):
It was only last October, you see, when Alberto Fernandez, newly minted by Secretary Condoleezza Rice as director for public diplomacy at State's Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs, made one of his obligatory "live dialogue" appearances on Islamonline.net. After cooing about the new Iraqi constitution, taking pains to stress that it expressly "recognizes the role of Islam" (thanks in no small part to State's labors), Fernandez proceeded straight to the required gushing over Qaradawi.

But wait a second. Hasn't Qaradawi has been banned from the U.S. for promoting terrorism? Surely the State Department can mount a full-throated defense of that, right? After all, isn't our moral compass supposed to be the Bush Doctrine — the one that says "you're either with us or with the terrorists"? Is it really that hard for State to say Qaradawi is a disgusting character promoting a noxious agenda, rather than a model of moderation?

Apparently. Such a choice, our chic-sensitive public-diplomacy director opined, was "for the Muslim Umma to decide." As for the rest of us, Fernandez would brook no denying that it is "important to listen to intelligent and thoughtful voices from the region like Sheikh Qaradawi, ... an important figure that deserves our attention."
Read the whole article. (HT Jihad Watch) (Note that in reprinting the quote above I fixed a typo in the original.)

The second is by Charles Krauthammer and does a good job of naming the issue involved in reprinting the cartoons:
After multiple arsons, devastating boycotts and threats to cut off hands and heads, the issue is no longer news value, i.e., whether a newspaper needs to publish them to inform the audience about what is going on. The issue now is solidarity.

The mob is trying to dictate to Western newspapers, indeed Western governments, what is a legitimate subject for discussion and caricature. The cartoons do not begin to approach the artistic level of Salman Rushdie's prose, but that's not the point. The point is who decides what can be said and what can be drawn within the precincts of what we quaintly think of as the free world.

The mob has turned this into a test case for freedom of speech in the West. The German, French and Italian newspapers that republished these cartoons did so not to inform but to defy -- to declare that they will not be intimidated by the mob.
HT Gus Van Horn

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