Tuesday, February 14, 2006

What Can We Do?

Several friends have asked me what they can do in response to the latest Islamic attack on free speech and Western values. I have a few thoughts, but would very much welcome additional suggestions from readers.

To begin, I note that the West already has all the physical means required to defend itself. What it so glaringly lacks is moral certainty and intellectual ammunition -- so this is where any effort must be placed.

On the moral front, I think it is vital to encourage and support all those who are standing up to Islamic intimidation. Possible actions include voicing public and private appreciation to authors such as Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Ibn Warraq, Theodore Dalrymple and the writers at ARI (in some cases you can leave comments on the websites where the articles appear, in others you have to send emails) as well as, where applicable, to the publishers and newspapers who give them a venue in which they can promote their views. It takes a lot of courage to stand up in the face of death threats and vilification, so I’m sure that knowing that some people actually appreciate it might make the task seem a little less futile and perhaps a touch less daunting.

More generally speaking, I think that everyone must proudly and consistently champion Western values --never apologizing for them nor appeasing those who attack them.

Other gestures such as buying Danish products, signing petitions, wearing Danish colors, etc. can also be helpful as a show of moral support. (HT to my Mom!!! for the petition link. I never expected to be receiving internet links from my parents, but am very happy and proud that such is the case!)

On the intellectual front, getting the right ideas out into the general culture is paramount. If one is inclined to writing, letters to the editor and editorials are one way to express the ideas, but so is passing on good essays and editorials to friends and acquaintances who might be interested. Contacting your government representatives is also important, whether it be to criticize such actions as the US State Department’s mealy-mouthed statement on the situation, or to inform them that you consider freedom of speech an inviolable right – and any failure to defend it will be remembered at election time. Forwarding them intellectual ammunition can also be valuable.

Finally, for those not involved in direct intellectual campaigning, if you have the means, you might consider using the principle of the division of labor to support and fund those intellectuals who are defending your values. In this light, a contribution to ARI seems appropriate. (I’m unaware of any other organization that take a consistent and fundamental stand on these types of issues, but obviously if they exist, they too should be supported.)


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