More on the UN Caricature Report

More on the UN Caricature Report March 24, 2006

I’d like to comment on a few more excerpts from the translation of the UN report. It’s stunning how morally myopic this report is and how thoroughly they manage to point all the blame in the wrong direction. To wit:

The caricatures published are the result of a contest launched by the newspaper in answer to allegations according to which the Danish cartoonists were so frightened by fundamentalist Moslems that they wouldn’t illustrate a biographical work on Muhammed. Thus the original motivation of the contest is the expression of a challenge and of an opposition to a group, the fundamentalist Moslems, suspected of causing an atmosphere of self-censorship.

Well yes, that’s right. The original purpose of the caricatures was to express opposition to the kind of violent intimidation that had resulted in self-censorship among writers and artists in Denmark. But the UN report neither mentions nor even considers the fact that that criticism was proven accurate by the violent response coming from the radical Islamic community all over the world. The phenomenon that this opposition was aimed at is not mythical, it’s very real. The cartoonists are living under multiple death threats over this, as many others have had to do. But that doesn’t seem to matter at all to the UN, as is made clear by this statement:

The dominating message of the caricatures was therefore to associate Islam with terrorism. The caricature relating to the sexual gratification of suicide bombers with virgin women suggests the return of a age-old historical islamophobic Western imagery: the association of Islam and its prophet with sexual depravity.

But here again, the accuracy is deemed irrelevant by the UN. I’ve got news for them – the idea that Muslim suicide bombers expect to be rewarded in heaven with 70 virgins is not an invention of any Danish cartoonist, it is something that the suicide bombers actually believe and have expressed quite plainly. CBS News interviewed a Palestinian suicide bomber in 2001 who declared:

“I described to him how God would compensate the martyr for sacrificing his life for his land. If you become a martyr, God will give you 70 virgins, 70 wives and everlasting happiness.”

This is a trademark belief of Islamic radicals. The Danish newspaper didn’t invent this idea, the bombers themselves did. Is the UN really saying that the presentation of true and accurate descriptions of the beliefs of these people is “Islamophobic”? If so, they have lost their minds. I can certainly understand why sane and decent Muslims object to such a portrayal, but the fact is that their complaint should be with their fellow Muslims whose behavior tars them, not with the messenger who points it out.

The fundamental principle which these articles express is the founding principle of all legal systems: any freedom or right finds its limit in the respect and the right of the other. Therefore, on the legal level, in particular with regard to its international commitments, the Danish Government was under an obligation to give its opinion, always respecting Freedom of Expression, not only on the impact the caricatures had on the liberties and rights of its community of 200,000 Moslems, but also on the impact on protection of law and order.

The caricatures had no impact whatsoever on the liberties and rights of Muslims, who remain as free to practice their religion today as they were before the caricatures were published. As far as the impact on law and order is concerned, it isn’t the caricatures that impacted law and order, it is the violent response of thugs and terrorists that has impacted law and order. Put the blame where it lies, not with those who offered accurate and entirely reasonable opinions, but on those who think that they have a right to kill those who offer reasonable opinions. This is the free speech equivalent of “she was asking for it, look how she was dressed”.

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