Well, this didn’t take long at all, did it? Columnist Jakob Illeborg of The Guardian analyzed the contretemps over the Mohammed cartoons and the suicide bombing of the Danish embassy and reached the obvious conclusion. Obvious, that is, if one likes to contort every possible event into an indictment not of its perpetrators but of the Bush administration:
Though the prime minister claims he isn’t sure who carried out the attack, he may suspect that the Taliban, or like-minded fundamentalists, had a hand in it. Jason Burke’s article in the Guardian about false assumptions of al-Qaida’s imminent defeat, to some extent rings true in Denmark. The Danes are aligned with the US in the “war on terror” and the hawkish approach taken by the Bush administration internationally is reflected by a similarly tough position on Islam and Muslims in Denmark.
Wait a moment. Are the Danes (or the US, for that matter) rounding up Muslims and closing mosques? Have they begun to deport their entire Muslim population to Somalia, Pakistan, Iran, or Saudi Arabia? Has either nation banned Islam and its practices? Er, no. The “tough position” that the US and its allies take on Islam is that we will not tolerate radical Islamist terrorism, a position brought on by the terrorist murders of thousands of our citizens.
Monday’s attack, is of course, indefensible,
… wait for it …
but it raises questions about the wisdom of the much-debated cartoons and Danish reactions to Muslim wrath. Not because anything about any cartoon – no matter how provocative – justifies such acts of violence, but because the cartoons ended up playing into the hands of extremists who could utilise it to “prove” how badly the west behaves towards Muslims.
He should have stopped at indefensible. Anything past that rewards violence. The Danes did nothing that rationally led to the suicide attack on its embassy except practice free speech in criticizing the practices of the Islamists. Illeborg says Denmark lost its “tolerance”, but that’s an inversion. Which side proved themselves intolerant of criticism? It wasn’t the Danes.
In fact, the entire exercise can be used to see who supports free speech and who would rather appease terrorists with silence. Illeborg fails the test.
Denmark used to have a reputation as a liberal, consensus-seeking country advocating calm and reason, a country that managed to support the state of Israel while at same time actively encouraging better conditions for Palestinians. Whereas we used to have no problems understanding several sides of any given conflict, the Danes are increasingly seeing things in black and white terms. The “you are either with us or against us” policy of the current US government is certainly a view shared by many Danes when it comes to Islam. The “clash of civilisations” point made by Venstre is quite commonly held. On the whole, the debate in Denmark is mostly seen as an idealistic struggle between good an evil, with defenders of the cartoons and Denmark’s alignment with the US on international issues claiming that those who find the cartoons a provocation are betraying the core democratic values of western society.
First, this is another inversion. The Danes haven’t rejected “consensus” — the terrorists don’t want it and despise it. They aren’t interested in compromise, only submission. “Liberal” values, by the way, include dissent and the freedom to criticize, two values the terrorists despise most. That was the lesson to be learned from the Prophet Cartoons. When Danish newspapers printed these images, we did not see millions of Muslims rally for “consensus”, “calm”, or “reason”. They demanded blood, and they still do.
Illeborg wants Danes and the rest of the West to surrender its liberal values in order to buy a little peace. That’s practically the dictionary definition of appeasement.
David Thompson has more on this, an excellent fisking of the entire Illeborg piece. Be sure to read it all.