Attention media: one of your most important jobs right now is to get all Democrat politicians on the record as to whether they support the free-speech rights of Americans to draw cartoons of Mohammed. We need to know how many ifs, ands, ors, and above all, “buts” they need to choke out an answer. This isn’t a political gotcha game – it’s a vitally important question that bears directly on the future of the Republic.
Let me get the head of the Democrat Party, Barack Obama, started with a nice, simple, crystal-clear statement that builds off something he famously said at the United Nations, back when he was trying to blame his appalling failure in Libya on a YouTube video:
The future must not belong to those who shoot at people who draw cartoons of the prophet of Islam.
There are no qualifiers necessary here, no “nuance,” no shades of grey, no weak-kneed dissertations on whether drawing a cartoon of Mohammed is rude. The right of Americans to draw those pictures, and be protected from violent reprisals, is absolute. If you’re not ready to stand up and be counted, then America doesn’t need you right now. Sit quietly and await further instructions from those who demand your submission.
Criticizing the content of Mohammed cartoons is fine. That’s speech answering speech. But speech was not answered with speech in Texas on Sunday night. It was answered with bullets. That’s a threat we need to defeat, not an idea to be argued about. Art critiques and sensitivity lectures should wait until later. It is vitally important, above all other things, to send the message that suppressing free expression with violence is absolutely wrong. It’s a declaration of war on American values that our police, military and patriotic citizens must stand ready to answer.
If any part of your response to the Garland attack involves blaming the people who were fired upon, you are conceding the idea of responding to speech with murder has merit. If you think this idea is defensible primarily when Muslims do the shooting, thanks to some post-colonialist garbage you swallowed from the media or a college professor, then what you’re doing is called submission.
Describing the Garland event as “anti-Islamic” is also an act of submission – a concession that Islam Is Different, entitled to considerations that no other religion is given by a secular liberal culture that prides itself on “irreverence.” For decades, this culture has gone absolutely bananas when accused of intolerance or bigotry for mocking Christianity and Judaism. Don’t you dare describe crucifix-in-urine “artists,” or militant atheists who say religious faith is a mental defect, as “anti-Christian!”
We’re constantly told that Christians must accept irreverence and mockery from those who don’t share their faith, because they also don’t share Christian piety. To them, Bible stories are works of fiction little different from epic fantasy tales (with rock monsters swapped in for Ents!) Jesus was just an interesting philosopher, and a crucifix is just a little bit of metal and wood. For the most part, Christians do accept this. Even their verbal protests tend to be relatively restrained. When Christians protest strenuously, liberals treat them as lunatics and tell campfire stories about their Last Temptation of Christ freak-outs for generations. At this point, Christians are hunted down and destroyed for politely refusing to hypothetically participate in actions they find morally objectionable.
But with Islam, all of us – Christian, Jew, Hindu, and atheist – are supposed to accept the sharia prohibition against drawing Mohammed or mocking Islamic faith as a valid restriction. It’s a piety we’re all supposed to respect – not because we believe in it, but because we accept that Muslims will enforce it with violence. No jihad outburst is complete without some imbecile saying that insulting Islam is the equivalent of “shouting fire in a crowded theater” because a violent response is to be anticipated.
Not only do the people saying this misunderstand what the “fire in a crowded theater” precedent means, but they’re missing the rather obvious difference that crowded theaters don’t follow people around and pounce on them when they shout “Fire!” Non-Muslims should be under no obligation to treat every public and private venue as a tinderbox that can be set ablaze by the slightest disrespect to Islamic sensibilities. No one seems to think performances of a play such as “The Book of Mormon” should be treated as shouting “Fire!” from the stage of a crowded theater.
(By the way, I noticed some pushback against the New York Times for supposedly describing the Garland event as “anti-Islam” on Twitter, but at least in the version of their Tweet I saw, they said “anti-Islamist.” That’s different – Islamism is shorthand for Islamic fascism, i.e. shooting at people who draw cartoons of Mohammed.)
The alternative to submission is defiance. There are no other choices, because those who demand submission will not stop until they have been defeated. The slightest concession encourages them… such as refusing to print images of the very cartoons that filled the Texas night with gunfire.
The more aggressive Islamists are looking for surrender, but their less energetic supporters applaud concessions from non-believers as righteous – it’s good that everyone learns not to draw cartoons of Mohammed, pats on the head all around! The only way to disabuse them of this misconception is to resist, firmly and consistently. Americans will always be permitted to draw such cartoons, and Muslims will always be permitted to denounce them.
At least, that’s how it should work. In today’s America of micro-aggressions and trigger warnings, people of the Left have grown very comfortable with using coercive force to stifle speech they find objectionable. Islamists are thumping their guns down on a game table already littered with boycotts and oppressive anti-religious government regulations. Prestige in our degenerate left-wing culture is earned by silencing dissent; the power players are the groups no one is permitted to disagree with, the people who cannot be mocked.
This leaves most Democrats, and far too many other politicians, ill-positioned to explain why robust free speech must be defended without compromise. That’s why it is vitally important for the media to get them on the record, and ask for their unqualified defense of the people who came under attack in Garland on Sunday night. No one who fails to provide such a swift and simple defense is qualified to hold public office in the United States of America, at any level. It’s doubtful they’re even qualified to be art critics.
Update, 1:15 PM EST: President Obama has yet to make a public statement himself, but his spokesman Josh Earnest hit the right notes on Monday, as related by the Dallas Morning News:
“There is no act of expression, even if it’s offensive, that justifies an act of violence,” press secretary Josh Earnest told reporters aboard Air Force One as the president flew to New York for fund-raising and a TV appearance with David Letterman.
“The president was informed last night of the violence outside Dallas,” Earnest said, condemning “extremists” who have responded with violence after expressions they find offensive. “We have seen extremists try to use expressions that they considered to be offensive as a way to justify violence not only in this country but around the world, and in the mind of the president there is no form of expression that would justify an act of violence.”