Geert Wilders, a conservative Dutch politician has become the latest projectile in the world’s cultural war between society and Islam. Wilders has been receiving death threats because of a 15 minute film, Fitna (strife in Arabic), posted on the Net, a film the Muslim world deems offensive because it juxtaposes images of Muslim violence with passages from the Quran. Given that the perpetrators of such violence regularly cite these same passages as justification for their actions, merely depicting this connection in a film would seem uncontroversial. But Wilders is fast discovering that Political Correctness doesn’t work that way.
A logical person would expect the world’s politicians and journalists to jump to Wilder’s defense to make such a film but then one would be living on another planet, a planet where people do not happily repudiate their most basic freedoms in the name of Political Correctness.
The Dutch government sought to ban the film outright and the European Union foreign ministers publicly condemned it, as did UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and Dutch TV refused to air it unedited. So when Wilders declared his intention to release the film on the Internet, his US web host, Network Solutions, took his website offline. Liveleak, a British vido-sharing website aired the film in March where is received over 3 million views in the first 24 hours but the next day, Liveleak was terrorized into censorship by threats to their staff. Of course, by the time Liveleak removed it, the film had already spread too far into the Net to be suppressed.
The Muslim world called for boycotts of Dutch products and the Dutch embarrassed themselves through ads of appeasement. The Muslim world responded with protests, attacks on embassies, attacks on Dutch troops and the call for Wilder’s murder. Seems that Wilders, like other Danish cartoonists, has been vilified for “seeking to inflame” the Muslim community. But even if this had been his intention, this criticism represents an almost supernatural coincidence of moral blindness and political imprudence.
The Muslim community appear to be far more concerned about perceived slights to their religion than about the atrocities committed daily in its name. The position of most seems to be: Islam is a religion of peace, and if you say that it isn’t, we will kill you. And our capitulations in the face of these threats have had what is often called “a chilling effect” on our exercise of free speech.
What about the freedom-loving, moderate Muslims? No doubt there many who fit this description but vocal moderates are very difficult to find. Wherever moderate Islam does announce itself, one often discovers frank Islamism lurking just a euphemism or two beneath the surface. This subterfuge is rendered all but invisible to the general public by political correctness, wishful thinking, and white guilt.
The connection between the doctrine of Islam and Islamist violence is simply not open to dispute. It’s not that critics of religion speculate that such a connection might exist: the point is that Islamists themselves acknowledge and demonstrate this connection at every opportunity and to deny it is to retreat within a fantasy world of political correctness and religious apology where many western politicians and scholars appear to live. All of their talk about how benign Islam really is and about how the problem of fundamentalism exists in all religions, only obfuscates what may be the most pressing issue of our time: Islam, as it is currently understood and practiced by vast numbers of the world’s Muslims, is antithetical to civil society.
We owe it to the moderates of the Muslim world to hold their religionists to the same standards of civility and reasonableness that we take for granted in all other people. Only our willingness to openly criticize Islam for its all-too-obvious failings can make it safe for Muslim moderates, secularists, apostates, and, indeed, women, to rise up and reform their faith.
And, if anyone in this debate can be creditably accused of racism, it is the western apologists and multiculturalists who deem Arabs and Muslims too immature to shoulder the responsibilities of civil discourse. As Ayaan Hirsi Ali pointed out, there is a calamitous form of “affirmative action” at work, where Muslim immigrants are systematically exempted from western stands of moral order in the name of paying respect to the glaring pathologies in their culture. He has also observed that there is a quasi-racist double-think on display whenever western powers trumpet that Islam is peace, all the while taking heroic measures to guard against the next occasion when the barbarians run amok in response to a film, cartoon, opera, novel, beauty pageant or the mere naming of a teddy bear.
It is time we recognize that those who claim the “right not to be offended” have also announced their hatred of civil society. We must realize that it is the use of death threats that has given radical Muslims the power to suppress free speech. If we don’t reverse this trend, we will succumb to totalitarianism. The bullies will win. Political Correctness and Sharia law will rule.
Source: Sam Harris, “Losing Our Spines to Save Our Necks,” Huffington Post. You can read Mr. Harris’s article in full at this link.