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The Cartoons, Weekend Edition Part 2

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In the very disappointing “Kingdom of Heaven” film from last year, the ambitious Guy de Lusignan whispers to Reynald, “Give me a war.” Reynald responds “That’s what I do.”

Some of the commentary on the cartoons in the farther reaches of the internet has that quality to it –of a desire to throw off the subterfuge and get on with the “clash of civilizations.”

I see that Jordan’s King Abdullah visited some areas in Mississippi and Louisiana that were hammered by Katrina.

And in Lebanon, it looks like the Syrian secret police got their hat trick when it comes to burned embassies.

There are allies and enemies of the United States among the nations that are home to most of the world’s 1.3 billion Muslims.

Jordan is an ally; Syria is an enemy. Did the cartoons help Jordan or Syria?

Press freedom protects the right to assist the enemies of the West, and the New York Times’ publication of the NSA story proves that. As Porter Goss testified last week, that leak caused “very serious” damage to our national security.

Defending the right to publish offensive material and material that compromises the national security doesn’t mean and shouldn’t mean having to defend the content published. And it certainly doesn’t mean having to reprodice the material.

Two additional notes.

Some are arguing that the cartoon with Mohammed wearing a bomb isn’t offensive, a very different argument from the “cartoons are offensive, but the West defens the right to be oofensive.”. Would a cartoon of Christ’s crown of thorns transformed into sticks of TNT after an abortion clinic bombing be offensive? Of course it would be, though of course Christians would not riot or burn embassies in response. At least begin with the obvious: Some of the cartoons were offensive.

Finally, most of the commentary on the cartoons seems to me to be off point. I have yet to see any commentator –in the U.S. at least– who is demanding the Danish government apologize or that press freedom be restricted in any way. I haven’t seen any commentator argue that threats aginst the papers that published the cartoons are other than evil, or that the burning of embassies or other manifestations of jihadist rage are anything but condemnable.

But the central issue is largely unaddressed: Does the press in the West owe the war effort against the jihadists nothing, or even anything at all? The jihadists are hungry for information and for propaganda. If the West’s media is eager to supply either or both, there isn’t much anyone can do to stop that supply –nor should there be– except via careful reminders to responsible journalists that there’s a war on, and everything that is printed is part of that war.

Some of my e-mail is full of the predictable “We are already at war with Islam” nonsense. We aren’t, and we should do everything in our power to prevent such a catastrophe. From Soxblog:

I believe that the vast majority of people, regardless of what faith they are born into, will opt for peace and prosperity over war and hardship if they have such a choice available to them. The argument that Muslims are inherently different from all other peoples in this regard is fatuous in the extreme. Examples of hundreds of millions of Muslims who have chosen a lifestyle that doesn’t feature violent Jihad is easily attainable.

None of this makes their dangerous co-religionists any more cuddly or less threatening. The menace posed by the Jihadist mentality is undeniable. Calling it out and identifying it is a necessary precursor to fighting it.

But demonizing a billion people because of the faith they were born into is not.

Many commentators want to define the debate as an either/or choice between the cartoonists and the jihadists. That’s not the debate at all, and suggests an inability to grasp the real complexity here. It is not only consistent but compelling to both demand that the jihadists who threaten the press or who burn embassies be defeated and to also conclude that the cartoon fiasco was an unnecessary and expensive diversion from the central confrontation with the jihadists.

Austin Bay has more, as well as a very interesting commentary on Lord Jim and the light it shines on the Egyptian ferry calamity.


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