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The Cartoons, Weekend Edition: WWCD?

Saturday, February 4, 2006  |  posted by Hugh Hewitt
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Rick Moran actually read the State Department statement on the cartoons, and it turns out that critics of the striped pants gang overlooked the Department’s attempt to both condemn the vulgar and stupid cartoons while vigorously defending the right to free expression.

And the Telegraph’s David Rennie has crucial reporting on his blog about the original 12 cartoons and the “three mysterious” cartoons as well as the delegation of Danish Muslims who promoted the story in the Arab world. The Rennie interview with a spokesman for the Danish Muslim community is must-reading for commentators on the issue, as are the comments on his blog.

This issue has become an interesting lens through which to view commentators, MSM and new media divisions both.

First, it is a complicated fact pattern. Second there is a temptation to lump all the offended Muslims into the category of the jihadists (like the left likes to lump all pro-life Christians in with abortion clinic bombers). There is plenty of stuff with which to be disgusted among the jihadists such as pictures calling for death to cartoonists etc. There’s the easy availability of the word “dhimmi” and the lure of a pose, easily explained. The appearance of Bill Clinton in the debate further repells those who may want to try to hear and weigh the objections of the Muslim world not threatening violence but only expressing disgust (say in the countries of our allies such as Turkey and Morocco). There are also precedents of blogger condemnation of churlish commentary which must be reconciled and explained.

The blogosphere is awash in opinion, and visit www.technorati.com and search “cartoons” for a neutral gathering of opinion.

Geraghty has not yet weighed in, and he’s a conservative blogger with lots of recent time in Turkey. I am hoping Joe Carter at Evangelical Outpost brings his considerable persepctive to bear on the subject as well. Will Whittle stir himself from his screen-writing? When difficult questions are presented, I find myself hoping that certain bloggers opine. These are three of those who haven’t yet, but I hope will.

The Belmont Club is decidedly pro-cartoonist, but is also reminding people of the excellence of Manchester’s Alone, a study of Churchill in the Wilderness Years as Hitler came to power and grew in menace, a book I am also frequently sending people to as a guide to the times in which we live. “What did Churchill feel, one wonders, in those desperate days when he did not know the end yet went on?” Wretchard asks.

WWCD is a fine way to put the key question.

He was not in the habit of making it harder for allies to remain allies, that’s for sure.

If Hitler invaded Hell, Churchill remarked to his private secretary, “I would make at least a favorable reference to the Devil in the House of Commons.”

So, did the cartoons and their aftermath make it easier or more diffcult for Musharraf of Pakistan to continue to guide his country away from the lure of the jihadists? Easier or more difficult for Turkey to remain a friend of the West’s? Easier or more difficult for the pro-Western people of Iran to summon the courage to change their government? Easier or more difficult for Jordan’s King Abdullah to continue his course, which has included support for the reconstruction of Iraq even in the face of Zarqawi’s murderers?

In a wired world, there aren’t any inconsequential actions, and everything is grist for the propagandists among the jihadists.

That doesn’t mean censorship, or even self-censorship. Only a bit of reflection before rushing off to start new battles which divert attention from those already underway.

There is a chasm of difference between serious commentary on the Islamic challenge facing Europe and the West (see Mark Steyn’s “It’s The Demographics Stupid”) and crude, sweeping anti-Muslim propaganda. It isn’t necessary to defend the latter in order to uphold and praise the former.

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