A commenter on our recent post about President Obama’s Nobel Prize disapproved of my saying that Mr. Obama had made, in his Cairo speech to the Muslim world, “fawning salaams and obeisances before Islam”. At the time of the speech I had refrained from dwelling on this, preferring instead to compliment Mr. Obama on an earnest attempt simply to get everyone to simmer down a bit, but the fact is that the speech (in contrast to the one I suggested he ought to make) was indeed larded with false and fulsome praise for a religion whose orthodox adherents are the principal threat to peace in the world today.
I had begun to assemble some point-by-point remarks, but as it turns out the Norwegian essayist who goes by the nom de plume “Fjordman” has already done a nice job of it here; go and have a look.
Meanwhile, the U.S. has since June lent its support to a UN Human Rights Commission free-expression resolution (ludicrously co-sponsored by Egypt, that bastion of free speech and open political dissent); the resolution was in fact adopted last week. The document, which you can read here, makes some laudable assertions about basic freedoms, but then, in a transparently obvious sop to Muslims (and swipe at folks like Geert Wilders and the Danes) flatly contradicts its alleged purpose by insisting that signatory nations use every means in their power to suppress any speech that is critical of religion. (The document refers to “hate speech”, and “negative stereotyping”; those, of course, are vague and handy catch-alls for whatever anyone objects to.)
Legal scholar Eugene Volokh has made a careful analysis of what the implications of U.S. assent to this resolution might be. It is not particularly long or dense, and is well worth your time. It turns out also that Christopher Hitchens commented on a related General Assembly resolution (A/RES/62/154), back in March; you can find his essay here.
It is naive to imagine that jihad is waged only with the sword. We see already in Europe — where the corrosive, enfeebling effects of doctrinaire multiculturalism and large-scale Muslim immigration are much farther along than they are here — the chilling effect on free speech of Islamic hypersensitivity to criticism. Here we have Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, Secretary General of the Organization of the Islamic Conference, speaking in Uganda last year:
In confronting the Danish cartoons and the Dutch film “Fitna”, we sent a clear message to the West regarding the red lines that should not be crossed. As we speak, the official West and its public opinion are all now well-aware of the sensitivities of these issues. They have also started to look seriously into the question of freedom of expression from the perspective of its inherent responsibility, which should not be overlooked.
The primary “responsibility” on the part of the West — which, as Mr. Ihsanoglu reminds us, indeed should not be overlooked — is to defend our essential freedoms, at the very least within our own borders. I do hope, perhaps too audaciously, that we can keep that in mind.
Finally, as I was writing this post, a reader emailed me an uplifting news brief illustrating, once again, the blessings of conservative Islam in action. What’s not to respect?