In our previous post we republished the statement before his inquisitors of Lars Hedegaard, the president of the International Free Press Society, who stands trial, in a supposedly free nation of northern Europe, for the crime of uttering a forbidden opinion in his own home.

You would think that the leading newspapers of the capital and principal cities of the world’s most influential democracy — a nation that enshrines in its founding document the freedom of the press, and the right to speak one’s mind, as its cardinal individual liberty — would have a keen interest in this startling attack, in an ancient center of European culture, on the central principle of the civilization whose blessings we share, the fundamental right that guarantees all the others.

But this morning I made a search on the websites of both the Washington Post and the New York Times for the name “Lars Hedegaard”, and found nothing.

Think about that: the president of an international organization whose purpose is to protect the freedom of the press is being muzzled in a Kafkaesque show trial in a major European city, and the Times and the Post look the other way. The reason? The nature of Hedegaard’s unforgivable crime, which was to speak out in defense of his own people against an ancient and mortal foe, and for the survival of his moribund native culture in its tiny homeland.

The blogger “Fjordman” calls these dark days by a name taken from ancient Nordic myth: Ragnarök.

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  1. bob koepp says

    Malcolm –
    The persecution of Hedegaard is obscene — especially in Denmark, a country (until recently) so famously permissive that the term ‘obscene’ struggled to find a referent.

    However, I remain unpersuaded that religiosity is the core of the problem. I persist in my opinion that it is the prevalence of an “honor culture” that treats slights (and even thoughtful criticism) as cause for vengance and blood letting. It is not due to Islam that certain peoples are obsessed with finding “reasons” to take offense. Rather, an absurd defensiveness regarding religious issues is a symptom of that obsession.

    Honor — such a worthless thing in comparison with dignity.

    Posted January 25, 2011 at 11:40 am | Permalink
  2. Malcolm says

    “Honor cultures” often arise from herding societies, where resources need vigorous defending — and that is a relevant feature of many of the cultures in which Islam took root. Islam has, however, certainly proven (hardly by coincidence) to be an exceptionally nutrient-rich memetic medium for the development of honor cultures — and although you might be able, with some effort, to pry them apart a bit, to do so is hardly relevant to the events unfolding in Denmark, which you rightly call “obscene”.

    If you were to draw a demographic Venn diagram of female-oppressing honor cultures in Denmark, and Islam in Denmark, the former would almost certainly be entirely subsumed within the latter.

    Posted January 25, 2011 at 12:02 pm | Permalink
  3. bob koepp says

    The unwillingness of some Muslims to bear any criticism, and the faux offense taken at “blasphemy” is all about honor. I think it’s definitely relevant to events unfolding in Denmark. Oh, and if there’s an enclave of first-generation Latin Americans somewhere in Denmark, it might mess up your Venn diagram (although Latin Americans’ notions of “honor” might be tempered by several centuries of exposure to the notion of “dignity” — still, none of us is completely immune to the toxic pull of “honor”).

    Posted January 25, 2011 at 12:35 pm | Permalink
  4. Malcolm says

    I think, Bob, that you are working too hard to leach all of Muslim “honor culture” out of Islam itself and into some other source, presumably ethnic. Islam arose from, and codifies within its traditions, a great deal of pre-existing Mideastern ethnic culture, including the prickliness about honor that you describe. That honor culture became part of Islam itself — and fierce indignation about blasphemy, for example, exists, with few exceptions, wherever Islam does, regardless of ethnicity.

    Posted January 25, 2011 at 12:54 pm | Permalink
  5. Malcolm says

    And I quite agree that none of us is entirely immune to the pull of “honor” — nor should we be. The concept of honor exists for a reason, and serves a very real adaptive purpose — and I’d say that Mr. Hedegaard himself is making a well-justified, if doomed, attempt to defend what last traces remain of the honor of his own people.

    Posted January 25, 2011 at 1:00 pm | Permalink
  6. bob koepp says

    Actually, Malcolm, it’s pretty easy work “to leach all of Muslim ‘honor culture’ out of Islam itself” — I’m certainly not the first to notice the tension between ‘honor’ and ‘submission.’ I’ve also got the long tradition of holy fools like Nasrudin to back me up.

    Posted January 25, 2011 at 3:45 pm | Permalink
  7. Malcolm says

    In the Muslim act of submission, one simply extends the culturally familiar circle of that-which-must-be-honorably-defended to include Allah and his Prophet. Such is Muslim culture that there is no loss of personal honor in this submission to the Almighty.

    Posted January 25, 2011 at 3:54 pm | Permalink
  8. bob koepp says

    Malcolm –
    I think you might find an alternative point of view expressed by a number of Sufi theologians.

    Posted January 25, 2011 at 4:05 pm | Permalink
  9. Malcolm says

    And in Nasrudin, we encounter the Sufis: the small minority of Muslims who are the least inclined of all toward the beliefs, behavior and reactions that make Islam such a problem for the rest of the world. (For this they’ve had their fair share of trouble.)

    Posted January 25, 2011 at 4:06 pm | Permalink
  10. Malcolm says

    We posted right on top of each other there, Bob.

    I’d certainly agree that if all Muslims were Sufis, we’d all have an easier time of it.

    Posted January 25, 2011 at 4:09 pm | Permalink
  11. Malcolm says

    Anyhow, Bob, the issue here is not whether religiosity is the core of the problem. It’s that the president of an international society dedicated to defending the freedom of the press is standing trial in a European capital for criticizing Islam, and neither the Times nor the Post sees it as news that’s fit to print.

    Posted January 25, 2011 at 4:43 pm | Permalink
  12. E. Henry Thripshaw MD says

    Hedegaard shows what a liberal wanker he is when he claims that the “real victims” are little Muslim girls. Gimme a break! The issue is free speech for Danes, not what happens to supposedly poor, oppressed victims in Muslim countries. What a weasel… of course I support him and hope he wins his case, but let’s not shy away from the truth.

    Posted January 26, 2011 at 7:20 am | Permalink
  13. Malcolm says

    Yes, EHT, I agree – but as I commented elsewhere, it’s important not to lose sight of the real issue here: Lars Hedegaard, the president of the International Free Press Society, is standing trial in his native land, at the hands of his own Scandinavian people, for criticizing Islam.

    He can hardly be blamed, in an ultra-liberal nation like Denmark, if before he is condemned he takes a moment to remind his inquisitors of how the radically intolerant, utterly alien culture they are defending against his criminally “offensive” remarks happens to treat its women.

    Posted January 26, 2011 at 9:12 am | Permalink