November 23rd 2009 01:36:40 PM
A recent top yahoo news item was about why the filmmakers behind the new film release “2012″ skipped blowing up that boxy thing in the middle of Mecca:
…For “2012,” [director Roland] Emmerich set his sites on destroying [some of the] biggest landmarks around the world, from Rome to Rio. But there’s one place that Emmerich wanted to demolish but didn’t: the Kaaba, the cube-shaped structure located in the center of Mecca. It’s the focus of prayers and the site of the Hajj, the biggest, most important pilgrimage in Islam.
“Well, I wanted to do that, I have to admit,” the filmmaker told scifiwire.com. “But my co-writer Harald [Kloser] said, ‘I will not have a fatwa on my head because of a movie.’ And he was right.”
Emmerich went on: “We have to all, in the western world, think about this. You can actually let Christian symbols fall apart, but if you would do this with [an] Arab symbol, you would have … a fatwa, and that sounds a little bit like what the state of this world is. So it’s just something which I kind of didn’t [think] was [an] important element, anyway, in the film, so I kind of left it out.”
Emmerich has no qualms about wrecking other major landmarks, however. The massive dome of St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican rolls on top of a crowd of churchgoers. The huge Christ the Redeemer statue that looms over Rio de Janeiro disintegrates. And, of course, the White House gets crushed when a wave drops the aircraft carrier John F. Kennedy on top of it. […]
I was shocked to see such an “Islamophobic” article so prominently linked on the Yahoo! home page, so pathetically enough this is actually progress. Emmerich was also politically incorrect enough to refer to the consequences of destroying “an Arab symbol”, which essentially dismisses all Arabs as crazy when in fact it’s a mutually feeding craziness between Islam and Arab culture. The symbol is actually Muslim, which many Arabs are not. However, it’s true that Islam corrupts the Arab soul, and Arabism intensifies Islam’s insanity. Robert Spencer had a different and probably more accurate take than mine on Emmerich’s use of the term “Arabic symbol”:
“Arab” is not the point. “Muslim” is. Emmerich knows innocent people could be killed because of this, and rather than stand up and call for sanity from Muslims and law enforcement from non-Muslims, he takes the dhimmi way out, destroying a Christian symbol instead. For while he would almost certainly avow moral equivalence if asked, he really knows better. As do many others.
Of course, the problem with doing as Emmerich does — acting based on these realities — is that you cement those realities. We’ve been acting all along as if the Muslims have already taken over, even when they were just testing the post-9/11 waters, and giving them more than we have to, and often more than they ask — for now. This of course creates a sense of entitlement to engage in and/or continue precisely the behavior we’ve encouraged.
Madrid-based legal scholar Juan F. Carmona y Choussat put it well last year:
“Is censorship regaining its grounds in the heart of Europe?” he asked in an article written for the Strategic Studies Group think tank. “How far will Europeans go to defend freedom of expression? What are the limits of this freedom where Islam is concerned?”
What does seem clear, Carmona said, is that “once you give up a bit preventively, chances are you will only be hated more.”
Further to the point of cementing realities, what do we think it says to Muslim audiences when they see Western landmarks being destroyed by god’s wrath as depicted by our own self-loathing art — while their symbols are left intact?
The Emmerich interview gives me an excuse to also bring up something we should ask ourselves: Why is it OK to tear down a relgion that liberates the world, but not OK to tear down a religion that enslaves it? Though this naturally makes sense by definition, we should be aware that that’s what we’re doing.
Robert Spencer touches on yet something else I’ve wanted to bring up for a while when he writes, “Emmerich knows innocent people could be killed because of this, and rather than stand up and call for sanity from Muslims and law enforcement from non-Muslims, he takes the dhimmi way out, destroying a Christian symbol instead.”
Indeed, there has been similar behavior from Western media and Western governments when it comes to this. They are precisely *not* calling for sanity from Muslims, or for vigilant law enforcement. I’ll never forget how when several European countries had published the Muhammad cartoons, to show solidarity with the Danish newspaper and to stand up for free speech, a U.S. State Dept. spokesman — receiving praise from one Muslim figure or another for the fact that no American papers had followed suit (at that point) — proudly replied something like: “That’s because in the United States we respect religion.”
It would have been flabbergasting, if it weren’t already so par for the course. On that point, I stumbled onto a youtube video that goes to the heart of the matter. It was a response to Random House last year pulling the novel about Muhammad’s first wife Aisha (The Jewel of Medina) when threats started coming from Muslims. It was titled “How is Islam Not Already Controlling the USA?” Here is an excerpt from Part 2:
Occasionally there comes a time in history when a seemingly insignificant event can change the whole destiny of a nation…I’ve had responses to the fact that I mentioned the word “coward” in Part I…People have said that they understand how ordinary people at Random House are not supposed to be the ones on the front line within their own country…
Here I would just respond that what makes the current world war unique is that we are all on the front lines. We are all in a position to fight and have an opportunity to be warriors. Doing our part is the least we can do in the face of the sacrifices of our young men and women fighting on the real front line. The narrator continues:
Where is this great nation now when its citizens really need it?…What use is it to the people inside America that tens of billions of dollars [and thousands of lives] are being spent in fighting against intimidation in distant lands when its own flesh and blood cannot even go about their legal and constitutional day-by-day business without the very real terror of imminent death? How can its politicians sleep in their beds? How can they look themselves in the mirror? How can they have any sense of dignity or even a sense that they are earning their public-funded wages when the hour is already come, and gone, that they should have leapt into action and placed all its available resources between the violent freedom-haters and those good, honest and hard-working Americans who simply wish to exercise their right to free expression?
Indeed, it does seem like we’ve made a deal with the devil. It’s as though we’re saying, “OK, if you loosen things up a little on your side of the world, we’ll tighten things up a little on our end.”
But here the video gets to something even more critical — a possible solution that neither the government, nor the equally cowardly media or public, has lifted a finger toward implementing: The concept of spreading the risk around:
I understand the fear that these ordinary people have — fear for themslves, fear for their families…I don’t know what the U.S. government is going to do about this. Perhaps organize dozens of publishers to print the book and all future books that might offend Islam — spread the risk so that there simply is no way of targeting one organization or one small group of individuals. Perhaps even the government publishing it themselves to prove that they stand by the people, for the people…
If the U.S. government doesn’t stand up now and do something very public to support freedom of speech in this particular case of Sherry Jones and her book The Jewel of Medina, then I fear that the USA is no longer being controlled from the White House. It, like much of Europe, will have succumbed to the vicarious control of Saudi Arabia and the monsters that similar political theocracies are spawning…
Don’t let the government give away everything that those before you fought and died for. You do not own your freedoms and liberties. Your forefathers fought and died so that they could make you the custodians of these glorious gifts. So that you in turn, having taken good care of them, could hand them on safe and in tact to future generations.
I often lament the solitude of doing anti-jihad humor, which I feel like I’m the only one doing. It certainly keeps a comic ostrasized and unemployed. To one audience last year that was at first hesitant to laugh — for even that feels dangerous now — I implored, “Come on, People. You’ve heard of suicide bombers — well I’m the suicide comic. Please laugh now, since I may not be around much longer.” They loosened up, and appreciated the courageous jokes.
Of course, if the thousands and thousands of other comedians out there were to decide to start doing their jobs in this age of jihad by doing material that’s relevant to the Islam-dominated headlines, and by being the sages who stand up to evil — as many comics purport to be — then it would certainly reduce my risk, wouldn’t it? It might even help the public stop blocking out the reality at its door. For, while audiences did have an appetite in the immediate months and years after 9/11 for knocking Muslims the way comedians knock other groups of human beings for attributes that are distinct to those groups, the comics didn’t capitalize on it. Such that now the public has lost its taste for it and cowers in fear when faced with the subject from a comedy stage. And so what we have is that the more people Muslims kill, the less we can even make fun of them.
If we can’t so much as laugh at the enemy, how do we expect to fight it? From the looks of things, however, the plan seems to be not to fight it, but to join it. Indeed, jokes about how Americans are trying to deal with the ubiquitous threat — for example, via new security measures by flight crews or passengers just bursting into tears when someone who looks like Osama is sitting on the plane, go over much better with audiences who are the very targets of the intimidation and violence.
But my main point concerns the very similar behavior between government and media in how they treat those who are talking back. Instead of increasing the ranks of those who take the risk — by government and media figures taking on their part of the risk and thereby spreading it, as the narrator suggests — they isolate the risk-takers and even make a pariah out of them. Last year security expert Steven Emerson illustrated this phenomenon:
It is an equation becoming all too familiar. A new book released in Europe contains essays critical of Islam and illustrations of the Prophet Mohammed. In response, some are calling for blood. Danish journalist Lars Hedegaard’s book Groft Sagt (Rough Talk), was released in Denmark Monday.
An Israeli security center is sounding the alarm about calls for a violent backlash after noticing a series of incendiary posts on jihadist web sites…His book is being used by jihadists looking for an excuse to justify their violence. “It is quite obvious that they think it is the right moment to strike a new offensive against Denmark and against free speech. It could be anything. This is planned. This is orchestrated.”
In February, Danish police arrested three men suspected of planning to kill Westergaard, who had been forced into hiding after the 2005 publication of his Mohammed illustrations.
These incidents make it more important to continue issuing work that may offend some people, Hedegaard said. “The point has to be made again and again. We live in a country with free speech. Unless we make this point again and again, every day, we don’t have free speech.”
Hedegaard’s newspaper, Berlinske Tidende, let him go earlier this year. His bosses told him he was getting boring and repetitive but he said he thinks they were bowing to pressure from his critics. As the new controversy brews, he said he feels he has strong public support, but felt Danish journalists and academics were either passive or hostile toward him.
Despite the controversy and the threats accompanying it, Hedegaard vowed to continue speaking his mind. Whether those threats should ever target him personally is not something he thinks about.
“I cannot live that way,” he said. “I might as well be dead. It’s like dying before you die… Death is when you are forced to shut up. I don’t want them to shut me up before I die physically.”
Of course, the ultimate example of one citizen standing alone in defense of the First Amendment is Rachel Ehrenfeld. In what should have been the case of the century, and the story of the century, Ehrenfeld took on libel tourism, which one American publisher after another was buckling to regardless of the unconstitutional nature of English laws affecting American citizens. Her one-woman struggle led to a New York State law and a Federal law being passed, to keep Americans’ free speech rights safe from England’s anti-free-speech laws. This should not have been a lone, and quiet, case.
I’ll close with a short story about a conversation I had in May with my former literary agent when I mentioned the curtailing of free speech in this country. What I had in mind when making the off-hand comment, of course, was not only the libel tourism laws affecting the publishing world, and not only the threat of violence causing publishers to pull books, but also the very real efforts to literally criminalize criticism of Islam. (Which started two years ago at the UN, and President Obama has been approached by CAIR to “act against the ‘denigration’ of Islam in newspaper columns, on talk radio and in religious sermons nationwide.”)
So it was with all this Islamic curtailing of our rights in mind that I made a comment at lunch with this agent about how scary things are right now in terms of what we “can” and “can’t” say anymore. In response, she looked at me blankly for a moment and then related the following instance to me, to show that she knew what I was talking about:
“Oh yes,” she chirped brightly in her Australian accent, “it really is scary right now. I was in line at the security check at the airport and there was a sign that said ‘No joking allowed at security.’ Can you imagine?”
Let me underscore that this stupid woman is in publishing — her passion and livelihood depend on free speech. And yet she refers me to a sign at an airport, posted there because of too many people making too many terrorism-related cracks to a staff that is already very tense from a combination of having to be both vigilant and at the same time catatonic (politically correct) in responding to what they’re being vigilant about. What made her “example” of free speech incursion all the more striking is that when I’d expressed a similar lamentation about diminishing free speech to someone else a few months earlier (I don’t remember who), the response was almost identical. That person said something like, “Oh yeah, I know what you mean: They almost detained me at the airport when they were going through my bag by hand and I said, ‘Well I’m not a terrorist.’ Man, you can’t say anything anymore.”
These are the pod people. Ripe for the takeover. Turning a blind eye to the very real incursions into the First Amendment being made by an alien ideology, from a foreign soil, they instead continue straining themselves to point the finger at U.S.-based authority figures, such as the controlled environment that one encounters at airports.