Cartoons of Muhammad are the rebuke to the West that just won’t go away: the political and media elites all over Europe and North America never seem to tire of demonstrating their cowardice and readiness to accept Sharia norms in the face of violent threats. So it was no real surprise when the Archbishop Cranmer blogspot reported Thursday that the UK’s Daily Mail had once again displayed its willingness to submit, censoring a cartoon of Muhammad in a story about new controversy the cartoon created.
Archbishop Cramer noted: “The Daily Mail reported yesterday that another teacher has been suspended for showing an image of Mohammed. This image hadn’t been shown in a classroom setting for educational purposes, however, but was featured on his coffee mug from which he was drinking outside the staffroom; indeed, he was reportedly ‘photographed carrying the item in the playground at Colchester Royal Grammar School in Essex’. And it wasn’t some venerable 15th-century Shia portrayal of Mohammed encountering the angel of half-fire and half-snow, but rather a [sic ink-line cartoon of him standing next to Jesus saying, ‘Hey’, to which Mohammed responds, ‘How ya doin’?”
And so the Daily Mail, like the rest of British society, immediately folded. In doing so, the Daily Mail again showed why it is the worst paper in the Western world. Yes, the Guardian and the Independent and the Telegraph, etc., are just propaganda sheets for the hard Left, but the Daily Mail is even worse because it reports accurately on jihad terror, but then vilifies and demonizes those who stand against that same jihad terror, and has kowtowed to violent jihadis in censoring images of Muhammad before.
It is not alone in folding by any means. This has been going on for years. On the evening of May 3, 2015, I was standing next to Pamela Geller at the venue of our just-concluded American Freedom Defense Initiative/Jihad Watch Muhammad Art Exhibit and Cartoon Contest in Garland, Texas when one of our security team ran in and told us that there had been a shooting outside. It is safe to say that if the jihadis had succeeded in their aims, we would both be dead.
Since that day, Pamela Geller has never been safe; she is now the Islamic State’s number one target in the United States. ISIS quickly issued a communiqué on the Garland attack, including a death fatwa against Geller. The threat was reinforced by subsequent jihadi attempts on Geller’s life.
But the response of Western politicians and pundits was even more disturbing. This time, they were not nearly as disposed to defend the freedom of speech as they had been at the time of the Rushdie fatwa, or even the Charlie Hebdo massacre.
“Of course we have a right to draw what we want, but we also have an obligation not to be irresponsibly provocative,” said Michael Coren the ex-Catholic author of Why Catholics Are Right.
“It’s needlessly provocative,” said New York Representative Peter King, whose hearings on Muslim radicalization in 2011 had themselves been widely termed “provocative” back in 2011. King said he thought our event was “insulting someone’s religion.”
Coren and King were expressing the dominant view. Other, more prominent voices soon piled on, including even voices on the Right such as Bill O’Reilly, Laura Ingraham and Greta van Susteren (although Sean Hannity, Mark Steyn, National Review’s David French, Rich Lowry and others robustly defended the freedom of speech, as did Megyn Kelly, with a bit less robustness).
After being on the receiving end of a chorus of condemnation from the media, Geller was harshly questioned by CNN’s Alisyn Camerota. Geller told Camerota, “The fact that we have to spend upwards of $50,000 in security speaks to how dangerous and how in trouble freedom of speech is in this country. And then we have to get on these news shows, and somehow we are, those that are targeted, those that were going to be slaughtered, are the ones who get attacked speaks to how morally inverted this conversation is.”
The dominant line was essentially that if Pamela Geller and I had just left well enough alone, all would have been well.
The erroneous assumption behind the widespread condemnation of Muhammad cartoons is that to make America compatible with Islam, all we have to do is give just a little. What non-Muslims have to give up is the right to draw and publish cartoons of Muhammad. And surely that’s not so great a sacrifice. Why insist on being gratuitously “provocative”?
The problem with this rosy little scenario is that the jihadis are already “provoked.”
It was the murderous jihadis who made drawing Muhammad the flash point of the defense of free speech, not Pamela Geller. It is they who, by their determination to murder non-Muslims who violate their religious law on this point, have made it imperative that free people signal that they will not submit to them. If we give in to the demand that we conform to this Sharia principle, there will be further demands that we adhere to additional Sharia principles.
It is ultimately a question of whether we will submit to Sharia, or stand up for freedom.
At Garland we were standing. In the aftermath, it is clear that a huge segment of the Western political and media elites are ready, if not eager, to kneel, not daring to “provoke” their new masters.
If anything had happened to Pamela Geller, we can be sure that the talking heads would have looked soulfully into the cameras and said, Well, she had it coming. It’s a sign of how much our respect for the freedom of speech, and understanding of its importance, has degenerated in our enlightened age.
Robert Spencer is the director of Jihad Watch and a Shillman Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center. He is author of 23 books including many bestsellers, such as The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades), The Truth About Muhammad and The History of Jihad. His latest book is The Critical Qur’an. Follow him on Twitter here. Like him on Facebook here.