James Neilson is a South American journalistic institution in himself, widely recognized as one who will tell the truth and enjoy the furious reactions he elicits with his sharp pen. Also, the Buenos Aires Herald is a proud institution, which during the Argentine Dirty War fearlessly told the truth about what was going on, and has carried on lobbying for the truth to be known also after the fall of the military junta. Below you can find his thoughts on the foolish reactions of those who have been elected to represent us in the wake of the recent Islamic video riots. Interestingly, Neilson tends to be spot on in most of his critical writing. Seen together with the Israeli Channel 10 documentary series, Allah Islam, it is indeed a very stark picture that emerges:
lifted from buenosairesherald.com
Freedom under fireBy: James Neilson
Muslims will have to learn to live with ‘Islamophobia’
When the armed forces ruled the country, senior officers were fond of lecturing us on the to the fundamental difference between freedom of speech, true liberty, on the one hand and libertinage, or licentiousness, very much on the other, a distinction that sounds snappier in Spanish than in English. It may not be much consolation for them, but their views on the subject have recently returned to fashion. In dozens of countries, rioters have been vigorously reminding us that, as far as they are concerned, freedom of expression should take second place to religious feelings.
What is more, throughout the West, many people, including journalists who desperately want to seem even-handed, agree with them. Like those thoughtful generals, admirals and air force brigadiers, they too insist that freedom of expression is a privilege that should be used “responsibly” or “constructively” because if people are allowed to say whatever they like terrible things will happen. That is why so many, among them Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton until they realized it would be ill-advised of them to appear willing to dump the First Amendment, spent more time on telling us they think an amateur 13-minute film clip lampooning the Islamic prophet Mohammed was disgusting, repugnant and ill-made than in condemning the individuals who have been drawing attention to their piety by running amok, screaming anti-US slogans and murdering US diplomats.
For some time now, the governments of more than fifty Muslim-dominated countries have been lobbying furiously to make “Islamophobia”, by which they mean anything that could possibly offend believers in their religion and admirers of its war-lord founder, a “hate crime” that should be suitably punished wherever it crops up. Though their efforts have met with the sympathy of many paternalistic progressives, the kind of individuals who chortle with glee when Christians say they are upset by edgy artistic creations in which a plastic crucifix is submerged in urine or a picture of the Virgin Mary is covered with animal excrement, but think it is terribly wrong to treat the beliefs of presumably duskier people in a similar manner, the latest round of rioting is setting them back. As the French government’s stalwart support of the satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo’s right to make obscene fun of Mohammed reminded them, Western willingness to cave in to a mixture of terrorist threats and skilful legalistic pleading has its limits.
If the video riots, like the earlier ones supposedly provoked by a batch of Danish cartoons, the inadvertent torching of a bit of a Koran in Afghanistan, some remarks made in a scholarly lecture by Pope Benedict XVI, and a Salman Rushdie novel, proved anything, it is that shielding Muslims from unfriendly comments about their faith and its founder would require the entire world to submit to a dictatorship as ruthless as North Korea’s hellish regime. There are millions of “Islamophobic” videos and statements, many of unknown provenance, buzzing around in cyberspace, so trouble-making clerics, politicians or terrorist bosses will never be short of incendiary material.
Even if Western governments did their best to collaborate with Muslim censors by hunting down and clapping in jail, or “decapitating” as the more fervent believers demand, anyone found speaking out of turn, the Muslims themselves would be only too happy to provide whatever they need. To sex up the Danish cartoons, a local cleric added some he had made that were far more outrageous, while a few days ago in Pakistan a like-minded colleague was arrested for burning what he said were sacred texts in order to frame a mentally-challenged Christian child he was determined to see put to death for “blasphemy”.
By now it should be obvious that the religious right in the Muslim world appreciates that Western willingness to bend over backwards, and then some, to pander to the sensitivities of the mob is a powerful weapon, and that, by making the US government apologize for the alleged misdeeds of whoever put together that 13-minute video, it scored yet another propaganda victory. Though most of the people killed in the routine outbursts of mayhem are Muslims, up to now tender-hearted Westerners have felt intimidated by what they assumed was an understandable reaction to their own arrogance and have promised to be more careful in future, but perhaps this is about to change.
In an interconnected world in which it is marvellously easy to be insulting without being detected, Muslims will simply have to learn to live with the “Islamophobia” their leaders are doing their utmost to encourage. The reluctance of many even to try can be attributed to their awareness that their creed, based as it is on a scripture supposedly dictated by Allah and other iron-clad certainties, is uniquely vulnerable. Unlike Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism and Buddhism, it does not lend itself to reinterpretations that would allow it to retreat decorously into the background. That, no doubt, is why leaving it and blasphemy are, as many unfortunates awaiting execution in Iran, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and other such places have discovered, capital offences. And that is why the Muslim sea of faith will not retreat with a “melancholy, long, withdrawing roar” as Christianity has in Europe but, unless we are very lucky indeed, with a succession of terrifyingly loud explosions.