The Charlie Hebdo murders followed a perverted logic. No unprecedented, out-of-the box act, it was the work of cultural aliens to whom we in the West have already partially awarded the right to crimp and intimidate our civil society and its heritage, not least in Section 18C-style efforts to gag free speech. The “endarkenment” is what columnist Brendan O’Neill calls the movement to erase the gains accrued since the Enlightenment, and he is not guilty of exaggeration.
The recent great march in Paris, led by leaders from around the world, may have appeared impressive at first glance. Yet, many of the political leaders, who led that parade, are hypocrites of greater or lesser degree. Barrack Obama has been severely criticised for preferring to watch a football match, rather than participate in a spectacle supposedly dedicated to free speech. He compounded his indifference by failing to ensure that any member of his administration attended in his stead.
As it happened, Eric Holder, the US Attorney-General, was in Paris. Somehow, he managed to excuse himself from representing the administration at the march. Perhaps, his participation might have stimulated uncomfortable reminders of the First Amendment, for which he and fellow members of the Obama administration have scant regard. Unlike David Cameron and his fellow Europeans, we may in a perverse sort of way give the US Radical-in-Chief and his administration credit for relative honesty when it comes to freedom of speech. After all, was it not Obama who addressed the General Assembly of the UN and vowed, “The future must not belong to those who slander the Prophet of Islam”?
In this context, those dead cartoonists and journalists at Charlie Hebdo had it coming. In the aftermath, sending John Kerry to Paris — a visit conducted to the limp musical accompaniment of give-the-world-a-hug folkie James Taylor — was a farcical reminder of the Obama administration’s disregard for traditional democratic allies. By Obama’s reckoning, making nice with freedom’s enemies (Cuba and Iran come immediately to mind) rates a higher priority on the diplomatic scale.
It would have inspirational if the democratic leaders who did turn up, such as Britain’s David Cameron, had refused to associate — march shoulder-to-shoulder, no less — with the likes of Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and the Palestinian Authority’s Mahmoud Abbas. The presence of thugs, opponents of free speech and kleptocrats rendered the entire exercise hollow, pointless and, ultimately, shameful.
Even the most cursory glance at the actions of various member countries of the European Union makes clear the extent of the retreat from freedom since the West’s victory over the USSR’s strain of totalitarianism.
Let a few examples out of many will suffice:
(1) Article 266(b) of the Danish Criminal Code was invoked by the Danish Crown Prosecutor in 2010 in an effort to lift the parliamentary immunity of Jesper Langballe, allowing him to be charged for publishing an article about the creeping “Islamisation of Europe” and the subjugated status of Muslim women.
(2) In February, 2011, Elisabeth Sabaditsch-Wolff was convicted of “hate speech” in an Austrian court, found guilty of, “denigrating the teaching of a legally recognized religion”. In December, 2011, the appellate court rejected her appeal, noting that her statements constituted “an excess of opinion”, punishable under Austrian law. In December, 2013, the verdict was upheld by the Austrian Supreme Court.
(3) On May 30, 2014, the Spanish Supreme Court upheld the ruling of a lower court revoking the refugee status of a Pakistani ex-Muslim named Imran Firasat. His crime? We read that:
“Firasat obtained political asylum in Spain in October 2006 because of death threats against him in both Pakistan and Indonesia for leaving the Islamic faith and marrying a non-Muslim. Spanish authorities, however, took measures to deport Firasat in December, 2012, after he released a one-hour amateur film entitled, ‘The Innocent Prophet: The Life of Mohammed from a Different Point of View.’ The movie, which can be viewed on YouTube, purports to raise awareness of the dangers of Islam to Western Civilization.
The film shows images of the Muslim terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center in New York, on double-decker buses in London and on commuter trains in Madrid. The movie, which features many passages from the Koran that threaten violence against non-Muslims, promises to answer the question: “Was Mohammed an inspired prophet of God, or was he a madman driven by his own demons, thus producing a religion of violence and tyranny?”
The willingness of European authorities to provide cover for Islamic totalitarianism is illustrated by the Dutch public prosecutor’s 2009 indictment of Geert Wilders for for his public comments about Muslims and Islam and release of a short film documenting inflammatory, bloodthirsty passages in the Qur’an.
I could go on citing examples, all of which would bare the unctuous humbug of political leaders who have the unmitigated gall to present themselves as dedicated defenders of free speech even as they betray it.
Strip away the pretense and we find a de facto agreement between Islamists and the political-cum-legal establishment, a concord acknowledging that criticism of Islam is not legitimate and cannot be allowed, even if the legal system and the West’s traditions must be twisted pretzel-like in order to silence it. Cowards but not fools, they have absorbed the persistent message of those in the vanguard of Islam’s hegemonic ambitions:
Either you take legal action to prosecute and silence Islam’s critics, or we will take direct action. You can choose to impose fines or imprisonment, or we can impose death. Because you allowed Charlie Hedbo to offend us, we took that direct action.
Don’t let it happen again.
Message received loud and clear.