Let me begin with two indisputable facts. The first is that here in the USA we have a legally protected and highly latitudinarian right to free speech that extends beyond speech and writing proper to include such activities as flag-burning and the drawing of cartoons. The second is that many Muslims of the present day are willing to slaughter those who exercise their free speech rights in ways that these Muslims deem offensive such as by producing cartoons that mock their prophet, Muhammad. In this respect Muslims as a group are uniquely intolerant and barbarous among the adherents of major religions at the present time. (Every attempted rebuttal of this claim I have seen is lame.)
Given these two facts, a problem arises. Should we freely limit our exercise of our free speech rights in the present circumstances so as not to set off murderous Islamist rampages that could injure public order and perhaps cause the deaths of innocents? Or should we continue the exercise of our free speech rights in defiance of the terrorist threats? Should we keep our heads down or stand tall and defiant in celebration of values that are classically American, but beyond that, classically Western?
Now the first point I want to make is that there is a genuine problem here. Nicole Gelinas of City Journal seems not to see it, and she is not alone:
. . . there should be no debate here. Geller has the right to free speech. She has the right to put on an exhibit showcasing Muhammad drawings. Likewise, we all have the right to attend it, to boycott it, to ignore it, or to march around it with protest signs.
Gelinas doesn't seem to appreciate that the question is not whether we have the legal right to free speech (in the extended sense and even if the 'speech' is deeply offensive to some); of course we have this legal right. The question is whether in some circumstances the exercise of this right by some people might be morally wrong, or if not morally wrong, then highly imprudent. Please note the italicized words. Gelinas mislocates (dislocates?) the bone of contention. (Pun intended.)
And so one cannot simply dismiss those who say that, while Geller and Co. had a legal right to hold their mock-the-prophet cartoon contest, in holding it they did something morally irresponsible given what we know about the absurd sensitivities, anti-Enlightenment attitudes, and murderous propensities of many contemporary Muslims.
The problem, then, is genuine. What is the solution? The proximate solution is defiance. Geller, Spencer, et al. are right. We must not allow ourselves to be cowed by barbarian scum. But note what I said earlier: if the Muslim response to mockery were as benign as the Christian response to the tax-payer funded outrages of so-called 'artists' like Serrano of Piss-Christ notoriety, then it would be morally wrong to mock that which the Muslims regard as holy. For in general it is morally wrong to mock, deride, belittle, abuse, and show disrespect generally for other people and their religious beliefs, practices, holy places, icons, etc. In the present circumstances, however, we must stand up and defy the Muslim scum and their leftist enablers. Not only is a serious principle at stake, but any display of weakness will lead to further outrages. Unopposed evil doers are emboldened in their evil doing. And the jihadis are indeed moral scum as David French reports:
I’ve seen jihad up-close, in an Iraqi province where jihadists raped women to shame them into becoming suicide bombers, where they put bombs in little boys’ backpacks then remotely detonated them at family gatherings, where they beheaded innocent civilians while cheering wildly like they were at a soccer match, and where they shot babies in the face to “send a message” to their parents. I’ve seen the despair in the eyes of the innocent victims of jihad, and — believe me — that despair is infinitely greater than the alleged “anguish” caused by a few cartoons.
So defiance is the proximate solution. The ultimate solution is to seal the borders against illegal immigration and limit the legal immigration of Muslims. For it makes no sense to admit into our country people with radically different values. No comity without commonality, as one of my aphorisms has it. There cannot be peace and social harmony with people who reject civilized values or who were never brought up to appreciate them. Of course, not every immigrant from a Muslim county is a benighted savage or a silent supporter of jihadis. I lived in Turkey for a year and travelled around the country. I met many fine, decent, civilized people, most of them Muslims, more or less. That is why I said we need to limit Muslim immigation. Not stop, but limit. We need to vet the people we let in. Obviously, no foreigner has any right to come here. But we do have the right to exclude unassimilable elements. On top of that we need to deport potential terrorists and execute convicted terrorists. Indeed, we need a judicial fast-track for trial and execution of terrorists. Why is Hasan, the Fort Hood shooter, still alive? Is that not a deep affront to justice? What does it say about us that we have lost the will to defend our way of life, a way of life manifestly superior to that lived in vast tracts of the rest of the world, a way of life that has benefited countless millions of people here and abroad? If you are not speaking German now, you may have an American GI to thank. (May 8th was the 75th anniversary of VE, Victory in Europe, day.)