Danish cartoon furor reveals fanaticism’s double standard

Published 7:46 pm Monday, February 13, 2006

By Staff
A Danish paper, Jyllands-Posten, last September commissioned the divisive dozen drawings from 40 cartoonists to address the reluctance European artists and writers feel to deal with Islam.
We owe all faiths respect and there's no reason to arbitrarily offend people of any faith, but these provocative caricatures were meant to illustrate Islamic intolerance.
We in the West believe in freedom of speech, despite its ability to offend, along with faith and tolerance.
It's hard for us to understand why their taboo should be ours, why we're always expected to be the appeaser, why free expression should be met by violent spasms.
Ask Salman Rushdie about the death sentence Iran's Ayatollah Khomeini issued him for writing a book, “The Satanic Verses.”
It wasn't an idle threat to Dutch filmmaker Theo van Gogh, who was murdered.
Muslims regard visual depictions of their Prophet as blasphemous, the mother of all offenses.
Americans might define blasphemy in other ways, like the cold-blooded murders Sept. 11, 2001, of thousands of innocent people by extremists in the name of Islam.
Where were the Muslim boycotts for Saudi Arabia and Afghanistan?
Arab media routinely run cartoons crudely characterizing Jews and symbols of their religious faith.
Where's the outrage for that double standard?
Or condemnation for Islamic terrorists bombing holy Iraqi mosques?
President Bush on Feb. 8 defended the right of newspapers to print what they see fit, but he felt obliged to warn the news media they must be sensitive about their power to offend.
The leader of the world's most powerful democracy called on foreign governments to halt deadly rioting burning across the Muslim world.
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice rightly accused Iran and Syria of trying to inflame the tense situation.
Mobs in Damascus set fire to Danish and Norwegian embassies.
A prayer leader in Gaza suggested beheading as the appropriate punishment for journalists who published cartoons we only read about.
Most news outlets chose, in deference to Islam, not to republish the cartoons Bush labeled “offensive.”
The U.S. media also censored itself in 1992 when Sinead O'Connor angered Catholics by ripping a photo of the Pope on “Saturday Night Live.”
NBC reran the show excised of the pop singer's performance.
Afghans enraged at Europe predictably directed their anger at America by marching on a U.S. military base, figuring in the words of a farmer, the United States is “the leader of Europe and the leading infidel of the world.”
Yet no media in Afghanistan published or broadcast pictures of the cartoons.
Violence Feb. 8 likely incited by al-Qaida or other opportunists left four dead and wounded 11.
Demonstrators in London waved signs proclaiming, “Exterminate those who mock Islam” and “Be prepared for the real Holocaust.”
One person's call for “sensitivity” or flag-burning cries of “Death to Denmark” can also give cover to others' intolerant aim to intimidate free people.