Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Anders Fogh has it right...

It's not common practice for me to defend the actions of a figure of the center-right, but this is a situation where I will go out and do so. Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen is absolutely right to refuse to make any sort of apology for the cartoons appearing in Jyllands-Posten that have, apparently, offended Muslims worldwide.

Of course this is entirely a political issue, with Islamic governments playing the "pity card." I say Islamic governments because I certainly don't blame all Muslims for this issue... it's part of governments' search for backing among the religious citizenry. So Libya and the Saudis will withdraw their ambassadors from Copenhagen... fine. So what? It's not the job of the Danish government to apologize. What happens when "offensive" caricatures appear in Saudi or other Arab or Muslim-world newspapers? I certainly don't see a lot of apologies from Arab/Muslim governments... check out Alhamedi's Religious Policeman blog for some examples of wonderful drawings from KSA.

Social democracy includes the value of freedom of speech. If you're offended by it, tough... showing Mohammed depicted as a terrorist is not a threat to anyone, and there's no reason why any rational person should get anything more than momentarily upset. Of course it's against the tenets of Islam. But there are plenty of things that occur everywhere, every day, that violate the tenets of something, and if everyone got angry about them, then where would we be? (probably in a strict Islamic country, or possibly in Israel/Palestine, or in a PETA meeting, or the Republican National Convention).

Finally, the actions of al-Aqsa Brigades in storming the EU mission to Gaza are totally uncalled for. The EU has been nothing but helpful to the Palestinian cause of late, and while the Europeans certainly could be more assertive, armed threats don't seem to be the proper response. It's a good illustration of the total lack of control in the Territories that, just maybe, Hamas will start to do something about now.

The worthless apology

I think it's briefly worth mentioning that the antithesis of the Danish approach is taken by Pat Robertson, who goes out of his way to offend pretty much anyone and get in the news with statements such as: we deserved Hurricane Katrina; Ariel Sharon got his stroke for leaving Gaza; the U.S. should assassinate Hugo Chavez; and so forth. And then he apologizes. And then he makes another comment.

Does this help anyone? Maybe Pat Robertson, who stays in the news a bit longer due to his apology...

But it certainly is not Anders Fogh's job to apologize for having a free press, and he deserves credit for, so far at least, standing at its defense.

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