It is most important to keep on challenging these would-be censors, so that people with Kalashnikov rifles do not make our customs and laws.
by Douglas Murray
….The organizers at the American Freedom Defense Initiative (AFDI), Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer, are not left-wing journalists but conservative activists; and because the Dutch politician Geert Wilders spoke at the opening of the exhibition, that added a layer of complexity for people who like labeling actions with political valences, rather than just seeing actions as apart from them. It seems clear, however, from the pattern of condemnations on one side and silence on the other, that a cartoonist may be worthy of defense if he is associated with a left-wing organization, but not if he is associated with a right-wing one.
Of course, this idea goes to one of the false presumptions of our time: that people on the political left are motivated by good intentions even when they do bad things, while people on the political right are motivated by bad intentions even when they do good things. So a cartoon promoted byCharlie Hebdo may be thought to be provocative in a constructive way, whereas one promoted by AFDI can only be thought if as being provocative in an unconstructive way. Whether people are willing to admit it or not, this is one of the main problems that underlies the reaction to the Texas attack.
Such a distinction is, needless to say, a colossal mistake. When people prefer to focus on the motives of the victims rather than on the motives of the attackers, they will ignore the single most important matter: that an art exhibition, or free speech, has been targeted. The rest is narcissism and slow-learning.
It does not matter if you are right wing or left wing. It does not matter if you are American, Danish, Dutch, Belgian or French, or whether you are from Texas or Copenhagen. These particularities may matter greatly and be endlessly interesting to people in the countries in question. But they matter not a jot to ISIS or their fellow-travellers. What these people are trying to do is to enforce Islamic blasphemy laws across the entire world.
That is all that matters. If we forget this or lose sight of it, not only will we lose free speech, we will lose, period.
Winning image from the AFDI’s Mohammad Cartoon Contest, by Bosch Fawstin