by Douglas Murray
…Last week, on the anniversary of the publication of the first Mohammed cartoons, Jyllands-Posten republished the original spread. The page and texts were laid out as they had been on that famous day ten year earlier. But one thing was missing: the cartoons. Where the original images had been — even the ones that did not depict Mohammed — there were only blank spaces. What had been possible in 2005 was no longer possible in 2015. One can hardly blame the publishers. After ten years of paying for security, and staff having to work in perhaps the most threatened newspaper office on earth, the editors of Jyllands-Posten signalled that they had had enough of the threats and enough of the danger. They censored themselves.
It took only ten years for most people across the West to learn about Islamic blasphemy — and in the end to abide by it. Today there might be thousands of people willing to publish cartoons of Mohammed on their Twitter accounts, but most of them hide behind aliases and complain about the cowardice of others.
A few days before the Mohammed cartoons’ anniversary, Mark Steyn, Henryk Broder and the Norwegian editor Vebjoern Selbekk addressed a conference in Denmark to commemorate the anniversary of the cartoons. It was held in the Danish Parliament, the only building there now deemed safe enough to withstand the now-traditional attack from the Islamic Blasphemy Police. Anticipating a terrorist attack, the UK Foreign Office and U.S. State Departments both warned their citizens to stay away from the area of the Parliament building that day. The restaurant in which we were meant to be having dinner cancelled the booking; they realized, when police and security officers scouted out the building in advance, who the guests might be.
Ten years ago, you could publish depictions of Mohammed in a Danish newspaper. Ten years later, it is hard for anyone who has been connected with such an act to find a restaurant in Copenhagen that will serve them dinner.
It is not just artists and writers who have learned the lesson; it is everyone — from newspaper conglomerates to the people who serve food in restaurants. Our societies like to think that terrorism and intimidation do not work. They do — or can — but only if we let them. Over the last ten years, a couple of brief eruptions of sanctimonious point-missing aside, it turned out to be fear — not Mohammed cartoons — that went viral.
Freedom, however, was never defended by more than a handful of people. Most prefer their comforts and a quiet life to anything that looks like a fight. But there are still more than a few good people across the world, and more than a handful of them in Scandinavia. If, in previous conflicts, one looked to pilots or statesman to lead the way, in this war against the new “Islamic Inquisition,” it is journalists, cartoonists, writers and artists who find themselves on the front lines and who need to lead. Some of them might be surprised to be in this position. They should not be. Freedom of expression and thought have always had vicious enemies. But the truth has always seen them off, and shall do again.