As you are no doubt aware on New Years Day Danish cartoonist Kurt Westergaard and his granddaughter were attacked in his house by an axe-wielding Islamic extremist intent on murder. The reason for the attack, well Westergaard was one of the people behind the now infamous Danish newspaper cartoons that depicted Muslims and Mohammed in a less than favourable light. Clearly justification for bloody axe based murder. Thankfully the attack was not successful and the would be killer himself was shot and unfortunately only wounded in the attempt.
Of course no sane person would see Westergaard as the bad guy in this story or the attack on him as justified…would they? Enter Nancy Graham Holm and her article at The Guardian Online website.
The title of the piece tells you everything you need to know.
Prejudiced Danes provoke fanaticism
Publishing Kurt Westergaard’s cartoon was an aggressive act born of Denmark’s reluctance to respect religious belief
Yup, according to Nancy someone trying to brutally murder Westergaard with an axe is entirely the cartoonists own fault for not showing adequate deference to religion. In short, he had it coming. But it would be foolish to place all the blame for such an act upon the victim himself, surely some of it must lay else where. On this point Nancy agrees.
Muslims failed to see Westergaard’s cartoon as satire. Instead, they saw in it a defamatory and humiliating message: Muslims are terrorists. Humiliation is a devastating feeling. But most people who are insulted will accept an apology. If an apology had been forthcoming from the then prime minister, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, that probably would have been the end to it – but none came, and the humiliation was compounded.
Ah yes that’s better. Place the blame for the attack, as well as all the riots and embassy burnings that followed in the wake of the cartoons initial publication, on the Danish Prime Minister. But why should anyone, let alone the Prime Minister, have apologised? Now I will even agree that it is possible to argue that many of the cartoons were in poor taste, but be that as it may it is hard to claim, based upon the some what ironic reaction to them alone, that they were not accurate. The message was clear, from both sides of the aisles, if you challenge Islam then you can expect violent reactions from the extremists. But does this mean we should just keep quiet about it? Of course not. Freedom of speech means freedom to say things that people don’t want to hear and if you say that Islam promotes violence and the claim is responded to with violence then, well, I kind of think you have proven your point. Unsurprisingly Nancy doesn’t see it that way.
Danes fail to perceive the fact that they have developed a society deeply suspicious of religion. This is the real issue between Denmark and Muslim extremists, not freedom of speech. The free society precept is merely an attempt to give the perpetrators the moral high ground when actually it is a smokescreen for a deeply rooted prejudice, not against Muslims, but against religion per se. Muslims are in love with their faith. And many Danes are suspicious of anyone who loves religion.
And why the hell shouldn’t they be? You only have to look back at the news over the last few months of 2009 to see the sort of damage being done around the world in the name of religion. Two immediate examples spring to mind. The Pope’s comments about condoms spreading AIDS during his visit to Africa and, more recently, the attempt in Uganda to implement the death penalty for homosexuals spurred on by fundamentalist Christians in America. Are these things also the result of a lack of respect for religion or are they what happens when religions, driven by ideology rather than evidence and reason, gain too much power?
I’d like to think I was misreading this article and thus over reacting to it. However, judging for the comments, it seems that I am not the only one who feels that Nancy’s take on the matter is, to put it mildly, skewed. She ends with perhaps the most, if not the only, truly accurate statement in the entire pieces. I can’t help but picture her grinning with delight as she wrote these words.
This time, Westergaard’s attacker was caught – but someone else is out there waiting for an opportunity to strike again.
Because to Nancy, it seems, if you speak out against religion and fail to show it respect, well, then you deserve everything that’s coming to you. I am sure I am not the only one that feels that people like Nancy are just as much part of the problem as the people they seek to unjustly defend.