CRYIN’ ALL THE TIME
Provocation for its own sake is one of the dreariest features of contemporary culture, but that’s not what this is about. Nick Gillespie’s post reminds us that the three most offensive of the “Danish cartoons” – including the one showing Mohammed as a pig – were not by any Jyllands-Posten cartoonists but were actually faked by Scandinavian imams for the purposes of stirring up outrage among Muslims.
[T]he clerics’ action underlines what’s going on: the real provocateurs are the perpetually aggrieved and ever more aggressive Islamic bullies – emboldened by the silence of “moderate Muslims” and the pre-emptive capitulation of western media. I was among a small group of columnists in the Oval Office when President Bush, after running through selected highlights from a long list of Islamic discontents, concluded with an exasperated: “If it’s not the Crusades, it’s the cartoons.”…
I’m bored with death threats. And, as far as I’m concerned, if that’s your opening conversational gambit, then any obligation on my part to “cultural sensitivity” and “mutual respect” is over. The only way to stop this madness destroying our liberties is (as Ayaan Hirsi Ali puts it) to spread the risk. Everybody Draws Mohammed Day does just that.
Let me offer a word-picture today, drawn from Chesteron’s “Lepanto”.
In language for which our bloodless leaders would apologize today, Chesterton describes “Mahound” – that is, Mohammed – in his “paradise,” summoning up dark angels, genii and giants to the aid of the Turk. For Mohammed knows what is coming out of the West:
But a noise is in the mountains, in the mountains, and I know
The voice that shook our palaces – four hundred years ago:
It is he that saith not ‘Kismet’; it is he that knows not Fate;
It is Richard, it is Raymond, it is Godfrey in the gate!
It is he whose loss is laughter when he counts the wager worth,
Put down your feet upon him, that our peace be on the earth.
Here, Chesterton anticipates those who translate “Islam” as “peace” by equating “peace” with “submission,” which is the literal meaning of “Islam.” But Chesterton submits that the submission required by Islam is not submission to the will of God, but submission to the conqueror’s foot. The “peace” his Mohammed offers is that of the down-trodden.
That is, the peace of the conquered, the peace of the slave.
The [naval] battle of Lepanto remains a moment in Western history when great powers in Christendom – Spain, Genoa, Venice, and several Papal states – gained victory over Islam. …The battle was a turning point in early modern history. The merchants of the West in 1571 made the world safer for trade, just as the merchants of the West are making the world safer for trade [today]. …
Chesterton was a Christian apologist who held that “nonsense and faith are the two supreme symbolic assertions of truth.” He tells us in the verses that Muhammad in his paradise remembered the earlier Crusades of long ago before the battle of Lepanto took place:
“…a noise is in the mountains… and I know the voice that shook our palaces four hundred years ago: it is he that saith not ‘Kismet;’ it is he that knows not Fate: It is Richard, it is Raymond, it is Godfrey at the gate.”
Richard I, the Lion-Hearted (1157-1199), Raymond IV, Count of Toulouse (1038-1105), and Godfrey of Bouillon, Duke of Lower Lorraine (1058-1100), King of Jerusalem in 1099, were not given to believe that everything that happens is foreordained. They didn’t say “Kismet” to explain away what happened to them, like the Moslems. They didn’t believe in “fate.” Things that happened were not written, not foreordained.
The Crusaders tried to stop the Saracens, the Moslems, from encroaching on what was left of Roman Mediterranean civilization in feudal days. Then the Turks took over the Byzantine Empire of Greek-speaking Christians who controlled Asia Minor, the Balkans, most of the Near East, and the Mediterranean Coast of Africa.
The great sea had been a Roman lake, with North Africa a verdant, productive bread basket. There were farms in those days all along the coast of North Africa, from the Levant to Morocco. Roman civilization persisted there, as it does today in the West.
Pushed by the tribes from the steppes of Asia, the tribes of Northern Europe mixed with the Romans, creating powerful kingdoms where Roman ways were perpetuated. Their galleys were rowed by eunuchs provided by Viking, and Syrian Jewish, slave dealers, who got their slaves among the Slavs, hence the word slave. Eunuch in Arabic is sakáliba, the same root as slave.
The Prophet Muhammad is called “Mahound” in Chesterton’s ballad, an insult that goes back to a Beaumont and Fletcher play written around 1600. Salman Rushdie in his immensely popular recent novel The Satanic Verses used the name Mahound, thereby earning himself a famous Moslem fatwa, or condemnation, of the sort that could be dangerous to one’s health. “Mahound” is a contemptuous name for Muhammad that means devil or evil spirit. Dogs are taboo in Islam.
“Whores, writers, Mahound, we are the people you can’t forgive,” Rushdie observed.
In the poem ‘Lepanto’, Mahound is taller than the trees; his voice is thunder, commanding the angel of death Azrael and the pagan spirits Ariel and Ammon. He has godly powers and uses the Seal of Solomon, the magic ring with the magen Dawid, Sulayman’s Seal, the cachet used on Moroccan coins, to crush the infidel Christians, to root out their hermits and ascetics, to rob and pillage, to raid towns on the Adriatic coast and build fortresses…
…and build mosques among the ruins.
UPDATE: Cap’n Ed:
A “hearts and minds” campaign, as we discovered in Vietnam, requires some sympathy and understanding of the entire community. If we’re insulting a broad class of Muslims by celebrating what appears to be a heresy in their eyes, we’re pushing them closer to the radicals and not isolating the terrorists. Given the images being celebrated on Facebook’s EDMD page, it won’t be too difficult to see this as an attack on their religion altogether.
On the other hand — and this is where my sympathies lie — a free society has to have the ability to offend as part and parcel of the freedom of expression. To acquiesce to the pressure that cowed Comedy Central is to surrender that freedom and to make terrorism a successful strategy, and not just for radical Islam. A nation of laws provides its citizens freedom from vendettas, and where vendettas succeed, freedom is diminished or lost altogether. That is why it is always un-American to seek political change through violence and terrorism, because it cuts against the fabric of what makes us Americans. In order to stand against the vendetta mentality, we need to make a statement that we will not be cowed into silence and surrender, whether that’s defined as dhimmitude, omerta, or whatever.
My good friend Chris Muir has what I believe may be the most thoughtful entry for EDMD. It’s a good theme for EDMD as a sort of Rohrshach test. What you read into it depends entirely on you.
Have a look.