The further to the left or the right you move, the more your lens on life distorts.

Monday, February 13, 2006


Today, our local paper (The Sun Sentinel) ran a Toles cartoon featuring a US military veteran who had a double amputation. When the cartoon was originally published in The Washington Post it prompted a rare written response by the DoD’s Joint Chiefs of Staff who argued that it was offensive to military personnel. Although I didn’t like the cartoon and found it in poor taste, I shrugged and moved on.

Like most newspapers in the US, The Sun Sentinel refuses to publish the now infamous Danish Cartoons, arguing that their publication would violate the paper’s self-imposed requirement for religious tolerance.

Who can argue that religious tolerance is not a worthwhile goal. It is.

Let’s go a little further. On Sunday, The Sun Sentinel published a feature article on “hate groups” throughout Florida. Neo-Nazis, the KKK, even the JDL (?), were listed among these despicable groups. Oddly, not a single Florida-based Moslem group with ties to Middle East terrorists was noted. Even the MAS (see my last post)—a front for the Muslim Brotherhood and located right up the road in Tampa—failed to appear in the article.

There’s something creepy about the actions of The Sun Sentinel, and more broadly the majority of US media, that is exemplified by a “walking on eggshells” attitude when something offensive (or even negative) might be published about Islam.

Diane West of the The Washington Times addresses this state of affairs when she writes:

We need to learn a new word: dhimmitude. I've written about dhimmitude periodically, lo, these many years since September 11, but it takes time to sink in. Dhimmitude is the coinage of a brilliant historian, Bat Ye'or, whose pioneering studies of the dhimmi, populations of Jews and Christians vanquished by Islamic jihad, have led her to conclude that a common culture has existed through the centuries among the varied dhimmi populations. From Egypt and Palestine to Iraq and Syria, from Morocco and Algeria to Spain, Sicily and Greece, from Armenia and the Balkans to the Caucasus: Wherever Islam conquered, surrendering dhimmi, known to Muslims as "people of the book [the Bible]," were tolerated, allowed to practice their religion, but at a dehumanizing cost.

There were literal taxes (jizya) to be paid; these bought the dhimmi the right to remain non-Muslim, the price not of religious freedom, but of religious identity. Freedom was lost, sorely circumscribed by a body of Islamic law (sharia) designed to subjugate, denigrate and humiliate the dhimmi. The resulting culture of self-abnegation, self-censorship and fear shared by far-flung dhimmi is the basis of dhimmitude. The extremely distressing but highly significant fact is, dhimmitude doesn't only exist in lands where Islamic law rules.

This is the lesson of Cartoon Rage 2006, a cultural nuke set off by an Islamic chain reaction to those 12 cartoons of Muhammad appearing in a Danish newspaper. We have watched the Muslim meltdown with shocked attention, but there is little recognition that its poisonous fallout is fear. Fear in the State Department, which, like Islam, called the cartoons unacceptable. Fear in Whitehall, which did the same. Fear in the Vatican, which did the same. And fear in the media, which have failed, with few, few exceptions, to reprint or show the images. With only a small roll of brave journals, mainly in Europe, to salute, we have seen the proud Western tradition of a free press bow its head and submit to an Islamic law against depictions of Muhammad. That's dhimmitude.

Not that we admit it: We dress up our capitulation in fancy talk of "tolerance," "responsibility" and "sensitivity." We even congratulate ourselves for having the "editorial judgment" to make "pluralism" possible. "Readers were well served... without publishing the cartoons," said a Wall Street Journal spokesman. "CNN has chosen to not show the cartoons in respect for Islam," reported the cable network. On behalf of the BBC, which did show some of the cartoons on the air, a news editor subsequently apologized, adding: "We've taken a decision not to go further... in order not to gratuitously offend the significant number" of Muslim viewers worldwide. Left unmentioned is the understanding (editorial judgement?) that "gratuitous offense" leads to gratuitous violence. Hence, fear — not the inspiration of tolerance but of capitulation — and a condition of dhimmitude.

"Tolerance," "responsibility" and "sensitivity" are all virtues that each of us should adopt. But when do these virtues become something else—something dangerous? I think it’s when "tolerance," "responsibility" and "sensitivity" are driven by the vain hope they will mollify an “aggrieved” party who exhibits none of these virtues.

Americans don’t like and have very little respect for “brown-nosers.” If you don’t have respect for yourself and the courage to criticize behavior that is irrational and dangerous, behavior that threatens or subjugates defenseless people, you have no right to expect that your enemies will have any respect for you.

I hope we’re not becoming quasi-dhimmi. Because the closer we get to dhimmitude, the stronger our enemies become.