A Sad Day
I had a chance to view right-wing Dutch politician Geert Wilders’ 15 minute film, Fitna, before it was removed from the LiveLeak website. The site administrator notes:
Following threats to our staff of a very serious nature, and some ill informed reports from certain corners of the British media that could directly lead to the harm of some of our staff, Liveleak.com has been left with no other choice but to remove Fitna from our servers. This is a sad day for freedom of speech on the net but we have to place the safety and well being of our staff above all else.
The film contains deeply disturbing images and represents ideological trends in the Netherlands and by extrapolation, throughout all of Europe that are a cause for concern. There is no doubt that Moslems will find the juxtaposition of Koranic verses with film clips and newspaper accounts of terrorist attacks to be disturbing. However, there is no direct or insulting commentary that links Islam to violence and certainly no offensive anti-Islamic statements in the film. And yet, we begin to see the first signs of “outrage” that followed the publication of the Mohammed cartoons.
Mark Steyn comments:
… a film such as Fitna might not even be necessary were the western news organizations not so absurdly deferential toward Muslim sensibilities that they go out of their way to avoid showing us anything that might cause us to link violence with Islam. Even that footage of those depraved [Palestinian] West Bankers jumping up and down in the street and passing out candy to celebrate 9/11 appears to have been walled up in the most impenetrable vault of the archives these last six years. Both CNN and the BBC could only bring themselves to show the Danish cartoons by pixelating Mohammed's face - the first time this technique has ever been applied to a drawing, as if the Prophet had entered the witness protection program. At one level, they make Wilders' point for him, but, at another, they make it less likely anyone else will step forward to try to make the point next time.
It does appear that the Western media thinks that their interpretation of political correctness (an interpretation that in recent years has been biased in favor of certain religions and against others) is far more important than freedom of the press or freedom of expression. Their hypocrisy on this matter and the contortions they go through to justify it would be comic if it weren’t so dangerous.
But something else is going on here, and Wretchard of the Belmont Club has isolated it:
In an earlier post I predicted that European leaders, "Human Rights" committees and all the assorted enforcers of politically correct speech would eventually be trapped in a whack-a-mole mode. They'll be busy fighting a cultural counter-insurgency.
If regular media outlets refuse to present materials that are mildly critical of Islam, then individuals will do so. And with the viral aspects of the Web—Fitna was viewed by more that 3 million people in just a few days—individuals may succeed is broad distribution of "anti-Islamic" content.
But at the same time, CNN, the NYT, and almost every other MSM outlet refuse to present “disturbing video” (e.g., the severing of Daniel Pearl’s head by Islamofascist terrorists in Pakistan) because, what? It might get Americans angry?
Despite protestation and outright lies by pro-terrorist mouthpieces like CAIR, acts of anti-Islamic violence in the USA have been remarkably low and do not seem to be increasing at any significant level. To our credit, Americans are remarkably restrained and respectful toward Islam.
The MSM would argue that it's all because of their suppression of facts. Maybe. But does that justify suppression of factual evidence that depicts the barbarity of enemy we face? Could another reason be that it might cause people to reconsider the canard that paints the GWoT as the “politics of fear?”
Wretchard thinks that MSM and governmental political correctness may not be able to control this information as we move forward.
The emergence of a parallel information system in the Soviet Union was a direct result of the failure by normal channels to carry information under the threat of punishment the KGB. Today's KGB of course, is Islam and the Left. But censorship is ultimately counterproductive. There is nothing particularly excellent about Wilder's film. It won't win any prizes for either hatred or dramatics. Why should such a thing become famous? The answer of course is because ordinary, even mediocre speech has been censored openly in the Western world. It's not the ordinary speech which is singular but the censorship. If Fitna had not been given such play it would have screened in a half dozen art-houses and been forgotten. As matters stand it will enter the history books.
If the threat of violence (or worse) broadens the suppression of relatively innocuous cartoons and films, the underground network of distribution will flourish, and as a consequence, the correctness police will lose control. Is that a good thing or a bad thing?