Saturday, February 04, 2006

A useful and joyous polemic

On a more positive note, Der Speigel has an article by a dissident Muslim living in America defending the freedom of expression. Some highlights:
A democracy cannot survive long without freedom of expression, the freedom to argue, to dissent, even to insult and offend. It is a freedom sorely lacking in the Islamic world, and without it Islam will remain unassailed in its dogmatic, fanatical, medieval fortress; ossified, totalitarian and intolerant. Without this fundamental freedom, Islam will continue to stifle thought, human rights, individuality; originality and truth.

Unless, we show some solidarity, unashamed, noisy, public solidarity with the Danish cartoonists, then the forces that are trying to impose on the Free West a totalitarian ideology will have won; the Islamization of Europe will have begun in earnest. Do not apologize.

***

Why do they all want to immigrate to the west and not Saudi Arabia? They should be taught about the centuries of struggle that resulted in the freedoms that they and everyone else for that matter, cherish, enjoy, and avail themselves of; of the individuals and groups who fought for these freedoms and who are despised and forgotten today; the freedoms that the much of the rest of world envies, admires and tries to emulate." When the Chinese students cried and died for democracy in Tiananmen Square (in 1989), they brought with them not representations of Confucius or Buddha but a model of the Statue of Liberty."

Freedom of expression is our western heritage and we must defend it or it will die from totalitarian attacks. It is also much needed in the Islamic world. By defending our values, we are teaching the Islamic world a valuable lesson, we are helping them by submitting their cherished traditions to Enlightenment values.
I have a few quibbles with Ibn Warraq’s approach. He seems to let off the West too easily by comparing the West’s record with that of Islamic empires in the past and with Muslim societies today rather than comparing the West’s record to the West’s ideals. Both approaches are needed for balance. But Ibn Warraq here is not striving for balance, but rather he writes a useful and joyous polemic, a reminder of what the West stands for at its best.

Side note: Ibn Warraq is not the author’s actual name, but a traditional pen name used by dissidents that the author has used in writing several books previously.

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