Thursday, February 09, 2006

The Cartoon Controversy, Some Willful Misunderstandings

Written from Auckland, New Zealand--

There is a saying that New Zealand is more like Great Britain than any other country, and it's clear when you're here that right down to the food, which is none too highly spiced, there is a marked empathy between this country and its people and the British.

So, it was interesting and rather inspiring to see here this week that the leading New Zealand newspapers gave very extensive coverage to the trial, conviction and sentencing to seven years in prison of the British imam, Abu Hamza al-Masri, for hatemongering.

One paper printed three long articles, including a compilation of just what this man has been saying, as recorded by British security services and testified to at his trial.

Among other things he declared was that Allah loves the shedding of blood, espeicially of Westerners and other infidels. There were many other statements urging murders and veritable genocide.

Anyone reading this coverage must take it seriously. This imam and others like him, in Syria, Iran, Iraq and other havens of Islamic extremism in the Middle East, literally intend to destroy freedom. For them, the War On Terror is a war to destroy free societies, like Denmark, Norway, Britain, France and the United States.

That's why I believe those who belittle the American response, or believe we have a choice whether to respond or not, are fooling themselves badly. If we do not respond, it is going to give our enemies a far greater chance to prevail. And prevailing could mean the atomic destruction of American and European cities.

Someone who comments on my blog remarked this week that I had written enough about the cartoonist controversy.

With all due respect, I don't think so. What happened with the cartoons was a serious warning. We ignore it at our own peril.

A group of Danish cartoonists prepared some mildly critical cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed. With suicide bombings rife in the world, it was not excessive to depict him with a bomb in his turban, since some of his followers seek to extoll that part of his character.

But, as Steve Emerson, the terrorist expert, has documented, a group of imams then drew up some more outragewous cartoons, including one depicting Mohammed as having the head of a pig. When these were circulated in the Middle East, there was an explosion. Mobsburned down the Danish and Norwegian embassies in Syria and Lebanon. There were murders in Afghanistan and demands in Iraq and Iran that Western countries take steps to abrogate their own press freedoms. In London, demonstrators urged the execution of the cartoonists and called for more suicide bombings.

This bears a distinct resemblance to Kristallnicht in Germany in 1938, when the Nazie took a shooting of the German diplomat, Von Rom, in Paris and used it to commit widescale outrages against Jews in Germany that presaged in a real way the Holocaust.

What is going on today represents in my view a new threat. That is why I have been so persistent an exponent of U.S. and British policy in recent years. As the New Zealand papers pointed out, the U.S. and Britain, are carrying on the fight for freedom, and they deserve the support and sympathy of us all.

Now, a huge demonstration has been called for this weekend in London. Those who participate, it is not too much to say, represent the threeat we face.

"Be ye men of valor," Winston Churchill admonished us in 1940. His call to the gallant soldiers defending our freedom is pertinent today.


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