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June 06, 2006

"Why I Published the Muhammad Cartoons"

The culture editor of Jyllands-Posten, the Danish paper that originally published the particular group of Mohammed cartoons, says that European political correctness is to blame for the riots, not his newspaper. It's a question that was on a lot of peoples' minds and he answers "Why I Published the Muhammad Cartoons". Flemming Rose lays it on the line for Europe.

And yet the unbalanced reactions to the not-so-provocative caricatures -- loud denunciations and even death threats toward us, but very little outrage toward the people who attacked two Danish Embassies -- unmasked unpleasant realities about Europe's failed experiment with multiculturalism. It's time for the Old Continent to face facts and make some profound changes in its outlook on immigration, integration and the coming Muslim demographic surge. After decades of appeasement and political correctness, combined with growing fear of a radical minority prepared to commit serious violence, Europe's moment of truth is here.

Rose goes on to explain his hippie creds, and his eventual awakening to the lie of a leftist, utopian bliss. That relates to Europe's current problem, as exposed in the riots, because he shows how out of that mindset came incorrect views on the integration of immigrants.

This kind of thinking gave birth to a distorted approach to immigration in countries like Denmark. Left-wing commentators decided that Denmark was both racist and Islamophobic. Therefore, the chief obstacle to integration was not the immigrants' unwillingness to adapt culturally to their adopted country (there are 200,000 Danish Muslims now); it was the country's inherent racism and anti-Muslim bias.

Sound familiar? Sounds like the "why do they hate us" blame-America-first mentality we hear from the Left in this country. There's nothing wrong with legal immigration, but integration with the culture of the new host country, including accepting a shared morality and value system, is critical. Instead, Europe became a continent of self-loathing, and there are many in America who think we should take that route as well.
A cult of victimology arose and was happily exploited by clever radicals among Europe's Muslims, especially certain religious leaders like Imam Ahmad Abu Laban in Denmark and Mullah Krekar in Norway.

"A cult of victimology". Sounds so familiar.
The role of victim is very convenient because it frees the self-declared victim from any responsibility, while providing a posture of moral superiority.

And again, such familiarity. It's as though Rose is reading from the playbook of our very own American Left. Never mind self-determination; there's got to be someone to sue or blame or stick it to. Let someone else pay for it or provide it or do it instead. This kind of thinking, Rose contends, led to the sort of riots and killing and mayhem over cartoons. They didn't happen here, and America is clearly to the right, politically speaking, of most of Europe. Those two facts are not coincidence.

So what's the answer? Rose answers this first by noting what the problems are.

I am a Dane because I look European, speak Danish, descend from centuries of other Scandinavians. But what about the dark, bearded new Danes who speak Arabic at home and poor Danish in the streets? We Europeans must make a profound cultural adjustment to understand that they, too, can be Danes.

Our melting pot in America has aided us in this. We didn't have as much of that to overcome, though it certainly did exist and still does, but to a lesser extent.
Another great impediment to integration is the European welfare state. Because Europe's highly developed, but increasingly unaffordable, safety nets provide such strong unemployment insurance and not enough incentive to work, many new immigrants go straight onto the dole.

Professing to be caring, they instead discourage self-reliance and encourage slothfulness. We, too, have this problem. Should society care for its needy? Absolutely, but not on a way that bankrupts society both financially and morally. As Rose notes, however, we are still ahead of Europe in this respect.
While it can be argued that the fast-growing community of about 20 million Muslim immigrants in Europe is the equivalent of America's new Hispanic immigrants, the difference in their productivity and prosperity is staggering. An Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development study in 1999 showed that while immigrants in the United States are almost equal to native-born workers as taxpayers and contributors to American prosperity, in Denmark there is a glaring gap of 41 percent between the contributions of the native-born and of the immigrants. In the United States, a laid-off worker gets an average of 32 percent compensation for his former wages in welfare services; in Denmark the figure is 81 percent. A culture of welfare dependency is rife among immigrants, and it is taken for granted.

In America, for those who can work, there is a big incentive to work. In Europe, there is a disincentive. Again, I don't think these two statistics are a coincidence. They go together.

Rose has other points to make as he discusses how Europe must go forward. But why did he publish the cartoons? His answer is one, interestingly, of inclusion.

Equal treatment is the democratic way to overcome traditional barriers of blood and soil for newcomers. To me, that means treating immigrants just as I would any other Danes. And that's what I felt I was doing in publishing the 12 cartoons of Muhammad last year. Those images in no way exceeded the bounds of taste, satire and humor to which I would subject any other Dane, whether the queen, the head of the church or the prime minister. By treating a Muslim figure the same way I would a Christian or Jewish icon, I was sending an important message: You are not strangers, you are here to stay, and we accept you as an integrated part of our life. And we will satirize you, too. It was an act of inclusion, not exclusion; an act of respect and recognition.

An act of inclusion. Some may find that ironic, and I confess that wasn't the first thing that popped into my head. But it makes sense. If you want equality, you must take the bad with the good, the satire with the atta-boys. If you won't, you don't really want the equality. This doesn't mean you can't protest over the satire, of course. It just means that you must still act within the law if you want the law on your side.

A very interesting piece, and there's quite a bit more to it. Worth the read.

Posted by Doug at June 6, 2006 01:12 PM

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