Cinnamon Stillwell provides a useful overview of the cartoon controversy in the San Francisco Gate, and concludes:
Today’s apologists condemn the Danish cartoons, while ignoring real offenses from the Muslim world. Somehow Muslims inciting hatred toward other religions on a regular basis has become acceptable, while honest analysis of Islam has not. The daily eruptions of anti-Semitic and anti-American sentiment from the Muslim world are hardly pleasant for those on the receiving end. But instead of stifling speech, opponents challenge such expression on the intellectual and political battlefields. Yet some would have us turn a blind eye instead.
How did this double standard arise? The answer is multiculturalism. Not the multiculturalism of different cultures living side by side, but the ideology that renders all cultures equal and therefore none worthy of condemnation. Such moral equivalence allows for the most backward traditions to flourish, even when they are destructive to the society as a whole. When democratic societies find themselves dominated by intolerant cultures to which they have given sanctuary, everyone’s freedom is put at risk.
Multiculturalism also has the effect of erasing any unifying culture or nationality in favor of a collection of balkanized groups with nothing in common. In such an environment, integration is forsaken and culture clashes are sure to follow. The Muslim riots in France last year were a prime example. Many a reporter chalked it up to the lack of integration in French society, but few followed that line of thought to its logical conclusion and named multiculturalism as the root cause.
Political correctness is another of multiculturalism’s destructive offshoots, and there are certainly those in the West who would shield Muslim populations from legitimate criticism. But they are actually doing more harm than good. Much-needed reform will never be possible until Muslims learn to withstand examination like everyone else. Islam should be subjected to all the scholarly interpretation, self-reflection, humor and even insult that Western religions experience.
Beyond economic need, one of the reasons many Muslims immigrated to Western countries in the first place was to enjoy the sort of freedom denied to them in their native lands. Turning the West into Afghanistan under the Taliban will help no one. While Islam may enjoy equality with other religions, supremacy is another matter. If we are to truly integrate Muslims into our societies, it must be on an equal footing.
One of the most important and hard-won rights in the West is free speech. When free speech is chipped away in the name of avoiding offense, all else is soon forfeit. Western countries will have to decide where to draw the line — or find themselves overtaken by tyranny.
With the controversy over the Muhammad cartoons, Europe seems to be awakening to this struggle. Will we follow?