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March 01, 2006

Dhimmitude-- Catch The Fever

Having talked to civil-liberties liberals (and conservatives, and libertarians) who questioned the need for vigorous and aggressive police action -- random friskings, etc. -- in high crime neighborhoods, I often rejoined them by noting that freedom is not only diminished by state action, but by private action as well.

Yes, it's true, cops may jack you up in New York City and frisk you. This is a diminishment of your freedom, of your privacy, of your autonomy as a human being.

On the other hand, there are some neighborhoods that are so unsafe and crime-ridden that you are not, in fact, at liberty to walk down them with full autonomy. (There were a lot more of these before Guiliani.) If you voluntarily restrict your behavior -- if you refrain from actions you'd like to take, for fear of being seized against your will-- you've lost some freedom and autonomy. Even if it's muggers and thugs doing the seizing, rather than the cops.

We are told that in America we are free to say what we want, free to protest, free to worship as we like. Is that actualy the case?

The government allows us these rights, but do we actually have them as much as we did just four short months ago? It is not the government restricting our freedoms in this area, but Muslim extremists who threaten, burn, maim and kill in response to our exercising our alleged "rights."

My question to civil libertarians with regard to the police was simple: Freedom is not just freedom from state coercion, but full freedom from all actors, private or official, who would coerce. The calculus is not simply what the government allows you do, but what you are in fact permitted to do by all actors, including governments, corporations, and, yes, criminals.

Focusing only on government restriction on freedom simply misses an important part of the equation.

Important institutions which supposedly protect our right to free speech, and to protest, and to -- yes! -- offend the sensibilities of those of various beliefs and religions, have cravenly caved to the coercion of Muslim extremists and their supposedly "moderate" leadership and lobbying groups which, while weakly denouncing violence and extremism, nevertheless claim that the Muslim faith should be the one faith in all of the free Western world protected from any insult or offense.

The US government hasn't taken this right away from you -- although it certainly did set the tone in not defending a Danish newspaper's right to publish the Mohammad cartoons, insisting that "faiths must be respected."

Free speech means precisely the opposite of this. Free speech demands that all things -- all things -- may, and occasionally must, be shown a great deal of disrespect.

Only a handful of brave newspapers in America have published the cartoons. In this, their European counterparts are clearly more courageous and zealous about the right to free speech, as they've been published far more widely there. And Europeans are the ones facing the greatest wrath from those who would, effectively, mug us in a dark alley and steal away our right to say and argue as we please.

In Muslim lands, all faiths apart from Islam face the official government status of "dhimmitude," or second-class status. There are restrictions on how tall churches may be, how big they may be, when they can operate and the like. Or even how many may be present in an area.

And of course in Muslim lands the Christian -- and especially the Jewish -- faith may be maligned and slandered in the crudest and most vicious of manners.

But in Muslim lands, Islam cannot be offended or insulted. The punishment is quite frequently severe.

Thus, a two-tier system exists: one special privileged position for the Musilm faith, a much lesser status for all other faiths.

In America in 2006, the same two-tier system is now firmly in place.

The government did not directly impose this dhimmitude on America. Rather, the institutions normally most zealous about defending the right to offend have imposed it on us. Instead of standing up to coercion, they gave in to it. They appeased.

They, effectively, accepted Sharia law as regards this issue, and imposed in on the rest of us, through the banning of giving offense to Islam in virtually all of our media.

Feisty had something interesting to say about free speech a few weeks back.

The raison d'etre for free speech is to prevent one idea or one view from being the only idea or view, which thereby prevents some sort of totalitarian non-free existance.

Again, the government itself has not taken this right away. Rather, the media has. Sure, you can, in private conversations or amateur blogs, say what you like. But the major institutions of information and opinion dissemination have submitted to Feisty's "only idea or view" definition of totalitarianism. There is only one permissible take on Islam-- complete respect for it, and abdication to its most zealous believers' rather prickly sensibilities.

Such is America in March, 2006. Those who would scream the loudest if a Christian organiation attempted to suppress their right to offend Christianity have become dhimmis of the transnational Islamist caliphate. There is one strict, "respect"-demanding rule for Allah's faith and very different rule for all other faiths.

As I've said before: It's one thing to actually be conquered militarily and forced, at the point of a knife, to accept a religion you don't believe in. That is simply a fuction of self-presevation. But to accept such a thing as a supposedly free and autonomous people is less than craven. It is disgusting.

More From Cathy Seipp: Booksellers, supposedly dedicated to preserving our right to read what we will, won't carry Oriana Fallacci's anti-Islamist books, saying "We don't carry books by fascists."

They are, however, quite willing to prominently display books by Ward "Little Eichmanns" Churchill.

The West may be slandered in absurd terms. But Islamists, or even Islam itself, must never be.

Are we as free as we once were?

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posted by Ace at 02:47 PM

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