Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

Sticks and stones and cartoons and violence

My old friend David Foster has granted my wish, responding thoughtfully and manfully to this op-ed about John Locke and the cartoon violence. Dave’s conclusion is worth emphasizing:

It may be that the creator and publisher of an offensive cartoon uncivilly insult others, but those who react with violence to that insult implicitly reject the fundamental premise of Locke’s argument for toleration, because they are acting as if they could get belief through "outward force."


According to Locke, the man who makes the demand we are considering is telling you what religion you must adopt and in effect trying to rule you. On my reading of Locke, that is not grounds for civility but manly vigilance, firmness, and action.

Dave thus fleshes out the point that Roger Kimball makes more briefly here.

But, wait, that’s not all. John Zvesper reflects on these matters from his perch on the continent destined to be the crucible of the conflict between militant Islam and liberal principles...if only our European friends remember what liberalism means. Here’s the conclusion:

The cartoon affair raises the question of how effectively Europeans—and their political descendants in the rest of the liberal democratic world—can and will clarify (to themselves as well as to their allies and their enemies) what they stand for. Is clarifying and upholding the principles of liberal democracy not essential to maintaining our self respect, and therefore of gaining and keeping the respect of allies? Is it not therefore necessary to the success of the Bush strategy of isolating Islamic warmongers from their peaceful co-religionists?


If western politics is not—like the mirrors in Wertheim Park—broken beyond repair, liberal democrats will embrace a more confident response to religious intolerance. The dogmatic skepticism that says that neither nature nor heaven can help us—that liberal democratic politics has no natural, transcultural justification—is the basis of multicultural hypersensitivity and unwarranted censorship. It is not a basis for defeating political tyranny, but for surrendering to it.

Read ’em both.
   

Discussions - 1 Comment

Dr. Foster has got to be one of the most quiet mild mannered people I have ever met. So when I think he still gives too much credit to the author of that last piece, for him it is perhaps stinging rebuke. In any case, I think the west ought to stage a counter rally against the most expensive movie ever produced by Turkey.

The movie deserving of true protest: Valley of the Wolves. According to Stars and Stripes:

"American soldiers in Iraq crash a wedding and pump a little boy full of lead in front of his mother. They kill dozens of people with random machine gun fire, shoot the groom in the head, and drag those alive to Abu Ghraib prison--where a Jewish doctor cuts out their organs, which he sells to rich people in New York, London and Tel Aviv."

Given the context, how can anyone in his right mind believe appeasing these people in the name of "tolerance" or "prudence" or "respect" possibly be the right answer?

Incomprehensible!

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