I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.
- often attributed to Voltaire
There is probably no single sentence that more thoroughly expresses the fundamental belief system of Western culture. At the end of the day, every one of the traditional freedoms we enjoy derive from the right of free speech. Freedom of conscience and religion, freedom of the press, freedom from unwarranted search and seizure, freedom to keep and bear arms - how can any of them be preserved if you don't have the right to talk about them?
But if the only right honored is free speech, then at least there's hope for persuading people that other rights should be granted. The suffragettes walked this road, as did the civil rights protestors of the 1960s, with ultimate success.
Which is why our first instinct on any controversial issue is to stand with Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis:
If there be time to expose through discussion the falsehood and fallacies, to avert the evil by the processes of education, the remedy to be applied is more speech, not enforced silence.
What should a free society do with a class of person who uses their free speech to advocate and militate for the overthrow of free speech, and thus all the rest of our freedoms?
Traditionally we haven't worried about this problem, considering it to be so vanishingly rare as to be irrelevant. But it's crept up on us unawares, and we find a striking example from a unique source: the satirical French magazine Charlie Hebdo.
Charlie Hebdo is a bit like Mad magazine on drugs and it specializes in lampooning religion of all sorts. Modern French mainstream culture is aggressively secular, so anything to do with religion is fair game for assault. Charlie Hebdo insults the Pope, Jesus Christ, God, Buddha...
...And - Mohammed. Unlike Christians, Buddhists, Hindus, Zoroastrians, or even Satanists, Muslims living in France but not of France responded in the way we've come to expect: with a murderous terrorist assault that ultimately killed 17 innocents, including the cartoonist who'd drawn Mohammed.
Since then, Charlie Hebdo has been a bit more circumspect about ridiculing Mohammed, in part because quite a few Western journalists basically expressed the view that they had it coming. The end result, of course, is what Muslims want: the loss of the freedom of speech as applied to Islam in general and Mohammed in particular.
But Charlie Hebdo is apparently not yet entirely trapped in thrall to dhimmitude. This week they published a surprisingly thoughtful article, in English no less, discussing the the extent of the threat in quite a new way.
Last week, Sciences-Po [the French equivalent of Yale or Columbia] welcomed Tariq Ramadan. He's a teacher, so it's not inappropriate. He came to speak of his specialist subject, Islam, which is also his religion. Rather like lecture by a Professor of Pies who is also a pie-maker. Thus judge and contestant both.
No matter, Tariq Ramadan has done nothing wrong. He will never do anything wrong...
Tariq Ramadan is never going to grab a Kalashnikov with which to shoot journalists at an editorial meeting. Nor will he ever cook up a bomb to be used in an airport concourse. Others will be doing all that kind of stuff. It will not be his role.
His task, under cover of debate, is to dissuade people from criticising his religion in any way.
The article goes on to talk about how all the innocent and nonviolent manifestations of Islam - the shrouded, invisible female, the Muslim restaurateur whose establishment no longer serves pork products, the neighborhood and ultimately the world where ordinary people are stuck asking themselves:
"How the hell did I end up here?" "How the hell did I end up having to wander the streets all day with a big veil on my head?" "How the hell did I end up having to say prayers five times a day?"
That, even more than getting randomly blown to shreds in an airport or train station, is what Western culture urgently must dedicate itself to avoiding, because right now we're on the express track in that direction. And unfortunately, the past few decades of Muslim immigration have proven that Islam, itself - the religion, the culture, the way of life, the ethical teachings, the legal system of sharia - as a whole, operates as a virus.
Once introduced in numbers beyond a token, Islam consistently spreads throughout a country, and spreads, and spreads - until the country is 99% Muslim, with a handful of oppressed, invisible nonconformists who stay precariously underground, as in Saudi Arabia and many other Muslim countries. Over 1,400 years of civilizational conflict, this process has never been reversed other than by direct military force and deportations.
Is this the fate we want to see befall our world? While we mostly all recognize the need to stop terrorism, Charlie Hebdo has realized that stopping the actively violent Muslims, as important as that effort is, won't save us - because the nonviolent ones are still dedicated to changing our culture in the Islamic direction.
Not all Muslims are terrorists. Most Muslims will never commit any crime. But because of their belief system - because of the Islamic view of (lack of) human rights, (nonexistence of) women's rights, and (total opposition to) free speech, all practicing Muslims are, in the final analysis, the enemies of civilization.
Charlie Hebdo has figured this out, and somehow still has the boldness to say so even after all they've been through. Which country - which leaders - will have the boldness to actually do something about it? And will it be too little, too late?
Over the past five years, the editors have been secretly working on a book that summarizes the fundamental viewpoints of Scragged.