TCS Daily


Pieties and Piss Christs

By S.T. Karnick - February 16, 2006 12:00 AM

Western journalists and intellectuals' reaction to what the columnist Charles Krauthammer has called the "studied frenzy over the Danish Muhammed cartoons" in the Muslim world is by no means an isolated event, nor should it be a puzzling one. In fact, the Western Left has had a remarkably consistent and predictable set of attitudes toward religion in recent decades. The contrasting treatment of Muslims on the one hand, and of Christians and Jews on the other, reveals the real priorities of the Western Left and their most immediate political concerns.

In a recent column, Krauthammer pointed out that the Western press and intellectuals have shown no sympathy at all when people have created and distributed works openly insulting Christianity, such as the so-called art exhibit "Piss Christ." The same is true of popular culture. NBC had planned to run, on the night before Good Friday this year, an episode of Will and Grace in which the rock singer Britney Spears portrays a Christian TV personality who presents a cooking segment called "Cruci-Fixin's." The episode was canceled after protests by Christian groups, but the offending term in fact has already appeared on the Fox comedies The Simpsons and Arrested Development.

Brent Bozell of the Media Research Center has extensively documented the negative treatment of Christians on American network television, for those who may still harbor any doubts about the matter. In addition, Bozell astutely pointed out that, whereas the report that American soldiers had deliberately flushed pages from the Koran down a toilet caused a furor among the U.S. press (as well it should), not a peep was heard a couple months earlier when an NBC-TV comedy depicted two characters flushing a Eucharist wafer down a toilet, in a scene meant to be humorous. Part of the difference in reactions can be attributed to the difference between fact and fiction, but even those whose job is to watch television, the TV columnists, failed to identify this scene as offensive.

This silence and sometimes open sympathy toward attacks on Christianity and Judaism is now the default position among most of the Western press and intelligentsia. When Christians, Jews, and their ideas are attacked, the Western Left and their journalistic catamites typically stick their fingers in their ears and shout "freedom of the press!"

The treatment of Islam has been quite different. One need only recall the urgent pleas, after the 9/11 attacks, of the Western press that the American public not hold Islam and Muslims in general responsible for the attacks. They argued strongly that the terrorists did not represent Islam, and they stated that Islam in itself was no danger to the West. Similarly, the U.S. press initially scoffed at the notion that the D.C. sniper might be a Muslim who supported the aims of al Qaeda, and when it turned out to be true, they gave the matter only a tiny fraction of the attention they would later pay to Pat Robertson's apparent call for the assassination of Panama's president.

There is a serious difference between the two cases -- but it is even more damning of the U.S. press's treatment of them. Robertson's claims, being utterly silly and having led immediately to a firestorm of opposition in his own country, could never lead to violence, whereas sniper John Allen Muhammed's beliefs did exactly that. Similarly, the widely feared assault against American Muslims after the 9/11 attacks never came. Muslim words of hatred of the West, by contrast, led to the 9/11 attacks and many others, yet the connection between Muslims' statements and the "clear and present danger" of action upon them has been continually minimized by the Western Left and their satraps among the press.

Whereas U.S. Christian leaders are immediately and vociferously criticized for any unwise or dubious statements, such as Pat Robertson's (as they should be), even more extreme pronouncements and actions by Muslims go largely uncriticized. Just this week, for example, as reported by Palestinian Media Watch, the Hamas website presented a video statement by a suicide bomber saying, "We are a nation that drinks blood, and we know that there is no blood better than the blood of Jews. We will not leave you alone until we have quenched our thirst with your blood, and our children's thirst with your blood. We will not leave until you leave the Muslim countries."

Of course, that statement came from Palestine, not the United States, and was the product of admitted terrorists. Still, one would think it might raise some eyebrows among the Western press, especially as it is fully representative of many such pronouncements publicized in mainstream Muslim media around the world.

Why, then, are Western intellectuals and their bag carriers so concerned about the sensitivities of a decidedly alien people living thousands of miles away in self-created nightmare conditions when these same Western eminences are so unmoved by the concerns of their Christian neighbors? (And those neighbors, incidentally, are the ones whose principles led to the modern idea of freedom of the press.)

In explaining why the Western press go easy on Muslims and Islam, Krauthammer wrote, "What is at issue is fear. The unspoken reason many newspapers do not want to republish [the cartoons] is not sensitivity but simple fear. They know what happened to Theo van Gogh, who made a film about the Islamic treatment of women and got a knife through the chest with an Islamist manifesto attached." The Westerners' sensitivity, Krauthammer says, is simply an attempt to keep the Islamic hordes' anger concentrated on the Danes and the few other European newspapers that reprinted the cartoons.

I believe that fear is indeed at the heart of the matter, but it is the imminence of that perceived danger, not the ultimate possible consequences, that drives the Western Left's differing reactions to Islam as opposed to Christianity and Judaism. The Western intellectuals certainly know that Islam presents a danger to their way of life, but the threat appears quite distant and attenuated at this time. Hence, they believe that they can dismiss Islamic rage as no real, immediate concern. They figure that if radical Muslims do anything really terrible to us, as they did five years ago, we can always get behind our government in a concerted response as we did then, while the fear-adrenaline was still coursing through our veins. That should stop the problem.

In addition, they reason, most Muslims are moderate and really don't want to kill us, and they certainly don't want to be bombed and crushed under Westerners' tanks because of a few big-mouthed religious fanatics in their midst. We can count on their good sense to stop the radicals among them, and if that fails, our government will step in and threaten the bad guys with serious retaliation, at which point they will retreat with their tails between their legs and resume murdering people in Indonesia, the Philippines, Saudi Arabia, Africa, and other places that don't affect us.

In short, Western Leftist intellectuals believe that Islam is a threat, but a distant one and relatively easy to defeat.

Christians and believing Jews, by contrast, are all around us, the Western Left observes, and these particular religious fanatics pose an immediate threat to our freedom. These homegrown theocrats want to force us to have replicas of the Ten Commandments on our courthouse lawns, to hear people pray in our forcibly tax-supported schools, to have voters (instead of the Supreme Court) decide what a human life is and how it should be protected, to teach children that Darwin's theory is just a theory, and other such instances of their repulsive Western version of Sharia law.

Those people must be stopped, and now, and any way we can undermine their faith is a very good thing indeed, think the Western leftists and their lapdogs in the media. That is why there is this disconnect between the Western press's treatment of Islam and its attitude toward Christianity and Judaism.

In Europe, the waxing of Islam and waning of Christianity in recent decades have led to the initial signs of a changing European assessment of the two religious traditions. The rise of Dutch politician Pim Fortuyn (slain in 2002 by a left-wing environmentalist who claimed to have done so in support of Europe's Muslims), the French government's granting of increased police powers to local communities to combat the Muslim riots of last fall, and the willingness of several European newspapers to reprint the Danish cartoons of Muhammad suggest that the continent is moving toward a realization that Islam is antithetical to European liberalism and that the Continent must begin doing something about it.

Given the enduring power of Christianity in the United States and the weak foothold of Islam here, it seems likely that it will take something much more dramatic to change attitudes among the American Left and their bully boys in the press. Undoubtedly that dramatic event will have to be a horrible catastrophe of some sort, which is tragic in itself.

S. T. Karnick is an Associate Fellow of the Sagamore Institute for Policy Research, based in Indianapolis, Indiana, and editor of The Reform Club blog.
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15 Comments

Let's have a crusade!
All roads lead to bash-the-liberals. They're not critical enough of ridiculing Christians free expressiion in the U.S., they're not concerned enough about consequences of ridiculing Mohammed in Europe. Religious Christians and Jews are the only people who take radical Islamicists seriously enough. And apparently anyone who is worried about fundamentalists in the U.S. trying to force biologists to change what they teach in school can't be worried about fundamentalists in Pakistan plotting ot bomb the U.S. The author could have saved his time and ours just by writing "I don't like liberals,period." That's all his article says, and says poorly.

Robertson
I thought Pat recommended the assasination of Chavez of Venezuela?

eric manages to prove the author right
Equating differences of opinion regarding evolution vs. creationism, with a desire to kill all who disagree with you.

The fact that poor little eric can't see any difference between the two conflicts shows how degenerate modern liberals have become.

Forbidden fruit
In the US, we have a Constitution that guarantees the Right of free speech and religion (among others). Whether or not the public has sympathy for any given religion is not a governmental concern -- as long as religious prejudices do not interfere with the civil rights of others. Thus it's perfectly legal for Americans to criticize or ridicule religion, society, politics, etc.

That's one reason why rioting did not occur when the "offensive" cartoons were republished over here. Now I understand that European law is a bit different in this regard -- for example, Germany forbids the sale of Nazi memorabilia -- but that just makes an apples-to-apples comparison problematic.

Reading disability?
Are you completely incaable of reading English???

"Equating???" That's exactly what wasn't done.

What I wrote (accurately) was the essay _assumes_ that anyone who is concerned about fundies trying to put doubt-Darwin stuff in the schools is therefor not concerned about murderous religious fanatics elsewhere. Which is utterly ridiculous, is unsubstantiated, and is offensive.

This is absolutely not saying there's no difference between the two conflicts in any way, shape or form; or in any way downplaying the need to resist Islamic terrror. It couldn't be any clearer.

The lame insults about "little eric' (who is eric?) only add to to the stupidity.

You have to remember
Fortunato remember "Markthesmallminded" is one of the hate the left crowd therefore he never lefts reality intercede into his world view.

I agree with you the Author here is really indeed saying I don't like the left. I think the Author is one of those fools who believe that all left leaning people are communist Atheist.

Dogs
Why do dogs lick themselves? Because they can.
Why do the press attack Christians, because they can.
Liberals and the media are very couragous standing behind the Constitution and our soldiers, holding up rabbit ears.

Ducks
"believe that all left leaning people are communist Atheist."

Walk like a duck....

equating
If you don't mean to equate the two, why did you even bother posting?

Forced teachings
If we are going to force teachers to teach something, let's force them to teach the Constitution and Western Civilization like they used to.
And maybe some free market economics would be nice, too.

Courage of the MSM
The Left and the media treat Christians and Moslems differently for a simple reason. No Christians have rioted or beheaded journalists or their Leftists artistes allies when Christianity is mocked. But the Left will never insult Islam because the Left knows or fears what might happen. Its a lession that Christians need to learn about dealing with the Left.

Moslems want submission and the MSM and the Left has demonstrated their willingness to be good dhimmies. One can see the example of Europe as it embraces dhimmietude. It is for this reason that the MSM has forfeited any claim to respectability or professionalism.

If you can't read...
... and you obviously can't, why do expect anyone to listen to you?

I posted because the author of the piece was wildly wrong . I explained why. YOu took the completely plain English of my post and turned it into the opposite. Instead of doing what any sane responsible person would do - acknowledge mistake, apologize -- you keep driveling. Shut up.

Except
It was a left-wing paper in Denmark, and another left wing paper in France and other left wing papers in other countries that published the cartoons. You're certainly entitled to your partisan hatreds, but get your facts straight.

Nominated for worst article of the year
This article has got to be one of the worst in here. The right appears to have no shortage of cheerleaders. This article is nothing more than a way for a small-minded nitwit to proclaim he/she doesn't like liberals or the press. Its disappointing to see something so shallow as this on TCS, I guess I expect more depth in here. Oh well, its nothing new, as you can see from other posts the fellow nitwits showed up to clap and feel good about themselves.

I'm a bit confused though too, does the author want Christians and Jews to riot when they're offended, or does he/she want Muslims to protest in a civilized way when offended? Ah, who cares, religion is a marker for weakmindedness no matter who the Idol is. You're all a bunch of f**king slaves.

Re: Except
Why do you say Jyllands-Posten is a left-wing newspaper? See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jyllands-Posten. Perhaps you should take your own advice and get your facts straight.

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