Austin Bay

In an organized act of genuinely civil protest, two days after the arrests several Danish newspapers republished Westergaard's cartoon.

There is a damning silence, however, reminiscent of the disgusting silence following Van Gogh's slaying. We've heard scarcely a peep of protest on the Westergaards' behalf from Hollywood and the so-called "literary world."

Why would these august industries, so dependent on the protection of free speech and free expression, fail to condemn this murderous form of anti-intellectualism?

I'll hazard a guess. Box office success in the contemporary movie industry depends upon "maximizing the paying audience." This means not alienating anyone, if possible, and certainly not running the risk of insulting anyone. Let your pocketbook be your guide.

As for the literati -- at least, the political glitterati who so gallantly promote arresting President Bush for war crimes -- the doctrines of "multiculturalism" and "victimhood" have become their guiding dogmas. "All cultures are of equal value" is the rough gist of this poohbah mantra, and virtually everyone is a victim of "America" and "capitalism" and "imperialism" and "sexism," et cetera. Non-Christians and non-whites are inevitably victims.

The murder of a Dutch bohemian filmmaker by an Islamist radical must be "understood." The attempted assassination of a Danish editorial cartoonist "must be deconstructed," or whatever befogged term is au courant.

This is, of course, a pseudo-cosmopolitanism and faux open-mindedness. The Islamist killers despise freedom. The murder of an artist and the attempted murder of a cartoonist by Muslim immigrants are harsh but clarifying events that contrast the values of individual cultural and political freedom (liberating Western values) with the "values" of tribal and exclusivist religious identities.

But that's too much clarity for the multiculturalists. Their brains go tilt. They turn their backs, have another glass of white wine and ignore the crimes.

Austin Bay

Austin Bay is the author of three novels. His third novel, The Wrong Side of Brightness, was published by Putnam/Jove in June 2003. He has also co-authored four non-fiction books, to include A Quick and Dirty Guide to War: Third Edition (with James Dunnigan, Morrow, 1996).
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