Liberty 6

Rick Roderick expounds John Stuart Mill:

Further to stress the supreme importance of liberty and reason, here is our summary of excellent points made in an article by Jeffrey Tayler, a contributing editor at the Atlantic.

Astonishingly, the article was published by the far-left periodical Salon. It is quite long, but it is good, and may be read in its entirety here.

Last week’s assault on the “Draw Muhammad” cartoon contest that Pamela Geller hosted in Texas proves the jihad against freedom of expression has opened a front in the United States. She and those with her came close to being murdered, yet some in the media blamed her for the gunmen’s attack.

Acceptance of the fraudulent term “Islamophobia” contributes to the generalized befuddlement on the left about the faith in question and whether negative talk about it constitutes some sort of racism. It patently does not. Unlike skin color, faith is not inherited and is susceptible to change. As with any other ideology, it should be subject to unfettered discussion, which may include satire, ridicule and even derision. The First Amendment protects our right to practice the religion of our choosing or no religion at all, and our right to speak freely, even offensively, about it. From a rationalist’s perspective, any ideology that mandates belief without evidence is a priori dangerous and liable to abuse.

The “Prophet” Muhammad transformed the Despot on High into an even more menacing, wrathful ogre, whose gory punishments meted out to hapless souls after death fill many a Koranic verse. Muhammad was a triumphant warlord leading military campaigns that spread Islam throughout Arabia. He preceded his invasions by demands that populations either convert or face the sword. Verses sanctifying violence against “infidels” abound in the Koran, and warn that Hellfire awaits those worshipping anything besides Allah. The real meaning of the word “Islam” is surrender — to Allah. Surrendering denotes groveling and humiliation.

We should proudly espouse, as alternatives to blind obedience to ancient texts, reason, progress, and the wonderful panoply of other Enlightenment ideals underpinning our Constitution and the liberties characterizing Western countries. We cannot wimp out and blame the victims for drawing cartoons, writing novels, or making movies. The media need to begin showing Muhammad cartoons. We must stop traducing reason by branding people “Islamophobes”, and start celebrating our secularism, remembering that only it offers true freedom for the religious and non-religious alike. And we should reaffirm our humanistic values, in our conviction that we have only one life, and need to make the most of it. There is nothing else.

This is not a battle we have chosen; the battle has chosen us. It’s time to fight back, and hard.

Our only quibble would be with this in the original article: “…some in the media on the right and the center-right have essentially blamed [Pamela Geller] for the gunmen’s attacks … ”

While it is true that Greta van Susteren of Fox News did that, and Bill O’Reilly did it too (only to be forcefully and brilliantly contradicted by Megyn Kelly), most of the “blame Geller” opinion is to be found in the left-slanted Islam-supporting media, notably the New York Times. Which is why it is astonishing that Jeffrey Tayler’s article – defending Geller, free speech, and the secular values of the Enlightenment – appeared in Salon.