Pro-Denmark Rally, Lunchtime Friday in D.C.:

Christopher Hitchens, writing in Slate, is organizing a rally in D.C. outside the Danish embassy:

Please be outside the Embassy of Denmark, 3200 Whitehaven Street (off Massachusetts Avenue) between noon and 1 p.m. this Friday, Feb. 24. Quietness and calm are the necessities, plus cheerful conversation. Danish flags are good, or posters reading "Stand By Denmark" and any variation on this theme (such as "Buy Carlsberg/Havarti/Lego"). The response has been astonishing and I know that the Danes are appreciative. But they are an embassy and thus do not of course endorse or comment on any demonstration. Let us hope, however, to set a precedent for other cities and countries. Please pass on this message to friends and colleagues.

It's only a short cab ride from the K Street corridor, and several blocks' walk from Dupont Circle or Woodley Park.

Hope you can make it -- if you're planning to, please note this in the comments, so that other Conspiracy readers will feel emboldened.

sbw (mail) (www):

Arrange a Guest Book so those of us who cannot attend can register our support. Perhaps Pajama Media can host it.

2.22.2006 7:30pm
Commenterlein (mail):
Sounds like a terrific idea! Since I am not from DC I won't be able to attend, but I definitely hope that many others will.
2.22.2006 7:37pm
Eric Muller (www):
So I guess "Something Is Rotten..." is not quite the concept?
2.22.2006 7:38pm
Tom R (mail):
If, like me, you're a religious believer and disagree with the way Hitchens likes to insult religion, BUT you also believe in freedom of speech for people who want to insult religion -- IOW, if you want to highlight the excluded middle between "blasphemy is bad, because our religion is true and good" and "Your religion is false and harmful, therefore blasphemy is good" -- may I suggest a placard along the lines of:

2.22.2006 7:40pm
SB (www):
I don't think I will be able to make it to the rally, but I fully support the show of solidarity.

My initial reaction when I heard about the cartoon issue was one of strong support of Denmark, but then the typical "sure, you have free speech, but it should be used responsibly" attitude hit me.

I more recently reverted to full support of the newspaper after reading this. I am surprised this very powerful piece hasn't gotten more positive press.
2.22.2006 8:18pm
SimonD (www):
Tom raises a fair point. What to do when one considers Hitchens to be a loathesome human being who should be ignored when and wherever possible? Attend the rally and show solidarity with Denmark, but risk being associated with Hitchens, or avoid both?
2.22.2006 8:24pm
KeithK (mail):
I think it's worth standing up for some principles even when it means standing with those who you despise. In this case especially when it means standing with those you despise, since the whole point is that people have a right to say despicable things.
2.22.2006 8:28pm
Greedy Clerk (mail):
I support the Ku Klux Klan's right to tell people that Jews are the devil and that the Holocaust didn't happen and that Blacks are not deserving of rights and should be sent back to Africa, etc., but you wouldn't catch me dead at a "show solidarity with the Klan" rally after some Jews or Blacks happened to unwisely question the Klan's right to say very bad things. . . .

Wonder what we would think of the motivations of those who would. . . .
2.22.2006 9:02pm
I support the Ku Klux Klan's right...

Equating the State of Denmark to the Klan? Nice.

There ought to be a Godwin's Law equivalent for Klan references.
2.22.2006 9:27pm
SimonD (www):
Perhaps G.C. can clear the confusion up, but I assume he meant to compare Hitchens to the Klan, not Denmark.
2.22.2006 9:32pm
magoo (mail):
On another day, in another forum, Hitchens would enthusiastically describe Jewish observance (and all other forms of religious observance) as a form of mental instability. The enemy of my enemy really is my friend.

You all must be confident this "rally" will remain high-minded and civil and not degenerate into yet another squalid, xenophobic episode of Arab-bashing. I'm sure Hitchens' call for "quite, calm, and cheerful conversation" will curb any such impulses on the part of those at the rally. Right.

Another use of one's time would be to engage in dialogue with an actual Muslim, but that wouldn't be nearly as much fun, would it?
2.22.2006 10:01pm
You all must be confident this "rally" will remain high-minded and civil and not degenerate into yet another squalid, xenophobic episode of Arab-bashing.

Like what, exactly?
2.22.2006 10:30pm
Tom R (mail):
Just to clarify where I'm coming from: Most of the time, on matters of secular politics, I tend to agree with Hitchens. It's just that when he gets onto religion, he starts to foam at the mouth, and goes beyond "Here are some genuine problems with this particular creed/ denomination" into simply aiming to be offensive. No, I don't think he should be censored for this, whether it's labelled "blasphemy" or "offence" or "vilification". What I would like is a way to make clear that I believe [1] some (not all) of the cartoons do go beyond the bounds of good taste, but [2] good taste is not to be enforced by the process of law, and [3] a fortiori, good taste is not to be enforced by extra-legal lynch mobs.

Moreover, it's wrong that the Danish govt and society are being targeted not because it itself sponsored the cartoons, but for failing to suppress them.

There is an old legal maxim injuriae diis Deorum curae, ie, "harms to [the] gods are the gods' business". As a Christian, I do not believe that every sin should be a crime punishable by the state. Rather, the state should only get involved when some particular wrong involves harm the punishment for which cannot be left to God on judgment day. This in turn leads to views on the proper role of law roughly equivalent to those of most Mill-ian liberals, or at least closer to them than to most theocrats, of whatever religion. State coercion is a prima-facie evil that should be used sparingly, to protect people who cannot protect themselves. God does not fall into that category.
2.22.2006 10:38pm
Tom R (mail):
Meant to add: I think there's a big diff in principle between "XYZ group asked us politely not to publish ABC, and because we sympathise with the offence they would suffer, we choose not to publish ABC", and "XYZ group warned us not to publish ABC, and because we fear the harm that we would suffer, we agree under duress not to publish ABC".

IOW, it depends whether the offended group is aiming foremost for "hearts and minds" or (in Gen. LeMay's phrase) for "the balls".

Open threats of violence are a clear-ccut violation of free speech. Boycotts are tricker to categorise (as free speech absolutists like Nat Hentoff and the ACLU have noted), because they go beyond persuasion into infliction of economic loss (recognised, in many cases, by the common law as a bona fide tort, at least if inflicted negligently) -- yet they do thiss by passive withholding of one's own cooperation and property, rather than by actively inflicting violence.
2.22.2006 10:44pm
countertop (mail):
Child care isn't available Friday morning so I am home watching the little one. However, I should be relieved by noon. If so, I will be there at 1:00 pm, if only for a few minutes before actually getting some work done.
2.22.2006 10:48pm
SimonD (www):
There is an old legal maxim injuriae diis Deorum curae, ie, "harms to [the] gods are the gods' business".
Indeed, and He is not without means to remedy a slight, as Noah will doubtless attest.
2.22.2006 11:28pm
Wintermute (www):
I like the online petition idea; and as much as I would like to draft it, I think EV has shown so much leadership on our American tradition of free speech, and has the education, that he should write it. Run it by me though, EV. And all us bloggers could have a button like the Danish flag that clicks to the petition site. And I would flat add the button right away. But the petition should be elegantly worded, not too erudite, not too long, think with a founding father's head but remember the Gettysburg Address.
2.22.2006 11:33pm
Justin (mail):
I'm with Greedy Clerk on this one...while I abhor the response in the arab world to these cartoons, it doesn't make the support valid. And Professor Volokh's kneejerk post is unfortunate and horrible. Denmark (a country I love) doesn't need your support - and the racist cartoons (by god, have you seen them? Even one of the cartoons makes fun of the other cartoonists for being racist!) shouldn't have them.
2.23.2006 12:02am
Justin (mail):
SimonD, I assumed Greedy Clerk meant to compare the Klan to the cartoons themselves. Otherwise I withdraw my "I'm with Greedy Clerk on this one."
2.23.2006 12:05am
LawProfCommentator (mail):
Yup, the cartoons lynched people, terrorized civil rights activists, and engaged in other acts of wanton violence against a minority group. Just like the Klan. Exactly like the Klan. In fact, I'm confused now; which group wears the white hoods, the Klan or the cartoons.
2.23.2006 12:24am
Eugene Volokh (www):
Explain, please, just how the cartoons are "racist." Of course I've seen them. A few may be seen as critical of Islam; others aren't even anti-Islam, much less racist.
2.23.2006 1:47am
magoo (mail):
"Like what, exactly."

Well, like this, for example:

"Press passes can't be that hard to come by if the White House allows that old Arab Helen Thomas to sit within yards of the president."

Or like the recent consternation over UAE based on little more than the observation that the A stands for Arab (by people who couldn't find UAE on a map.)

Or like Bernstein imploring VC readers to hold Juan Cole in disdain and contempt due to his Cole's views on Arabs.

Or like the gazillion other examples you could find by googling Arab-bashing.

But I'm sure the "rally" wil have nothing to do with any of that. It's all designed to protest the "Kristallnacht" as Hitchens calls it. That's certainly a "calm, quiet, and cheerful" metaphor that portends a calm, quite and cheerful rally. (As an aside, isn't JDL supposed to be policing these loose analogies to Nazi Germany?). In any event, have fun!
2.23.2006 7:26am
Bart Nemmers (mail):
If you think the cartoons are racist you are an idiot. Some are funny, some are interesting, some are just cartoons, but none are racist. (as is often said about an other religion, muslim/islam is not a race)

I work in Tysons and will try to attend on my lunch break.

2.23.2006 9:20am
Justin (mail):
If you look at the cartoons, the features - big, often crooked noses, sinister eyes, sharp features - are the same features used by Nazis in their propoganda. Add the overly bushy eyes....

In fairness, only the bomb and sword cartoons are overtly racist (the "stop we ran out of virgins one", while horribly offensive and the Islamic equivalent of antisemetic, is not actually racist). But these are the ones drawing the most outrage. The guy in the soccer shirt calling the paper "reactionary provoceteurs" is not what's fueling the rage.
2.23.2006 10:47am
Kerry Hubers:
I am an attorney in DC and I will be attending the demonstration in support of Denmark. I often disagree with Hitchens, but if I only stood up for free expression with those whom I always agreed, I would stand alone.

I hope others will join in supporting Denmark in its defense of free speech against the most odious of intolerance for public debate. First, they came for the cartoonists, the cartoonists for pete's sake.....

Thank you, Eugene, for publicizing this demonstration.
2.23.2006 11:18am
jallgor (mail):
Justin -
First, the correct term is simply not "racist." As another poster points out Islam is not a race. Second, I looked at the cartoons and I feel that only the bomb and the sword cartoon attempt to portray a sinister character. Heck, one of the drawings has a halo around his head and the one on the top left looks like my grandfather in a turban (not a sinister vision I assure you).
As for the bomb and the sword or the "virgins" cartoons I don't find them offensive. I think they are a fair comment on violence being done in the name of islam. I think the "virgins" cartoon points out the absurdity of thinking you'll be rewarded in heaven by blowing up people. I take the bomb and the sword cartoons, which show Muhammed as violent, as an attempt to shock but also to provoke the thought of "is violence really what Islam is about?" I guess you could also read those cartoons as a comment on the fact that the Muhammed himslef led a fairly violent life but the anachronistic use of the bomb made me think that cartoon was using Muhammed as a general symbol of islam and not as a comment on the man.
2.23.2006 11:22am
Kerry Hubers:
P.S. Andrew Sullivan will be there too. Maybe those of you who find Hitch particularly distasteful can be part of the Andrew Sullivan demonstration.
2.23.2006 11:27am
DamnWalker (mail):
They are cartoon caricatures. Look up what a caricature does, it greatly exaggerates physical characteristics for the purposes of humor and, often, ridcule. In the west we accept this as part of our right of free speech and expression, even when it is offensive. It often challenges us to step outside our own limited mindsets.

Some people are exceptionally thin-skinned and waiting for a chance to be offended. I wont mention any names or religions, but I think unbiased observers can guess who I am referring to.

If these cartoons offend you, well to some extent they were inteded to. Here in the west, we can live with offense, we're tough enough to take it and not riot, burn &kill over speech. We fight hateful speech with opposing reasoned speech. If you can't take it, leave the culture. There are many other nations &cultures that share your thinned-skinness and you can live there in relative peace and un-offendedness. Unless of course you happen to be female, gay, or do not share the predominant religion. Its your choice, and you are as free to leave here as you (or your ancestors) were to come. This is the culture we have built over 2000 years. We respect yours, how about respecting ours.
2.23.2006 11:35am
Justin (mail):
Caricatures, indeed, can be racist. These are.

And, while "Islam" is not a race, "Arab" is, and the racist features are clearly Arab in nature. These vile "caricatures" are clearly not referencing White or African (or, for that matter, Asian) Muslims, but Arab muslims.

To those who are talking about, specifically, the bomb, or the sword, and not the particular features I referenced, Please read my original post.

To those who are complaining that there are many in the Islamic world that are too thinskinned, I completely agree. That being said, just because they're thin skinned doesn't mean we should take joy in offending them, or throw our support behind racist cartoons, or support nonconstructive attacks on the religion of the 99% of the billion or so muslims who are not rioting on the streets.
2.23.2006 11:49am
SB (www):
To those who think these cartoons should not have been published because of racist motives, I again refer you to Flemming Rose's explanation of why the cartoons were published. Unless there are factual flaws in his piece, the accusations being thrown about here that the editors were actually taking joy in offending Muslims are completely unfounded. I used to think the publication of the cartoons was, at a minimum, tacky, but Mr. Rose's piece helped me think otherwise.

What's the fun of arguing with only half the story?
2.23.2006 12:46pm
DamnWalker (mail):
Apparently some folks miss the entire point, confusing taking joy in offending someone with standing up for someones right to speech or expression that another may find offensive. They are separate entities, and those of us in the west are capable of seeing the difference.

No one has an inherent right not to be offended. And the issue here is freedom of speech, INCLUDING OFFENSIVE SPEECH, not whether the speech is sweet and kind to all good boys &girls. That is a matter of manners and consideration, not law. We celebrate &value that freedom in the west. Many of our ancestors have died to gain and keep it. If you can't handle that cultural value, that is your problem, not ours. Live someplace more in line with your own values. I support Denmark &free speech, and make no apologies for it.
2.23.2006 1:44pm
jallgor (mail):
In my opinion at least three of the cartoons appear to be depicting white Muhammed's or at the very least race neutral features. This would include the "virgins" one. The "line-up" displays all sorts of faces in turbans so I am not sure which is Muhammed. Is the guy at the blackboard Muhammed? He doesn't have any exaggerated features. What about tall skinny Muhammed on the top right? He has a large beard but I see no exaggerated nose like you describe. I think you are seeing what you choose to see here. The bomb and sword cartoon certainly make Muhammed look sinister but that's all I'll give you. He looks like ziggy with a beard in the star and crescent one. It makes me want to give him a big hug.
2.23.2006 1:51pm
tefta (mail):
Have I messed something? Denmark apologized for the cartoons and the cartoonists were fired as was an editor. So what exactly are we to be in solidarity with the Danes? Had they refused to be bullied, I would have liked to show solidarity with them although alas I can't be in DC.
2.23.2006 2:17pm
tefta (mail):
Have I missed something? Denmark apologized for the cartoons and the cartoonists were fired as was an editor. So what exactly are we to be in solidarity with the Danes? Had they refused to be bullied, I would have liked to show solidarity with them although alas I can't be in DC.

Please let me know if my facts in this matter are in error.
2.23.2006 2:19pm
magoo (mail):
JohnAnnArbor (if you're still reading):

Two more recent examples brought to my attention --

1. Last month, a group called FLAME ran an ad in a national magazine stating: "Joseph Goebbels, the infamous propaganda minister of the Nazis, had it tight. Just tell people big lies and they will believe them. The Arabs have learned the lesson well." This was followed by a series of historically inaccurate and inflammatory accusations.

2. On Feb. 3, Rep. Tom Davis (R-VA) wrote a letter describing a Jan 26 town hall meeting with constituents, at which an audience member stated that "we are at war with Islam" and we won't win until we have "killed all the Arabs." To his credit, Davis condemned the incident and noted that there have been numerous similar unjustified attacks.

But again, I'm sure Hitchens will do everything he can to keep the rally conversation fair, uplifting and inspiring, just as one would expect from someone who (in the column linked above) describes Karen Hughes as a "braying Bush-crony ignoramus."
2.23.2006 2:45pm
SB (www):
tefta: Perhaps I've missed something within the last few days, but I didn't think Denmark had issued an actual apology, nor had anyone (in Denmark) been fired for publishing the cartoon.
2.23.2006 3:44pm
Justin (mail):
jailgor, thank your for the response, but the two I specifically note were racist were none of those three. See "sword" and "bomb".
2.23.2006 5:50pm
Frietag (mail):
I don't like the fact that Greedy Clerk, magoo, and Justin aren't backing Denmark on this. I don't want to start a riot or anything. I just don't like it. I don't care if the cartoons were racist or weren't racist. I agree with Flemming Rose's justifications and I think the Islamist overreaction cannot be defended.

There are some people who defend the actions of the guards at Abu Ghraib. They argue (probably with justification) that the offenses committed by the guards were provoked by, and in response to, offenses committed on American troops by Iraqis.

Okay. That may be so. Based on what I know about other conflicts (such as Vietnam) I find that I can understand and believe that. I can even sympathize with it to some extent. But I would never defend the actions of those guards. Never.

So now, turn it around a little bit. We have Denmark, a quiet little country. A Danish editor notices that people are reluctant to challenge a ban on offensive behavior more strongly when Muslims are concerned than otherwise. He feels this is wrong, so he publishes some cartoons to test the waters. The cartoons are somewhat strong -- not as vicious as, say, Ted Rall, but stronger than most Tom Toles.

In response, screaming Islamist mobs torch embassies and kill people around the world.

Now, I have been very angry on occasion. And offended. I can understand the actions of the rioters. And even sympathize a little bit. But I would never defend them. I would never say, "The riots are justified." They aren't. And I would never say, "That editor never should have published those cartoons, because of the chance that there might be riots."

If publishing weak cartoons causes riots, there is a problem, but the problem isn't in the offices of a Danish newspaper. It is a much bigger problem than that. Which was the whole point.

I live in San Diego, so no rally for me. But I'll tell you what I have done. I went down to the old World's Fair grounds in Balboa Park, stopped by the International Gift Shop, and picked up a bunch of Danish-U.S. flag pins -- the friendship pins with both flags on the same pin. I sent some to family members and I wear one on my lapel. I guess I could've gotten 25 for $3.50 at some place like, but I didn't want to wait.

(Every so often, one of my clueless, apolitical coworkers asks, "Why are you wearing a Swiss flag?" So it's mostly for myself, I suppose.)

I've always like the Danes. They did a terrific job hiding their Jews. After that, they did an even better job resisting the Nazis. They have a very vigorous little film industry, one which (with a few exceptions like Lars Von Trier) doesn't really care if anybody watches their films but Danes. And now? Now I like the Danes even more.
2.24.2006 4:50pm