27 August 2010

So you want to fight a war

then I guess you're making sure you've got one?

The one takeaway I have here: Obama should not have been a pushover on this issue. Bloomberg hasn't been, and that's given lots of ammunition to moderate Islamic press or commentary. But while Bloomberg's position has the most potential impact on the actual legal matters at stake here, those legal matters are generally only superficially understood by people abroad. It is the debate itself that matters there, where some correctly see some cynicism by major political figures, others correctly note that fear and hate are hard forces to govern when given power by a populist frenzy.

And it is therefore the prominent absence of people willing to stand up in defence of a classically liberal value system (the freedom of worship and private property rights to boot) against a rhetoric that places Islam as a cult rather than a belief structure protected by our legal system, that gives us less room to maneuver against our enemies in this fight (actual violent extremists of any kind, rather than "All Muslims are terrorists, and all terrorists are Muslims" tropes common to many people angry over this issue).

It is certainly fair for us to allow people to give voice to their bigotry or their fear. That too is a protected right we have and we should defend the ability of people to say difficult or even repugnant things.

But it does us no credit not to speak out against it in return, and in this case, it might even be the most damaging thing we can do for our "safety" or "security", as illusory as they can be, to remain silent against this march of ignorance and intolerance.
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