Friday, November 20, 2009
Flemming Rose’s decision to run twelve cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed triggered an international controversy. In defending his decision, Rose relies on two arguments: (1) the cartoons were a necessary response to a growing atmosphere of self-censorship imposed by a totalitarian radical Islam and (2) the cartoons-far from being insulting-were actually a way to include Danish Muslims into a national “tradition of satire.” On examination both arguments are problematic. The fear of totalitarian censorship-if even it applies to Muslims-fits poorly with an American free speech discourse that counsels patience, not action in the face of totalitarian threats. Rose’s reference to a “tradition of satire” is rooted in the Danish practices of social informality (hygge) and teasing, But this argument is undercut by Rose’s own anti-immigrant rhetoric as well as the larger anti-immigrant mood in Denmark and Europe.
Download the paper at the link.