January 10, 2015

Hitchens '07: Danish Muhammad Cartoons

"In a media totally dominated now by image, totally dominated, it was not considered appropriate to tell the American public 'here's a story, it's all about the fight over some pictures, but we're not going to show you what the pictures are.' The image-dominated press said 'no, we're not going to show you' neither out of solidarity with our Danish colleagues, which would be a good point, or just to show you what the fuss is about. That's either out of fear of the religious, or it's either out of fear of offending them, which is more or less the same thing. It's blackmail. In the United States of America, in 2006, there wasn't a single member of our profession in a position to make a decision who would stand up for one day to outright blackmail.    

And people say to me, 'why do you keep mentioning the extremists?' It's because the extremists are the tail that wag the whole dog. And my profession proves it. And your culture proves it. . . And it gets worse. Cause I write for a very small atheist magazine called Free Inquiry, and am published out of Massachusetts, which did publish the cartoons. It's a responsibility. First, solidarity with the Danes. Second, people should see what the fuss is about. Borders Books takes our magazine off the racks. I've refused to read or speak in a Borders book store ever since. It's the least I can do." - Christopher Hitchens [2:24 - 4:06].

"In other words, ladies and gentlemen, the barbarians are not at the gate. They're not at the gate. They're well inside. And who held the door open for them? The other religious did. The same with Salman Rushdie. When the Ayatollah Khomeini offered money, money, publicly, in his own name, without shame, for supporting of murder, of a novelist, who wasn't an Iranian, who lived in England, a pretty radical attack on what we think we live by, what our Constitution stands for, what Mr. Jefferson, Mr. Paine, thought it was worth fighting for. The Bishop of New York, the Chief Rabbi of Israel, His Holiness the Pope, the Archbishop of Canterbury all condemned---what? The novel. The author. For blasphemy.

Now, get used to this, because you may be living in the last few years where you can complain about it. Because the religious really mean this, you know. They are not just joking. They really mean to abolish everything you care about, and they want to take away everything you love, and to destroy everything you have, and to replace it with a stone-age ideology derived from the desert of Palestine in a very mad time in human history." - Christopher Hitchens [5:15 - 6:37].