Flemming Rose on the Aftermath of the Mohammed Cartoon Crisis

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This next podcast is with the Danish journalist Flemming Rose, foreign news editor at Jyllands-Posten, on the controversy he ignited in 2005 when he published cartoons satirizing the prophet Mohammed. His new book, The Tyranny of Silence, offers his reflections on the conflagration that ensued, including a jihadist’s attempt to murder one of the cartoonists with an axe. Rose received the protection of Danish security services after threats were made on his life. Not bowing to intimidation, Rose has spent the last decade highlighting the dangers of foregoing a commitment to freedom of speech. Our interview delves into these experiences and also the lessons that Rose believes are a warning for individual and political liberties in Europe.

He commissioned the cartoons, he tells Liberty Law Talk, because he was taken aback by the self-censorship in Denmark, and throughout Europe, on the subject of Islam and its status in European democracies. And this self-censorship now frequently melds with legal prohibitions in certain European countries that vaguely hover over “incorrect” speech. The effect, Rose notes, is to drive controversial ideas or arguments out of the public sphere.

One surprise stemming from the Muhammad cartoons crisis, Rose observes, was the European elites’ retreat from defending free speech in favor of granting group rights and preferences. We discuss the new model of interaction exercised by political leaders in Europe, which is to deal with individuals within minority groups solely as members of those groups, religions, or ethnicities rather than as individuals. The consequences, Rose reports, are that “leaders” of Islamic communities are the only ones empowered to speak for Muslims, and they have great latitude to govern their communities separately, in many cases, from the legal and cultural norms of the country. On the basis of his interviews with young Muslim women in Copenhagen, Rose believes these women might be living with less freedom than they had in their (or their families’) countries of origin.

There is no doubt that Rose is a tremendous journalist who demonstrated his commitment to the basic truths of a free society. This interview is an opportunity to hear from someone who has ventured much in the defense of freedom.

Flemming Rose

Flemming Rose is journalist and Foreign Editor at Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten.

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  1. dr. james willingham says

    We feel a sense of gratitude for Flemming Rose’s effort. We need more people like him to stand up for the spirit of openness and honesty and truth. Otherwise, the retreat in allowing groups without checks and balances will once again plunge the world into anarchy and tyranny, making it a place of horror in which to live. If the West does not stand up for the wisdom produced from its Judeo Christian Ethic, its checks and balances, we will repeat the mistakes of the past, so to speak, and such group think will lead inevitably to the abyss.

  2. Becky says

    I appreciate Mr. Rose’s expression of the Judeo-Christian principle that no one has the right to not be offended.

    This could be rephrased more simply for our Muslim brethren as: in the West, we and they have the right to be offended without our having to kill the person who so offends. Because this is the way we conceive God in the West: God is not injured, and cannot be injured, nor can his prophets, by the words of mere men. It is critically important for our elites to understand that though they may personally abjure God, this conception of God is all that stands between them and the Ummah.

    I also appreciate Mr. Rose’s observation that we cannot end hate by trying to outlaw “hate speech”.

Trackbacks

  1. […] And yes, fear has shaped the actions of publishers in the United States too. Where Charlie-Hebdo was courageous on the Mohammed cartoons, Yale University Press was oh so craven, as the late Christopher Hitchens pointed out in Slate [more: Guardian; note also the history of the online, mostly U.S.-originated “Everybody Draw Mohammed Day“] In a new Cato Institute book entitled The Tyranny of Silence: How One Cartoon Ignited a Global Debate on the Future of Free Speech, discussed at more length by Kat Murti at Cato at Liberty, Danish journalist Flemming Rose, who was at the center of the Motoons controversy, traces the grim aftermath of that controversy in the self-silencing of Western opinion. [more coverage here, as well as a Law and Liberty podcast] […]

  2. […] And yes, fear has shaped the actions of publishers in the United States too. Where Charlie-Hebdo was courageous on the Mohammed cartoons, Yale University Press was oh so craven, as the late Christopher Hitchens pointed out in Slate [more: Guardian; note also the history of the online, mostly U.S.-originated “Everybody Draw Mohammed Day“] In a new Cato Institute book entitled The Tyranny of Silence: How One Cartoon Ignited a Global Debate on the Future of Free Speech, discussed at more length by Kat Murti at Cato at Liberty, Danish journalist Flemming Rose, who was at the center of the Motoons controversy, traces the grim aftermath of that controversy in the self-silencing of Western opinion. [more coverage here, as well as a Law and Liberty podcast] […]

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