Writing at Brussels Journal today, Thomas Landen brings the attempted assassination of Kurt Westergaard on Friday in Denmark into vivid focus by comparing the horrific moment of crisis -- Westergaard and his five-year-old granddaughter in his steel-reinforced secure room (the bathroom) as the Muslim would-be assassin struck at the door with an axe yelling "blood!" and "revenge!" -- to the well-known scene in "The Shining" when the wife and child of Jack Nicholson cower behind a door as Nicholson strikes at it with an axe yelling, "Heeeere's Johnny!"
The piece is aptly titled "Heeeere's Mohammed!"
Was this Somali man, dada-esquesly tagged a "Danish national" in some reports, just an "isolated extremist," as Prez O might say? Sorry. He is a shock trooper of jihad, another tip of the sword. Or, in contemporary terms, another charge in the underpants. Or, in obeisance to Westergaard, another bomb in the turban.
Within Islam, however -- and this is key -- such violent actors, however disdained as crude, wrong-headed, inappropriate and/or bad PR for the ROP, have a point. Landen notes a revealing Islamic editorial on the assassination attempt:
The newspaper editorial which the “moderate” Gulf News, based in Dubai, wrote on 2 January about the Westergaard assassination attempt reads as follows:
“There is no doubt that the cartoon was deeply offensive to all Muslims. For his work, Westergaard is regarded with the greatest possible contempt by all who believe in the true faith of Islam. Targeting him, however, is descending to the level of a contemptuous and despicable man.
“This revenge attack merely again serves to highlight the insult wrought by Danish newspapers, stoking the embers of insult with the oxygen of hatred.
“Westergaard and his ilk are better forgotten.”
Though Gulf News condemns the assassination attempt, it calls it a “revenge attack” and morally equates it with Mr. Westergaard drawing a “deeply offensive” cartoon. Gulf News criticizes the would-be assassin, not for attempting to kill the cartoonist, but for having “descended to the level” of this “contemptuous and despicable man.” Have we missed something? Did Mr. Westergaard also try to kill a man with an axe? No, he merely made a drawing with a pencil.
There is a world of difference between voicing a political opinion – however offensive, contemptuous or despicable it may seem to some – and hacking someone to pieces. An assassination attempt can never be equated with an insult. Drawing a picture, making a documentary, writing a book, or wording an opinion, can never be equated with setting out with an axe to kill someone. This is obvious. Yet, it seems that even the “moderate” Muslims of Gulf News in the United Arab Emirates fail to understand it.
It is simply impossible to harbor any illusions about “the true faith of Islam” as long as Muslims fail to recognize this distinction. “An eye for an eye,” says the Bible, thereby restricting the extent of retribution to an equitable punishment. A cartoon for a cartoon, that would be fair. The Koran, however, does not restrict the extent of retribution. On the contrary, Islam demands a head for a cartoon (Westergaard), a head for a book (Rushdie), a head for a movie (van Gogh), a head for a political statement (Wilders).
Muslims "fail to recognize this distinction" because the law of Islam (sharia) specifically outlaws it. This is a basic part of the reason why Islam poses an existential threat not just to Westergaard, Rushdie, Wilders, and anyone else who sounds the alarm, but to the West itself. In order to survive, the West urgently needs a multilevel strategy to halt and reverse the spread of this Islamic law. It begins with an end to Islamic immigration (due to the obvious demographic boost such immigration inevitably gives to sharia); energy independence from the islamic world; legislation barring our institutions (financial, academic, etc.) from engaging in sharia-compliant practices; and, of course, an end to our already advanced accommodations of Islamic law within our societies. And it must include an immediate end to "nation-building" in the outer reaches of the Islamic world.
Only then will the horror begin to subside.