I agree with Eric Alterman. He supports Harpers’ publication and analysis of the Mohammed cartoons.
By publishing the articles in a semi-scholarly context, or at least an expert one, Harper’s cannot be credibly accused of exploiting the controversy – at least no more than is the norm for any media property. …
What is most interesting about this controversy is that the issue plays quite differently on the left/right axis in the US relative to Europe. In the States, right-wingers are once again in their familiar spot of standing strong for freedom of expression somewhere else. (It’s Gdansk ’81 all over again.) Hitchens is singing out of his old socialist songbook, holding hands with Andrew Sullivan on one side and David Horowitz on the other. Liberals meanwhile, are caught between the free speech and cultural sensitivity polls, and hence, a bit mealy-mouthed, particularly since they take the hypocrisy charge more seriously than right-wingers.
Personally, I am a right-winger on this issue, and wish I could be a European so I could take advantage of it with lots of grants and high-paid speaking engagements. What right do Islamic people have to tell us westerners how to live our lives? If they don’t like our culture of freedom of expression, tough luck. Stay home and ruin your own societies. The welfare states of Europe, particularly northern Europe, are among the most sublime achievements of human history. Let’s defend them, damn it, even if it puts us in some rather smelly company.
Let’s defend speech, no matter how smelly, wherever it occurs.