July 19, 2006

Why The Jawa Report Was Banned in India and Why it Matters

India has banned a number of websites by domain, but has only singled out 17 websites by name, including this one. Among the American websites all are connected in some way to The Jawa Report.

Why did India ban this website? And what is the larger meaning of this action?

The short answer to the first question is that we offended Islamists and India is afraid of its own Muslim citizens. The short answer to the second question is that, sadly, it is increasingly becoming evident that liberty may not be able to exist wherever there is a large population of Muslims.

What, specifically, did we do to offend Islamists and their supporters in the Muslim world?

Some time ago a story began to be circulated in the mainstream press that a detainee's Koran had been put in a toilet at Guantanamo Bay. It later turned out that the story was false.

Nevertheless, the reaction from many in the Muslim world was quite revealing about an alleged 'tiny minority of extremists'. Riots erupted all over the world by people who were offended. Thousands marched, caused property damage, and some were even killed.

Over what? A story about a book being put in a toilet.

We can understand why someone might get offended over their holy book being mistreated. We might get offended if someone did the same to a Bible. But anyone who would engage in violence over such an action has a values system that is not only foreign to us, but also one which is not compatible with liberty.

This reaction, along with the later reaction of many Muslims over cartoons depicting Mohammed, was a clarifying moment for us.

Islam, as understood by many Muslims, is not a tolerant religion.

The very definition of tolerance is to allow that which we do not agree with. The moment Muslims demand that their governments punish those who say, write, or depict things that they find offensive, they reveal their intolerance.

Many people in my experience are intolerant. Intolerance is not a very unique attribute. It is intolerance coupled with threats of violence that makes many Muslims unique in the world. It is also what makes Islam uniquely dangerous among the major religions of the world.

Not only do these intolerant Muslims wish for offensive speech to stop, but they threaten violence upon any government unwilling to censor.

So, our reaction to the overreaction in the Muslim world was to make fun of them by making fun of the Koran flushing story. Oddly, making fun of intolerant people is now considered a form of intolerance by many in the world.

We admit that the humor involved was tasteless. We also admit that we knew that it would offend some. But if you can't legitimately offend people engaging in riots, who advocate criminal penalties for blasphemy, and who wish your destruction, who can you offend?

While the specific reason for India's attempt to ban us was that we were blasphemous, the more general reason was because it feared its own citizens.

India has been taken hostage by its sizeable Muslim population. It is afraid of its own citizens. It fears that if they are exposed to that which is religiously offensive, that violence might erupt. That if the government doesn't do something, then they might just have to do something about the government.

India's banning of this and other websites, then, is completely rational. It is based on the real fear of real people who do real violence. Thus, it is completely understandable.

While we might understand India's reason for banning our website, we certainly don't condone it.

Giving in to violent threats is not, in my book, a winning strategy for defeating the very people who are threatening you. Appeasement only works if your goal is appeasement. If your goal is to drag Muslims who have a 7th century mentality about how the world ought to be ordered into the 21st century, then this is no way to do it.

This is not to say that we don't agree that there might be limits to free speech. Such limits seem legitimate in the context of war, for instance.

However, when one bans speech because it is religiously offensive, then two freedoms are killed at the same time. A nation cannot truly have freedom of religion if that religion is immune from public criticism. A nation cannot truly have freedom of speech if blasphemy becomes a criminal act.

Sadly, there is not a single country in the world where Muslims are a majority that criticisms of Islam are legally tolerated. While Muslims proudly proclaim that they 'tolerate' Chrisianity, they do not mean tolerance in the Western sense. They may 'tolerate' Chrisitians worshipping in their own churches, but the minute that a Christian steps out in public he is unable to accomplish the 'Great Commission' of trying to convert the non-believer into a believer.

Some 'moderate' Muslim countries allow Hindus, Buddhists, and Christians to be converted to whichever religion that they may choose. But once a Muslim, always a Muslim. It is forbidden for any missionary of any faith to try to convert a Muslim.

Islam is a one-way street.

India's actions lead us to suspect that it will not just be Islamic states where religious oppression is the norm, but that any country with a sizeable Muslim minority might also be forced, for the sake of domestic tranquility, to ban blasphemy. And we believe that our fears are founded on more than this one case.

A simple statistical analysis shows that there is a strong inverse correlation between Muslim populations and freedom. What this means is that the more Muslims there are in your country, the more likely it is that your country is repressive. India's actions give us a definite candidate for the causal mechanism underlying the correlation.

There is some good news, though, in those same statistics. Since Geoge W. Bush has been in office, declaring liberty and democracy the common birthright of humanity, Muslim countries are becoming more free. None has fully reached that goal in our understanding of the term and there are some exceptions to the rule, but as a whole they are moving in the right direction.

We hope that the movement to liberalize will continue in the Muslim world.

If Muslim countries are moving in the right direction, liberalizing in ways unimaginable before the Bush administration turned up the heat, it is odd that some non-Muslim countries seem to be moving in the opposite direction while responding to the same pressures.

If India and other countries hope that by banning a handful of websites, or by condemning speech critical of Islam, that it will appease their Muslim populations, they have greatly miscalculated.

What offends Islamists and many Muslims is not what we or others say, it is that they are not in power to stop us from saying it.

The ultimate goal of these people is the creation of a state based on sharia (or Islamic) law. One in which Muslims rule and Christians, Hindus, and Buddhists take a back seat. It is only then, when it is Muslims who do the deciding on what needs to be banned, that they will be happy.

The real gripe Muslims have in non-Muslim countries is about power. They want it, but don't yet have the numbers to exercise it.

India, of all countries, should understand this. Both Pakistan and Bangledesh were states founded because Muslims on the Indian subcontinent refused to be ruled by any other than a Muslim master. Several wars have been fought between India and her Muslim neighbors because of this. Today, a low-level war continues in Indian Kashmir because Muslims refuse to be governed by any country in which they are not a majority. Even when that country is headed by a Muslim, which is the case in India right now, sizeable numbers of Muslims demand more.

India is said to be a secular state with aspirations of greatness. Its actions today show that it is neither completely secular nor ready for its proper place on the world stage.

This is all doubly sad because India is also a natural ally against the cancer of Islamic fundamentalism. It is on the frontline in the war against the global jihadis.

It is India, not the U.S., which shares its bloody borders with the world of Islam. Mumbai should be a reminder to India who its real friends are, and who are its enemies.

The move towards religious censorship by India is a mistake. A nation does not cement its alliances by adopting the values of its enemies and rejecting those of nations willing to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with it against forces which plan its destruction.

Although we, who have always supported India in the past, feel that this action was a slap in the face, we continue to wish her continued progress and prosperity. A wealthy India is an India better able to stay off the attacks of the barbarians at her gates. Those barbarians are our common enemies.

India may have turned its back on us, but we will not be so petty as to completely turn our backs on her.

UPDATE: Apparently, the ban is still in effect.
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The Band of the Banned
(Despite the MSM getting a lot of our urls wrong):

*Exposing the Leftz (aka, OpiniPundit)
*The Pirate's Cove
*Merri Musings (Indian government banned her old website, now abandond--also, the lovely bride of The Jawa Report's Editor-in-Chief, Vinnie)
*Macker
*Princess Kimberly (now defunct)
*Editors in Pajamas
*Commonfolk Using Commonsense (their old website banned)
*My Vast Right Wing Conspiracy

Via Macker, this is alleged to be a scanned copy the order by the Indian government to censor our websites. Notice there are 17, rather than the 11 as reported in the media. Also, notice that the urls are correct in the document, it appears that the MSM got the urls wrong.

UPDATE: Who will stand in solidarity with The Jawa Report and the Band of the Banned?
Please, let us know if you stand with us and against India caving to Islamist threats by leaving a comment if you are a reader or linking this post if you are a blogger. Trackbacks are not working, so please e-mail me.

Solidarity from:
*Captain's Quarters
*Junkyard Blog
*Ace of Spades HQ
*Blogs of War
*In The Bullpen
*Paduan Jawa
*Basil
*Rocket's Brain Trust
*Republican Jen
*Lawhawk: A Blog for All
*Wizbang
*Outside the Beltway
*Michelle Malkin
*I Think Therefor I Err
*The Dread Pundit Bluto and the 58 blogs of the Pirate Armada
*Six Meat Buffet
*Commissar
*Pundit Mark
*PoliBlog
*Hyscience
*Below the Beltway
*Cagey Mind
*Vince Aut Morire
*Scared Monkeys
*Iraq War News
*Sea Witch
*Belch Speaks
*In Search of Utopia
*Old War Dogs
*Pure Gum Spirits
*Jay Andrew Allen
*Perennial Wisdom
*Slapstick Politics
*Prince Wally
*Interested Participant
*Dean Esmay
*Mark in Mexico
*One Reality Kazuma
*Templar Times
*Symbol
*OpinionBug
*A Trainwreck in Maxwell
*Blue State, Red Blood
*The New American Citizen
*Kim du Toit
*Combs Spouts Off

Indians against India's pathetic attempt at outlawing blasphemous websites: Who will stand with us?

By Rusty Shackleford, Ph.D. at 11:35 PM | Comments |