Those words (quoted below by Mark Hemingway) of Lilianne Ploumen, the Dutch Labour Party ”chairperson”, certainly sound very robust:
The mistake we can never repeat is stifling criticism of cultures and religions for reasons of tolerance.
Unfortunately, this last year has been one of full-blown stifling. The Australian’s Janet Albrechtsen contrasts the western media’s delight in the Baghdad shoe-lobber with its own pusillanimousness on free expression:
The year 2008 deserves to be seen as a year of anticipatory surrender, a year when the West decided to roll over on free speech of its own accord. Just in case. No threats. No demands. Just suppress controversial speech in advance, just in case it causes offence. You understand, we don’t want to hurt anybody’s feelings…
Janet’s round-up of “anticipatory surrender” takes in the BBC, The Jewel of Medina, and the arrest of a Dutch cartoonist, before winding up with a certain notorious Canadian hatemonger. Whatever the belated awakening among certain European politicians, the default mode in western institutions will remain pre-emptive capitulation.