Liberal hypocrisy with the Muslim bogy

Remembering Piss Christ

Through international pressure, the Miami pastor, the Rev. Terry Jones, has apparently given up his intention to burn a pile of Korans to protest the ninth anniversary of the destruction of the World Trade Centre. Whilst I agree with the comments condemning the idea of burning the Koran as being intensely provocative, polarising and insulting to Muslims — but more importantly, that it does not specifically advance legitimate and critical commentary about Islamism — I note that the Rev Jones had the honesty to admit his intention. “We are definitely probably insulting all Muslims.”

This is in clear contrast to the supercilious hypocrisy of Dr Timothy Potts, Director of the National Gallery of Victoria, in 1997, who defended the intensely provocative, polarising and insulting Piss Christ by Andres Serrano. At the time he said,

We have to live with the freedom of artistic expression. From time to time this will involve controversial displays, but it is not up to us to decide if anything should be excluded …to ban a photograph on the grounds of blasphemy was “an antiquated concept in a pluralistic society”.

It is understandable that Western leaders and the media are nervous in the face of systematic, orchestrated intimidation and threats of violence by Islamists. However, there appears to be an uncanny silence from everyone about this outrageous threat. It is as if we believe that it is quite a reasonable and understandable reaction to such blatant provocation. Contrast this with the comments of Victoria Premier, Jeff Kennett , when the Serrano picture of Piss Christ, was “attacked with a hammer”. According to the Age, he,

accused church heads of lacking leadership by failing to condemn the vandalism and violence quickly … Mr Kennett broke away from business talks with Asian leaders in Hong Kong to attack the churches’ role … Although he stopped short of accusing church leaders of inciting the violence, he said the churches should demonstrate greater tolerance … “It’s almost the 21st century. I feel as though the church has thrown a boulder back in time … While [the violence] is certainly not the churches’ fault, I think the church — and not just the Catholic Church — could have been a lot more forthcoming in condemning the violence when it first occurred.

In fact, both the Catholic and Anglican archbishops, Dr George Pell and Dr Keith Rayner, emphatically condemned the violence used against the picture at the time. Wouldn’t it be good if Islamic leaders in our country were more forthright about violent attacks by Islamists against our society.

Not satisfied with gallery director’s timidity and fear, when he took the picture down, Serrano, who had flown to Australia for the opening, branded Dr Potts “a coward and a loser” for cancelling the exhibition. Later in the week, still lingering in Melbourne, Serrano told The Age: “I want to stick around and watch Timothy burn a little. I think the more heat I put on him the better it is.”

One silver lining in all this, however, is that the self-censorship that has been invisibly imposed on us — through the dhimmi attitudes of politicians and anti-discrimination tribunals — of saying anything critical of Islam is gradually been broken down. This can only be a good thing.

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