Five years ago, Valentine's Day was marked in Denmark by murder - not a lot of murder by the standards of similar events before and after, but this one struck close to home: It would be the last time my old comrade Lars Vilks appeared in public. My closing remarks below on the shriveling perimeters of free speech and the popular support it requires have proven sadly true in the half-decade since. Here is some of what I had to say about the events of February 14th 2015:
Today, Valentine's Day, a cafĂ© in Copenhagen hosted a discussion on "Art, Blasphemy and Freedom of Expression". Islam knows not "freedom of expression", and the inclination of a certain proportion of its adherents is to respond to any "discussion" by opening fire.
Why wouldn't they? As President Selfie told the UN General Assembly, "The future must not belong to those who slander the Prophet of Islam." The fanatics of Islam take him at his word, and act accordingly.
So at that cafĂ© this afternoon they came in shooting and yelling "Allahu Akbar!" - which is Arabic for "Can't we all just get along?" Three policemen are wounded and one member of the public - a 40-year-old man - is dead. And, in a small hitherto peaceable Scandinavian kingdom, another little bit of European cultural life and artistic spirit shrivels and dies.
The principal speaker was the Swedish artist Lars Vilks, with whom I had the honor to share a stage in Copenhagen four years ago when I was given the Danish Free Press Society's Sappho Award. If you don't know Lars, here's what I had to say about him a while back:
They have a tradition in Sweden of roundabout dogs - canine scultptures that pop up mysteriously on Swedish roundabouts - and Lars Vilks decided to do a drawing of Mohammed as a roundabout dog. He wound up with a fatwa on his head. And one night he came home to find the jihad boys had firebombed his kitchen. As they escaped across the field heady with the thrill of their glorious victory, they noticed that in the course of setting Mr Vilks' home alight they'd also accidentally set their trousers on fire, and, after some effort to extinguish their smoking pantaloons, were forced to discard them. Unfortunately, in abandoning their pants and scampering off through the icy night in their jihadist underwear, they neglected to remove the charred driver's licenses and other identifying documentation, from which police were able easily to track them down. When Mr Vilks told this story in Copenhagen, the whole room was roaring with laughter.
Indeed. Afterwards we all went to dinner. And it emerged that in the course of the day a one-legged Chechen from Belgium, seething with resentment at Lars and the rest of us infidels, had prematurely self-detonated in his Copenhagen hotel room while assembling his package. And we all had a grand laugh about that, too. As I said that day:
Muslim terrorists are like Yosemite Sam in the Loony Tunes cartoons, forever shoving the stick of dynamite in their own pants â until one day Yosemite Ahmed manages to get it right. After the bombing of the British Conservative Party conference in 1984, the IRA taunted Mrs Thatcher: "You have to be lucky every day, we only have to be lucky once." Those jihad incompetents with the smoking trousers would modify the line: We only have to be competent once - and no matter how many years roll by they'll keep trying.
Today they were competent. And so a Danish citizen is dead because he went to a discussion on free speech.
This is usually the point at which we're expected to do the not-all-Muslims-want-to-shoot-you-dead shtick. And that's true. But Islam itself has no feeling whatsoever for the spirit of free speech. For example, Bushra Qasim Khan doesn't want to shoot anyone dead herself, but, via Blazing Cat Fur, we learn this:
Copenhago: Firing is continue. May Allah help those gun men. End the blasphemers.
Bushra Qasim Khan is a Pakistani "journalist" who claims "knowledge is oxygen".
As much as I loathe these fanatics, I despise even more Obama and the European political elite that gives them succor and trades our liberties to appease madmen. They have seeded a cancer in the heart of the west that will consume us all.
My thoughts and prayers are with my Scandinavian friends. I have spent the last week in America listening to the most fatuous and drooling eulogies for a retiring so-called "satirist" who has never in his life told a joke that mattered, who has never once strayed beyond the cozy media-Democrat comfort zone of dreary snarking at those Republican rubes, and even then has to make funny faces to get a laugh.* By contrast, Lars Vilks is a true satirist, and is insisting on no more or less, in a darkening Europe, than the right to choose what he laughs about. I know which of these men has genuine courage.
Our host in Copenhagen in 2010 was Lars Hedegaard of the Danish Free Press Society. He opened the door a couple of years later to find a man posing as a postman who shot at him and, fortunately, missed. The would-be killer is now in Turkey, which is refusing to extradite. There were five of us on stage that day - Lars Hedegaard, Lars Vilks, the comedians Shabana Rehman and Farshad Kholghi, and me. Two of the five have since been shot at, and a third has had her family restaurant firebombed. For Yosemite Ahmed, that 60 per cent hit rate is not unimpressive, and gives me pause.
*[NOTE: I believe that was a reference to Jon Stewart.]
Following this afternoon's murderous assault at a "discussion" on free speech in Copenhagen, there was a second attack this evening at a synagogue in the city near Krystalgade Street. One person has been shot in the head and another two injured.
Say, wait a minute: an attack on a "bunch" of artists and writers, followed by an attack on a "bunch" of Jews? Didn't we run this story last month?
Why, yes, we did. But don't worry, that was Paris. Whereas this time it's Copenhagen. Two entirely separate cities. So, like President Obama says, it's all just entirely "random". "Bunches" here, "bunches" there, but they're all just random bunches of random folks...
By shutting down debate on why these victims, why these perpetrators, and keeping it all nice and random, the President is objectively advancing the interests of the other side - whose modus operandi is also to shut down debate, albeit more murderously.
The dead of Valentine's Day in Copenhagen have now been named:
Dan Uzan was a 37-year-old Jew - sorry, I mean "member of the random community" - and he died outside the synagogue serving as a "security guard" for a Bat Mitzvah.
That's part of the problem - long before anybody starts killing the security guards. In Europe in the 21st century, a young girl's Bat Mitzvah can only take place behind a security perimeter. What a sewer the EU elites have made of their Eutopia. The state church - the Church of Denmark - does not require security guards, nor elsewhere on the Continent do Catholic churches. But Jewish religious and social life in Copenhagen and across Europe is now possible only behind a barrier of security. Laura Rosen Cohen has a useful round-up of those foot-of-page-17 news stories that chart, remorselessly, the social disintegration of Denmark - from the security perimeter, to the advice to Jews not to wear identifying marks of their faith when they leave the house, to the exclusion of Jewish children from public schools.
As to the "randomness" of the attack, there are only a few thousand Jews remaining in Denmark, and therefore not a lot of Bat Mitzvahs. I am disinclined to believe the killer just got lucky. As with the attack on the free-speech event, he knew exactly where he was going.
As Laura says, "What starts with Jews never ends with Jews." Many Europeans dislike Jews, and many others are indifferent to their fate. But it helps to keep a sense of self-interest about these things: The man who killed that Jew wants to kill you, too.
The first victim yesterday was Finn NĂžrgaard, a 55-year-old film maker attending the conference on "Art, Blasphemy and Freedom of Expression". Mr NĂžrgaard directed the 2004 documentary Boomerang Boy, produced the 2008 film LĂȘ LĂȘ, and occasionally appeared in front of the camera, too. It will be interesting to see whether the self-pampering A-listers of the American Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Scientists will manage to squeeze in a mention of him at this month's Oscars during the teary montage of deceased artists. A decade ago the Academy couldn't find room, amidst George Clooney et al congratulating themselves on their "courage" for making the umpteenth dreary film on McCarthyism, to namecheck Theo van Gogh, who was pumped full of bullets, semi-decapitated and had a gloating note from his killer pinned through his chest by a dagger - all because he made a film. Messrs van Gogh and NĂžrgaard weren't blacklisted, they weren't reduced to working under a pseudonym or (horrors!) in television. They died for their art. George Clooney was happy enough to latch on to the #JeSuisCharlie shtick at the Golden Globes. If he means it, he'll ensure poor Finn NĂžrgaard gets a nod in among the orgy of backslapping at the end of this month.
Mr NĂžrgaard's film LĂȘ LĂȘ is the tale of four siblings who fled Vietnam and wound up running one of the most successful restaurant businesses in Scandinavia. One assumes that's the sort of thing David Cameron had in mind when he issued the following response to the slaughter in Copenhagen:
Denmark and Britain are both successful multi-ethnic, multi-faith democracies and we must never allow those values to be damaged by acts of violence like this.
That's the usual Cameronian bollocks. As recently as the late Eighties, over 90 per cent of Danes were (albeit highly residual) members of the Church of Denmark, so it wasn't that "multi-faith". In reality, for almost their entire history, both Denmark and Britain were mostly ethnically homogeneous societies that admitted small numbers of immigrants who generally assimiliated and sometimes, as in LĂȘ LĂȘ, distinguished themselves. And then, a generation or so back, the Cameronian elites in Britain and on the Continent committed themselves to a process of mass, transformative immigration on a scale unknown to any society in human history outside of conquest. "Multiculturalism" is a Trojan horse Europe gave itself in an act of moral vanity, and waiting inside was Islam.
Mr Cameron now insists that the lesson of yesterday's attack is that "we must never allow" what he dignifies as his "values" to be "damaged" by such "acts of violence". His counterpart in Copenhagen, Helle Thorning-Schmidt, the tasty Danish pastry he and Obama spent Mandela's funeral doing selfies with, professed herself mystified by the slaughter:
We don't know the motive for the attacks but we know that there are forces that want to harm Denmark, that want to crush our freedom of expression, our belief in liberty.
Hmm. "Forces that want to harm Denmark", huh? Any chance of pinning it down a little? It's not much of a "freedom of expression" or a "belief in liberty" that can't even talk honestly about its enemies, is it?
I would like to ask Mr Cameron and Miss Thorning-Schmidt what's their happy ending here? What's their roadmap for fewer "acts of violence" in the years ahead? Or are they riding on a wing and a prayer that they can manage the situation and hold it down to what cynical British civil servants used to call during the Irish "Troubles" "an acceptable level of violence"? In Pakistan and Nigeria, the citizenry are expected to live with the reality that every so often Boko Haram will kick open the door of the schoolhouse and kidnap your daughters for sex-slavery or the Taliban will gun down your kids and behead their teacher in front of the class. And it's all entirely "random", as President Obama would say, so you just have to put up with it once in a while, and it's tough if it's your kid, but that's just the way it is. If we're being honest here, isn't that all Mr Cameron and Miss Thorning-Schmidt are offering their citizens? Spasms of violence as a routine feature of life, but don't worry, we'll do our best to contain it - and you can help mitigate it by not going to "controversial" art events, or synagogues, or gay bars, or...
I said above that waiting inside multiculturalism's Trojan horse was Islam. Not "Islamism", or "radical Islam", or "extremist Islam", or "violent extremism" or "extremist radicalism" or "radicalist violentism" or anything else: just Islam... The more Islamic a society gets, the less free speech it has - the less intellectual inquiry, artistic achievement, contrarian spirit. Most western Muslims are not willing themselves to open fire on synagogues or Lars Vilks, but they help maintain the shriveled definition of acceptable expression that helps license the fanatics of Copenhagen and Paris. Muslims in Europe, North America and Australia will pay lip service to "free speech", and then promptly re-define it as excluding speech that "blasphemes" or "insults" their faith - which is to say them.
Which is to say the great vulgar, brawling, free-for-all of free societies does not apply to them. So, when, say, France's Muslim population reaches 20 per cent, you will need to have the support of three-quarters of the remaining 80 per cent to maintain even a bare popular majority in favor of free speech.
Is that likely? Or will there be more and more non-Muslims like the wretched quisling Welsh bishop, the Right Reverend Gregory Cameron, frantically arguing that if you hadn't been so "offensive" you wouldn't have caught their eye? Islam and free speech are, as His Miserable Grace implicitly recognizes, incompatible. And ultimately, therefore, you have to choose between liberty and mass Muslim immigration.
The reaction of David Cameron and Helle Thorning-Schmidt suggests they have made their choice. I think, somewhere deep down, they know it's a recipe for slow societal suicide. And I wonder if, even deeper down, they also know that it won't be that slow.
~If you're one of the many members of The Mark Steyn Club, from Paris to Papua New Guinea, please feel free to comment below.