Actually this is the word of the week, post the events in Paris and across the western world. After my last post and seeing the reaction of the western media to this attack on free speech and artistic expression, I am very disappointed. The one word that comes to mind is an Italian vulgarism, cacasott’. My Italian grammar is weak, so I’m not sure when you drop the last vowel and use an apostrophe, but we have always pronounced it without that last vowel. Literally it means shit-in-your-pants, and it’s usually directed at a person or entity, so it’s a noun meaning, one who is shit-in-his-pants cowardly.
That is what the western media deserves to be called in respect to the Islamic terrorists killings in Paris. Many were calling for all media to dramatically publish the Charlie Hepdo anti-Islamic cartoons, not as an insult to Islam, but as a defiant measure against anti-free expression. I echoed this exhortation in my last blog post. Other than a few media, the western media, who supposedly prizes free speech above all freedoms, at least that’s what they tell us when they insult Christianity, were shitting in their pants afraid. Cacasotts!
In an opinion piece on National Review Online, Rich Lowery had said it well in his “The Crises of Free Speech":
In the fight over free expression, the editors and cartoonists of Charlie Hebdo occupied the most forward and exposed position. They lit a flare over their own parapet every night and said to the enemy that you may bring your worst, but you can’t make us afraid.
That their craft required such bravery in perhaps the most cosmopolitan city in the world is a testament to the embattled state of free speech in the West.
The sad fact is that physical intimidation works. Some press outlets pixilated or cropped out the covers of Charlie Hebdo in their coverage of the Paris attacks, as if they were the works of obscenity that the attackers consider them.
One expects the Liberal outlets, which are not really Liberal in the truest sense of the word, to be cacasotts, but the more common sense media outlets also pulled back from fully publishing a cartoon. Cacasotts! They have no qualms about nudity, vulgarisms, or even offending Christians, but because Muslims threaten violence and actually carry it out, they sit in their news rooms shitting in their pants.
Jonah Goldberg, also at National Review Online, also had a great piece, “A Win for the Jihadists.” Yes, despite being killed in their supposed martyrdom, the terrorists won because they cowed the western media.
The vigils in Paris are moving. The hashtag plumes of #JeSuisCharlie (“I am Charlie”) are endearing. The expressions of condemnation from Muslim leaders are commendable, as are the assurances of solidarity and support from Western governments.
But, as a practical matter, they don’t change a thing: The jihadists won this week.
Even if the atrocity in Paris served to imbue the civilized world — Muslim and non-Muslim alike — with a newfound resolve to battle radical Islam (it almost certainly won’t), this still stands as a victory for the bad guys.
And further down Goldberg continues:
As a conservative, I don’t like gratuitous mockery of religion, any religion. That’s not to say I think all blasphemies are equally offensive. For instance, I think most satire of Christianity is particularly cowardly and lame precisely because Christians are such a safe target. Also, after centuries of tolerance for satire of Christianity, opportunities for cleverness or originality are few and far between.
Mockery of Islam, meanwhile, whether in good taste or not, is dangerous and therefore also courageous even when stupid.
In a world where Muslim extremists weren’t killing people for such things, I’d be against publishing such material (not as matter of law, but of editorial judgment). But we don’t live in that world. And the slaughter in Paris only makes that more of a reality.
And finally I want to return to Lowery’s piece for a conclusion:
We all love the cliché that the pen is mightier than the sword. But it hasn’t been true through most of human history and isn’t true in many places — especially in the Muslim world — even today. The pen is an instrument that needs constant protection and the enlivening spirit of satirists of all sorts.
The cartoonists of Charlie Hebdo understood that. Does the West?
That’s a rhetorical question. We know the media has proven to be cacasotts.
I started my young adulthood as an anti-communist, cold war warrior, as we used to be called. When the Soviet Union collapsed, I thought that warrior part of my life had ended. Then there were the September 11th attacks, and a new phase of my life started, an anti-Islamic-Fascist warrior, if you will. It doesn’t appear the Jihadist are going away any time soon. I’ll probably end my life still a rhetorical warrior against them. But one thing I am not is a cacasott.
Sorry for being so political.