An odd thing happened in Stoughton, Massachusetts happened yesterday. A public official acted courageously, taking a stand for principle and respect for fundamental rights against tyranny.
Predictably, it didn’t last long.
Town manager Mark Stankiewicz, bothered by the assaults on Denmark over the actions of a single newspaper, decided to make a small gesture with the Danes. So, utterly on his own, he bought two Danish flags and raised one of them on the town’s flag pole, beneath the United States flags.
Wonder of wonders, there were protests.
The first cited objection I can respect. A veteran said it was disrespectable to both nations to fly their flags on the same pole. I’m not sure of the etiquette, but I can see the vet’s point.
The other objections, though, boil my blood.
The Stoughton No Place for Hate Committee, a local antidiscrimination group, plans to discuss the episode at its meeting tonight because of fears that residents might be hurt or insulted.
”There’s always that chance that there will be people who are offended, and we want to guard against that,” said Karon Skinner-Catrone, chairperson of the 10-person group, some of whom are town officials.
Ms. Skinner-Catrone, I can see your point. There is no purpose in deliberately insulting and offending people for no reason. But to take no side on an issue as clear-cut as whether or not Denmark is being screwed, and whether we should or should not defend a principle as critical as the one being assaulted in this case, is to submit to tyranny.
Let’s look at this issue carefully: several months ago, a single newspaper in Denmark solicited and published a dozen cartoon representations of Mohammed, the founder of Islam. They did this without the knowledge or consent of the Danish government, and rightfully so — the government has no business in such matters.
Months later, when several Islamic states find themselves in a bit of hot water, the cartoons are brought up again — along with several extremely crude, extremely offensive forgeries, never published in any newspaper anywhere. Muslims everywhere riot, causing death, destruction, and committing several overt acts of war. Militants call for “apologies” from the Danish government, along with a worldwide ban on blaspheming Islam in this way.
The usual suspects of apologists, sycophants, and reactionary anti-Western forces immediately capitulate. Citing concerns of concerns over “sensitivity” (meaning “we don’t want our buildings burned down or blown up, and we don’t want to be beheaded”), many media outlets decline to run the offending cartoons, denying their readers the right to decide for themselves just how provocative they were. (This also had the consequence of allowing those fake cartoons — spread by a group of European Muslim leaders during a tour of the Middle East — to escape wider exposure as frauds.) Apparently CNN, The New York Times, and other outlets have been studying French history, and boning up on their surrender reflex.
(Another apparent student of French history who came away with the opposite lesson was the publisher of the French magazine Charlie Hebdo (named after Charlie Brown), who not only published the 12 original cartoons, but contributed its own. Kind of gives me hope for France — something I haven’t felt since, well, ever.)
And now we have the Stoughton No Place For Hate Committee, who thinks that honoring the nation of Denmark — whose king risked his own life to save Jews from the Nazis, who has been a staunch American ally for ages — is “too risky” and “might offend people.”
Perhaps they ought to reconsider their name to the Stoughton No Place For Balls Committee. I have a symbol all ready for them — they can take that Danish flag they forced taken down, bleach out the red, and proudly wave their white flag for any and all to see.
And Mr. Stankiewicz? You might be too good for Stoughton. Consider yourself invited to move to New Hampshire. We know how to properly appreciate folks like you, and we’re always welcoming refugees from Taxachusetts who come to their senses.