Pre-emptive Obedience

And why it’s wrong. Amir Taheri is running this article in Gulf News today.

In Communist-ruled East Germany, they had a term for it: pre-emptive obedience. This meant guessing the future orders of the politburo and obeying them before they were issued. East Germany was thrown into the dustbin of history a long time ago. However, "pre-emptive obedience" is making a comeback in re-unified Germany and several other European countries.

It was based on "pre-emptive obedience" that the German Opera in Berlin decided to cancel its production of Mozart's Idomeneo after the managers decided that it might anger Muslims. The opera had already been shown in 2003 without incident and no Muslim group had called for it to be withdrawn. Thus, the managers were obeying orders that had not been issued.

Amir goes on with several examples of self censorship and then makes his point rather well.
The party of "pre-emptive obedience" violates one of the basic principles of the western societies, that is to say freedom of expression. And, that makes it harder for Muslim democrats to persuade their co-religionists that, rather than fear freedom, they should learn to benefit from it.

The party of "pre-emptive obedience" hurts Muslim interests in another way. By presenting Muslims as agents of censorship and intolerance, it incites the non-Muslim majority against them while presenting the most reactionary fundamentalists as the sole legitimate representatives of Islam.

Self-censorship in Europe also provides the despotic regimes in Muslim countries with an excuse for their systematic violation of the right to free expression. While Muslim writers and artists are fighting and, in some cases, even dying to defend their freedom of creation it would be a sad irony to see that same freedom undermined by the party of "pre-emptive obedience" in the West.

Make sure to go read the rest of Amir’s article. Note that our co-blogger Bluto ,the worst person in the world, earned a quite different form of recognition for helping Phyllis out with her book.

Hat Tip: Phyllis who writes:

He mentions my inability to find a British publisher because, he says, publishers are rejecting scores of manuscripts “pre-emptively” in order to avoid “provoking” Muslim violence. He also mentions the cancellation of my colleague Nancy Kobrin’s book for which I wrote the introduction as yet another example of this unfortunate western self-censorship which he believes is, at heart, anti-Muslim. Hopefully, his piece will get picked up far and wide as his pieces usually do.
Agreed, We in the west make many mistakes and we have many shortcomings. But we attempt to face them with self criticism as well as being open to criticism. This is not to say we always behave our best but hopefully we learn a bit as we go along.

If say, Turkey can never face the truth of what happened there in the early part of the last century then Turkey is doomed to repeat this bloody episode. And then once again this Muslim nation will have to live in denial of the blood on it’s hands.

Posted by: Howie at 12:33 PM


1 Minor edit note: the Armenian genocide took place in 1915, not the 1950's.

Otherwise, good post.


Posted by: Alan at October 12, 2006 01:51 PM

2 Opps I was listening to that French law thing on NPR and misheard the reporter. I went and got a link to a similar story. Thanks Alan.

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3 great, what's next, pre-emptively tattooing a dotted line on their necks along with a 'cut here' tag?

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