The first principle of an open society is not to let the intolerant define "the territory of insult" -- those areas off limits to criticism or ridicule. But how does one define "territory" when media now crosses the boundaries of nations, cultures and civilizations? In the end, free societies must defend the right of the Charlie Hebdo cartoonists against murder by fanatics, the Sony filmmakers against the North Korean regime and novelists like Salman Rushdie against a fatwa from the ayatollahs. But isn't Pope Francis also right that, in today's diverse and connected world, we must exercise the civil restraint of "respect" for the non-fanatic faithful (see the other depiction of the Prophet acceptable among some Muslims on left above), even if we insist on irreverence toward political authority? Finding an equilibrium amid the frictions and fusions that abound in this global public space will determine whether or not we can forge a new cosmopolitan commons of the 21st century. This week, The WorldPost engages this conundrum. Writing from Denmark, Flemming Rose, the Jyllands-Posten editor who commissioned cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad a decade ago that set off riots across the Muslim world, argues against "the tyranny of silence" fanatics would impose. Mehdi Hasan says he is "fed up with free speech fundamentalists" who feel they have a "duty to offend." (continued)
As many around the world said to Americans in September 2001, we say to the men and women throughout Paris, France and Europe today: You are not alone. Our unity will ultimately triumph, and our cause will ultimately prevail.
The overwhelming majority of eastern Ukrainians currently trapped in brutal winter conditions between separatist thugs and the Ukrainian army aren't Ku Klux Klan members, or fat cat bigots who delight in oppressing their ethnic Ukrainian neighbors. They are coal miners and steelworkers and children and pensioners. They are people who've watched their lives be shelled into oblivion by both Kiev's army and paramilitary brigades and Putin's warlords, and who are now isolated in what Amnesty and the UN describe as an unfolding humanitarian crisis. Painting them as a bunch of backward anti-Western hicks is neither progressive, nor tolerant, nor liberal, nor accurate.
For several years now, I've tried to temper satirical criticism of the occasional excess in Russia's political culture with the concern that I'm reducing a complex system of government to the latest installment of News of the Weird.
Europe is facing divisive challenges on all fronts. It is being torn within by hardening attitudes toward the growing presence not only of Muslim immigrants, but also of citizens. On Monday, demonstrators thronged the streets of Dresden in support of "Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamization of the Occident." On Wednesday in Paris, 12 people were killed, including cartoonists who lampooned the Prophet Muhammad, in the horrific Charlie Hebdo attack. While the euro tumbles, northern and southern Europe are bitterly at odds over austerity policies and continuing high unemployment. And a newly aggressive Russia is challenging European values on its eastern frontier. (continued) Writing from Berlin, Alexander Gorlach analyzes what is behind rising Islamphobia in Europe. From Paris, Le Huffington Post editorial director Anne Sinclair pays homage to the slain journalists. "Infidel" author Ayaan Hirsi Ali warns that we can't let political Islamists define the territory of insult. Akbar Ahmed looks at the long history, and present social conditions, of Muslims in Europe.
While many hawkish observers in Washington demanded a more overt and energetic response from the Obama administration, the past six months can only be seen as vindication of President Obama's diplomacy toward Russia and proof of the abject failure of the shortsighted and domestically driven foreign policy of Vladimir Putin.
In 2014, Vladimir Putin discovered his inner Trotsky. For what Russia's president is now offering Ukraine is a perverse twist on the formula Trotsky proclaimed during the peace negotiations at Brest-Litovsk in 1918: "No war, no peace."
Give yourself three points for each right answer until the last, which, if you guess correctly, is worth four points. The Dean's guesses are shown at the end. We'll compare our guesses with reality at the end of 2015.
Beneath wonky geopolitical chatter, Ukraine's independent left -- which must be distinguished from the old guard communist left -- is pushing its own political agenda. How can such forces overcome right-wing nationalism, particularly in the midst of deadly military conflict in the country's eastern regions?
Ordinary citizens remain calm because of the simple fact that they typically do not know the full picture -- nor do they try to know it. It is easier to live that way. Just the same, it is time to wake up and recognize what is happening. This is no Hollywood blockbuster unfolding outside our windows, but a force majeure of international proportions. True, it is not the first that the world has experienced, but knowing what hardships previous conflicts have brought to mankind should motivate us to try to prevent any more from occurring.
Is the Russian Ruble becoming financial rubble as consequence of targeting by the U.S. and its allies? The dramatic fall in oil prices and commensurate drop in the Russian currency, is this coincidental to broader global economic trends or an orchestrated assault?
A renewed shining a light on the second anniversary, by RTVi and others, on the devastating effect of the adoption ban will help to educate more Americans as well as Russians about the benefits and challenges of adopting children.
While a premeditated violation of the INF Treaty would be a serious diplomatic transgression, it is unwise to exaggerate the strategic implications of a formal breach and engage in knee-jerk policy formulation that would do little to punish Russia and could instead actually undermine U.S. security interests in the long-term.
Even during the worst of the U.S.S.R. the square was more symbolic than threatening. For the most part no one went to the Kremlin to die. Very different, however, is Lubyanka, just a short walk up Teatralny Proezd past the Bentley and Maserati dealerships.
It's time for gift-giving and year-end celebrations, so take our latest Week to Week news quiz and see who's giving what to whom.
Now that Crimea is firmly in the Russian column, it is to be hoped that the Kremlin will provide both peoples with as much local autonomy as possible in line with earlier pledges.