This week's syndicated column
But first a Lars Update:
He is well, he is in an undisclosed location, he is back to work. Not bad for a 70-year-old man who was fired on "from less than a yard" away" while collecting a (phony) package delivered to his home. Far from stopping Lars, the gunfire triggered Lars's life-saving right hook to the gunman's face ... (see column below for details). I asked Lars yesterday if he knew more about his 25-year-old assailant. He wrote: "He is an immigrant from a Muslim country – Arabian or Pakistani. There is no doubt. You may quote me."
The gunman is also half a century younger than Lars. It suddenly struck me, as I reflected on the violence that Islam has brought into Western society: The heroes of the Danish counter-jihad are elderly men -- old Vikings, it turns out, but "senior citizens" by any measure. Westergaard, Hedegaard, Sweden's Lars Vilks (b. 1946), too, an artist whose life is also imperiled by Muslims for his drawings and beliefs -- are all men of advanced years. They are also all men of the pen and paint set.
Is it right to let them fight it out alone?
I may be the only American who has seen both the “panic room” where Danish cartoonist Kurt Westergaard fled in 2010 as a Somali Muslim man hacked at the door with an ax, and the apartment house where this week Danish journalist Lars Hedegaard, 70, was almost killed by an “Arab”- or “Pakistani”-looking man posing as a postman. Since our vast media don’t consider these items news, I will tell you about them.
First, Westergaard’s panic room. It is a bathroom off the front hall of a modest, modern-style home in the small Danish city of Aarhus. The tiny room is equipped with a buzzer that rings through to the local police station, and it has a steel door. While the Somali was breaking through the front door of his home, Westergaard, then 74, who walks with a cane, made his way into the secure room, hoping the police would reach him in time. As he listened to each strike of the ax on his door, the assailant screamed, “Blood! Revenge!”
Blood and revenge for what? Four years earlier, Westergaard had drawn a cartoon of Muhammad. It was one of 12 such cartoons commissioned by his newspaper, Jyllands-Posten, to demonstrate that Denmark’s media do not follow Islamic laws against depicting Muhammad. You haven’t seen Westergaard’s cartoon in American media? That’s because American media do follow this Islamic prohibition – only they call it being “sensitive” or “inclusive” or something. (Google “Westergaard” and “cartoon” to see if the image makes you want to pick up an ax.)
No matter what our media chiefs say, however, there is nothing “sensitive” or “inclusive” about capitulating to what is, in reality, fear of Islamic violence, thus allowing an elderly Danish artist to face this jihad alone.
The other front-line outpost of jihad manned by Danish senior citizens with pens that I can claim to have seen for myself is Lars Hedegaard’s apartment building. Just a few stories high, it stands on a quiet street in Frederiksberg, a municipality adjoining Copenhagen that is known for the city zoo and nearby park and gardens. On Tuesday, Lars got a call from the front door telling him he had a package. He opened a window and looked down on the postman – or, rather, on a man wearing the distinctive red jacket of the Danish postal service. Lars said he’d be right down, since the buzzer to let visitors into the building didn’t work.
Lars opened the front door, and the man, whom Lars judged to be about 30, handed him a package. As Lars took it, the man pulled out a gun and fired at Lars’ head. Lars sensed the bullet passing over his right ear. After Lars threw a punch at the man’s face, the man dropped the gun and the two men scuffled, Lars trying to shut the front door against his assailant. The man inserted his foot inside the door, got hold of his gun again and fired at Lars once (click – the gun jammed), then twice (click – jammed again). Then the gunman fled the scene. Not one but two men wearing ski masks were soon seen hopping over the wall into the zoo, near where the hippopotamuses live. Police arrived. Lars disappeared, enveloped by state security.
Why did someone try to kill Lars Hedegaard? I take the question personally, because Lars is a dear friend and a colleague. In 2009, I joined him and others to form the International Free Press Society as a sister group to the very successful Danish Free Press Society, which he founded in 2004. The goal was to support free speech, long imperiled by the application of the Marxist-derived speech codes we know as “political correctness,” and more recently constrained by the influence of Islamic law in Western society. Lars’ most recent venture is the new weekly newspaper called Dispatch International, which he co-edits with Swedish journalist Ingrid Carlqvist. I am Washington correspondent.
Police do not yet have a suspect in custody, but European media instantly seized on the veteran journalist’s unflinching reporting and editorializing about the impact of Islam on Europe as being the possible motive for attack. This is logical given the suspect’s description, which indicates he is likely Muslim, and the frequency with which Muslims resort to violence in Europe and elsewhere to silence those who oppose the erosion of Western culture under the increasing application, officially and informally, of Islamic law in Europe and the wider West.
Still, that’s nothing new for Lars. So why the attempt to kill him now? The feeling at both Dispatch International and the Danish Free Press Society is that the trigger was the advent of the new newspaper, which last month began regular publication and, in its Swedish edition, delivery. (It is available online in Danish and Swedish, and in English here: www.d-intl.com/?lang=en.) Covering all manner of issues mainstream media ignore – much of it (not all) regarding the effects of Islamic law and immigration on indigenous European peoples – the newspaper clearly hit multiple nerves, even coming under a sustained cyberattack in December, which police are still investigating.
This is why it is equal parts laughable and shameful to read the widely published Associated Press report of the incident – the primary source in the U.S. for news of the attack. Noting the attempted killing of Hedegaard, whom it describes as “a Danish writer and prominent critic of Islam,” the AP goes on to say: “Hedegaard heads the International Free Press Society, a group that claims press freedom is under threat from Islam.”
What does it take to prove it – a more effective assassin?