PERSON OF THE WEEK - Jan. 30 - Feb. 5, 2006
I spent a considerable amount of time ruminating on this week's choice for Person of the Week. By far, the largest news story is the "cartoon intafada" in the Middle East (I won't summarize it, that's what the mainstream media is for). However, I couldn't isolate one leader of the event. I was about to break my own rule and give the award to the entire mob of protesters that torched the Danish embassy in Damascus when I had an epiphany. Why should I give the award to the bad guys?! (and yes, I do consider the mob "the bad guys")
I was listening to the Hugh Hewitt Show on my way home from work today, and guest host Jed Babbin briefly mentioned this man. Then I realized that the person who made the most profound statement this week was not the throngs of Islamo-Fascists torching Danish embassies. Instead, it was the man who proudly stood up for the values of his country and the free world, even as angry mob tried to burn those values to the ground. That man was Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen.
You see, the protests in the Middle East revolve around a fundamental misunderstanding (and disrespect for) the principles of freedom of the press and freedom of religion. When a privately owned Danish newspaper printed a few offensive cartoons, did the protesters take their problems to the newspaper? Of course not. Instead, they decided that the government and people of Denmark were enemies of Islam because they did not censor the cartoons. They wanted preferential treatment of their religious and political beliefs at the expense of the freedom of others, and Rasmussen wouldn't stand for it.
A weaker leader would have apologized profusely, a person with a lesser backbone would have pursued a a path of appeasement (and several European leaders are), but Rasmussen refused to apologize. Did he acknowledge that the cartoons were a little out of line, sure, but he also acknowledged that democracy gives people the right to be a little out of line, saying,"A Danish government can never apologize on behalf of a free and independent newspaper." This one sentence isn't necessarily a great oratory. In fact, such remarks should be heard on a regular basis from leaders of free European countries, but they're not. That's what makes Rasmussen's remark so profound. In a time when "tolerance" (which means censorship) is increasingly trumping freedom, it is refreshing to hear someone reiterate good old-fashioned democratic values.
So, for standing up for liberty, freedom, and democracy; Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen is ConservaGlobe's Person of the week.
Copyright note: The photo used in the Person of the Week graphic is copyrighted by the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs. According to Wikipedia, the copyright holder allows it to be used for any purpose.