First things first. Here is a visual depiction of the “prophet” Mohammad:
I have just flouted Islamic law.
I obviously didn’t draw the image above but today’s protest is about challenging the threats and intimidation (and in some cases violence) being directed at those who violate the Islamic sharia ban on artistic depictions of Mohammad.
It is a 1699 woodcut by a French artist named Pirideaux and I felt it was an appropriate one. Here we see the founder of the Islamic faith with sword in hand, and with one foot triumphantly planted on the world and the other crushing a cross and the Ten Commandments–respective symbols of the Jewish and Christian faiths.
Indeed wherever the Islamic faith is dominant Christians and Jews suffer oppression and literally dying by “the sword” is still alive and well in places like Saudi Arabia, Indonesia, Nigeria, Iraq, Iran and Afghanistan.
A number of prominent conservatives and Christians have expressed reservations or opposition to the “Draw Mohammad Day” initiative. For example, conservative blogger Ann Althouse explains why she thinks it “is not a good idea” here and here.
Much of this opposition seems to be based upon the “Golden Rule’ principle. That is, we don’t like it when people mock or defame Jesus, (which occurs in the American entertainment/art/media world roughly 10,000 times each day) therefore we shouldn’t do it to others.
That’s a legitimate argument and I respect those who find it valid and applicable here. I am not among them. Here’s why.
Muslim are offended not just by mocking or profane depictions of Mohammad. The argument is that all depictions are a violation of their religious tenets and that all people of all faiths everywhere must abide by them or face violent punishments.
I’m bored with death threats. And, as far as I’m concerned, if that’s your opening conversational gambit, then any obligation on my part to “cultural sensitivity” and “mutual respect” is over. The only way to stop this madness destroying our liberties is (as Ayaan Hirsi Ali puts it) to spread the risk. Everybody Draws Mohammed Day does just that.
Steyn also reminds us that the Danish political cartoons that sparked riots and killing several years ago were very benign. The truly outrageous cartoons were fabrications by Scandinavian Muslim clerics who needed something more incendiary with which to inflame the anger of the Islamic masses.
Over at BigGovernment.com Nick Gillespie explained his support this way:
There comes a point in any society’s existence where it must ultimately, to paraphrase Martin Luther (who himself was more than happy to see opponents put to death), dig in its heels and say here we stand, we will do no other.
I believe this broad-based cultural effort actually sends an important message to three distinct groups of people.
1. It says to Muslim leaders that efforts at getting compliance with Sharia through threats and intimidation may have been effective in Europe, especially the U.K., but they are counterproductive here. The more you threaten and shriek, the more you are going to see of this kind of thing.
2. It sends a message to capitulaters and the white flag wavers and the wobbly within our culture to buck up and grow a backbone. (Yes you Comedy Central.) Like Canada to our north, we have plenty of folks who have such a low opinion of Western Civilization and have so fully bought into the premise that the United States is the only evil presence in the world that they will gladly endorse anybody’s cultural grievance–especially those coming from imams. To those who want to resist creeping sharia but aren’t sure they’ll be supported, its message is, “hold the line.”
3. Finally, it serves as a reminder to those in our culture who are always crying and bellyaching because they think Christians are trying to suppress artistic freedom because we lamely complain about some performance artist getting tax payer money to wipe himself with pages from the Bible or some other such foolishness.
Since the creators of South Park are at the center of the current controversy, it is instructive to know that Parker and Stone got their big break because of a cartoon short that depicted a violent fight between Jesus and Santa Clause. In the 13 years South Park has been on the air, Jesus has been portrayed in mocking or ridiculous ways scores of times. But not once have the producers at Comedy Central felt compelled to pull one of those episodes because they feared for the safety of their personnel.
Christians complain. They write sternly worded letters to the editor. If they get really inflamed, they organize a pointless boycott which actually brings coveted publicity and rebel street cred to whatever it is they are boycotting.
The controversy, fear and trepidation over “Everybody Draw Mohammad Day” serves to make those who try to portray Christians as intolerant zealots only look more absurd.