Tuesday, September 21, 2010


Some Thoughts in re Mohammed Cartoons

Some random thoughts about Mohammed cartoons:

1. Why does this cartoon show up in the #3 slot for a Google search? (It's not even all that good. This one is much better.)

2. Why does it provoke such strong reactions? Here, from the comments:

Xcuse me...hw dare u keep MOHAMMED (PBUH) picture......u r nt suppose 2 do dat...!!!jst remv it..!!!
04/09/2010, 07:04:24 AM

Would you be happy If some one made fun of your prophet with cartoons?! remove it plz
07/16/2010, 09:53:01 AM

what do you thing you are doin you don have to use this piture remove now
07/08/2010, 07:31:06 AM

Remove it. Will u be happy to see cartoons of ur god or prophet.. ?
06/05/2010, 01:22:39 AM

Let me point out that all these comments are in response to an image that does not claim to be of Mohammed! Nowhere in the original blog post do I claim that it is. (Is it intended to be Mohammed? Of course it is. But isn't it interesting that people assume a picture is of Mohammed, without anyone saying so, and then get mad at me because of their assumptions?)

Just for the record, the cartoon in question is this:

See what I mean? It isn't even all that funny. And I'm not making fun of Mohammed, am I? All I'm doing is drawing a picture of him, wearing a turban and robes, as Muslim images of Mohammed have done for a long time.

The question, would [I] be happy if someone made cartoons of [my] god or prophet? , is actually pretty funny. I'm a Jew, as I've made explicitly clear on this blog many times. My religion, and my people, are depicted savagely in cartoons all the time. Wouldn't it be wonderful if the worst antisemitic cartoons were as respectful as my cartoon is?

And yes, I'm well aware that, to Muslims, drawing images of Mohammed is not permitted. Well, I'm not a Muslim, as I just said. And if Muslims are offended for that reason, let me just point out: my religion forbids mixing milk and meat. I don't insist that you abide by my religious restrictions, do I? You keep your commandments -- or not, as suits you -- and I'll keep mine.

UPDATE: Here's another cartoon that's much cleverer than mine:

I think it's a clever cartoon. I'd also think the point of this cartoon is obvious -- if depicting Mohammed in a cartoon is dangerous, how about suggesting that he might be hidden there (even if he's not)? Apparently that's off-limits too; The Washington Post refused to run it in their print edition, saying "it seemed a deliberate provocation without a clear message" and that "the point of the joke was not immediately clear". As the Post's ombudsman admits, this "sets an awfully low threshold for decisions on whether to withhold words or images that might offend". (It certainly does. The Post has certainly run articles before that seemed deliberately provocative -- towards Presidents the Post did not like, for example - which were badly enough written so as "not to have a clear message".)

In short, the self-censorship of the press, with respect to Mohammed, is alive and well. (They also refuse to cover stories directly related to that self-censorship. How many newspaper articles have you seen about Molly Norris? The poor woman, a test case for the First Amendment if ever there was one, should be on the front page of every newspaper. Instead she's been virtually ignored.)

UPDATE 2:  "Just Admit It, Newspapers: You're Scared Of Muslims".
Concisely put!

Look, I keep hearing (and reading) that it's wrong to connect Muslims or Islam to terrorism... even though the vast majority of recent major terrorist attacks, worldwide, has been perpetrated by Muslims in the name of Islam.  I keep hearing that it's wrong to blame an entire religion for the misguided actions of a few of its extremist practitioners.

Well, that may be... but it's nonetheless the case that those "misguided extremists" are doing the talking for Islam -- so, for better or for worse, it is the extremists who represent Islam to the world.  

I can think of no better example than this -- an innocuous cartoon that looks like the prophet Mohammed, or a cartoon that invokes his name without depicting him, or a childish suggestion to celebrate "Everybody Draw Mohammed Day", can result in worldwide condemnation and intimidation, up to and including death threats, all in the name of Islam.  Who stands up to that?  Who, in the name of Islam, is willing to speak up and say: "I don't like that cartoon.  I wouldn't put it on my wall, or print it in my magazine, or recommend it to anybody.  But the person who drew it isn't a Muslim, so we shouldn't be telling him what to do.  I have better fights to fight than against a silly cartoon, which really isn't hurting anybody."


(Mind you, just as American journalists have their good reasons for fearing a Muslim backlash, Muslims in many parts of the world have good reason to fear speaking out against Muslim extremism.  I don't blame them for not speaking up; I'd probably do the same if I were in their shoes.  But if the only voices claiming to speak for Islam are extremist, then don't tell me that extremism doesn't represent Islam.)


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