Thursday, May 20, 2010

Why I Won't Participate In 'Everybody Draw Mohammed ' Day

After Comedy Central censored a South Park episode that didn’t actually depict Mohamed, but made fun of the Islamoseethe over the subject, a number of people signed on to pick a specific date and intentionally draw an image of Mohammed.

My friend Bookworm has a fine post on the subject:

It’s a good idea, quite obviously, because modern Western society is predicated on free speech. Admittedly, there are gradations to that free speech, with America standing at the pinnacle of what is allowed and protected as an ordinary part of civil discourse. Speech becomes increasingly more regulated as one travels through other Western nations. Nevertheless, any nation that stands on the shoulders of the Enlightenment gives a nod to the importance of freely expressed ideas and information. When we give up free speech, we give up a significant part of our identity.

Lately, though, European nations and American TV stations have willingly abandoned any semblance of commitment to the notion of free speech. And what’s really dreadful about this practice is that it’s not even driven by the traditional rationale for speech restriction, which is to protect the ruling party from internal challenges to its control. Instead, this is a purely fear-based abandonment. It has nothing to do with principles or power. It is, instead, a craven desire to avoid screaming mobs wielding sharp swords.

The various Western nations (and American TV stations) engaged in cultural retreat dress it up as respect for the “other.” That respect, however, exists only because we fear that “other.” Sam Harris, in what is probably the most worthy article the Huffington Post has ever published — and one that I strongly urge you to read — gets to the heart of the matter. After discussing (1) Geert Wilder’s martyrdom at the hands of the Dutch political class for his film Fitna, a film that reveals how closely Islam tracks on Mohamed’s incendiary rhetoric, and (2) Kurt Westergaard’s life in hiding thanks to the very first Mohamed cartoons, Harris explains how Islam is gaming the West:

Wilders, like Westergaard and the other Danish cartoonists, has been widely vilified for “seeking to inflame” the Muslim community. Even if this had been his intention, this criticism represents an almost supernatural coincidence of moral blindness and political imprudence. The point is not (and will never be) that some free person spoke, or wrote, or illustrated in such a manner as to inflame the Muslim community. The point is that only the Muslim community is combustible in this way. The controversy over Fitna, like all such controversies, renders one fact about our world especially salient: Muslims appear to be far more concerned about perceived slights to their religion than about the atrocities committed daily in its name. Our accommodation of this psychopathic skewing of priorities has, more and more, taken the form of craven and blinkered acquiescence.

There is an uncanny irony here that many have noticed. The position of the Muslim community in the face of all provocations seems to be: Islam is a religion of peace, and if you say that it isn’t, we will kill you. Of course, the truth is often more nuanced, but this is about as nuanced as it ever gets: Islam is a religion of peace, and if you say that it isn’t, we peaceful Muslims cannot be held responsible for what our less peaceful brothers and sisters do. When they burn your embassies or kidnap and slaughter your journalists, know that we will hold you primarily responsible and will spend the bulk of our energies criticizing you for “racism” and “Islamophobia.”

When we play into this Islamic game — “We, your resident Muslims, promise to live up to our putative reputation for peace as long as you don’t exercise those of your freedoms that put us in a killing rage” — we give up the essence of who we are. We are no longer the heirs of Voltaire and the Enlightenment, of the Founders and the abolitionists. We are no longer free people. Instead, we are slaves to our fears, with our lives increasingly constrained by the random and irrational demands of small subsets of our western societies.

Most of what's written above has a real basis in truth. However, I will not be participating.

Gratuitously insulting Muslims in this particular fashion serves no purpose whatsoever. In fact, it merely reinforces the Islamist argument that Islam must ultimately triumph over the West and that all Muslims had better choose sides..even those few Muslims with perhaps only a tentative allegiance to Islam.

As you know, I gave up any notion of a 'moderate Islam' some time ago, based on the silence the Muslim world greeted events like Beslan, Mumbai, and attacks on non-Muslim civilians all over the world, from Nigeria, to Israel, to Britain, to the United States.

But it's also true that there are Muslims, especially in the West who are silent out of fear or social pressure and despise what Islam is coming to stand for. It's these Muslims who are under pressure to sign on to the Islamist's program, and a 'draw Mohammed' day only increases that pressure.

It's also a shot at the wrong target.

As I've noted before, just a short time after caving in to threats from Islamists, the moral cowards at Comedy Central announced a brand new show based on "JC," a half-hour show about Christ "wanting to escape the shadow of his powerful but apathetic father and live a regular life in New York City.

In the show, God is preoccupied with playing video games while Christ, the ultimate fish out of water, tries to adjust to life in the big city."

Nor is Comedy Central limited to harshly satirizing Christ and Christians. They feel perfectly free to indulge in some gutter level Jew hatred:

Currently appearing on Comedy Central's website is a game called "I.S.R.A.E.L. Attack!". The premise of this game has nothing to do with Israel and, as such, is nothing more than an insidious attempt at association. The game's introduction begins with a character who states:

You lied to me, Jew Producer

referring to a character who has failed to carry out a mission to destroy other child-like cartoon characters. If this piece of anti-Semitism isn't bad enough, a robot - the Intelligent Smart Robot Animation Eraser Lady - is sent to do the job that the Jew Producer failed to achieve.

The character openly calls the robot by its acronym - ISRAEL - and the association created by those behind this game is unmistakable - Israel the child killer.

The game then involves the robot destroying everything and everyone in its path, including children and animals.


The game is stil up on Comedy Central's website, although reportedly, they've removed the phrase, 'you lied to me Jew producer'.

Comedy Central feels perfectly free targeting Jews and Christians and is wary of offending Muslims even when it involves dhimmi submission to sharia for the same reason a lot of other media sources do - because there is no price they'll pay for offending Christians and Jews, but Muslims might just target you or your family ala' Theo Van Gogh or Salman Rushdie or bomb your studio.

Instead of putting energy into drawing a bunch of pictures of Mohammed, why not work to change that situation? Why not start a public boycott of Comedy Central,its parent corporation Viacom and most importantly their advertisers as an example to any other media company tempted to allow fear of Islamists to temper acceptable free expression?

Can you imagine the fall out if,instead of caricatures of Mohammed, Comedy Central's advertisers received a hundred or two hundred letters letting them know that unless they pulled their ads people would be not be patronizing their products?

Letting people like Comedy Central know that there is a price to pay for dhimmitude and selective bigotry strikes me as a much more productive outlet than gratuitously insulting Muslims.


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Anonymous said...

I think your position is mistaken. Ridicule is a potent weapon. Many marginal Muslims are looking for a good excuse to give up on Islam, they remain silent because they feel they have no support, they feel alone. Needless to say, they don't talk about their doubts about Islam with their family & friends. By showing any respect at all for this nasty vile miserable ideology, we only make it harder for Muslims to defect. I know this from personal experience, I'm originally from an Arab country (I'm not Muslim). You would be very surprised at how many Muslims, especially young people, are disgusted with Islam.

Independent Patriot said...

I taught a seminar on the US Consitution in middle school. The Moslem students could not understand how we could insult Mohammed but they had no problem with insulting other religions. Trying to get them to understand the concept of freedom of speech was not possible when it interacted with their religion, and these were American born children. I think there are no moderate Moslems, you are either a moslem or you are an apostate. There is no inbetween.

I do agree however, that a boycott of Comedy Central should ensure. Since the publication of information about the web game, CC has been off limits in my home. I think its time that the larger organizations do something. I would love to see some national Christian organizations take a lead. Heaven knows there aren't any Jewish organizatins out there with a backbone.

Rhymes With Right said...

Gotta disagree with you, my friend. If Muslims ask me not to depict Muhammad, I might comply with their request or I might not, depending upon my choice and my decision as to whether or not I think their request merits respect. But when drawings of Muhammad are accompanied by violence and threats of violence by the extremists of that faith, and by an implicit defense of the same by "moderates" ("Well, you have to understand that it is really your fault that they are violent, because you really offended us with your drawings, because your right to free speech does not extend to speech that violates our religious beliefs because religious freedom in our eyes really only means the freedom to follow our religion, not to follow yours.", then it is important to stand up against the implicit religious fascism in both the "extreme" and "moderate" positions.

I'd make the following comparison. When in grad school, I shared an office with a couple of other graduate assistants. They were both Jewish, one Orthodox and one not. Out of respect for them (especially Ben) I voluntarily did not eat non-kosher food in the office. Now I would have taken a different tack if Ben told me that I was not allowed to eat non-kosher food in the office -- and certainly would have if he told me that he was going to do me violence if I even did so in the privacy of my own home. And had Miriam then told me that such a response was really my own fault because I dared to keep bacon in my fridge back at my apartment, then I would have brought the bacon and the microwave to the office and cooked it there, regardless of the risk of offending any other Jew who thought these two were out of line for trying to impose kosher rules on their Gentile officemate.

I participated in the event yesterday not to gratuitously offend Muslims (after all, my wife had four Muslim doctors, three men and a woman who have kept her alive over the years through serious medical crises over the years, surrounding her hospital bed yesterday afternoon), but because I considered it important to assert the right of non-Muslims to engage in speech that is outside of the limits imposed by Islamic teaching. It is also why I chose to create something that made light of the over-the-top reactions of some Muslims rather than something gratuitously offensive in the vein of some of the crude sexual depictions presented by a minority of participants.

Do I respect your position? Yeah, I do. However, i decided that not participating would in effect acquiesce to the threats of the extremists and their "moderate" apologists when they demand that I not engage in constitutionally protected speech that violates the tenets of their faith but not of mine.

Freedom Fighter said...

Hello All,
And thanks for dropping by.

I agree with you that ridicule is a powerful weapon. That's exactly why you have to be careful when and how you use it.

In my opinion, the real target of ridicule should be the cowardly suits at the various networks who have acquiesced so readily to dhimmi status - not the long dead Mohammed. Ridiculing his image does nothing practical, especially for Muslims living in Muslim countries. As you know, leaving Islam while living in one of those places carries severe risk, even among younger people who might despise Islam.

IP,You're entirely correct. Muslims habitually insult other religions. In fact, the Qu'ran is rotten with such insults and the Muslim call to prayer itself is an insult to other religions.That doesn't make it right or productive.

A real boycott of CC involves writing advertisers to let them know you won't be patronizing their products as long as they continue to advertise on CC. That's the key, believe me.

I respect very much what you're saying, but I think I've spelled out my reasons for disagreeing.

Although I must say, satirizing the Islamoseethe is very different (and in my view, fair game)than simply depicting Mohammed in various obscene poses and I commend you for appreciating the difference.

yzernik said...

I would boycott Comedy Central, but I have already been boycotting them since Jon (Leibowitz) Stewart attacked Israel at the height of Operation Cast Lead.

louielouie said...

i disagree with you on this issue.

Freedom Fighter said...

Fair enough, Louie.Lots of people apparently do, but I'll just take my lumps on this one.

I admit there are decent arguments on the other side of this issue, but I feel I'm looking more at what ultimately gets accomplished..