“The moment you declare a set of ideas to be immune from criticism, satire, derision, or contempt, freedom of thought becomes impossible.” ~ Salman Rushdie
Although some Muslims in the Islamic world often seem to forget that the religion of Islam has had a long and illustrious (see what I did there?) tradition of depicting Muhammad in art, I absolutely love the idea of ‘Draw Muhammad Day‘ as a means to push back against totalitarian theocrats and Islamic bullies who would seek to silence the thoughts and opinions others–for whatever reason.
I especially love the fact that the artist drew Muhammad without hands. In Islamic world those who are without hands are guilty of crimes, and the punishment is to cut off their hands. There isn’t a greater insult, as hands are our tools that help us survive and thrive. Cutting off one’s hands is to cut off their vitality.
Although Islamic blowhards shout threats of violence against those who dare to depict Muhammad at all, I think we should all start depicting the Prophet *without hands. Why? Because there is no greater offense than silencing the free speech of others and trying to chain their thoughts and words to the insular and peevish dogmas of an overly self-righteous religion.
People have rights. Not religions.
I also like the above cartoon because it references the bomb-turban cartoon which sparked the original Jyllands-Posten Cartoon Controversy, which lead to riots, a turn of violence, and ultimately 200 deaths worldwide.
Instead of apologizing for the turmoil, the first reaction of Muslim Imams was to cry Islamophobia and bring charges of blasphemy against all those who would dare to disregard their fancies and dismiss any need to kowtow with the same bent over reverence they do.
Afterward, there were more threats of violence, a call to silence Islam’s detractors–that warped sense of justice that exists only in the mind of a true xenophobe. Islam’s message was clear. If you didn’t bow down, bite your tongue, and submit to the demands there were going to be even more threats of violence.
It’s ironic how certain hypersensitive factions want to call us all Islamaphobes when we write criticisms of Islam, some valid and some wide of the mark, all the while not seeming to realize that Islamaphobe literally means “to be fearful of Islam.” And why wouldn’t we be when it threatens us and holds fear over us?
Perhaps more telling is the fact that this seems to be a dodge not to deal with the initial criticism in the first place. God forbid you admit not being perfect, Islam! God forbid you be held up to a higher standard, and that these criticisms are meant to motivate you to do so! God forbid you change for the better! That would just be … un-Islam-like.
So this cartoon controversy proved that Muslims knew how to get mad. I mean, really hot-under-the-collar, red in the face, on a summer day in the middle of the desert, two humps on a camel–mad. That’s pretty darn mad. But I would bet a full dollar that most of them didn’t even understand why they were so mad. Not really, anyway.
Was it really because some anonymous cartoonist in some far away country drew a silly, slightly mocking, picture of one of your historical figures, who was a known warlord and conqueror?
Nah. I give Muslim people more credit than that. Even the illiterate ones (literacy rates are extremely varied among Islamic countries, ranging from high to low, but many of the countries with the largest Muslim populations also have the highest rates of illiteracy: see here) have to realize that getting irate over a cartoon they haven’t seen let alone understood the gist of makes little to no sense.
It’s the ones who did understand that were the problem.
They are the ones who got whipped up into a frenzy. But not because the lamblasting was offensive. But because they recognized what the cartoons represented… the loss of authority and the encroachment of antithetical ideologies, like the freedom of speech and the right (yes, right!) to blaspheme.
Here, for the first time in living memory, Islam was wide open to criticism. Real, biting, harsh as hail criticism.
Islam was reeling from the shock of getting doled out one polemic after another, a rapid fire concession of critiques–some valid, others slightly less so–but if anything was made clear by the criticisms dealt and the Muslim reaction to them, it was that Islam just wasn’t ready to receive criticism, positive or negative. Not yet.
The enlightenment had come too soon to a people not yet primed for the responsibility of handling with care their opinions and the opinions of others. As such, every criticism felt like an pin prick, and Islam reeled back. The Imams, who knew this meant Islam would have to either learn to adapt or go down fighting chose to go down fighting. Not paying attention to the fact that they were on the wrong side of history, just another victory tally on the impressive record of all previous enlightenments to come before, in their political posturing they gathered together protesters willing to buy into the notion that Islam was the victim of widespread abuse, and in so doing, whipped up Muslims into a violent frenzy.
As such, Islam declared war on what the rest of the world considered civil discourse, the exchange of ideas, and the right to cordially disagree–even the occasional satirical cartoon–all things, mind you, which are legally protected in many of the countries which Islam seemed to be having a problem with.
All I can say is, welcome to the 21st century Islam. You don’t like what others may think about you? Tough. Sometimes you have to roll with the punches.
Granted, I think it’s worth pointing out that, as individuals, people are allowed hold intolerant, obstinate, even silly and/or dumb beliefs. As PEOPLE that is their right. People have rights, not religions. Of course, I may not always agree with them when they share, in a public manner, their intolerant, obstinate, silly and dumb beliefs, but as individuals, they have the right to think however they wish.
Religions, on the other hand, do not have the right to unchecked intolerance. Religious leaders, using their authority, who incite mobs on the behalf of religious principles in order to use intimidation to dictate what others may think and do, all while demanding subservience to comply with its oft irrational demands, is straight up totalitarianism.
Groups of people, coming together to demand fair treatment, that’s fine by me. If you get your feelings hurt, then let’s talk about it. But groups of people coming together to seek vigilante justice for mere perceived offenses, that’s NOT okay. It’s doubly not okay when no real sense of justice can be had because no real crime was committed. I know that some people don’t get satire. I know that some people have no sense of irony. That’s simply not our problem. It’s theirs. And they need to learn to deal with it without devolving into clothes wrenching lunatics and violent madmen.
Here’s my beef with Islam. It’s out to silence me for liking humorous cartoons, or speaking my mind, or sharing things which it might find offensive. It’s out to get the cartoonists who may raise valid criticisms through satire. It’s out to get those who would seek to defend the cartoonist’s integrity as artists. It’s out to shackle its detractors tongues and chain our mouths shut upon pain of death should we boldly stand up against such a slave mentality.
Meanwhile, it calls me intolerant for speaking out against what I perceive to be real injustices, rather than the imagined injustices of a pious imagination which cannot fathom why infidels don’t treat its silly superstitious rules with the same amount of kowtowing obedience.
Here’s a newsflash, I’m not Muslim, I don’t adhere to the beliefs of Islam, I don’t believe in your god, and your rules and regulations simply DO NOT APPLY TO ME.
All the while I’ve never once tried to restrict what Muslims can believe. But the moment a group of peoples, or a religion, seeks to infringe the rights of others, because it can, that’s when I say it is even more deserving of ridicule.
My message to Islam, is this.
The simple truth of the matter is–if you don’t want to be made the subject of ridicule then, by all means, stop acting so goddamn ridiculous.
If you want respect, you’re going to have to earn it. Needless to say, you can’t earn people’s respect when you are continually attempting to infringe upon their rights, bring harm to them, or otherwise try to force them to concede to your worldview.
That’s the complete opposite of being tolerant. In fact, there’s actually a word for it. It’s called INTOLERANCE.
And you actually have to wonder why people draw cartoons criticizing and deriding you? I know it was hard to find out this way. It always is hard learning that, contrary to what you believed, you really are the asshole.
Poor, poor Islam.
So anti-social yet so in want of a good friend.