Monday, February 06, 2006


Byl published this brief post earlier today.

I agree that there is something very ironic about someone who "promised to attack any nation that publishes the cartoon going around Europe depicting Mohammed as a terrorist", although I wonder whether my friend, a devout Christian, thinks Serrano's Piss Christ or Ofili's "Black Madonna (can't find a picture, but it's painted out of elephant poo) is a blasphemous image.

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I bring up blasphemy because it's not just the depiction of Muhammed as a terrorist that has inflamed the Muslim world. It is the depiction of Muhammad ITSELF, due to the Islamic prohibition against artistic representation (the Jews have a similar prohibition against graven images. You may have heard about it, it's called the Fourth Commandment. See a comparison between the Decalogue and the Koran here). Depicting Mohammed wearing a bomb for a hat only adds insult to injury. To the Muslims it is surely as offensive as a crucifix soaking in urine, if not more so.

So yes, I agree that it is ironic. It is as ironic as the existence of people like Eric Rudolph and Paul Hill, Christian terrorists who killed in the name of Life, in the name of Jesus (do make a point of visiting the Paul Hill link, there's a lovely eulogy for "gentle man with a kind face", by a Christian pastor who refused to sign Hill's manifesto regarding murdering doctors. Not because murder and killing are wrong (and in their religion a mortal sin), but because it might "bring the scrutiny of the feds upon me and my family". Swell guy).

Not that the Bill O'Reillys of the Muslim world have a moral platform to stand on here. There's something doubly ironic about the stink made over caricatures of the Prophet: on one level, the state-owned newspapers of so many Middle Eastern nations routinely publish editorial cartoons in which jews are portrayed in broad anti-Semitic strokes; on the other, the authors of these comics are themselves, Semites, the cousins of the Jews by geography, by history, and by faith.

Yes it is ironic, like the irony of criticizing suicide bombers when our own bunker busters, depleted uranium weaponry, and shock-and-awe campaigns have disintegrated and maimed hundreds of thousands more innocent civilians than the 3,000 brutally murdered on September 11th, 2001, or the 56 people who died in the London tubes on July 7th 2005. Are we even now?

It is so easy to get on our pedestals (I am on one right now, can you tell?) and criticize others for their failings, for their crimes, as we carefully neglect to address our own.
Because not all Muslims are Osama bin Laden. And not all Christians are Eric Rudolph.

[UPDATE:Jyllands-Posten, the Danish newspaper that first published the cartoons of the prophet Muhammad that have caused a storm of protest throughout the Islamic world, refused to run drawings lampooning Jesus Christ, it has emerged today.

The Danish daily turned down the cartoons of Christ three years ago, on the grounds that they could be offensive to readers and were not funny.


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