Brian Micklethwait's Blog
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Category archive: Cartoons
But it is a not very good picture of Mohammed, drawn by me, today:
Why? I can’t say it better than this:
I take no pleasure from violating other people’s taboos. It is not polite and I wish to be polite. In ordinary circumstances if I want to do something that will annoy others I am willing to put up with moderate inconvenience in order to do it out of their sight. These are not ordinary circumstances. People are being threatened, harassed and sometimes murdered by fanatical Muslims for exercising free speech. The media and academia, fearless defenders of free speech so long as there was nothing to fear, have by and large caved in. So maybe it is time for ordinary people to step up. Lots of them. Spread the risk.
Natalie Solent’s own picture is much cleverer:
To all who are interested in this Draw Mohammed thing, which I most recently posted about here, I really recommend this piece, by a guy who runs an internet site where all the pictures and sculptures and so on ever made of Mohammed are gathered together. The point being that the claim that this is verboten is relative recent. Here’s one of the more decorous pictures, in which an implausibly sweet looking Mohammed takes his dictation, or whatever it was, from the Angel Gabriel:
There’s also quite a bit about the insane emails section of the site, where incoming psycho-emails from enraged Islamo-nutters (of whom there really do seem to be a great many) are collected for all to browse.
In among the comments, I found this, from “Big Bird”, who definitely speaks (in comment 40) for me:
I am an atheist so I don’t have a contestant in the invisible man sweepstakes but even a cursory attempt to compare the lives of Jesus and Mohamed will show there is no moral equivalency between the two. If Christians threaten others over a play then they are violating their teachings. If Muslims kill people for insulting their prophet then they are following their teachings.
Indeed. And that makes “their teachings” the fundamental problem, I would say. It’s no good concentrating only on the nutters who take these teachings dead seriously, and saying that this is the entire problem. The sane-apart-from-not-rejecting-their-teachings Muslims have also got to be told that this whole disaster is also their fault, arguably more their fault, because they are otherwise sane, and because, assuming for now that relentless claims to this effect are right, there are more of them than there are of the nutters. They are the ones doing the big, long-term damage, and they ought to know better. They keep “their teachings” alive and revered and hence liable, year after year, decade after decade, century after century, to be acted upon by anyone nutty. Or not so nutty, when the opportunity for some of serious conquest arises.
It’s like we’re dealing with a combination of God and Lenin. The aim should not be coexistence. It should be victory, over the whole thing. We should aim for a world where the number of and nature of the people who even say that they believe this stuff is small enough and harmless enough for it not to matter any more.
To me, the virtue of Everybody Draw Mohammed Day is that, as well as insisting upon the right of all to be offensive with what they say and draw and paint, it keeps the argumentative pot boiling concerning the more serious aspects of all this. What’s going on here? What’s the big picture? What is to be done? Etc.
Presumably I’m not the only one getting this:
This whole thing has totally freaked me out.
I can’t even eat and ... I usually eat constantly!
Fox issued a new article today.
My site has a statement on it that is au courant.
There is no place to send in drawings that I know of.
I heard that someone has set up a CACAH site.
This was always about the first amendment for me.
Keep up the swell work!
I need to get my sense of humor back!
She sounded nice in that little radio interview I linked to yesterday, and that sounds nice too.
Good news, though. We have a new diet: the Insult Mohammed diet. Insult Mohammed, and with all the cacah you might find yourself stirring up, you won’t be able to eat!.
At mollynorris.com, which (unlike MN’s Wordpress blog) I had no problem getting to, a new Molly Norris cartoon:
I told you she was no right wing carnivore.
And underneath that, the statement, which includes this:
I hope for the sake of this country that moderate Muslims will speak out with everyone else against any violent members of that or any other religion. That way I would know that there is a difference. Maybe this cartoon I made, this fictional poster of “Everybody Draw Mohammed Day!” had such a wildfire effect because it is finally time for Muslims and non-Muslims to understand one another more.
Hm, yes. But what if, the more Muslims and non-Muslims understand one another, the more they decide that they hate each other?
One thing I can say with absolute certainty. I do not feel in the slightest bit let down. This is like a really good farcical novel.
After the massive response to the cartoon Norris posted this on her website:
“I make cartoons about current, cultural events. I made a cartoon of a “poster” entitled “Everybody Draw Mohammed Day!” with a nonexistent group’s name - Citizens Against Citizens Against Humor - drawn on the cartoon also. I did not intend for my cartoon to go viral. I did not intend to be the focus of any “group.” I practice the first amendment by drawing what I wish. This particular cartoon of a “poster” seems to have struck a gigantic nerve, something I was totally unprepared for. I am going back to the drawing table now!”
Once again I find myself disagreeing with James Taranto, this time respectfully (see earlier posting by me). He thinks this is a bad idea (i.e. a bad idea to take seriously), because it will piss off peaceful Muslims and make enemies of them.
I, on the other hand, think that all Muslims, however peaceful, say that they worship a thoroughly nasty collection of printed writings. If they believe what these writings say, they already are enemies. If they really are peaceful, and don’t believe what these writings say, they should stop saying that they do. (End of Samizdata comment.)
Taranto quotes one the first US critics of Everybody Draw Mohammed Day (serious version), Ann Althouse (linked to from here yesterday), who said this:
Depictions of Muhammad offend millions of Muslims who are no part of the violent threats.
But, to repeat my above point, they are part of the violent threats. They are Muslims, which means they perpetuate the notion that what it says in the Koran, etc., is the unchallengeable word of god. They should stop doing this.
Am I wrong about this? Are there “Muslims” who explicitly say that all the belligerent, jihad stuff in the Koran is evil nonsense, either not said by Mohammed, or said by Mohammed in error. In short, do any “Muslims” say that the Koran is wrong?
Blog and learn and all that, but I’d be very surprised to learn that there are such Muslims. My understanding is that most Muslims have been taught at a very early age - and from then on they assume that - the Koran is the definition of goodness, many (most?) of them pretty much leaving it at that. Of those who have actually studied the Koran in some detail, they either take what it says in the Koran very seriously and become very anti-infidel and anti-Western, or else they tie themselves in knots pretending that what it says in the Koran isn’t belligerent and threatening towards unbelievers, Christians, Jews etc., seizing upon the occasional friendly-sounding bits and ignoring all the nasty ones.
If anyone says Christians also cherry pick the Bible to make that nicer than it is, well, I think I have good answers to that, but this posting is about Islam.
One of the complaints you quite often hear about us atheists is that we reserve our scorn for Christianity, while remaining silent about Islam, on account of Christians being less scary people to criticise than Muslims. So I was very interested, and very cheered, when I began reading The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins, and encountered the following passage, at the end of Chapter 1 (pp. 46-50 of the recently issued paperback edition, which I have just acquired). This excerpt is notable not just because of what it says, but for the characteristically forthright way in which it is written.
I’ll end the chapter with a particular case study, which tellingly illuminates society’s exaggerated respect for religion, over and above ordinary human respect. The case flared up in February 2006 - a ludicrous episode, which veered wildly between the extremes of comedy and tragedy. The previous September, the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten published twelve cartoons depicting the prophet Muhammad. Over the next three months, indignation was carefully and systematically nurtured throughout the Islamic world by a small group of Muslims living in Denmark, led by two imams who had been granted sanctuary there. In late 2005 these malevolent exiles travelled from Denmark to Egypt bearing a dossier, which was copied and circulated from there to the whole Islamic world, including, importantly, Indonesia. The dossier contained falsehoods about alleged maltreatment of Muslims in Denmark, and the tendentious lie that Jyllands-Posten was a government-run newspaper. It also contained the twelve cartoons which, crucially, the imams had supplemented with three additional images whose origin was mysterious but which certainly had no connection with Denmark. Unlike the original twelve, these three add-ons were genuinely offensive - or would have been if they had, as the zealous propagandists alleged, depicted Muhammad. A particularly damaging one of these three was not a cartoon at all but a faxed photograph of a bearded man wearing a fake pig’s snout held on with elastic. It has subsequently turned out that this was an Associated Press photograph of a Frenchman entered for a pig-squealing contest at a country fair in France. The photograph had no connection whatsoever with the prophet Muhammad, no connection with Islam, and no connection with Denmark. But the Muslim activists, on their mischief-stirring hike to Cairo, implied all three connections ... with predictable results.
The carefully cultivated ‘hurt’ and ‘offence’ was brought to an explosive head five months after the twelve cartoons were originally published. Demonstrators in Pakistan and Indonesia burned Danish flags (where did they get them from?) and hysterical demands were made for the Danish government to apologize. (Apologize for what? They didn’t draw the cartoons, or publish them. Danes just live in a country with a free press, something that people in many Islamic countries might have a hard time understanding.) Newspapers in Norway, Germany, France and even the United States (but, conspicuously, not Britain) reprinted the cartoons in gestures of solidarity with Jyllands-Posten, which added fuel to the flames. Embassies and consulates were trashed, Danish goods were boycotted, Danish citizens and, indeed, Westerners generally, were physically threatened; Christian churches in Pakistan, with no Danish or European connections at all, were burned. Nine people were killed when Libyan rioters attacked and burned the Italian consulate in Benghazi. As Germaine Greer wrote, what these people really love and do best is pandemonium.
A bounty of $1 million was placed on the head of ‘the Danish cartoonist’ by a Pakistani imam - who was apparently unaware that there were twelve different Danish cartoonists, and almost certainly unaware that the three most offensive pictures had never appeared in Denmark at all (and, by the way, where was that million going to come from?). In Nigeria, Muslim protesters against the Danish cartoons burned down several Christian churches, and used machetes to attack and kill (black Nigerian) Christians in the streets. One Christian was put inside a rubber tyre, doused with petrol and set alight. Demonstrators were photographed in Britain bearing banners saying ‘Slay those who insult Islam’, ‘Butcher those who mock Islam’, ‘Europe you will pay: Demolition is on its way’ and ‘Behead those who insult Islam’. Fortunately, our political leaders were on hand to remind us that Islam is a religion of peace and mercy.
In the aftermath of all this, the journalist Andrew Mueller interviewed Britain’s leading ‘moderate’ Muslim, Sir Iqbal Sacranie. Moderate he may be by today’s Islamic standards, but in Andrew Mueller’s account he still stands by the remark he made when Salman Rushdie was condemned to death for writing a novel: ‘Death is perhaps too easy for him’ - a remark that sets him in ignominious contrast to his courageous predecessor as Britain’s most influential Muslim, the late Dr Zaki Badawi, who offered Salman Rushdie sanctuary in his own home. Sacranie told Mueller how concerned he was about the Danish cartoons. Mueller was concerned too, but for a different reason: ‘I am concerned that the ridiculous, disproportionate reaction to some unfunny sketches in an obscure Scandinavian newspaper may confirm that ... Islam and the west are fundamentally irreconcilable.’ Sacranie, on the other hand, praised British newspapers for not reprinting the cartoons, to which Mueller voiced the suspicion of most of the nation that ‘the restraint of British newspapers derived less from sensitivity to Muslim discontent than it did from a desire not to have their windows broken’.
Sacranie explained that ‘The person of the Prophet, peace be upon him, is revered so profoundly in the Muslim world, with a love and affection that cannot be explained in words. It goes beyond your parents, your loved ones, your children. That is part of the faith. There is also an Islamic teaching that one does not depict the Prophet.’ This rather assumes, as Mueller observed,
that the values of Islam trump anyone else’s – which is what any follower of Islam does assume, just as any follower of any religion believes that theirs is the sole way, truth and light. If people wish to love a 7th century preacher more than their own families, that’s up to them, but nobody else is obliged to take it seriously ...
Except that if you don’t take it seriously and accord it proper respect you are physically threatened, on a scale that no other religion has aspired to since the Middle Ages. One can’t help wondering why such violence is necessary, given that, as Mueller notes: ‘If any of you clowns are right about anything, the cartoonists are going to hell anyway - won’t that do? In the meantime, if you want to get excited about affronts to Muslims, read the Amnesty International reports on Syria and Saudi Arabia.’
Many people have noted the contrast between the hysterical ‘hurt’ professed by Muslims and the readiness with which Arab media publish stereotypical anti-Jewish cartoons. At a demonstration in Pakistan against the Danish cartoons, a woman in a black burka was photographed carrying a banner reading ‘God Bless Hitler’.
In response to all this frenzied pandemonium, decent liberal newspapers deplored the violence and made token noises about free speech. But at the same time they expressed ‘respect’ and ‘sympathy’ for the deep ‘offence’ and ‘hurt’ that Muslims had ‘suffered’. The ‘hurt’ and ‘suffering’ consisted, remember, not in any person enduring violence or real pain of any kind: nothing more than a few daubs of printing ink in a newspaper that nobody outside Denmark would ever have heard of but for a deliberate campaign of incitement to mayhem.
I am not in favour of offending or hurting anyone just for the sake of it. But I am intrigued and mystified by the disproportionate privileging of religion in our otherwise secular societies. All politicians must get used to disrespectful cartoons of their faces, and nobody riots in their defence. What is so special about religion that we grant it such uniquely privileged respect? As H. L. Mencken said: ‘We must respect the other fellow’s religion, but only in the sense and to the extent that we respect his theory that his wife is beautiful and his children smart.’
It is in the light of the unparalleled presumption of respect for religion that I make my own disclaimer for this book. I shall not go out of my way to offend, but nor shall I don kid gloves to handle religion any more gently than I would handle anything else.
Although I have never really got the difference between greed and gluttony, and I still don’t.
I also like this even more recent one on the right, which I have cropped rather than expanded.
I am doing averagely. I think. But, behind my back is a big place.
This might be a good way to teach maths to teenage girls, because it describes lots of girlie stuff in a maths way, rather than the usual maths thing of boy stuff in a maths way.