Tuesday, February 07, 2006

How To Call Iran's Cartoon Bluff


The Iranian newspaper, Hamshahri, has begun a contest to the Danish newspaper Jyllands Posten's publication of a dozen cartoons of Mohammed that spurred deadly violence by Muslims in several European and Mideast countries. The Danish paper commissioned depictions of the alleged prophet of Islam, Mohammed. The Iranian contest, in reply, is seeking Holocaust cartoons -- and daring western newspapers to print them the way they have printed the cartoons of Mohammed.

There's an easy way to respond to the seeming quandary of Iran's bluff.

Print the Holocaust cartoons.

Better yet, reprint the most famous Holocaust cartoons: The Pulitzer-Prize-winning Maus.

The dare is, of course, disingenuous. As Maus so ably illustrates, there is no western or even Jewish prohibition against depicting the Holocaust. Remember, the Danish cartoons did not run afoul of Islam because of HOW they depicted Mohammed, but because they depicted him at all. Liberals will be making a big mistake if they don't side with conservatives on this one: Any version of Islam that endorses bans on OTHERS depicting Mohammed is fundamentally in conflict with basic tenets of western civilization. Just as are those versions of Christianity that, based on literal readings of the Bible, forbid any "graven images" of god or anything else.

The American and western media outlets that cover the cartoon controversy without showing the cartoons are cowardly, hypocritical, un-American and sometimes all three. The notion that they might cause offense is, itself, offensive. As Tucker Carlson correctly pointed out on MSNBC today, lots of things in the news might cause offense. What makes the media honor this potential offense? Is it the number of adherents? Is it the violence they might do in response? If so, then any journalistic outlet hiding behind this rationale ought to be clear about what its policies are:

How many adherents must a religion have in order to have its prohibitions followed by the particular media outlet?
What level of violence will be sufficient to cow the particular media outlet into observing a religion's teachings?

Better yet, what is the ratio? For instance, if 1 billion Muslims oppose depictions of Mohammed, and 10 people will die in anti-Mohammed-depictions-violence, is that a sufficient ratio to make ABC, CBS and NBC observe Islam's ban on depictions of Mohammed?

If so, does that mean a religion of only 100 million adherents only needs to kill 1 person to get its bans followed? Or does it work in reverse, that if I only have, say, 10 million people in my religion, I'd have to up my violence quotient to compensate?

Any allegedly journalistic outlet that doesn't have the balls to show the cartoons at the root of this controversy ought to make clear what its policies are about which religions get to determine their editorial coverage, using how much violence.

Conversely, those journalistic outlets -- such as Fox News and the Philadelphia Inquirer -- ballsy enough to display the Mohammed cartoon ought to send an equally clear message by printing Iran's Holocaust cartoons. The best way to prove that we really do have free speech is to exercise it. The best way to demonstrate that bad ideas are best defeated by exposure, rather than suppression, is to do it.

Oh, and before I forget, here, in flagrant defiance of the Koran, are my own depictions of Mohammed, in two very different moods:

:)
:(

12 comments:

Adam said...

And here's your Holocaust cartoon:

:( :( :( :( :( :( :( :( :( :( :( :(
:( :( :( :( :( :( :( :( :( :( :( :(
:( :( :( :( :( :( :( :( :( :( :( :(
:( :( :( :( :( :( :( :( :( :( :( :(
:( :( :( :( :( :( :( :( :( :( :( :(
:( :( :( :( :( :( :( :( :( :( :( :(
:( :( :( :( :( :( :( :( :( :( :( :(
:( :( :( :( :( :( :( :( :( :( :( :(
:( :( :( :( :( :( :( :( :( :( :( :(
:( :( :( :( :( :( :( :( :( :( :( :(
:( :( :( :( :( :( :( :( :( :( :( :(
:( :( :( :( :( :( :( :( :( :( :( :(
:( :( :( :( :( :( :( :( :( :( :( :(
:( :( :( :( :( :( :( :( :( :( :( :(
:( :( :( :( :( :( :( :( :( :( :( :(
:( :( :( :( :( :( :( :( :( :( :( :(
:( :( :( :( :( :( :( :( :( :( :( :(
:( :( :( :( :( :( :( :( :( :( :( :(
:( :( :( :( :( :( :( :( :( :( :( :(
:( :( :( :( :( :( :( :( :( :( :( :(

Carsten said...

I will have to correct You. You mention also the DANISH contest. The danish drawings were NOT made as part of contest. The amount of wrong information in this case is more than big enough already.

Joey Bee said...

I just recently put a post on my blog pointing out the contradiction the leading newspaper Hamshahri is making against its own President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. The Iranian President Ahmadinejad last week said, “The Holocaust is a "myth" that was created by Western powers to justify the creation of Israel in the heart of the Islamic world.” So, if the Holocaust is only a “myth”, I do not think it would be offensive to the Jewish population, or any type of effective retribution.

Petty Larseny said...

Carsten, thanks for the correction. And, for the record, Adam's Holocaust cartoon made me laugh.

ceej said...

And, what will the Iranians say when Jews do not burn down Iranian embassies?

One point I think the news media are missing is the amazing WEAKNESS of these Muslims -- they're behaving like children with their inability to take some criticism of their supposed prophet. Jews will not similarly react (nor would anyone in the West) because they are STRONGER.

Elayne said...

Oh, please. There aren't enough cartoons around depicting Jews as evil or denying the Holocaust? This is a piece of cake for much of the world (particularly the Islamic world). Why not have a contest instead for cartoons mocking Christ? You won't get any Islamic or most Western papers doing that, because Islam reveres Christ as a prophet as well, and... well, you know, any country whose radical clerics whine about a War on Christmas isn't going to stand for having Jesus mocked, whether on South Park or Will & Grace or comic strip form...

Ol' Zeb said...

I see part of the problem of extreme fundies: It's not enough that I abstain -- you must abstain also.

Graven images are forbidden in the same way that (some of the?) the Taliban viewed the huge Buddah carvings. I don't see mass burning of billboards.

None of my Jewish friends chastise me for eating treif, and non have attacked me for writing or typing the name, "God." Some believe that it is a sin to print the name in any way other than "G_d" but I have not been attacked for violating their ethic.

The Q'uran is not supposed to be translated into "infidel tongues" but my Muslim friends are pleased I have made the effort to read some of the tracts -- in English.

One question from the Q'uran comes to mind right now: "And which of God's creations will you deny?"

There will always be fundies and they will always try -- with the best of their intentions -- to create a hell on earth. And they come in so damned many flavors, too!

Malcolm said...

Who's asked the cartoons what they want?
Tha Harpoville Post

Anonymous said...

I say Affirmative Action is very stupid.

Anonymous said...

Flemming Rose born 3/14/1956 into a Jewish family in the Ukraine has a major in Russian language and literature from University of Copenhagen. From 1990 to 1996 he was the Moscow correspondent for the newspaper Berlingske Tidende. Between 1996 and 1999 he was the correspondent for the same newspaper in Washington, D.C.. In 1999 he became Moscow correspondent for the newspaper Jyllands-Posten and January 2005 the cultural editor of that paper (KulturWeekend). He fled Denmark where he was under police protection to Miami, Florida in fear for his life where he is currently in hiding.

Anonymous said...

What the hell does Fleming Rose have to do with affirmative action?

Anonymous said...

A few points:

Flemming Rose is not in hiding, he has returned as editor for Jyllands-Posten and safely drives around on his bike in open public in Denmark, I just met him in Copenhagen this summer (check out Muslim Leaders of Tomorrow Conference), he was one of our guests.

I am a Muslim, but I agree with Ceej's comment that Muslims are acting like children when they retaliate, but that is not to say that others don't respond the same way. The French cartoonist who won recognition in the Iranian contest cannot reveal his identity for fear of prosecution in France. Furthermore, any anti-semitism is refuted by institutions set in place as lobbyist groups and civil society organizations, whereas for Muslims, it lies in their own hands to respond, which they are not doing correctly.

And Ol' Zeb makes the point very clearly; there must be tolerance. Furthermore, from a religious perspective, one has no right to impose the rules of one faith on another who is not part of the faith, even on someone within the same faith. Islam is also very clear saying it eschews all compulsion. As we live in an increasingly multi-cultural world, we see everywhere that all conflict roots out of a lack of pluralism, a lack of tolerance for one's partners in society. Without tolerance, the tragedies we see today will continue.

Thanks for the time,
Shafiq

Newer Post Older Post Home