Monday, February 13, 2006

New painters needed ...

... for the Renaissance.

Eugene Volokh brings the story about a cartoon in an Akron newspaper to the top pages of the blogosphere.

It's sad to see a community being challenged and so many in the community failing the challenge. No, not the failure of an Akron newspaper to resist the temptation of imparting information regarding world events, or even national or local ones, if it requires stepping on a few toes by drawing Mohammed. I mean the failure by the sub-community of complainers. The challenge? Speaking rationally and to the issue before them. These folks are not top notch thinkers, for sure:

"It pained me to know that the Beacon Journal printed its own editorial cartoons that sought to challenge the beauty of our community by bringing hate into its pages," said Rabbi David Lipper, of Akron's Temple Israel. . . .
Color me unconvinced. The cartoon imparted annoyance with CNN, bordering on derision and had insignifcant attention paid to the issue of Mohammed pictures. Of course a sane person could still reasonably argue it was incitement to blasphemy if there was a chance in hell the cartoon contributed to CNN actually showing unpixelated caricatures of the famous Mohammed Cartoons. But hate? There was no hate conveyed outside of the hate held in Rabbi David Lipper's heart for freedom and it seems to me Rabbi Lipper's life is likely filled with aspirin.

As for A. R. Abdoulkarim:

A.R. Abdoulkarim, Amir of the Akron Masjid, applauded newspapers that decided against running the cartoons, but condemned those who did. The Beacon Journal, he said, was in a class of its own.

"'They take the prize for being the most ill-intended, irresponsible property group,' he said. 'Allah curses and condemns them and every Muslim in this community should curse and condemn them.'"
Splendid. A. R. Abdoulkarim picks up a pen to use on the image(s) that prompted the Jyllands-Posten cartoons and he dabs the image with color totally unconnected to the Jyllands-Posten, who, by the way, is just the messenger of what Mohammed's image is to many. Whether artfully appropriate as a comparison or not, let me note that Americans are viewed these many years past by their fellow South Americans in a manner much different than that which we ought to have by virtue of the almost religious conception of liberty enshrined in the Monroe Doctrine. It was by the desires of the most conspicuous of flouters of those principles that the Monroe Doctrine was colored, pretty much irreversibly.

For many years Muslim flouters have been coloring Islam in the minds of everyone else. By connection, they have also done that to Mohammed. Granted individuals Muslims have, by their good nature, colored it differently for some outside the Muslim world, just as I am sure that happened for some South Americans in their dealings with us. But in both cases the pens they wielded had smaller points than those wielded by the larger and more forceful players.

The point here is that Muslims can rant and rage, they can condemn and curse, and they can protest the publication of any image of Mohammed being created physically but those images they don't want to see will always be there in the minds of men. More importantly, what Mulims must recognize is that the Jyllands-Posten cartoons are an announcement, accurate and representative or not, to the Muslim community of the state of coloring of those mental images painted by many of their most prominent and leading brethren. That they are colorfully derogatory cartoons of Mohammed is a just an explanation to them that out of sight in not out of mind.

For doing this, the Muslims should be praising most of the cartoonists and cheering J-P for their act of courage. (I say 'most' because the J-P was gallant enough to include the self-effacing PR stunt cartoon.) It's a humiliating slap in the face, sure, but public, wake-up, slaps in the face usually are and they occur because the private ones don't snap those in their incense-filled cloisters into getting out to smell the roses.

And that's where the likes of A. R. Abdoulkarim comes in. He is wielding a pen to paint the image of Mohammed as stupid just as surely as others in his community of believers have painted him as a terrorist. "A class of it's own" that "takes the prize"? Maybe in a contest at some Muslim street party in Akron. "Ill-intended"? Yes, but it's amazing that you overlook the target of the cartoon in preference to your terribly small world of "ME!"

But, be assured, A. R., that you are not alone in taking up that pen. There are many more capable and illuminating Muslim personalities that paint the representative of Islam as stupid, and thereby painting Islam as a religion that requires embracing ignorance, illiteracy, and drivel while throwing common sense to the wind. The sine qua non of your stupid dabbing: "Allah curses and condemns them ...". Well, thanks for coloring up your God a little for me while you are at it. I'd be obliged now if you remind a little less of your idea that my God is the same god as your God. Just a little, please, because, right now, I don't feel compelled as yet to have my image of your God spelled with a small "g" but darned if you aren't messing with it's writing in my mind.

So, to wrap this post up, I'll make a modest suggestion to Muslims interested in better treatment of their religion worldwide: WAKE UP! Force most of your brethen holding pens right now to drop them in the ink wells and back away from the pictures of Mohammed and Allah and Islam. You know who they are -- their names show up in the papers all too often. Encourage the likes of Al-Sistani and ... and ... oh, for crummy sakes, ... see this is the problem in the nutshell ... Encourage the likes of Al-Sistani paint. Learn from it. Work on painting over the picture on the canvas your vehement and cruel and obsessed nuts monopolized for so many years. If you did so, the images of those three -- Mohammed, Allah and Islam -- we see in our infidel minds might eventually be replaced with a better one.

Until you do, you should expect to see pictures of Mohammed, you should expect them to be demeaning and you should expect the attitude embodied in "Buy Danish" to flourish.

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