Muslims appear to be far more concerned about perceived slights to their religion than about the atrocities committed daily in its name. Our accommodation of this psychopathic skewing of priorities has, more and more, taken the form of craven and blinkered acquiescence. There is an uncanny irony here that many have noticed. The position of the Muslim community in the face of all provocations seems to be: Islam is a religion of peace, and if you say that it isn’t, we will kill you. Of course, the truth is often more nuanced, but this is about as nuanced as it ever gets: Islam is a religion of peace, and if you say that it isn’t, we peaceful Muslims cannot be held responsible for what our less peaceful brothers and sisters do. When they burn your embassies or kidnap and slaughter your journalists, know that we will hold you primarily responsible and will spend the bulk of our energies criticizing you for “racism” and “Islamophobia.”
-Sam Harris, “Losing Our Spines to Save Our Necks”
While the above excerpt can be attributed to most all the major religions of the world, I am taking a break from slamming the insanity of Christianity’s warping of American politics to point this out due to the recent publicized banning of YouTube and Facebook in Pakistan – a move that I admit to finding somewhat surprising, even having known that the county is not merely a Republic but an Islamic Republic. I don’t claim to be well-versed in Pakistani history and politics, although I am knowledgeable and comfortable enough to say that my first thought this morning upon reading this news was that Pakistan has far many more important problems that they should be tending to, not worrying about a few thousand nerds around the world drawing their religious prophet Muhammad (a big no-no in Islam) and posting it on the internet.
All the while, people are being provocative in their depictions of Muhammad for the sake of being provocative – and it is only as a direct result to the vocal cries and complaints (and often violent threats, such as what happened in Denmark in 2008) in the first place. The surge of intentionally-offensive drawings of Muhammad has led to probably more offensive photos of him existing now than ever before – and the only ones to blame are the ones who complain and make threats in the first place, putting pressure on spineless companies such as Comedy Central to censor their “offense” as not to offend Muslims, and thus causing the reaction that they have.
If this vocal number of the Muslim population were to only heed international human rights lawyer Arsalan Iftikhar’s advice in which he tweeks an ever-popular evangelical phrase for the purpose of his argument:
If we ask ourselves the simple question ‘What would Mohammed do?’ about this, the even simpler answer would be two words: ‘Absolutely nothing.’
Iftikhar seems flabbergasted by the responses of “irrational threats of violence aimed at the silliness of some sophomoric cartoons” and condemns Pakistan’s reaction saying that they “should focus their political attention and economic resources on educating their women, improving their rule of law system and truly understanding the repercussions that come with ominously naming your country the ‘land of the pure.'”
There is little that is more important than having the freedom to speak one’s mind – and having freedom of speech means understanding that you must support the freedom to offend. Although I am limiting my depiction of the Islamic prophet to the old Persian painting of him speaking to Jesus and Moses and others above, I have no qualms with “Draw Muhammad Day” anymore than I have qualms with someone creating a “Jesus Banged a Prostitute,” “Jews Murdered Jesus,” or “Atheists Eat Babies” group. Especially when the source of the offense is the internet, Muslims can easily choose to ignore what it is that they find so infuriatingly offensive – you know, just as I steer clear of Fox News.
Please, feel free to chime in with your thoughts.