Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Just one more, please

Probably the last thing anyone wants to hear about is the cartoon saga--and whether it represents freedom of speech or plain old racism. But Samer was asked to write something for a local publication about the whole brouhaha, and I loved the way he talks about it:

What made me angry wasn't so much that the cartoons depicted the prophet, or that they portrayed him (and by extension all Muslims) as a terrorist. The point of contention for me was the pretense that the re-publication of these cartoons was somehow a defense of free speech.

You can say and publish many things that would offend or hurt many different groups, but a REAL demonstration of freedom of expression can only make sense in defiance of those who can shut your newspapers down; i.e. your own government. As a Muslim, I felt that the constant republication of these cartoons was just about rubbing it in; the message: "we will insult Muslims not just in fringe journals but in 'respectable' mainstream media as well".

Publishing these cartoons suddenly became every second-rate newspaper's cheap ticket to being relevant, the blue pill that was supposed to place them on the front lines of the battle for free speech. Why not? We live in an age where wars and battles have apparently become fashionable and Muslims the fashionable enemy. In the eyes of many Muslims, however, this was merely cheap posturing at our expense, and very few people in the west were prepared to call these journals and newspapers on it.

This is not about free speech. The real question is why insulting Muslims has become such a cheap proposition.


At 10:41 PM, Anonymous kinzi said...

Amanda, your hubby did a good job on this. I hope it will make people think.

I'm wondering though, as one of those Evangelical fundies, why it is okay to insult Christ (remember the infamous art work including urine? Imagine if that had been the prophet instead)to a much greater degree than the cartoons and it barely raises an eyebrow among the secular-at best deemed 'inappropriate'.

Should Islam be more protected than Christianity? As you are aware, a child in a public school in American can write about the Koran and Islam, but cannot about the Bible and Christ.


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