Good Lord. I thought today would never come. No, seriously, I actually believed the Apocalypse might occur before we chose, as a civilization, to rise up and together pronounce to those who would kill us for doing so, that we will, in fact, draw a picture of someone. And you wouldn’t believe what Bruce, Dan, and I went though to get here today (more on that after the jump)*.
Imagine: We’ve mapped the human genome. One dozen men have been on the moon. The 15,000 lines of the Iliad and the 12,000 lines of the Odyssey can fit onto a device as small as the palm of your hand. Gigantic metallic cylinders that weigh 300,000 pounds fly at tens of thousands of feet in the air, carrying 500 people at hundreds of miles per hour to cover continents in a matter of just a couple hours…and do so hundreds of times every day.
Oh, AND, by the way, if you draw a picture of Muhammed, someone will want to kill you.
Really? Seriously? In 2010? Yes.
When I first heard about Everybody Draw Muhammed Day and blogged on it last month, I thought it was a brilliant idea. At the time, I considered “including a feather boa and fabulous shoes” in my depiction. The more I thought about it, and the more I read readers’ comments, and those of my colleague, Dan, I realized that such flamboyance might send the wrong signal: That I was deliberately and gratuitously trying to insult all Muslims. While some clearly are trying to do this, I think that’d be needlessly disrespectful, and definitely self-defeating. As I perused the Web and read others’ thoughts on the issue, what I came to realize was that any depiction of Muhammed would be considered a capital offense by an Islamist extremist. So, I figured, why purposefully alienate moderate Muslims, who, while they may be put off by such a display, are not the direct cause of trouble?
After all, it’s these sane and sober Muslims who must look at their coreligionists murder cartoonists, burn their houses down, stab film-makers to death in cold blood, cause authors to go underground indefinitely, OH, and fly planes into buildings, send women into busy marketplaces as suicide bombers, saw the heads off of Wall Street Journal journalists (I could go on…) and feel themselves hopeless that these are the only faces of Islam that most of the world sees. Why agitate them?
Why? Well, here’s why:
I’m a Roman Catholic. About a thousand years ago, my church engaged on a 200-year journey one might euphemistically call “proselytization”. This “evangelization” came down to this: Become Catholic or die (Sorry, no “cake” option). Standing up and saying that you didn’t agree with the Pope was, basically, grounds for death (please, by the way, repent as you expire…it’s good for our numbers). Now, certainly, many of my coreligionists at the time were aghast at such a display of naked aggression against blasphemers. How many of them stood up? Clearly not enough at the time. Now consider this (and yes, I’m well aware of the irony about to be displayed by virtue of the players involved in the following analogy): Perhaps there were Moors who looked at all of this and said, “Well, you know, what those Catholics are doing is pretty awful. We should stand up against their aggression and do all we have in our power to defeat them. Oh, but let’s not needlessly insult them in the process. After all, those sensible Catholics (who, surely represent the majority of that peaceful religion) are the allies we need. Pointing out and displaying the idiocy behind the “Blasphemy = Execution” policy will only provoke them and make our battle more difficult. Oh, and let’s also not say that we disagree with the dogma of Papal Infallibility. Let’s just play along as if that’s not nuts. After all, those hearts and minds—regardless of how warped they may be—are valuable to us in our struggle. Best to not rock that proverbial boat, and let those Catholics continue to believe they’re above any sort of criticism. If we only kill the really crazy ones, I’m sure the rest of them will agree with us that their getting so upset over minor things like doubting the Pope’s infallibility will never boil up as long as we kill just the ones who take it that far.”
The point behind Everybody Draw Muhammed Day is not about sensitivities. It’s not about recklessly and needlessly and unemotionally insulting someone. It’s about saying to Muslims: This is 2010. You’re entitled to be offended and even get angry if someone insults your religion. You’re entitled to call them terrible names and damn them to hell. You’re entitled to curse them and (if you feel it’s productive) take and eye for a metaphorical eye by similarly insulting their religion. But you’re NOT entitled to kill people because of that anger.
I’m a member of the US Military. My job is to defend others, if even with my life. Everybody Draw Muhammed Day is, in effect to a degree, similar. I will once again quote Mark Steyn and say that he put it better than I ever could have, regarding the original cartoons in the Danish newspaper:
The minute there were multimillion-dollar bounties on those cartoonists’ heads, The Times of London and Le Monde and The Washington Post and all the rest should have said “this Thursday we’re all publishing all the cartoons. If you want to put bounties on all our heads, you better have a great credit line at the Bank of Jihad. If you want to kill us, you’ll have to kill us all. You can kill ten who are stout-hearted men but you’ll have to kill ten thousand more. We’re standing shoulder to shoulder, and bolder and bolder.”
For me, drawing a picture of Muhammed today is not about poking a stick in the Muslim Community’s eye. It’s not about nakedly and gratuitously insulting people because I can. It’s about throwing oneself on a hand-grenade along with thousands (hopefully) of others so that the jihadists and radical Islamists see that they can’t kill us all. This is our chance to be Daniel Pearl, our chance to be Theo Van Gogh, our chance to be Lars Vilks. They cannot kill us all.
With all that said, here is a link to my drawing of Muhammed.
*A word on why I put a link here instead of the actual picture (yes, I did draw it myself): As anybody reading GayPatriot knows, Bruce, Dan, and I don’t always see eye-to-eye on everything each of us may post. In fact, I’m sure over the four and a half years I’ve been blogging here, they both have programmed hot-keys on their computers that automatically begin a blog entry: “While I disagree with Nick on this, ”
There has been a very spirited debate between the three of us as to how to proceed with today’s event. I’m going to leave it to Bruce and Dan each (as and if they see fit) to discuss their own personal views on Everybody Draw Muhammed Day. But suffice it to say, when you’re sharing the same space, it’s important to recognize and respect one another’s opinions and sensitivities. We’d be doing our readers a disservice and dealing them an insult if we didn’t acknowledge that there was some tension behind the scenes as we moved toward this day. That being said, I felt that integrity demanded that I participate in this activity today. On the other hand, that opinion was not shared by the three of us equally. A contingent of the GayPatriot family felt that the entire episode was unnecessarily provocative and didn’t feel it was right to associate the site directly with it (while, of course, we’d be shirking our duty to ignore it, as it is newsworthy, and should at least blog on it).
Allow me a moment to get mushy: I have known Bruce and Dan for several years and respect and value their friendship very much. I was flattered immeasurably when Bruce invited me to join them in 2006, and have been ever since that I’m allowed to blog untethered to any ideology or guidelines. It is out of deference to and respect for them that I chose to subjugate my own desire to physically (digitally?…you know what I mean) publish my drawing here. This compromise was a long time coming, but it is out of my respect for our kinship and admiration for them as friends that I dropped my insistence that we publish here. They have given me a tremendous platform from which to deliver my message (even when it’s contrary to theirs), and for that I’m ever-grateful.
-Nick (ColradoPatriot, from a Secret Undisclosed HQ)