Marrakech - As an American artist, lifelong liberal, firm advocate of the First Amendment and believer that in America, freedom of religion implicitly includes freedom from religion, I find myself in a curious position.
Marrakech – As an American artist, lifelong liberal, firm advocate of the First Amendment and believer that in America, freedom of religion implicitly includes freedom from religion, I find myself in a curious position.
I read today about the anonymous American cartoonist who has pledged to draw a daily cartoon depicting the Prophet Muhammed. His/her stated purpose is to promote respect of all ideas and beliefs, to express freedom of speech and art, and to honor those lost in the Charlie Hebdo shootings. I choose to believe that these are sincere proclamations and indeed, to the non-Islamic eye, there is nothing offensive about the cartoons I have seen. Nor do I disagree with the artist’s statement that he/she has every right, as an American, to express him/herself in this fashion.
Nevertheless, I am troubled by this artist’s decision. The only result I can anticipate is further inflammation of a terribly tense worldwide situation.
I respectfully disagree with the artist’s stated intent that the cartoons “promote respect of all ideas and beliefs.” The simple fact is that most Muslims find terribly offensive any depictions of Muhammed doing ordinary, everyday human things like riding a skateboard or playing PacMan. The cartoons do not promote respect of all ideas and beliefs. To Muslims, they demean their prophet. I daresay that many Christians would find similar depictions of Jesus just as offensive, but that is beyond the point.
American citizens are fortunate to have the protection of the First Amendment when misguided individuals wish to deny fellow citizens their constitutional rights. The Muhammed cartoons do nothing to buttress the First Amendment and while they do indeed express freedom of speech and art, at what cost? Further alienation of the 23% of the world’s population that is Muslim?
Surely there is a way to honor the Charlie Hebdo victims in a manner that is not offensive to the vast majority of Muslims who are decent, humanistic, law-abiding individuals. The Muslims who are my friends and neighbors, and yours. I beg the anonymous artist to reconsider his decision.
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