[From Ari Armstrong's blog:] "Everybody Draw Mohammed Day" is May 20. I have already published my entry and explained my reasons for participating. I have also explained why critics of the campaign are full of hot air.
I am pleased that other prominent organizations also are promoting the campaign. Michael Moynihan is leading the charge at Reason, while Craig Biddle of The Objective Standard is also publishing drawings.
And yet some critics remain miffed about the effort.
Eboo Patel worries that college students who chalked images of Mohammed needlessly offended Muslim students who don't support violence. Patel writes, "Muslim Students Associations (MSA) on all three campuses [Northwestern, Illinois and Wisconsin] said they believed in free speech and were opposed to fringe groups who threaten violence, too."
Patel argues that attacking a "sacred cow" is not a good way to defend free speech. For example, making fun of a sick grandmother or a cancer patient, or using the "N" word, would also attack a sacred cow, but doing so obviously would be wrong.
Further, argues Patel, drawing Mohammed "intentionally and effectively marginalize a community" and hurts the Muslim students.
Shahed Amanullah argues that the death threats made against the South Park creators (who used images evoking Mohammed) are not representative of the Muslim community. With the "Everybody Draw Mohammed" campaign, "these Muslim-Americans are being subject to mass insult." Amanullah likens drawing Mohammed to drawing "vile stereotypes of blacks."
The arguments of Patel and Amanullah are entirely bogus.
The first critical point is that, while most Muslims (especially in America) do not make death threats or try to murder people for drawing Mohammed, a significant number of Muslims do exactly that. Let us review, shall we?
* Salman Rushdie's novel The Satanic Versus was met with Islamist rioting, death threats, and a fatwa by Iran's Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.
* The Danish cartoons of Mohammed also were met with widespread Islamist rioting, death threats, and acts of violence.
* Violent Islamists threatened to murder the creators of South Park.
* A violent Islamist planted a bomb in New York City, perhaps partly in response to South Park.
* A violent Islamist recently tried to burn down the house of Swedish cartoonist Lars Vilks.
* A violent Islamist recently broke into the home of Danish cartoonist Kurt Westergaard.
* A violent Islamist recently attacked Vilks at a university lecture for daring to show a controversial film. (See also the AP's account.)
* Violent Islamists have threatened to murder an organizer of the "Everybody Draw Mohammed" campaign.
Claims that the threats like those against the South Park creators are totally atypical and just the result of a couple of New York nut jobs are, put simply, lies. A frighteningly large portion of the Muslim community threatens, condones, or openly practices violence.
Let the majority of peaceful Muslims take a stand, denounce violence and threats of violence, denounce terrorist organizations, and strongly advocate individual rights and freedom of speech.
Are Muslim students at American universities all peace and light? Then let them openly and loudly condemn the Muslim student at the University of California, San Diego, who sympathized with the Nazis and Islamist terrorist organizations and called for the extermination of the Jews.
Moving on to tangential matters, I have already explained why drawing Mohammed is not like expressing racism or making fun of a sick grandmother or a cancer patient. Racism is inherently evil. Making fun of sick people is inherently wrong. But there is nothing inherently wrong about drawing Mohammed, the fact that some people take irrational offense to it notwithstanding.
Indeed, there is great moral virtue in drawing Mohammed in the current climate, for doing so offers some protection and moral support for those threatened by violence.
Moreover, religious beliefs are inherently ideological. One's race or illness is not derived from ideology. The primary purpose of freedom of expression is to protect ideological discussions. Do Muslims ever criticize other religions? Obviously. Likewise, "infidels" and Muslims alike properly have every right to criticize Islam, just as I have the right to criticize socialism, Christianity, etc. Drawing Mohammed can be a way to express views about that figure and the religion he developed. Muslims who condemn such drawings essentially are claiming that their ideology uniquely may not be criticized.
Contrary to Patel's claims, drawing Mohammed does not marginalize Muslims, but instead treats Muslims exactly the way that members of every other religion in America are treated. For example, South Park has relentlessly mocked Christianity. What Patel actually is demanding is special treatment of Muslims. But I refuse to marginalize Muslims by failing to subject them to the same level of criticism to which I subject Christians, socialists, and every other group with which I disagree.
What of the claims that drawing Mohammed hurts and insults Muslims? Well, what of them? If people are irrationally offended by some drawing, that's their problem.
Perhaps Muslims should work on expressing less outrage about drawings of Mohammed, and more outrage against Islamist violence and terrorism, Islamist abuses of women, Islamist mutilation of little girls, Islamist murders of homosexuals, Islamist censorship of speech and art, and Islamist oppression of Muslim peoples.