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9:46 a.m. - February 06, 2006
I'm looking for a practicing Muslim, preferably of the variety that walks the talk (or, to avoid a Christian-inspired metaphor, one who unrolls the carpet with a clean heart?) who can explain the furor over the Mohammed cartoons. Yes, I know it is considered offensive to create images of the prophet, but is this the only reason for the reaction filling the media? Which is worse: Picturing the prophet, or picturing the prophet negatively? Would Muslims react similarly were the prophet pictured in a positive light?

As someone who has seen the anti-Israel / anti-Jewish cartoons routinely published in the Arab press and reprinted in those far-from-neutral sources like Community and Tikkun, there is a part of me that rejoices so to speak in this tit-for-tat rebuke, though I am uncertain (and doubt) those cartoons poke fun at Yahweh, preferring as they do to focus on Jews and Israelis as pigs and bloodthirsty puppeteers-cum-murderers. Another part wants to welcome Muslims to the mocked-by-the-media club that Christians experience in the United States. Another feels sorry for Muslims in a way that I can't explain; it isn't embarrassment or discomfort, but something more along the lines that we, as a collective body, have lost all trace of wonder or reverence for mystery or the divine.

Another question: If it is blasphemous to create an image of Mohammed, have the rioters and those calling for retribution actually seen the cartoons?

Hmm. Have I seen the cartoons? Please hold.

Hmm 2. Some are definitely not in the spirit of good taste, but I can see the value of some of them in the storied political-cartoon tradition. Are we really talking about free speech or is it racism? To be poked fun at can be good or bad, signaling as it does the insider / outsider binary, right? And please, why is it that the Arab pundits never fail to refer to the Crusades from oh, 800 hundred years ago into their comments about these cartoons?

A few questions, but here's my last one: If I include the cartoons here, am I being insensitive, putting my life at risk, or just being a bandwagoneer?

Decide for yourself, eh? There are three here out of ten. I didn't care either way for the others.


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