Everybody Burn a Flag with Mohammed’s Image Day

James Taranto, whose missives I read daily and greatly appreciate, has decided that “Everybody Draw Mohammed Day” is maybe not a good idea:

Everybody Burn the Flag
If we don’t act like inconsiderate jerks, the terrorists will have won!

He describes an epiphany on the subject, occasioned by an Ann Althouse post. I extensively quote Mr. Taranto’s thoughts here because I have reactions to many of them.

The “South Park” Muhammad meshugass in turn inspired a joke that is being taken too seriously. MyNorthwest.com, the Web site of three Seattle radio stations, reports that Seattle cartoonist Molly Norris “wanted to counter the fear. She has declared May 20th ‘Everybody Draw Mohammed Day.’ ” The story reproduces Norris’s strip, which depicts an anthropomorphic teacup declaring, “I am the real likeness of Mohammad” and other household items–a cherry, a domino, a spool of thread–claiming that, no, they are the prophet’s image.

Blogress Ann Althouse notes that commentators across the political spectrum–Glenn Reynolds, HotAir.com, Dan Savage, Reason magazine–are endorsing the idea, apparently in all seriousness. Which prompts an update to the MyNorthwest.com story:

After the massive response to the cartoon Norris posted this on her website:

I make cartoons about current, cultural events. I made a cartoon of a “poster” entitled “Everybody Draw Mohammed Day!” with a nonexistent group’s name–Citizens Against Citizens Against Humor–drawn on the cartoon also. I did not intend for my cartoon to go viral. I did not intend to be the focus of any “group.” I practice the first amendment by drawing what I wish. This particular cartoon of a “poster” seems to have struck a gigantic nerve, something I was totally unprepared for. I am going back to the drawing table now!

Our reflexive response to “Everybody Draw Mohammad Day”–which we too thought was serious, not having seen Norris’s cartoon or her disclaimer–was sympathetic. But Althouse prompted us to reconsider. Here is her objection:

Depictions of Muhammad offend millions of Muslims who are no part of the violent threats. In pushing back some people, you also hurt a lot of people who aren’t doing anything. . . .

I don’t like the in-your-face message that we don’t care about what other people hold sacred. …

At the same time, real artists like the “South Park” guys or (maybe) Andre Serrano should go on with their work, using shock to the extent that they see fit. Shock is an old artist’s move. Epater la bourgeoisie. Shock will get a reaction, and it will make some people mad. They are allowed to get mad. That was the point. Of course, they’ll have to control their violent impulses.

People need to learn to deal with getting mad when they hear or see speech that enrages them, even when it is intended to enrage them. But how are we outsiders to the artwork supposed to contribute the the [sic] process of their learning how to deal with free expression?

…Until 1989, it was a crime in some states to burn the American flag as a political statement. In Texas v. Johnson the U.S. Supreme Court held that this is protected symbolic speech. In ensuing years members of Congress repeatedly tried to propose a constitutional amendment permitting the criminalization of flag burning. It is the view of this column that flag burning is and should remain protected speech. We deplore it nonetheless, and we think holding an “Everybody Burn the Flag Day” would be stupid, obnoxious and counterproductive if one seeks to persuade others that flag burning should be tolerated.

…[W]e would not endorse or participate in an “Everybody Shout a Racial Slur Day” or an “Everybody Deny the Holocaust Day” to make the point.

Why is “Everybody Draw Mohammed Day” different? Because the taboo against depictions of Muhammad is not a part of America’s common culture. The taboos against flag burning, racial slurs and Holocaust denial are. The problem with the “in-your-face message” of “Everybody Draw Mohammed Day” is not just that it is inconsiderate of the sensibilities of others, but that it defines those others–Muslims–as being outside of our culture, unworthy of the courtesy we readily accord to insiders. It is an unwise message to send, assuming that one does not wish to make an enemy of the entire Muslim world.

First of all, “Everybody draw Mohammed Day” could be a joke if death threats weren’t involved. However, that isn’t the case, and self-censorship is not how we encourage moderate Muslims living in our culture to speak out against their fanatic co-religionists. What’s the message for moderates? What’s the message for the fanatics?

Second, the question of racial slurs and Holocaust denial are trademarks of those very Islamist fundamentalists being defended because of their association with Muslims who neither foam at the mouth, nor open it to complain about their brethren.

If fanatic Muslims can say these things in America, I’ll be damned if I’ll accept the idea we can’t say they are idiots. If they can enforce this and other death penalty offenses in their own countries then they live in inferior cultures, and I’ll be damned if I’ll encourage them to intimidate ours.

Third, for Taranto’s main analogy to hold we would be talking about death threats over a drawing of somebody burning our flag. Tangentially, we might consider the insult to our culture they display in stomping on our flag. It’s a bigger deal for them than burning, as I understand it.

Fourth, I would say of flag burning, as has SCOTUS, “Get over it.”

Fifth, maybe the “millions of Muslims who are no part of the violent threats” should push back on those Muslims who are part of violent threats. That way Islam might only be subjected to the same frequency and intensity of ridicule that every other religion has experienced at the hands of South Park. Oh, wait, that would be a lot worse wouldn’t it?

Sixth, May 20th is still “Everybody Draw Mohammed Day” even if the originator of the idea has withdrawn from fear of beheading.

Finally, we don’t, in fact, “care about what other people hold sacred,” when it arises from the same spirit and intellectual rigor as voodoo. We do insist, “[T]hey’ll have to control their violent impulses.” And why should they not control their violent impulses whether the offender is a “real” artist or not?

We can burn our own flag because that only offends some of us, but we’d better not be offending others to whom we offer the privilege of burning our flag and protection for calling us infidels who deserve to die.

“The problem with the “in-your-face message” of “Everybody Draw Mohammed Day” is not just that it is inconsiderate of the sensibilities of others, but that it defines those others–Muslims–as being outside of our culture, unworthy of the courtesy we readily accord to insiders.” Yes it does define those who advertise, or acquiesce to, the idea that a drawing is worthy of death as “outside our culture.” What’s wrong with that?

If we grant the power to ridicule, then we grant the power to ridicule. That’s how it is in our culture. As Mark Steyn points out:

…In a more culturally confident age, the British in India were faced with the practice of “suttee” – the tradition of burning widows on the funeral pyres of their husbands. Gen. Sir Charles Napier was impeccably multicultural:

“You say that it is your custom to burn widows. Very well. We also have a custom: When men burn a woman alive, we tie a rope around their necks, and we hang them. Build your funeral pyre; beside it, my carpenters will build a gallows. You may follow your custom. And then we will follow ours.”

Instead of cultural confidence, we have Ann Althouse writing this:

In pushing back some people, you also hurt a lot of people who aren’t doing anything (other than protecting their own interests by declining to pressure the extremists who are hurting the reputation of their religion).

Allowing your religion to come into disrepute is “protecting” your interests? I’d call it a cultural judgment with which you acquiesce through your silence. Not unlike those in India who were quite happy to watch suttee. Or as Martin Niemöller said of the Nazis, “First they came for the Communists, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Communist. Then they came for the Jews…” Do these moderate Muslims think they are not targets just as soon as practicable?

And Althouse goes on to this, reminiscent of Della Sentilles,

…how are we outsiders to the artwork supposed to contribute the the [sic] process of their learning how to deal with free expression?

Well, they’ve had several hundred years to acclimate. I mean, we assimilated algebra, but there hasn’t been much since.

It’s – “Get a life. When you moderate Muslims rise up and call farce on the Islamic leaders who urge a new holocaust and describe America as the Great Satan, then maybe we’ll think about observing your loosely held 12th Century iconographic distinctions.” Of course, if you get that far, we probably won’t have to.

(For the Andre Serrano reference, see TOC’s own effort to offend every religion here.)

Update 8:31:
Regarding the third point: Actually, we would be talking about death threats over a drawing of somebody burning a bear suit rumored to contain our flag, but didn’t.

“Everybody Draw Mohammed Day”

Updated. Bumped.

I will be applying my non-existent artistic skills and will probably produce a stick figure labeled “Mohammed'” so that you’ll know what it is supposed to depict.

Anyone else is welcome to submit their drawings and I will post those, too.

Update 12:36AM-
Mark Steyn properly conflates Comedy Central’s cowardice and Bill Clinton’s demonization of tea partiers.

…[I]n the end, in a craven culture, even … the brave, transgressive comedy network was intimidated into caving in and censoring a speech about not being intimidated into caving in. …

Terrific. You can see why young, urban, post-modern Americans under 57 get most of their news from Comedy Central. What a shame 1930s Fascist Europe was so lacking in cable.

Fifteen years ago, Bill Clinton set out to hang Timothy McVeigh around the necks of talk radio and, with a further stretch, Newt and the congressional Republicans. …

Which works fine when you’re up against phantom enemies of the kind Clinton preferred to take on, while giving real threats the run of the planet. If the Tea Partiers were truly the murderous goons they’ve been portrayed as, they would draw the obvious lesson from the kid gloves with which Comedy Central strokes Islam. They would say, “Enough with peaceful rallies where we pick up the litter afterwards. Let’s just threaten to decapitate someone. You get more respect that way. At least from the media.”


If one had the time to do the searching and analysis, it seems very likely that the tea parties have garnered more negative North American press and more negative Democrat comment – since February 2009, than have Islamists in plain view – since September 2001. Thuggish organizations like Iran, Syria and CAIR, as well as demented individuals like Anwar al-Awlaki, the imam who mentored the man who perpetrated the Fort Hood massacre as well as three of the 9/11 hijackers, and now this idiot with the death threats against the creators of South Park – get a pass (it’s America’s fault) while Clinton, the Obama Apparatus and our MSM are vilifying Americans who disagree with the expansion of government.

Proceedings of the Alberta "Human Rights" Commission

Updates from Ezra Levant’s appearance before the Alberta “Human Rights” Commission. He’s charged with publishing those Danish cartoons depicting Mohammed in The Western Standard, a Canadian magazine.

This is a glimpse of the logical conclusion of Senator McCain’s anti-First Amendment impulses. All Canada has done is to ignore its Charter of Rights and Freedoms. It was civil libertarians who set these commissions up with the best of intent.

Alan Borovoy, general counsel for the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, underlined the danger last year after the Islamic Supreme Council of Canada filed a human rights complaint against the Western Standard for republishing a set of Danish cartoons that many Muslims found offensive. In an article in the Calgary Herald, Borovoy wrote: “During the years when my colleagues and I were labouring to create (human rights) commissions, we never imagined that they might ultimately be used against freedom of speech.”

Liberal fascism may thus be seen as a mere failure of imagination. In this case, a failure to imagine that Government Bureaucracies are self-aggrandizing.

Opening statement

Kangaroo court
opening statement transcript

What was your intent?

Violence in Alberta

I don’t answer to the state

“You’re entitled to your opinions”

Update: 1:01PM YouTube appears to have removed a couple of these videos and they’ve then apparently been reposted, so you may have to check back periodically.

Added: The limits of free speech, and the power to order me to apologize

Hope for the French?

“It is hard to be loved by idiots…”

The far left French magazine, Charlie Hebdo, has been acquitted on charges of insulting Muslims. A year ago, while certain Muslims were practicing uncivil disobedience over a few caricatures of Muhammed, Charlie Hebdo published it’s own “defamation of the prophet”
(above) while re-publishing the famous Jyllands Posten cartoons. Charlie Hebdo’s contribution was noted by TOC here. They were sued by The Paris Grand Mosque and the Union of French Islamic Organizations. Charlie Hebdo won, in a French court.

H/T to ¡No Pasarán!, who have kindly republished the Jyllands Posten cartoons that sparked riots and murder in Muslim regions worldwide. Perhaps it will be calmer now that a French court says freedom of speech is OK?

Opportunity knocks

Thanks to The Dissident Frogman for this image and thanks to Kate for the lead.

The “cartoon war” is all over the news and opinion spectrum. I found several examples worth reading in full:

The Right to Satirize
Virginia Postrel

…[My response is to wonder] why Muslims don’t grow up. If your co-religionists are going to take political stands, and blow up innocent people in the name of Islam, political cartoonists are going to occasionally take satirical swipes at your religion.

Hold the line
The Dissident Frogman

It’s not done (far from it) but for the first time in years, I have the slight hope that Europe might finally wake up.

They want to fight us, on what is without a doubt a pillar of Western civilization? They want to deprive us from freedom of speech, a concept we invented 2,500 years ago, improved and expanded ever since? An idea for which we did not hesitate to pay the highest price, and which we defended against foes far more formidable and lethal than them?

So be it.

Let’s pump up the volume on this whole “Support Denmark” campaign as much as we can, as I suspect this story might be one of those moments of truth that can make a difference. Now is the moment to stand up, be counted, and hold the line. Remember, that’s how the Frankish infantry stopped and inflicted a crushing and decisive defeat to the Muslim cavalry in 732.

UPDATED: The Cartoon War: A Collision of Values
Austin Bay

The conflict once again reveals the peculiar arrogance of some European Muslim immigrants: they cannot be criticized or satirized, though they freely critique and satirize Christians, Jews, and secularists.

We Are Sorry

In the middle of all the mayhem surrounding the Danish cartoons controversy, a group of Arab and Muslim youth have set up this website to express their honest opinion, as a small attempt to show the world that the images shown of Arab and Muslim anger around the world are not representative of the opinions of all Arabs. We whole-heartedly apologize to the people of Denmark, Norway and all the European Union over the actions of a few, and we completely condemn all forms of vandalism and incitement to violence that the Arab and Muslim world have witnessed. We hope that this sad episode will not tarnish the great friendship that our peoples have fostered over decades.

Rioting with well-planned spontaneity
Rory McCarthy

And then in the early afternoon, as suddenly as it had all begun, it ended. The leaders of the mob turned to the angry young men beside them and told them it was time to leave. Obediently the crowd thinned out and began walking back to the buses, even as the Danish embassy continued to burn. By 3pm there wasn’t a single protester left on the street. Later, the Lebanese interior minister, Hassan Sabei, announced his resignation.

More lies from Danish Imams
Lorenzo Vidino

The controversy has now exploded in Denmark. Friday night Danish public television, DR, ran two interesting stories about Abu Laban, the man who organized the delegation’s trip to the Middle East. While the first profiled him, showing his extensive links to the Egyptian group Gamaa Islamiya, the second showed his double-talk. Abu Laban, in fact, was first shown speaking on Danish television condemning the boycott of Danish goods (in English), then shown interviewed on al Jazeera, cheerfully commenting on the effectiveness of the boycott (in Arabic).

The Cartoon Jihad
By Melanie Phillips

The still escalating confrontation over the Danish cartoons dramatically illustrates the now pathological reluctance of the leaders of Britain and America to face up to the blindingly obvious and the extent to which they have already run up the white flag in the face of clerical fascism. With holy war declared openly upon the west, with death threats being issued against cartoonists and editors, with Danes, Scandinavians and other Europeans being hunted for kidnap and in fear of their lives, with blood-curdling intimidation, with mob demonstrations, calls to behead westerners and rallying cries for ‘holy war’ by Islam against Europe, the governments of Britain and America are busy prostrating themselves before this terror, apologising for ‘causing offence’ and blaming the victims of this assault; while their intelligentsia earnestly debates whether it is wrong to insult someone else’s religion, for all the world as if this were a university ethics seminar rather than a world war being waged by clerical fascism against free societies and with people in hiding and in fear of their lives for having exercised the right to protest at religious violence and intimidation.

A European Awakening Against Islamic Fascism?
By Victor Davis Hanson

Americans are not confident, but we should remember at least one simple fact: Europe is the embryo of the entire Western military tradition. The new European Union encompasses a population greater than the United States and spans a continent larger than our own territory. It has a greater gross domestic product than that of America and could, in theory, field military forces as disciplined and as well equipped as our own.

Europe’s New Dissidents
Middle Eastern repression comes to the Continent.

Moreover, the cartoons didn’t mock Islam as such but its abuse by militant Muslims. One cartoon showed Muhammad with a turban in the form of a bomb. The issue, though, is much larger than the question of how to balance press freedom with religious sensibilities; it goes to the heart of the conflict with radical Islam. The Islamists demand no less than absolute supremacy for their religion–and not only in the Muslim world but wherever Muslims may happen to reside. That’s why they see no hypocrisy in their demand for “respect” for Islam while the simple display of a cross or a Star of David in Saudi Arabia is illegal. Infidels simply don’t have the same rights.

These staged riots over editorial cartoons are a gift. Most of the West is complacent nearly to the point of decadence. If we can still hear a wake up call, this 7th-century-based hysteria-on-demand should qualify. The United States should be out in front condemning these fascists. They plainly state that murder is their answer to speech with which they disagree.

Sadly, so far, we have officially been as mealy-mouthed and as politically correct as the Belgians. Maybe worse, I haven’t seen any Belgian response to this whatever, so they still have the opportunity we’ve so far screwed up.

This is a personal gift to George Bush, but his minions are not seizing it. The statist-left in this country spends so much time bashing “neo-cons” as representatives of a Jewish conspiracy and calling Christians troglodytes, that they either have to put up on the idea free speech – or stop wondering “why they hate us.” Isn’t it f***ng obvious?

If the Bush administration roundly condemned the prevarications of the Islamist cartoon war organizers, what would our own left say? Everything is relative? Who are we to judge? Dhimmitude will overcome?

George! George! This islamofascist inanity is the same rope-a-dope opportunity you’ve practiced against the Democrats to their own detriment – but you didn’t make excuses for them up front. You can do the same thing to these lying, fanatical Muslims; if the State Department stops apologizing to fascists on behalf of Danish newspapers. Or, if you can’t skewer this madness, it’s something good to know about our allies and our enemies.

The same thing is true in Europe, and if Chirac can threaten nuclear retaliation against terror attacks on France, then in this instance he has a chance to show some seriousness without nearly the same risk. He can just announce that cartoons are cartoons and Muslim fanatics need to get a grip. “We’re sorry you are offended, but you’re stupid. Stupid people are entitled to their opinions, the rest of us are entitled to ignore them.”

Now, this does tend to reverse decades of multi-cultural relativism, but so would a nuke.

Denmark’s Queen Margrethe II gives us an example of the kind of speech we need:

“We are being challenged by Islam these years – globally as well as locally. It is a challenge we have to take seriously. We have let this issue float about for too long because we are tolerant and lazy.

“We have to show our opposition to Islam and we have to, at times, run the risk of having unflattering labels placed on us because there are some things for which we should display no tolerance.”

“And when we are tolerant, we must know whether it is because of convenience or conviction.”

I, for one will be drinking Danish beer, eating Danish ham and cheese and urging the President to publicly offer Denmark a couple of Special Operations teams skilled in what I hope would be euphemistically called “counter-terrorism.”

“Made in Denmark” labels are needed for retail placement. Small Dead Animals has the start of a list of Danish items, I’m sure it can be greatly expanded.

Update: 7:30PM. I take that bit about the Belgians back. I still have no evidence about their position on the Danish editorial cartoons, but there is this indicator: an image of Saddam Hussein apparently being tortured by immersion in a pool of water is considered “too shocking.”

I bet “Piss Christ” wasn’t.


The sound of one hand clashing

Sheik Yusuf al-Qaradawi is a strong supporter of suicide bombings:

“The Israelis might have nuclear bombs but we have the children bomb and these human bombs must continue until liberation.”

“[Suicide bombers] are siding with the oppressed and with the powerless. Such operations limit the tyranny and wrong done to them….

So you might expect that this image shouldn’t really bother him that much:

But it does. As head of
the International Association of Muslim Scholars his calls for an “international day of anger” about cartoons published by the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten, have resulted in street demonstrations and the torching of embassies by Muslim faithful.



In triggering this behavior
al-Qaradawi has held Islam up to far more ridicule than the cartoons have:

I don’t approve of insulting others’ beliefs just for the sake of it. For example, I didn’t much like “Piss-Christ” – a picture of Christ on the Cross submerged in urine – or hearing about an image of the Virgin Mary, one breast a ball of elephant dung, juxtaposed with pornography.

My distress wasn’t about religion, though, it was about my tax dollars paying for it. “Piss Christ” was underwritten by the National Endowment for the Arts. Still, I didn’t threaten to behead anyone over it.

I find the depiction of Osama-bin-Laden as Christ tasteless, also. But I’m not burning down any buildings because of it.

This is what passes for art, and criticizing it brings forth a withering defense of free speech.

I have not heard the usual suspects defending Jyllands-Posten, however. Western politicians seem to be falling all over themselves to apologize for having a free press.

Last Monday, in Qatar, former President Bill Clinton decried the “totally outrageous cartoons against Islam.” EU trade commissioner Peter Mandelson said the journalists “have to understand the offense caused by cartoons of this nature.”

Some Muslims believe that arson and murder are not merely acceptable responses to an editorial cartoon, but that their religion demands such responses. For the most part, western governments agree.

What we have here would be a clash of civilizations – if both sides were playing.

Update: 3:31PM See also Mark Steyn and Jeff Jacoby.