Today, bloggers around the world will participate in a protest against terrorists by drawing cartoons of the Muslim prophet Mohammed. Everyone Draw Mohammed Day started when terrorist threats against Comedy Central pushed its executives to heavily censor an episode of South Park, which still cannot be seen on the South Park Studios website. It got off to an inauspicious start, though, when its creator backed out of the event, citing concerns about being overly provocative.
That’s a good point to consider, especially if one goal of the war on terror is to push an Enlightenment of sorts onto global Islam. A “hearts and minds” campaign, as we discovered in Vietnam, requires some sympathy and understanding of the entire community. If we’re insulting a broad class of Muslims by celebrating what appears to be a heresy in their eyes, we’re pushing them closer to the radicals and not isolating the terrorists. Given the images being celebrated on Facebook’s EDMD page, it won’t be too difficult to see this as an attack on their religion altogether.
On the other hand — and this is where my sympathies lie — a free society has to have the ability to offend as part and parcel of the freedom of expression. To acquiesce to the pressure that cowed Comedy Central is to surrender that freedom and to make terrorism a successful strategy, and not just for radical Islam. A nation of laws provides its citizens freedom from vendettas, and where vendettas succeed, freedom is diminished or lost altogether. That is why it is always un-American to seek political change through violence and terrorism, because it cuts against the fabric of what makes us Americans. In order to stand against the vendetta mentality, we need to make a statement that we will not be cowed into silence and surrender, whether that’s defined as dhimmitude, omerta, or whatever.
My good friend Chris Muir has what I believe may be the most thoughtful entry for EDMD. It’s a good theme for EDMD as a sort of Rohrshach test. What you read into it depends entirely on you. Is this Mohammed? A butterfly?
Update: My friend Beldar makes an intriguing and well-reasoned argument against EDMD in a rebuttal to my post. Be sure to read it all.
What do you think of EDMD? Take the poll: