Thursday, May 20, 2010

Greta Christina: Why I'm Drawing [a stick figure of] Mohammad

Greta Christina: Why I'm Drawing Mohammad: "
This is my drawing of Mohammad [...]
[M "Moe" G: leaving the drawing out, not important for my point below]
 I wish I were a better artist, and could draw something other than a stick figure. But I actually kind of like its purity. If a simple, entirely undistinguished, smiling stick figure with the word 'Mohammad' above it can be so offensive as to earn me a possible death sentence... that makes the whole silly idea seem even sillier. And I like the fact that it's a photo of my hand actually making the drawing. Gives it a certain punch, I think.
Today is Everybody Draw Mohammad Day: an event in which people around the world... well, draw Mohammad. We're deliberately violating the Muslim law against creating images of the prophet Mohammad -- a law that some radical Muslim extremists are attempting to enforce with violence and death threats. On everyone. Muslims and non-Muslims alike.
But if we don't draw Mohammad, the terrorists win.

Atheist writer Greta Christina says "[...I]f we don't draw Mohammad, the terrorists win."

But, technically, it is actually "If we don't draw Mohammad's face on a dog's body, the terrorists win."

Greta Christina is still tacitly adhering to the double-standard that there is one limit for sacrilege of Muslim figures, and another limit for Christian figures.  The difference being that no Christian groups called for the death of the artist who created "Piss Christ".

Greta's stick figure Mohammad is too cute by half, if the point is to call attention to Muslim death threats to cartoonists.

I am an atheist, but I also was born into an Evangelical Lutheran faith.  I am an atheist, but I still acknowledges the need in the majority of humans for personal and collective transcendental experiences - experiences of a humbling sort - and I feel deeply that this part of the human condition can, should, be called beautiful.

I am an atheist, but I am also a coward.

The main thing that prevents me taking a noteworthy public stand to represent the prophet Mohammad's face on a dog's body is my fear of how my life would be complicated and inconvenienced, if not actually how my life would be jeopardized.

Also, beyond my cowardice, I would feel terrible if an earnest Muslim, just trying to live their life with peace and meaning, told me that my actions deeply personally hurt them.

But my tenderness does not overshadow my cowardice.  Being honest with myself and giving a true evaluation of my mettle.

So I don't know how to put my feelings into a socially acceptable neat description (socially acceptable to the group I most identify with: the Atheists).  All I can do is be honest.

(I am not trying to score "points" against Greta Christina, a writer I read regularly and admire.  But I feel obliged to state the complications that argue against a pat, cute endorsement of calling a stick figure a brave political stand.  The artists who are currently suffering under the real threat of violence are so because their cartoons had more provocative meaning, undeniably.)

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