Drawing Muhammad: Do you want $10,000 or what's inside the AK-47?

Drawing Muhammad:  Do you want $10,000 or what's inside the AK-47?

It’s usually spelled in one of two ways, the name of the Prophet of Islam.  It’s either “M-u-h-a-m-m-a-d” or “M-o-h-a-m-m-e-d.”  I think it’s one of those things you don’t want to get wrong.

In case you think my concerns about getting the Prophet’s name right are unfounded, you may not have heard about the events in Garland, Texas last Sunday night.

First, we have to consider the fact that the event itself took place in Texas.  If I were David Letterman, I’d say, “That’s all you need to know.”

As you might guess, Texas is not my favorite state in the Union.  You could even say that I don’t consider Texas a part of the Union.

When Rick Perry threatened secession, I squeezed my eyes shut and kept my fingers crossed.  If only.

Nothing good comes out of Texas, it’s like Gaza with a drawl.  How it came to be that the Texas State Board of Education-an oxymoron if ever there was one-gets to set the standard for public school textbooks is more difficult to understand than anti-matter .

If Texas had it’s way, they’d eliminate the study of Science completely and shorten History to include only the Battle of the Alamo .

In Crane County, Texas, where abstinence comprises the entire content of their 3-day course on sex “education,” parents were recently informed by school officials that they were facing a serious outbreak of chlamydia .

These are not forward thinking people.

My plan for Texas includes moving the South By Southwest music festival to Albuquerque, New Mexico and giving Texas back to Mexico.  Let them barbeque whole cows, drink fine Scotch whiskey, smoke Cuban cigars and worry that their own government is invading .

Pamela Geller  is a typical Texan.  Don’t be misled by the fact that she comes from Long Island (pronounced:  lawn-guyland), New York and currently lives in Manhattan.  Think of Ms. Geller as Sarah Palin with a library card.

Since September 11, 2001, Ms. Geller has been an outspoken leader of the anti-Muslim movement.  In 2010, she co-founded the American Freedom Defense Initiative  (also know as Stop Islamization of America) with Robert Spencer and dominated headlines with her vociferous opposition to Park 51, a Muslim community center in Lower Manhattan.

The view of Ms. Geller and the people for whom she speaks is that Islam is “barbaric at its core, expansionist by nature.”  While that description may not fit the vast majority of Muslims, it seems increasingly apparent that it does, in fact fit some.  Sadly, it is that small minority that has become the face of Islam and it is they from whom we have the most to fear.

A Muslim man killed his daughter for failing to wear a head scarf.  Another Muslim man cut off his wife’s nose and ears for disrespecting his parents.  Shia and Sunni Muslims kill each other for being different kinds of Muslims and they all kill Christians, atheists and Jews for not being Muslims.

There may be a problem with the way some Muslims interpret their greeting, “Peace be upon you.”

It bears remembering that only 10% of the German population were Nazis and no one-except Mel Gibson-can deny the havoc that that small minority was able to wreak on Europe.

Getting back to Garland, Texas, though,  Ms. Geller helped organize a contest for the best cartoon of Muhammad, with a $10,000 prize for first place.  For half that I’d draw a cartoon of my dear, departed mom sharing a doobie with the Devil.

If I could draw, which I can’t.

We could write the whole thing off as Geller being a patron of the arts, except for the two whackos who showed up in an act of solidarity with their brothers of ISIS and the coming world caliphate.

It’s possible that Elton Simpson and Nadir Soofi were frustrated artists, but their social media footprints make it appear otherwise.  I’ll leave it to my loyal readers to suss out the facts of Soofi’s and Simpson’s attack on the cartoon contest and draw their own conclusions.

So, who’s to blame?  Is it Pamela Geller and the event organizers?  Is this a case of culpable negligence?

Is the FBI responsible?  They had Simpson (Elton, not Homer) on their radar but lost track of him.

ISIS is the one group actually claiming responsibility, but they may have been more of an inspiration than anything else.

One of the cornerstones of our society is my willingness to defend your right to say something that makes me want to vomit.  There are obvious safeguards built into our protection of free speech, but none of those seem to have been violated in this particular instance.

No one was yelling fire, no one was trying to incite anyone to go out and harm anyone else.  They were drawing cartoons.  Whether or not the event was inflammatory or stupid is beside the point.  It was an expression of opinion, not a call to war.  Or jihad.

Like the attack on the office of Charlie Hebdo in France in January, this was a blatant effort to quash free expression, which is anathema to fundamental and authoritarian regimes.

It may be poor judgement for a young woman to walk alone, at night through a questionable neighborhood, clad only in a short skirt and bikini top.  It is still incumbent on us to protect her right to exercise poor judgement and not to blame her for the criminal acts of those who would prey upon her.

It may have been stupid for Ms. Geller to sponsor a Muhammad drawing contest, just as almost everything Rush Limbaugh says is stupid.  We can not and should not apologize to those who would silence the stupid among us for their own religious and political agendas.

Sharon M. from Binghamton, NY says that we shouldn’t provoke “them.”  By them, she means anyone who would be provoked into acts of violence by things that wouldn’t provoke normal people.

The problem with that kind of thinking is that there is no finite limit as to what might provoke “them.”  The fact is, Sharon does many things that might provoke “them,” like dressing immodestly-by their standards-and drinking alcohol.  Where do we draw the line as to which of our activities we need to curtail?

Former Rhode Island Governor (and possible presidential hopeful) Lincoln Chafee appeared on a panel that veered into the discussion of the Muhammad drawing contest.  When his co-panelist, commentator Will Caine recited a short list of some of the acts of terror perpetrated in the name of the Prophet, Governor Chafee said that we need to “tamp down” that kind of rhetoric.

He used the phrase “tamp down” several times, which made him sound increasingly like a douchebag, which was fitting.  He made it sound like the solution to a large group of violent sociopaths bent on destroying America is a tampon.

Between Ms. M from Binghamton and Governor Chafee, we should either not provoke these people or just not even talk about their despicable acts.  It’s unlikely that either approach will lower the threat of terrorism here in the homeland.

“They” have made it clear that the only way to avoid provoking “them” is to become one of “them.”

How, exactly did we provoke them, or what, exactly were we saying about them that led to the attacks on the World Trade Center in 1993 and in 2001?  Forgot about the one in 1993, didn’t you?

And why, exactly should these people be treated differently than every other group of people on the planet?  Why are their beliefs so much more sacred than every other groups that everyone else has to treat them as sacrosanct?

In the case of the jihadis, they may be pursuing a religious agenda, but those in charge are using that fervor in pursuit of their own, mostly political agendas.

Why is it we treat the one group of people with the most blatant disregard for human life, including that of their own children like they’re victims of the universe?  Why is it that no matter how many buses or pizza joints they blow up or how many missiles they lob into the Negev , there will always be a band of misguided Hollywood Liberals calling for a boycott of Israel?

I feel like we’re missing the point.  We’re more concerned about our government spying on us than we are about terrorists trying to control us and steal our freedom.  To silence those who might provoke an irrational response is to accept that irrationality as rational.

We need to let everyone speak, no matter how foolish, no matter how provocative, even if it means hanging onto Texas.

I’m not encouraging anyone to start drawing cartoons of Muhammad or Jesus or Buddha or Golda Meir.  Our right of self-expression, though is like a muscle.  If we don’t exercise it, it could atrophy and die.

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