About ‘Everybody Draw Muhammad Day’
I’m all for free speech, but I think Draw Muhammad Day is a silly idea. I think so because all it does is to play into the hands of hate-mongerers on both sides. My problem here is not that it does antagonize, but that it doesn’t do anything but antagonize.The one thing that criticism of Islam always has to be careful about is not to be hijacked by xenophobes. It is too easy to get pushed into the ‘ignorant-racist-redneck-corner’, and once in there, it’s hard to get out. Criticism of Islam needs to distinguish itself from islamophobic propaganda and racist hate-mongering. We are not Islamophobes, we are rational people standing up for our rights and against censorship.
Draw Muhammad Day is sending out all the wrong signals. What it really does is to play into the hands of the more moronic fractions on both sides. On the Muslim side we will have extremists using this to demonize us in the eyes of new recruits: ‘Those westerners, look at how hatefull they are and how they lack the slightest respect!’ On our side, we will have the racists using it for the same thing: ‘Oh, look at those evil freedom-hating muslims: they already shut down Facebook to censor a few cartoons, I wonder when they will burn the next embassy?’ Both these groups will welcome Draw Muhammad Day. It is oil to their fires.
The third group are also important: The indifferent, the unaware, the undecided. The average american and european citizen. To them, this will appear to be an act of blatant, childish disrespect (which it is) and will serve to change the public perception of free-speech activists for the worse. It will result in our cause being taken less seriously, just as if we are just another maniac, cult-like fringe group out there. Draw Muhammad Day is cutting into our own flesh.
What we need is rational discourse and education. Spread links to the Muhammad Image Archive (also linked in the sidebar) to make people realize that throughout history, it has never been a sacrilege to depict the prophet of islam, not even in islamic countries. Tell them that SouthPark has already depicted Muhammad in 2001, without causing censorship, nor protests. Make the protestors look like the foolish hate-mongerers that they are, ignorant of the history of their own culture.
But no, instead we do a Draw Muhammad Day. Which means we accept the muslim extremists’ proposal that depicting the prophet constitutes sacrilege, and then gleefully commit that sacrilege, just to annoy them. It is a shocking admission of total helplessness: It’s like that kid that eats all of the chocolate today, just to show mommy that he won’t get sick from doing so.