Friday, May 21, 2010

This Was Not a Triumph

Draw Muhammed day, which I participated in, was a failure. The goal was to defend our freedom of expression from Muslim extremists, but all we succeeded in doing was polarizing the entire Muslim community against us. Most of the founders of the movement were likely unaware that even moderate Muslims who have distanced themselves from the extremists would be extremely offended at a drawing of the prophet.

Normally a government taking action by cutting off access to key internet sites would be met with outrage from it's people, who would cite Orwell in their defense of their freedoms. But our protest managed to make people do the exact opposite. Pakistan had disallowed its citizens from accessing facebook, youtube, and certain parts of wikipedia for a substantial amount of time yesterday, and its actions were not met with scorn but with support from every moderate and up Muslim in the country.

What should we have done instead? There could have been several other protests that would have ended much differently.

1)Organize a boycott of Southpark
This would have effectively sent a strong message to those who wished to silence people that we simply would not have it. Even if Comedy Central wouldn't show the second part of episode 208, the message would be clear: that the western world would not accept its censorship.

2)Draw the same cartoons, but instead of displaying them publicly, send them directly to who was to source of the death threats against the creators of Southpark.

3)Do ANYTHING to drive a wedge between Muslim moderates and extremists. Convince them to make an inspirational promise to not try to convert anybody who does not want to be converted and censor free speech. Convince many of them to make a video saying "I do not support". ANYTHING.

I was told that Mohammed's intention by not wishing to be depicted in cartoon form stemmed from the fact that he did not wish to be idolized. However, the majority of Muslims around the world do just that every day by worshiping him. Their prayers are doing more harm to the man's wishes than our cartoons did. And in the end, they were just cartoons after all.

\|/ This is Mohammed
| Don't worship his name.
/ \ You'll hurt his feelings.