14 February 2008

Dialogue

Yesterday I posted the cartoon that caused an assassination plot in Denmark. The cartoon has created an uproar in the Muslim world. There have been people upset that it was printed, and people angered at how it portrayed Muslims. I received a comment on my post from a blogger named Sadiq, who writes "... I seriously think that they made a wrong point by portraying Prophet Muhammad instead of a terrorist. It's like portraying Jesus for Medieval atrocities committed by the Church in Europe. Does that sound a good point?"

I wanted to respond to Sadiq, and I did so on his thoughtful post about the controversy, but I wanted to reprint my comments in full here:

You make some excellent points here. You asked on my page if it would be appropriate if the cartoonists had portrayed Jesus "for Medieval atrocities committed by the Church in Europe."

In short, I believe it would.

We can hardly blame Jesus for the thousands of years of oppression, cruelty and violence that has been committed in his name. Likewise, it would be unfair and facile to blame the prophet Mohammad for similar reasons. He is not to blame. The vast, vast majority of Muslims are not to blame, just as most Christians and Jews are not to blame for the acts committed in the name of their religion.

But the cartoonists were not discussing how Mohammad and his followers are blood-thirsty anti-Christ figures. The point they were trying to make (I believe) is that people will take the words of these holy men and pervert them to their needs-- their need to dominate, their need to oppress, and the danger of such needs.

Likewise, it would be entirely appropriate to call out the Catholics and Protestants in Northern Ireland who have been bombing each other for years with images of Jesus. It's appropriate to call attention to the Catholic church's past and present sins. Because discussion is healthy. Dialogue is healthy.

When we stop talking about such things to each other is when we start shooting each other, because we no longer understand what other people are saying.

3 comments:

Blowing Shit Up With Gas said...

Or you could just generalize and run cartoons about religion in general. Some great examples can be found on this site:

http://russellsteapot.com/

Sadiq Alam said...

Thanks a lot Idea for putting forward this dialogue. Here is what i posted in my blog in the comment section for you,

"When we stop talking about such things to each other is when we start shooting each other, because we no longer understand what other people are saying." ... agree with you 100%.

"But the cartoonists ... The point they were trying to make (I believe) is that people will take the words of these holy men and pervert them to their needs-- their need to dominate, their need to oppress, and the danger of such needs." ... i guess their point making idea didn't work at all. Showing disrespect first and then trying to send a message is never the right attitude.

cheers!

The Ambiguous Blob said...

Respect is not a regular practice or trait for many cultures. It is not simply given, but must be earned in western cultures.
Shock value, however, is perfectly natural for westerners to rely on.