I am curious to see what happens when President Obama invites Molly Norris to the White House for a beer. Oh, Wait…Molly Norris can’t go to the White House for beer because Molly Norris no longer exists; any trace of her has been wiped clean.
Norris, a Seattle cartoonist, was the unfortunate, creative mind who conceived of “Everybody Draw Muhammad Day.” Ironically, her satirical comment on the demise of free speech in America led to protests and death threats from fundamentalists Muslims, who apparently take cartooning very seriously.
Anwar al-Awlaki, the American-born cleric who became an al-Qaida leader, then issued a fatwa. According to this man of God, the mere suggestion that people should draw Muhammad was cause for assassination. The FBI then suggested that Norris “go ghost,” which is to say, move from her home, change her name, stop drawing her cartoon—essentially wipe away any trace of her existence. Molly Norris is dead! So too, apparently is the American notion of freedom of speech as well as any vestige of American backbone. Since when can those living in other parts of the world threaten American citizens with impunity?
It’s too bad that Norris didn’t pick on Christians. Imagine if, instead of encouraging her fellow cartoonists to draw Muhammad, Norris had implored them to draw Jesus Christ. Sure, she would have been the subject of a few fiery Sunday sermons, received some nasty letters, and even been the object of some loud protests, but she would still have her life. In fact, there are even those Christians who would have prayed for her, rejoicing that drawing Christ might be the first step in coming to Christ.
Moreover, she may have even become a star in the artistic community, celebrated as a “provocative, post-modernist, commentator on contemporary religious life.” But alas, she chose to throw a punch at Islam and practitioners of the “religion of peace” threatened to kill her.
And the guardians of free speech—those same good folks who expressed such indignation at protesters of the Ground Zero mosque, that would have hailed her as a hero had she pointed her pencil at born-again Christians—have simply shrugged their shoulders and whispered, “What a shame. I knew Molly when.”
Clifford May, president of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, notes that the saga of Molly Norris has elicited hardly any notice from political leaders, elite journalists and celebrities. Nor has it stirred to action [among] those who claim to represent America’s Islamic community. Nor have I seen anything from Human Rights Watch. The ACLU is actually defending al-Awlaki. At the U.N., Islamic countries are pushing to ban criticism of Islam under international law.”
Indeed, there has been no outrage expressed by the moderate Muslim community. Other than the remarks of the Seattle area executive director of CAIR, the organization has had little to say. Celebrities have not turned out in mass to decry the injustice. And sadly, this president, who felt compelled to lecture Americans about the constitutional rights of Muslims to build a mosque anywhere they desired (a right NO ONE was questioning), has not felt moved to rhetorically defend the right of Molly Norris to her life. Ironically, rather than defend Norris, celebrities, journalists and politicians are still choosing to lecture Americans about the increase in Islamaphobia.
There should now be little doubt that the cultural elites are in fact cultural bullies and like most bullies, deep down they are cowards. The proof is discovered in the silence with which they have greeted the death of Norris and in the fact that as of yet, no artist has deigned to toss elephant dung on a Muslim icon or have sex with the Koran. No. They stick to the easier fare of fundamentalist Christianity.
In some sense, it makes perfect sense. The fact is that we Christians can be annoying. Christians tend to consult God about, well, everything. We all know Christians who have consulted the Lord about everything from their health to which shoes to purchase on sale. And there is all the moralizing! Christians have a habit of preaching about “living the right way,” and warning all within earshot to get right with God.
For some, this behavior can be downright bothersome. Who are all these smiling, flawed people to comment on the behavior of others? It is therefore little wonder that Christians take so much abuse and criticism. It might also be because Christians tend to pray for those who persecute them, not assassinate them.
(Joseph C. Phillips is author of “He Talk Like A White Boy” available wherever books are sold.)