On Sunday, 3 May 2015, Pamela Geller and her organization Stop Islamization of America/ American Freedom Defense Initiative hosted a ‘Cartooning the Prophet Muhammed’ event in Garland, Texas. They paid $10,000 for extra security. Two Muslim men from Arizona wearing body armor and carrying automatic weapons arrived and began shooting shortly before 7pm Central Time. The shooters wounded a retired police officer and an off-duty police officer returned fire, killing the assailants: Elton Simpson and Nadir Soofi.
A Phoenix area Islamic leader confirmed that both Simpson and Soofi had attended his mosque regularly until recently. Simpson had been investigated by the FBI in 2010 on terrorism charges. Soofi was recently charged with marijuana use and possession in the Phoenix area. North Texas Imams have condemned the attack.
Perhaps Ms Geller was trying to create an American “Je Suis Charlie” moment. She and her recent “Draw Muhammed” event have been smeared in the Daily Beast and the New York Times. Searching Ms Geller’s name in Breitbart.com reveals numerous counter-articles responding to the blaming of the victim. Searching her name in The Blaze.com showed numerous defenses of free speech. Looking her up in Google showed a list of articles from across the political spectrum both supporting and decrying Ms. Geller and her recent event.
Those of you have read my blog for a while, will note that I have a habit of writing about Judaism and Christianity together at holy days. I’m a Messianic Jew, so that’s how I understand the Divine. If an event to draw cartoons of Moses and Elijah or Jesus of Nazareth and the Apostle Paul had been held I would be mildly offended. I’m mildly offended that she chose to hold a cartooning Muhammed event as her way of expressing her views. But she has the right to do this in America. And all those who attended had the right to draw and present their cartoons and expect that it would not be marred with violence.
Remember the Catholic riots when an artist funded by U. S. government grant put a Crucifix on display in a jar of his own urine? The piece was called Pi$$ Christ and the Cardinal Archbishop of New York hosted a rally to burn down the museum where it was exhibited. None of that sounds familiar does it? Because it never happened.
Remember when the Mormons rioted and destoryed Broadway theaters in New York City and shot several dancers, singers and musical producers in response to the award-winning musical “The Book of Mormon?” No? That never happened either.
Remember the Evangelical picket lines in front movie theaters across the country during the exhibiting of the film ‘Last Temptation of Christ?’ Remember how they sang and prayed and chanted and marched in front of movie-houses? No? Look it up. That happened. I think the protests got more coverage than the film did.
As Bill Maher said in response to the notion that those who provoke Muslims are ultimately to blame for Muslim violence: “This assumes that we just have to accept that Muslims are unable to control themselves the way we would ask everyone else in the world. To me that’s bigotry. That’s the soft bigotry of low expectations.” The moderate Muslims who have grown up and realized that not everyone understands the Divine the same way they do, need to wrest control of their religion back from those who use cartoons as an excuse for violence.
Some pundits have likened the “Draw Muhammed” contest to shouting fire in a crowded, darkened theater and suggested that such speech should not fall under constitutionally protection of the First Amendment. I agree with Bill Maher, this line of reasoning requires the assumption that the violent barbarians (who happen to be Muslim in this case) who can’t abide differences of opinion are some how in the right. If burning the American Flag is protected speech, if the Pi$$ Christ piece was protected, then this cartoon contest must also be protected. It is unpopular political speech and unpopular religious speech and unpopular speech in general that must be most protected. Popular speech will need no protection. The national government isn’t here to favor one over another, or push down the historical majority so that others can have their time in the sun. The national government is here to protect the fundamental human rights — given by our Creator, by Nature and Nature’s God, by the Divine — of all citizens.
Thank you all for taking a moment to read my thoughts on this recent tragic event. If you have thoughts or stories of your own, feel free to share them in the comments. These opinions, unless otherwise quoted, are my own and not necessarily those of my employers.
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