“For the first half of the 20th century, an eight-foot-tall marble statue of the Prophet Muhammad overlooked Madison Square Park from the rooftop of the Appellate Division Courthouse at Madison Avenue and 25th Street. […] Sixty years ago, the statue was quietly removed, in an episode that now looks, in light of recent events in Paris, like the model of tact, restraint and diplomacy. […] 'They probably didn’t know he was there,' George T. Campbell, the chief clerk of the Appellate Division, First Department, said in 1955, when the statue was finally removed out of deference to Muslims, to whom depictions of the prophet are an affront. […] (For the same reason, The New York Times has chosen not to publish photographs of the statue with this article.)"And so on, in this thoroughly sold-out vein. God.
You know what I think is the real "affront" to Muslim people? The notion that they are all such seething fanatics that the New York Times couldn't have run a photograph of a statue a half-century old without provoking blind fury in response. Surely it is a greater insult than any statue to let three disturbed men with guns represent what all "Muslims" think and feel.
Ah, the West. We are such great respecters of "diversity" and of "the religious identities of all citizens" that we are willing to submit cravenly to an absurd taboo, the courageous violation of which just cost 12 innocent people their lives. Yet we are not such great respecters of these things that we are willing to end the decades-long internment without trial of Muslim detainees in Guantanamo, many of whom were arrested due to racial and religious profiling. 136 people are still trapped in that orange jump-suited coffin, even after the recent transfer of a handful of detainees.
We are terrified of representing Muhammed in human form, lest it offend someone. But we are not willing to treat Muslim prisoners as human beings-- apparently we don't see that as an offense to Islam!
In such ludicrously backward times, we need a lot more of the mocking spirit of Charlie Hebdo to keep us sane. I say we draw pictures of Muhammad everywhere and every chance we get. To do otherwise would be to render Charlie's stand for freedom a failure and the attack on its office a success. (As Ross Douthat pointed out a few days ago, a taboo, even an otherwise sound one, ought to be violated so long as people try to enforce it by death and fear.) And meanwhile, let's also accord the followers of Muhammad's religion their basic rights as fellow people. Instead of doing the opposite of each of these -- instead of "respecting" in an absurd way, with one hand, the same groups of people we terrorize in a savage way with the other.
So, long may you prosper, Charlie. Remind me to buy my issue of the next million-copy run of the magazine. Let's mock this upside-down world right-side up again.