Jesus bin Laden
Vol: 71 Issue: 31 Friday, August 31, 2007
Jesus bin Laden
There was a religious art show held in Australia held to show off the entries for the Blake Prize for Religious Art at the National Art School in Sydney.
One of the entries was a portrait of Osama bin Laden which, when viewed from an angle, morphs into an image of Jesus Christ.
The painting was titled, “Bearded Orientals: Making the Empire Cross” and it shared exhibition space with a statue of the Virgin Mary dressed in a burqa.
Immediately, Australia’s Christian community came together as one, denouncing the artwork as blasphemous, setting fire to the National Art School in protest.
The Pope called on all Christians everywhere to rise up and make their feeling known about such blasphemy masquerading as art.
Rioting broke out around the world as enraged Christians smashed windows, looted shops, burned cars and attacked non-Christians in retaliation.
They carried signs saying things like, “Death to All Muslims” while Christian leaders the world over exhorted them to further violence until the artist was arrested and punished. Many clerics vowed not to rest until Christian culture was officially recognized as the dominant culture in society.
The demonstrations also gave the Christians a chance to settle some old internal scores, as well. Lutherans set fire to Catholic churches in Germany, Anglicans destroyed a Catholic church in Great Britain, and Southern Baptists in America swinging baseball bats invaded Disneyland.
Government officials immediately began negotiating with Christian leaders to try and find some way to stop the violence. The Vatican demanded that all priests in custody on sex crimes be immediately released.
The Southern Baptists demanded a list of all Americans who rented the movie, “Brokeback Mountain”, the deportation of Heath Ledger back to Australia — and lifetime passes to Disneyland.
Australian Prime Minister John Howard reacted by saying, “The choice of such artwork is gratuitously offensive to the religious beliefs of many Australians.”
And Australia’s Labor Opposition leader Kevin Rudd said: “I accept people can have artistic freedom, but I find this painting off, off in the extreme. I understand how people would be offended by it.”
Glynis Quinlan, spokesman for the Australian Christian Lobby, said: “It’s really unfortunate that people take liberties with the Christian faith that they wouldn’t dare take with other religions.”
(That was the extent of the Christian world’s reaction. I made all the other stuff up to make a point.)
Meanwhile, a small-circulation Swedish newspaper, the Nerikes Allehanda, ran a cartoon of the Prophet Mohammed’s head on a dog alongside an article about freedom of expression.
The government of Pakistan summoned the Swedish ambassador where “was told that the publication of the sketch had caused grave affront to the religious sentiments of Muslims,” according to a Pakistani foreign ministry statement.
The Organization of the Islamic Conference, which represents fifty-seven Islamic states, “strongly condemned” Sweden, the newspaper, the cartoonist and the West for the cartoon’s publication, ominously reminding the world of what happened the last time the West dared to insult Islam.
“The international community was well aware of the serious impact of such publications that were globally felt during the controversy that was created by the publication of similar cartoons by a Danish newspaper last year,” said IOC Secretary-General Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu in a statement.
He then called on the Swedish government to take immediate punitive actions against the artist and the publishers of the cartoon and asked for an official apology.
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad blamed Israel for the cartoon, saying, “[The Zionists] do not want the Swedish government to be a friend of other nations. I strongly believe they are behind it (the cartoon). They thrive on conflict and war. . . Anywhere they are found there is war. Anywhere where there is war they are behind it.”
Not wanting to cause further offense, western news agencies reported the story very carefully. MSNBC’s headline read, “Sweden risks crisis over Prophet picture.” Note that MSNBC not only refers to Mohammed as ‘a prophet’, but as a prophet with a capital ‘P’.
Later in its story, MSNBC reminded the world of what happened the last time, again referring to Mohammed simply as “the Prophet” (with a capital ‘P’).
“In early 2006, cartoons of the Prophet were published in papers in Denmark, triggering violent protests in which more than 100 people were killed by Muslims worldwide and a boycott of Danish products.”
MSNBC wasn’t going to risk causing further offense by not showing proper respect to the prophet — with a capital “P”.
The same MSNBC, when referring to Jesus, never capitalizes “He” and is careful to add, “Christians believe” before any recounting of His miraculous life or Resurrection.
But when it comes to Mohammed, he is a Prophet (with a capital “P”).
This week, the Washington Post Writer’s Group, which syndicates the cartoon strip, “Opus” notified its client newspapers in advance that the cartoon would have Islamic references so the newspapers would have time to substitute a different strip.
About a quarter of the newspapers elected to use the substitute, including the Washington Post!
One week before the censored ‘Opus’ cartoon, the same cartoonist wrote an ‘Opus’ strip which lampooned the late Reverend Jerry Falwell in terms at least as strong as the Islamic strip.
Not only were no warnings sent out regarding that strip, no newspaper apparently felt the need to worry about its (mostly Christian) readers’ reactions.
Jesus bin Laden is ok. Mary in a burqa is ok. And it is ok for Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to sponsor a cartoon contest to select the 12 “best” cartoons about the Holocaust.
But when it comes to Mohammed, even MSNBC is careful not to forget to capitalize the “P” in “Prophet”. Noted the website, “Newsbusters” this morning;
“Whatever happened to the First Amendment that reporters like to hold up anytime something offensive to Christians is published, or when reporters like Eric Lichtblau and James Risen bend the law in order to warn our enemies about secret programs designed to protect us? I suspect that this is reporter-speak for “they were afraid of Muslims, since only Muslims have a propensity to kill people with whom they disagree.”
I suspect he is right.