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Notes From A Polite New Yorker: Nous Sommes Charlie

image Art by Sergio Zuniga

It is right to be intolerant of any ideology that feels justified treading on the freedoms of others.

New York is a city that lives on the freedom of expression. It is the place where people come to from all over the world to be free and to be themselves. There are many thousands of Muslims in New York and no one has been killed here over a cartoon. 

New Yorkers were aghast that people in a civilized country like France could be massacred because they published cartoons of a religious figure. Charlie Hebdo published cartoons of lots of religious figures, it was their depiction of the prophet Mohammed that got them killed. True to form, the newspaper has vowed it will publish again. 

If I were a better artist, I'd draw up some nice Mohammed cartoons of my own. But cartoonists quickly reacted with great artistic aplomb, and there are now many great works of art depicting the Islamic prophet in a host of inventive poses. More power to them. 

That there is any reluctance to embrace the "Je Suis Charlie" movement is a troubling sign that the cowardice in the face of Islamic extremism is already firmly rooted among many in the West. Some media outlets are even declining to publish the controversial Mohammed cartoons that Charlie Hebdo published. Those editors are cowards. 

Each terror attack generates more pathetic coddling of Muslims than backlash attacks against them. The bodies at the Charlie Hebdo offices weren't cold before the Internet was littered with the usual moral scolds warning us against "intolerance." 

Intolerance is actually OK when faced with the intolerable, and murdering people for publishing cartoons is as intolerable as it gets. It is right to be intolerant of any ideology that feels justified treading on the freedoms of others. It would be wrong to paint all Muslims with such a broad brush, but not acknowledging Islam's greater propensity for violence is being willfully ignorant. The immediate calls for "tolerance" in the face of terror cross the line from reason to submission.

There's also a big difference between criticizing and satirizing the tenets of Islam, and attacking Muslims. People who burn down mosques are attacking Muslims. Publishing a cartoon that makes fun of the prophet Mohammed is par for the course. Like it or not, Mohammed's success in founding one of the world's largest religions has made him a public figure, and public figures are subject to ridicule regularly. 

Most of my family and friends are Christians, and they can take seeing Jesus ridiculed. Christians believe Jesus forgave the people who crucified Him, so posting a cartoon of Jesus giving Mohammed a reach-around has got to be forgivable. 

We should have as many Charlie Hebdos as the newsstands and Internet can hold. We should saturate the market with as much blasphemous imagery as possible, and let religious fanatics see their icons desecrated every day. 

The idea of killing a cartoonist or a writer over satirical work is so appallingly immoral, that it demands we double down on the blasphemous satire. There should be no publication in the world not running offensive Mohammed cartoons. 

Islamic fundamentalists have now made it a moral imperative to insult their prophet in the most objectionable manor possible. No one should hesitate to publish a single one. 

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