In the spirit of all of the "challenges" that I see out there, here's my challenge.
This is for artists who’ve remained silent about the issue of drawing Mohammad, even after cartoonists were slaughtered over it, and who are afraid to draw Mohammad, though they’d never admit it, and who have never been challenged over it. The reason why the Charlie Hebdo massacre happened is because ten years earlier, when Danish cartoonists were threatened with murder for drawing Mohammad, the civilized world, the world that claims to defend Free Speech, sold out Free Speech, submitted to the savages, and even justified the threats. And the enemy saw that abject fear across the West, and they knew that they could get away with murder. And they did, because no one speaks of Charlie Hebdo anymore, and hardly anyone draws Mohammad anymore.
But still, after those at Charlie Hebdo were murdered over Mohammad cartoons on January 7, 2015, you would have thought that such an attack would have rallied the West to respond in a strong way, and for publishers across the world to publish the cartoons, in defiance of such an attack on civilization. Instead, fear ruled the day and it created a vacuum that sleazy politicians filled. They made the attack all about themselves, as they converged in France, leading crowds to nowhere, and saying nothing worthwhile or true about what had happened. And recalling the videos and the pictures at the time, these sleazy politicians probably made sure that the Mohammad cartoons that the cartoonists were murdered over were nowhere in sight in the crowds behind them. But there were plenty of trendy pens being held in the air, and t-shirts and signs with “Je Suis Charlie”, worn and held by those who would never draw Mohammad. If you don’t draw Mohammad, you don’t get to say “Je Suis Charlie”. The event dishonored those at Charlie Hebdo, and ignored the entire point of it all, that we must defy these evil savages by doing precisely what they threaten us not to do.
Eventually, it took the typically callous actions of Muslims to finally provoke a strong response. Eleven days after the Charlie Hebdo massacre, Muslims walked over their dead bodies to hold an event at the Curtis Culwell Center in Garland, Texas, to defend Mohammad from criticism and cartoons called “Stand with the Prophet in Honor and Respect”. And Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer saw that and decided to stand with Free Speech by organizing a Mohammad cartoon contest where the winner would be announced at the same location, where there would also be an exhibition of Mohammad art, and Geert Wilders would be the keynote speaker. I ended up winning the contest, and the jihadists who came to mass-murder us ended up getting their heads blown off. And then there was a second attack on us, but this time it was by the media, on both the left and the right, who were determined to paint us- the targets of a terrorist attack -as worse than the jihadists who came to murder us.
Free Speech isn’t about what we can talk about, it’s not about speech that’s considered “acceptable” in society at any particular time, it’s about saying what “can’t” be said, yet still saying it, come what may. And that freedom to say the unsayable is under relentless attack by those who view that freedom as a threat to them. Weak ideas, weak ideologies, can’t withstand scrutiny. And people having the freedom to say whatever they want could lead them to call out those ideas and ideologies, to expose them as the complete opposite of what they claim to be, and that’s why Muslims and leftists are the greatest enemies of Free Speech, because they have the most to lose if their ideas are allowed to be scrutinized.
If you don’t support cartoonists drawing Mohammad, then you don’t support Free Speech. If you reserve all of your condemnation for those who draw Mohammad, and are silent about those who threaten them over it, then you’re a coward.
Once human beings are murdered over cartoons, those who would invoke “hurt feelings” and “decorum” should be completely dismissed. This is an issue of free expression, an issue of defying an enemy in wartime who wants to kill you if you exercise that freedom. Yet I’m still told that I shouldn’t draw Mohammad because it “hurts” the feelings of Muslims, because it’s not “nice”, because it pisses off Muslims. The only reason people are worried about pissed off Muslims is because Muslims act violently when they’re pissed off. But my support for Free Speech doesn’t end when Muslim violence begins, my support only grows stronger.
Still, to this day, I’m accused of “provoking” Muslims, when it’s their threats over cartoons that “provokes” me to draw Mohammad. I know that most cartoonists don’t draw Mohammad because of death threats, but death threats should have been the spark to get most of us to draw Mohammad. It did with me. I was raised Muslim, and I never even considered drawing Mohammad, and I didn’t even know that there was a prohibition against it. But when Muslims warn us that we can’t draw Mohammad because Islam forbids it, we have a choice, to either draw Mohammad or become de facto Muslims and sell out Free Speech.
We’re always hearing that “it’s time” for something to be said or done, for no other reason that that “it’s 2019”, and it’s usually something as stupid as “It’s time for a black, female, transgender James Bond.” Well, it’s time that cartoonists who claim to support free speech draw Mohammad. Otherwise, you’re full of it.
It’s time that those who claim to support Free Speech are put to the test. Behaving as an enemy wants you to behave is capitulation, but I’m told by some cartoonists who haven’t drawn Mohammad that it’s not their “thing”, that it doesn’t “interest” them. When cartoonists are murdered for drawing something that an enemy at war with us doesn’t want us to draw, the only self-respecting thing one can do is to draw precisely what the bastards don’t want you to draw. Can you imagine the World War Two generation being warned by Hitler and his Nazis that if they drew Hitler, they would be murdered, and of that generation falling silent and not drawing Hitler? That warning would have resulted in endless Hitler cartoons. I don’t want to hear, “Well, that was a different time”, because it’s just an excuse to capitulate, as if we all have to get on board with this Age of Capitulation, just because so many do it. Defying evil is a timeless thing, and while I understand that not everyone is built for it, if none do so, then evil wins. And right now, evil is winning. That we cannot defeat the Islamic enemy, almost 18 years after 9/11, is a defeat unto itself.
Where is the traditional American defiance in all of this? As Ayn Rand put it, “Defiance, not obedience, is the American’s answer to overbearing authority.” And look at the part of the world that doesn’t draw Mohammad to know what happens when evil wins, to see what happens to an entire part of the world where the bad guy won. A world so defeated that the founder of the ideology that defeated them cannot be drawn, cannot be criticized, and so cannot be overthrown from their mind. The West resembles the Islamic world more than the Islamic world resembles the West, post-9/11. That’s Islamization at work. The incremental, corrosive, pushing of Islam down our throats as something good and valuable to us, when it’s antithetical to everything we claim to upheld.
When it comes to Mohammad cartoons and cartoonists, I’m particularly disappointed with Frank Miller, who’s referred to as a “controversial” cartoonist, but who hasn’t drawn Mohammad in the 14 years since cartoonists were first threatened with murder for drawing Mohammad, at least in a way that the news media couldn’t ignore. Miller used to talk a good game about Free Speech decades ago, but he’s pretty much clammed up about Free Speech since the Mohammad cartoon “crisis” hit, which tells me that his “support” for Free Speech was all talk. If you’re not going to support Free Speech when it most matters, then I don’t want to hear you yap about it when it least matters.
As for those who tell me that it’s not their “duty” to put their lives on the line by drawing Mohammad: Drawing Mohammad is not a death sentence, but Not drawing Mohammad, and not publishing Mohammad cartoons could be a death sentence for our culture. Speaking for myself, I’ve drawn Mohammad over 300 times, I survived a jihadist attack, I’ve gotten thousands of death threats from Muslims, and I’m alive. Yes, the bastards want me dead, and my life has become difficult at times, but Free Speech is alive, even if I’m the last one drawing Mohammad. If I’m going to die over this, then I’m going to die as I want to live, not as an enemy wants me to “live”.
Islamic dictatorships forbid Mohammad cartoons, and the West is increasingly forbidding Mohammad cartoons. That this needs to be stated tells us how far we’ve fallen, but we need to be completely different from Islamic dictatorships, and in this issue, we’re far too alike. And that’s why I have two books worth of my Mohammad cartoons, so far, to try to keep that world at bay, even if only by myself.
Some things are worse than death, such as a world without Free Speech. We know what that kind of world looks like, what kind of hellhole it is, so we should operate in a way that makes our world completely different from that world. And if this challenge of mine only makes people openly admit their fear of drawing Mohammad, then that’s a start.
The Islamic enemy has many on its side who want to kill Free Speech, and we have very few on our side who want to defend it. This is unacceptable, and it’s unbecoming of a people who have the freedom to speak, but who choose not to, out of fear. The Danish Mohammad cartoon “crisis”, and the Charlie Hebdo massacre were challenges to our core values, and we failed to meet those challenges directly and honestly. We’ve become a culture that is regularly paying tribute to an ideology that sanctions the war against us. It’s infuriating, at times, to see this widespread cowardice, and to see a weak enemy have such power over so many of us.
It’s tough to hear cartoonists talk about their "brave" and "controversial" work - such as portraying Jesus as a warlord, (while they would Never portray Mohammad as the warlord he actually was). It’s equally tough to see an organization- one that I used to be a card-carrying member of -claim that it’s all for Free Speech, but then run at the first sign of trouble. The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund published a pamphlet about "Cartoonists Under Fire", which was written after the Garland attack, and which made No mention of me, a cartoonist who was literally under fire in Texas. I called them out publicly, on my blog, on social media, and on Red Eye, and some CBLDF members scrambled to try to put a good face on it, but they showed that their "support" for Free Speech was very conditional and very leftist. And they’ll never get another penny from me.
It’s insane that cartoonists are threatened with death for drawing Mohammad cartoons, and it’s insane that we’re blamed for inciting terrorism, and I draw Mohammad, repeatedly, to push back against such insanity. This is war, on the battlefield, and in the culture, and I’m challenging cartoonists to prove their support for Free Speech by drawing Mohammad. Right now, and it’s hard to believe, but I’m the only cartoonist who is regularly drawing Mohammad today. There should be so many people drawing Mohammad that it confounds the enemy. If many of us drew Mohammad after the Mohammad cartoon “crisis”, and if many publishers published Mohammad cartoons, those at Charlie Hebdo might still be alive, because they wouldn’t have been so isolated and so easy to kill, as the few who drew Mohammad. A few years before the massacre, Charlie Hebdo had their offices firebombed, and Hebdo’s publisher, Stephane “Charb” Charbonnier, stated at the time, “I would rather die standing than live on my knees.” We Americans all have a good time mocking the French, but they did what many of us don’t dare do, so we should keep that in mind before pretending that we’re better than them on the issue of Free Speech. Where is the American equivalent of Charlie Hebdo?
Marvel and DC Comics, and other mainstream comic book publishers, have published benefit books for all kinds of causes over the decades, and I think “it’s time” for Free Speech to get that same kind of treatment.
As for those cartoonists who might be waiting to draw Mohammad, waiting until the coast is clear: the coast is clear. It was cleared by those who defend freedom. Some, with their very lives. If we keep acting as if Free Speech is over, it will be.
The question isn’t “Why would you draw Mohammad if you know it makes Muslims crazy?”, the question is, “How do you respond when Muslims threaten to murder over Mohammad cartoons?” And the answer is, by drawing Mohammad cartoons. Free Speech is under attack by the left, by Muslims, and by the worst on the right, so when Free Speech is under attack, you defend it, you exercise it, you push back and you defy its enemies. It’s a simple thing, but we’re living in such a mad time in history that savages have made cartoons a part of the battleground in this never-ending post-9/11 war. Cartoons. And that’s not to diminish the value of cartoons, which I love and which I make my living on, it’s to illustrate how fragile, how hypersensitive this enemy is, and how we should use that as part of the defense of the West.
One of the most self-loathing things I hear from non-Muslims about Mohammad cartoons is that it’s “blasphemous” to Muslims, as if we should place something as unimportant to us as “blaspheming” Islam above something as important to us as our freedom of expression. As if Islamic blasphemy should be any concern of those of us who don’t observe Islam. As if Islam’s prohibitions should be our prohibitions. This is one of the things that distinguishes Islam from other religions, in that it is the least live and let live religion in history. And regardless what people tell themselves about the nature of Islam, the fact that its founder was a warlord tells us all we need to know about Islam’s nature. “But there’s a verse in the Koran which tells people to live and let live!” I’m told. And then I have to inform them of Islam’s doctrine of abrogation, which is that if later verses in the Koran contradict earlier ones, then Muslims are to go with the later ones. So the later, violent passages calling for war killed whatever “peaceful” passages there were. One of the great conceits of Islam is that not only are Muslims to follow Mohammad as ‘the perfect model’, but that we all are. That’s a hostile religion that has overstepped itself, and we need to remind Muslims that Islam has no sway over us. And in this post-9/11 world, one of the most dramatic ways to show that is to draw Mohammad.
Some people have actually told me that they’re afraid to even like my social media posts, which is a terrible state for a free people to be in. And even if none of you answer the challenge and draw Mohammad, well, that’ll make a point as well. You either support Free Speech or you don’t. You cannot remain neutral when your fellow cartoonists are threatened with murder and then murdered over cartoons, no matter what you tell yourself. No matter what others tell you. And no matter if no one ever challenges you about it. You know you’ve capitulated. I’m just letting you know that I know that you have.
If you believe that you “can’t” draw Mohammad, then you’ve sold out Free Speech to its savage enemies.
You support Free Speech or you don’t.
Support Free Speech.