Saturday, September 11, 2010


In 1989, contemporary artist Andres Serrano exhibited his ‘Piss Christ’ (Serrano's title) photogragph of a crucifix submerged in a jar of Serrano's blood and urine. The exhibit was a deliberate attempt by the artist (?) to offend members of the Christian faith. Serrano had received a $15,000 grant for his exhibit from the National Endowment for the Arts, a U.S. government agency that offers support and funding for artistic projects. ‘Piss Christ’ won the "Awards in the Visual Arts" competition awarded by the Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art.
In 1990, the "Tongues of Flame" exhibit by artist David Wojnarowicz consisted of several offensive depictions of Jesus Christ, including one of Jesus "mainlining" heroin by injecting a hypodermic needle into his arm. Wojnarowicz's exhibit was also funded by the NEA.
Nothing could have been more offensive to Christians than displaying a crucifix of Jesus submerged in a jar full of piss. A depiction of Jesus taking a fix of heroin would be a close second. So, did Christians throughout the world riot over these outrages? No, they did not!
The Christian faithful expressed their outrage through peaceful picketing of the exhibits, through media campaigns, and through their congressional representatives. No threats were issued against the lives of Serrano and Wojnarowicz. Most of the outrage was expressed against the NEA for funding these offensive exhibits, but attempts by members of Congress to withhold its funding failed.
In September, 2005, several political cartoons depicting caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad were published in a Danish newspaper. One of the cartoons depicted the prophet wearing a turban in the form of a bomb. The Muslim faith considers any depiction of the Prophet Muhammad as blasphemy. So how did Muslims react to the cartoons?
The outrage of Muslims was expressed by massive violent riots throughout Islam. These occurred in Gaza and the West Bank, in Syria and Lebanon, in Pakistan and Afghanistan, in Indonesia, and in most other Muslim countries. An Islamic group in Pakistan offered a bounty for the murder of the Danish cartoonists, while others threatened to cut off their hands or heads.
Now we’ve got the Ground Zero mosque controversy and a plan to burn the Quran which the mosque controversy spawned. From the beginning of his announced intention, I figured that Pastor Terry Jones of the Dove Outreach Center in Gainsville, Florida, would eventually ‘chicken out’ on his plan to burn the Quran on the grounds of his church.
Feisal Abdul Rauf, the imam behind the proposed mosque, has every right to build his mosque near the hallowed Ground Zero. Pastor Jones has every right to burn Qurans because the courts have ruled that demonstrations like burning American flags constitute protected free speech. But legal rights are far different from moral rights. Imam Rauf has no right to disregard the sensitivities of the 3,000 families who lost loved ones in an attack carried out by Muslims in the name of Islam. And Pastor Jones has no right to disregard the sensitivities of the Muslim faithful.
Pastor Jones’ plan to burn the Quran has already resulted in riotous demonstrations in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Indonesia where the mobs shouted ‘Death to America’ and burned U.S. flags and Christian bibles. Imam Rauf has warned that if he moves the mosque to another site, the Muslim world will riot and Al Qaeda will be swamped with recruits eager to bring about death to America. Imam Rauf adds that moving the mosque would be giving in to America’s radicals. 71 percent of Americans are opposed to building a mosque near Ground Zero and, according to Imam Rauf, they are all radicals.
The difference between civilized Christians and Islamic barbarians can be explained by how each group is educated. The Western nations, which are predominantly Christian, have modern educations systems, while in many parts of the Muslim world, education takes place in fundamentalist religious schools where textbooks are full of hatred against Western culture, against Christians and Jews, and even against other Muslim sects, such as the hatred between Shiites and Sunnis. That is why so many Muslims live in poverty - by Western standards they are simply ignorant.
Devout Muslims throughout the world, who have been educated in modern secular schools, did not resort to violence when the Prophet Muhammad was defiled by political cartoonists. Muslims who are well educated share in the world's wealth, while those from the fundamentalist religious schools – the vast majority of Muslims in the world - will continue to live in poverty and ignorance, and no amount of ‘make nice-nice’ by Obama will ever win the hearts and minds of those who live by a literal interpretation of the Quran and equate Christians to swine and Jews to apes and dogs.
The difference between people educated in the Western world and Islam's uneducated masses is that in most cases Westerners express their religious outrage civilly, while the Islamic barbarians express theirs by resorting to threats and violence.

1 comment:

Centurion said...

Excellent article Howard. I sometimes think we are a little too "civilized" for our own good.