L. Neil Smith's
Number 355, February 19, 2006

Farewell, Wendy, we will miss you!

Unlike You, I Have Nothing Smart To Say About Those Anti-Muslim Cartoons In That Danish Newspaper
by Jonathan David Morris

Special to TLE

You know, I'm not going to lie to you. Sometimes I'm too open-minded for my own good.

I've been sitting here for the last couple of hours, trying to get started on this week's article. The topic I've been planning to write about is the recent spate of Muslim riots, which have occurred in response to a couple of derogatory cartoons from a Danish newspaper. I like this topic. I think it's important. But as I sit here, collecting my thoughts, I keep stumbling over which side of the conflict to side with.

Officially, I side with the Danish newspaper. No question about it. I'm all for the freedom of speech. If you own a paper and want to print a cartoon depicting the Prophet Mohammed with a bomb for a turban, I say do it. Not because it's a good idea—it probably isn't—but because a free press isn't really free once it bends to someone's religious dogma. At that point, it's basically just an organ for that religion. And this is bad news in a free society, because many religions don't like organs.

On the other hand, there's a certain rule of common sense that seems to have been violated here. Personally, I found the cartoons amusing. And even more so, I'm amused by the idea that any reasonable Muslim would try to hold non-Muslim papers in non-Muslim countries to the Muslim moratorium against depicting the Prophet Mohammed. However, I'm a nonconfrontational person, and any editor with a brain could've guessed these cartoons would cause mass confrontations. Not that that excuses the people who are now burning flags and tearing apart whole international embassies. But still. If you set out to offend somebody, you shouldn't act surprised when you succeed in offending them. That seems a little shortsighted to me. The bottom line is, Muslims have every reason to see these cartoons as a sign of disrespect.

So I'm not entirely sure what kind of stand to take on this issue. Obviously, I side with the Danish newspaper. I'm just not sure what to make of that. By siding with them, I don't really solve anything. I don't ease the animosity betwixt East and West in any real or measurable way. And if that's the case, then this column is pointless (though there's a pretty good chance it was pointless anyhow). Yet I can't just delete this whole thing and try to write about something else this week, because let's face it: Everyone in the world is commenting on this issue. And what kind of weekly op-ed columnist would I be if I failed to comment on it, too?

So rather than continue to sit back and blather incoherently, I'm going to do two things: (1) I'm going to start three paragraphs in a row with the word "So;" and (2) I'm going to do everyone a favor and do what I always do when I'm paralyzed by my own objectivity. After a lengthy introduction, I'm going to abandon any hope of writing an actual column and lapse instead into out-and-out satire. What follows below is a list of suggested solutions for fixing the Danish-Muslim dilemma. None of these solutions should be taken seriously. In fact, each of them is remarkably dangerous. However, each would undoubtedly make the problem go away, which, at this point, is the only thing any of us really ought to care about.

So here goes. (And dear God, forgive me—I know not what I do.)

Solution No. 1: Re-Release Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ

One of the best things to happen to Muslims over the last few years was the release of Gibson's seminal Christ movie, which, for a time, shifted focus away from the persecution of Muslims and onto the persecution of Jews. Clearly, a re-release of this film would go a long way towards easing current Danish-Muslim tensions. The only problem with this solution, however, is that Gibson already re-released The Passion once and, when he did, he took out half of the good (i.e., bloody) parts. At this rate, if he re-re-released it, it would probably only be five minutes long. However, if we tacked on an episode of NBC's The Book of Daniel, it would probably buy us another 45 minutes. That should be long enough to keep folks preoccupied while we come up with a better solution. So I say do it.

Solution No. 2: The Ann Coulter "Convert 'Em All" Solution

The problem here is that Muslims and non-Muslims can't see things through one another's eyes, right? So how about this: While the world is asleep, forcibly convert all the Muslims to non-Muslim and non-Muslims to Muslim. When they wake up, non-Muslims will stop printing anti-Muslim cartoons because they'll be former Muslims and won't want to make themselves angry anymore. And Muslims, meanwhile, will stop caring about those cartoons because they'll realize, as former non-Muslims, they're the ones who printed them. So getting angry would only be like a form of repression.

Solution No. 3: The Nuclear Option

Just wipe the entire eastern hemisphere off the planet. Why not? We have the weapons to do it. Isn't that what they're there for? Of course, on the surface, this solution sounds terrible. However, it would work for two reasons. One, because it would, indeed, end the Danish-Muslim conflict. In fact, it would end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and it would solve the whole Iranian nuclear weapon crisis, to boot. Two, this option would work because it would leave us in a world comprised only of America, South America, and Canada. As an American, I am relatively sure we would dominate such a geopolitical landscape. Which would be great, because then we wouldn't feel threatened anymore, and airports would no longer make me take off my shoes.

Solution No. 4: The Rhythmic Method

By abstaining from sexual intercourse during the fertile period of a woman's menstrual cycle, unrest between Danes and Muslims can be safely avoided without the use of contraceptives.

And, finally, Solution No. 5: A Very Special Episode

In the 1980s, all of the world's major problems—such as homelessness in America and teen drug use in America—were solved by "very special episodes" of popular primetime sitcoms. I propose that such a solution be applied to the cartoon controversy. Here's how it will all go down: On a very special episode of Special Report w/Brit Hume, the Danish press and a mob of angry Muslims will accidentally become handcuffed together. This will make them angry at first, but then everything will be turned upside down when they get stuck on an elevator together, with a bomb on it. Bruce Willis will guest star as "Third Man on the Elevator," who knows how to defuse the bomb, but who's too high and too pregnant to do it. The Danes and the Muslims will then have to work together to deliver the baby and defuse the bomb, while ironing out their differences. Everyone will learn a valuable lesson on tolerance and drug abuse, and the phrase, "I don't like you. You don't like me. We don't have to like each other, but we do have to work together," will be used. Former First Lady Nancy Reagan will also appear.

Jonathan David Morris writes a weekly column on politics, personal freedoms, and pop culture issues. He can be reached at jdm@readjdm.com.


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