The hyper-reactionary hatred of Terry Jones and his merry band of bigots down in Florida may have muddled the waters surrounding Islamic fundamentalism and its dangers, showing that we certainly have our own share of anti-intellectual sorcerers. Now that that and the Ground Zero hate festival is over, however, Islamic radicalism’s ugly head is springing back up with a story out of my native Seattle:
In a disturbing and matter-of-fact article, Seattle Weekly’s editor in chief Mark D. Fefer explained to readers that there would not be a cartoon by Molly Norris in that week’s paper, nor would there be one in any future issues. No, she wasn’t fired. Norris has followed advice from the FBI, left town, and changed her name after a fatwa was placed on her by Islamic extremists following her cartoon promoting the made up “Draw Mohammed Day.”
Norris has been effectively silenced into submission (that word used intentionally) by the forces of fear. If we play by the rules of religious fundamentalists, Muslim, Christian or whatever other theocratic label the forces of reaction choose to label themselves with, we are not going to live in freedom any more. We will live in the same feudal regression that now dominates the Middle East and that once dominated the West during the times in which Galileo Galilei was put under house arrest by the Catholic Church for his theory of heliocentrism. While Thomas Freidman may have jokingly called his book on globalization The World Is Flat, forces around the world who fear their “traditional” cultures are under threat by globalization seek to have us regress to an era in which knowledge was illegal and, in the minds of men, the world was flat.