The further to the left or the right you move, the more your lens on life distorts.

Thursday, January 06, 2011


Few would argue that the artistic community rightly loves freedom of expression. Whether its an artist in SoHo, a novelist in Vermont, or a movie director in Hollywood, the artistic community would justifiably condemn anyone who tried to limit its freedom of expression. And if it went beyond words—if one artist was physically threatened by some malevolent entity, the broader community of artists would conduct “consciousness raising events” to condemn the aggressor. They would demand action, insist on protection, and demonize those who made the threats. Unless …

STRATFOR, a non-partisan “global intelligence” organization, assesses an on-going threat to the artistic community:
Upon careful reflection, however, it is hard to find any target set that has been more of a magnet for transnational jihadist ire over the past year than the small group of cartoonists and newspapers involved in the Mohammed cartoon controversy.

STRATFOR delineates five Islamic terrorist operations uncovered during 2010 against the Danish Newspaper and the cartoonists who published the “Mohammed cartoons” in 2006. Included in the discussion is a “hit list” that encompassed filmmakers and novelists who have “insulted” Islam. Worse, STRATFOR’s projections indicate that the threat against artists is growing.

Quoting American-born Yemeni cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, STRATFOR states:
“If you have the right to slander the Messenger of Allah, we have the right to defend him. If it is part of your freedom of speech to defame Muhammad it is part of our religion to fight you.” He added: “Assassinations, bombings, and acts of arson are all legitimate forms of revenge against a system that relishes the sacrilege of Islam in the name of freedom.” Al-Awlaki also referred to a 2008 lecture he gave regarding the cartoon issue titled “The Dust Will Never Settle Down” and noted that, “Today, two years later, the dust still hasn’t settled down. In fact the dust cloud is only getting bigger.”

Recognize that an Islamist’s interpretation of “defamation” is very broad. In essence, any criticism of Islam, any artistic representation that is in any way outside the Islamist’s definition of appropriate is considered defamation.

The artistic community in the West have remained remarkably quiet as bomb plots proliferate against their brethren, terrorist attacks are planned against their facilities, and freedom of expression is threatened. You’d think there would be fund raisers in Manhattan, you wouldn't be surprised if a group of activist artists held a protect in Stowe, you’d think that Sean Penn would promote a movie about an intrepid cartoonist threatened by a group of religious extremists who want to silence him, you’d think that Michael Moore might do a documentary about repressive fanatics who threaten creative people across the globe.

And yet, all we get is silence. Is it fear? Possibly. Or is it a warped sense of political correctness that somehow exempts radical Islam from criticism. The real question is: why?