a little east of reality

Thursday, February 09, 2006

The Taliban has offered a hefty reward to anyone willing to kill...a cartoonist.

Mullah Dadullah, chief military commander of the Taliban, has indicated that the Taliban will reward with 100kg of gold anyone who kills the person responsible for the contentious Danish cartoons now circulating around the web. He also said the Taliban would give 5kg of gold as a reward to anyone who killed any military personnel from Denmark, Norway and Germany in Afghanistan. At least 10 people have been killed in widespread demonstrations in Afghanistan during the last three days.

I'm reminded of the scene in the movie Grand Canyon where Mack's car breaks down in a bad neighbourhood and the tow truck driver arrives just in time to rescue him from some young guys looking to rob him.

Simon: I've gotta ask you for a favor. Let me go my way here. This truck's my responsibility, and now that the car's hooked up to it it's my responsibility too.
Gangbanger: Do you think I'm stupid? Just answer that question first.
Simon: Look, I don't know nothing about you, you don't know nothing about me. I don't know if you're stupid, or some kind of genious. All I know is that I need to get out of here, and you got the gun. So I'm asking you for the second time, let me go my way here.
Gangbanger: I'm gonna grant you that favor, and I'm gonna expect you to remember it if we ever meet again. But tell me this, are you asking me as a sign of respect, or are you asking because I've got the gun?
Simon: Man, the world ain't supposed to work like this. I mean, maybe you don't know that yet. I'm supposed to be able to do my job without having to ask you if I can. That dude is supposed to be able to wait with his car without you ripping him off. Everything is supposed to be different than it is.
Gangbanger: So what's your answer?
Simon: You ain't got the gun, we ain't having this conversation.
Gangbanger: That's what I thought, no gun, no respect. That's why I always got the gun.

“No gun, no respect.” In fact he’d gotten it right a minute before when he asked, “is this respect, or it is because of the gun?” because the two are not the same. Some people really have no understanding of the word ‘respect’. If someone is thinking you are a criminal or a cretin, using nice words to you(r gun) is NOT respect. Someone refraining from drawing Muhammed because they’d prefer not to have themselves or their countrymen blown to smithereens has not learned respect. Chances are that any reasonable person who had any kind of respect for the Taliban has just lost it all. Sadly many will lose respect for Muslims in general, even those who hate this kind of violence. I know good Muslims. They don’t deserve this kind of publicity.

This man, this group, had the opportunity to respond to these cartoons in such a way that the whole world would understand that something Muslims consider blasphemous (ANY depiction of Mohammed, let alone one making him look bad or foolish) is being carelessly bandied about with no respect for their religious sensitivities. A careful, intelligently emotional response could really give some insight into how Muslims feel about this matter and even maybe evoke a little empathy around the place. And the best they can come up with is the rough equivalent of "yeah, we gotta show those punks that you don't f#$% with the prophet, yo!"


Does anyone else find it ironic that they can be furious at a cartoon showing the Prophet Mohammad wearing a bomb-shaped turban, while in the same breath announcing that the list of Taliban suicide attackers has grown since the cartoons were published? In that context, a bomb-shaped turban isn’t satirical, it’s just accurate. The other thing I find ironic is the fact that the cartoons aren’t even very funny. Without the hype the Taliban are helping to create, chances are they would have done a quick round on email and then disappeared forever. Now they’ll be around forever.