A Brand New Novel
Josephine Baker, the early-20th-century African-American dancer, comic, and singer–hugely famous in Paris. Did you know that she was also a spy for the French Resistance during WWII?
Every day should be “Draw Muhammad Day.”
Not for the sake of offending Muslims — although not all are offended by all depictions of the Prophet. Indeed, I’m offended by some of the drawings showing up on Facebook’s “Everybody Draw Muhammad Day” page, and I’m not even Muslim.
But as an increasing number of media including, now, Comedy Central, censor themselves out of fear of attack by extremist Muslims, the task of defending the most basic of human rights, that of freedom of speech, falls to us ordinary human beings.
A Danish interviewer asked me last September if I agreed with a recent decision to re-publish the infamous “Danish cartoons” depicting Muhammad, which had been blamed for causing riots around the world. My answer: “I think everyone should publish them. Then no one would know whom to target.”
Anyone who has followed the saga of “The Jewel of Medina,” my novel about Muhammad and his harem which was dropped on the eve of publication because of fear, knows where I stand on free speech. It trumps most everything — except, of course, the right to threaten others, which isn’t mere speech, but assault.
I’m also against hate, which is its own form of terror. But, for me, the flurry of cartoon depictions filling Facebook’s “Draw Muhammad Day” page today isn’t about hate — although haters abound on the site. It’s about rights. As Salman Rusdie said, “Without the freedom to offend, there is no freedom of speech.”
“The Jewel of Medina” was my depiction of Muhammad. I’m encouraged by the fact that more than 90,000 people “like” the “Everybody Draw Muhammad Day” page on Facebook, and that thousands have submitted their drawings.
The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution is the very best thing about being an American. Only if We the People stand together against censorship will we hold on to our freedom of speech.
Meanwhile, I guess the “Jewel of Medina” movie deal is off. 🙁