I awoke this morning brimming with sarcasm, indignation and snarkiness. I planned to catch up on Skittles remarks, social justice and racial inequality. Why is it that the world insists on intruding upon our comfortable American way of life. Take for example, the story of Jordanian writer and cartoonist, Nahed Hattar. He was executed by the Jordanian government after leaving a courthouse in Amman after being found guilty of insulting Islam over a cartoon that criticized jihadists, like ISIS. Well, the government didn’t officially execute him, but…
The Right will make noise that he was persecuted as a Christian, but nothing could be further from the truth. Hattar was persecuted for being a writer and a free thinker, something that apparently offends both the Right and jihadists.
Just as with the Charlie Hebdo attack, I will not flinch in defending free thought and free expression. I reproduced their cartoon, not to offend Muslims, but to defend thought that isn’t specifically meant to offend or provoke a specific group of people. Charlie Hebdo was not a group of anti-Islamic propagandists, but equal opportunity offenders. In other wards, they assailed idiocy, hypocrisy and injustice across the religious, cultural and political spectrum. There are no sacred cows here.
I should note that not even the Right, who jumped up and down on the hood of their anti-Islamic clown car and attacked CNN and the New York Times for not reprinting any Charlie Hebdo cartoons had the temerity to print one-Not one! I did. Once, not to offend, but to defend.
It is for Nahed Hattar that I am reprinting his cartoon today, both to celebrate the life of a writer struck down by the forces of our collective ignorance and to defy anyone who believes that a bullet, a knife, a drone, a phalanx of Madison Avenue lawyers, a police truncheon or a genocide is enough to intimidate writers and free thinkers the world over from illuminating every corner of the human soul and experience. Nothing and no one is above criticism. Not a political leader, an anthem, a nation, a religion or its icon are exempt from contemplation, and when warranted, derision, satire and intellectual assault. When, where and how that occurs is purely the judgement of the artist and writer, and no one else.
Rest in peace, Hattar, if only in knowing we will carry on the fight.
Never Censorship. Never!