Thursday, January 08, 2015

How to avenge a cartoon?

You can’t possibly avenge a cartoon. You can’t take vengeance at visual art. That is because no one can physically fight an idea, however ugly, however profane, and however sacrilegious.

Yes, we do feel offended. Humans are programmed that way. But here in lies the rub. The moment you feel provoked, you allow all the crazy, provocative arguments to make sense. That is any rabble rouser’s dream come true.

Islam is a faith that straddles the entire planet. It requires no character certificates from anyone. On TV or Twitter. If some nutcase Muslim or a section of them continue to behave like psychopaths -- with blood on their minds – the stereotype only gets emboldened.

Should your faith be so frail that a cartoonist’s curved lines must shake it? Should the great God of Adam and Moses and Jesus and Muhammad want you to draw first blood because a little known, trashy, weekly mag, somewhere in Paris lampoons the divine? That would be a very narrow, fragile understanding of faith itself.

The truth is that we inhabit a crazy world. Freedom is like a hooker that is not available to all. Ideally there should be reasonable limits to what passes as freedom but since nothing is deemed sacred anymore, we need not fret or blow ourselves up. There is a virtue called tolerance. Quran talks about it quite a bit.

It is an incredible tool because not only does it insulate us from ignorance, tolerance often leads to real emancipation. It allows us to fight ideas with counter ideas, greater ideas, and greater art. If you are tolerant, you will -- in all probability -- not get multiple orgasms at these calls of baying for blood.

Killing someone because you dislike his or her version of the story, however gross, however repugnant, is a moral defeat of our own viewpoint. We must debate and express our opinions, vociferously. The right to feel irate is all too human. We must outrage when we feel slandered and offended but the answer should never be sword. It must always be the pen.

History, and the course of it, is always about ideas.