Art, Muhammad & political correctness

Michael Brown Contributor
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When Loveland, Colorado’s Loveland Museum (best known for stamping Valentine’s Day cards with its “Loveland” postmark) exhibited an Enrique Chagoya lithograph containing a picture of Jesus imposed on a female body with a man performing oral sex on him, people were outraged.

Many argued that the lithograph was pornographic.  Some claimed it was anti-Christian.  Most agreed that a publicly-funded museum should not exhibit the art at taxpayer expense.  A few claimed it was art, and even if objectionable or reprehensible, should be displayed.  The Denver Post ran a story, Attacks on Art Troubling.

A crowbar-wielding truck driver from Montana eventually destroyed the lithograph.  She walked in late one afternoon and took the crowbar to the plexiglas container and ripped apart the lithograph.  Some cheered, some guffawed, others thought she went too far.

But no one has expressed any outrage at the following story.  Let me start that outrage now.

I am an avid reader of newspapers, including the Washington Post, the Denver Post, the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, and even your local newspaper if I’m in your town.  Comics?  I always read the comics.

Last Sunday I routinely downloaded the electronic version of the Denver Post, including the comics.  I read through everything as usual.  Something was missing, but I didn’t realize it until today.  The Washington Post alerted me to what was missing with this screaming headline:

Where was the ‘Where’s Muhammad?’ cartoon?

Political correctness has now run amok.  Muslims, Christians, Hindus, Shinto, Atheists, Agnostics, Jews, and members of the Church of Body Piercing should be outraged.

According to the Post’s ombudsman:

“Non Sequitur” is a popular comic that runs daily in about 800 newspapers, including this one. But the “Non Sequitur” cartoon that appeared in last Sunday’s Post was not the one creator Wiley Miller drew for that day.

Editors at The Post and many other papers pulled the cartoon and replaced it with one that had appeared previously. They were concerned it might offend and provoke some Post readers, especially Muslims.

Miller is known for social satire. But at first glance, the single-panel cartoon he drew for last Sunday seems benign. It is a bucolic scene imitating the best-selling children’s book “Where’s Waldo?” A grassy park is jammed with activity. Animals frolic. Children buy ice cream. Adults stroll and sunbathe. A caption reads: “Where’s Muhammad?”…

What is clever about last Sunday’s “Where’s Muhammad?” comic is that the prophet does not appear in it.

Here is the benign cartoon that did not appear in either the Washington Post, or the Denver Post or, perhaps, your local newspaper.

Are you offended?

If you’re Muslim, are you offended?

Frankly, I’m offended.

I’m offended the Washington Post and Denver Post are afraid someone might be offended by such a benign cartoon simply because it asks, “where’s Muhammad” when Muhammad doesn’t even appear in the cartoon.  That’s the point of the cartoon, you editorial wimps.

So Jesus appears in a bottle of urine and we’re told to accept it as art.  Christ appears receiving oral sex in a lithograph in Loveland, Colorado, and we’re told to be tolerant.  But let a cartoonist ask, “Where’s Muhammad?” and the politically correct editors, fearful of the radicals who behead those who dare make fun of Muhammad, are frightened into rejecting the cartoon.

I fear living in a country without free speech.  I fear a country where government bureaucrats or elites determine what is proper speech.  I fear the threats of political correctness and its assault on the Constitution more than I fear Muslims who might be offended by this cartoon.

So, I am proud to offer you a chance to see speech hidden, censored and feared by the editors of the Washington Post, Denver Post and perhaps your newspaper.

Read it, relish it, hate it, love it.  I don’t care.  But at least accept that freedom of speech in this country is under attack, and not just by liberals, haters or others, but also by the press itself.

God save the United States of America from itself.

Michael Brown was the Under Secretary of Homeland Security and Director of FEMA under President George W. Bush.  He is the author of “Deadly Indifference” to be published this spring by Taylor Publishing.  He hosts the Michael Brown Show on News Radio 850 KOA heard in 38 states and is the president of a high tech firm in Denver.  For more information go michaelbrowntoday.com.