This post could really use a picture of Seattle-based Molly Norris. I just didn’t think it ethical to post one because she is now in hiding on the advice of the FBI due to threats by stupid, misguided fools who want to kill her.
They want her dead for a joke she made at the expense of the Prophet Muhammad––also not pictured… for, um, obvious reasons.
I will however post a picture of this guy: His name is Anwar al-Awlaki, and he’s a Yemeni-American cleric who is alleged to have inspired the Fort Hood shooting, among other attacks. He’s also the one who put Norris on a “hit list.”
He’s a bastard-coated bastard with bastard filling.
Back in April Norris drew a cartoon lampooning the fact that certain (not all; let’s not generalize) Muslims become so angry at depictions of the prophet Muhammad, which Islam kind-of-but-not-really forbids. This was at the time when Comedy Central was punking out because South Park was making jokes about Muhammad depictions. So Norris drew a cartoon declaring May 20th “Everybody Draw Muhammad Day.”
WARNING!!!!!! Clicking “Continue Reading” will lead you to the dreaded cartoon.
That’s it. That’s what makes someone like Anwar al-Awlaki wish death upon a fellow human being: a cartoon cherry claiming to be Muhammad.
In May Norris told the Seattle PI that she hadn’t meant for, or thought of her cartoon going viral on the net, but it happened that way and Norris went from unknown Seattle illustrator to the focus of religious hate.
And now she’s a ghost. She’s changed her name, left Seattle, and will have a new life somewhere else. She told Seattle Weekly that the threat on her existence is like cancer, “[It] might basically be nothing, it might be urgent and serious, it might go away and never return, or it might pop up again when she least expects it.”
Above I made a point to not generalize about Islam, or Muslims. I don’t want anyone to believe that I think that 99 percent of Muslims are anything like Anwar al-Awlaki. I’m reiterating this because I’m about to say…
Dear Anwar al-Awlaki:
Your religion sucks.
Yes, he sucks as a human being, but his religion sucks just as much if not more. Again, I’m not saying all Muslims or all of Islam sucks––just his version, the one where you get to terrorize a small time cartoonist.
Find me a jerk, and I can persuade him; find me a jerk with religion, and I am defeated. Once someone believes that their actions are chosen and led by God, it’s game over for logic or reason. I’ve been told that the non-religious like myself scare people because what is morality without God?
This: If I commit a violent act, I cannot blame God. It is my act alone because I do not believe in a guiding hand of God (or of the economy, but that’s a separate post), so I avoid causing ill in the world to avoid personal guilt. But people like al-Awlaki revel in that their evil is not evil, it is the righteous will of Gawd(!). They have no need for a conscience.
Therefore, al-Awlaki’s religion sucks, and it is our responsibility to say that. To sit back and say nothing – even here in our little corner of Montana, on a little blog about politics and culture – we do a great injustice to one another. The same injustice best embodied in Pastor Martin Niemöller’s staggeringly brilliant quote about Nazis:
They came first for the Communists,
and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Communist.
Then they came for the trade unionists,
and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a trade unionist.
Then they came for the Jews,
and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Jew.
Then they came for me
and by that time no one was left to speak up.
Though Molly Norris lived in Seattle, though most if not all people reading this have never met her (and now never will), we must stand up for her. If we do not, then our First Amendment right to free speech is worthless.
Go post her cartoon on Facebook, and Twitter, and your own blog, and MySpace and your front door. Show it to friends and family. Laugh at it. Make it into a t-shirt you wear proudly. And on May 20th, 2011 scribble as many drawings of Muhammad as you wish (or do it now), because tolerance and respect are different. I tolerate Anwar al-Awlaki’s right to have his misguided, stupid beliefs about moral and spiritual matters, but I do not respect them at all.
And by the way, this is my favorite depiction of Muhammad:
Get it? A joke. Bring on the threats.
Obama invokes ‘state secrets’ claim to dismiss suit against targeting of U.S. citizen al-Aulaqi
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, September 25, 2010; 1:49 AM
The Obama administration urged a federal judge early Saturday to dismiss a lawsuit over its targeting of a U.S. citizen for killing overseas, saying that the case would reveal state secrets.
The U.S.-born citizen, Anwar al-Aulaqi, is a cleric now believed to be in Yemen. Federal authorities allege that he is leading a branch of al-Qaeda there.
Government lawyers called the state-secrets argument a last resort to toss out the case, and it seems likely to revive a debate over the reach of a president’s powers in the global war against al-Qaeda.
Civil liberties groups sued the U.S. government on behalf of Aulaqi’s father, arguing that the CIA and the Joint Special Operations Command’s placement of Aulaqi on a capture-or-kill list of suspected terrorists – outside a war zone and absent an imminent threat – amounted to an extrajudicial execution order against a U.S. citizen. They asked a U.S. district court in Washington to block the targeting.
In response, Justice Department spokesman Matthew Miller said that the groups are asking "a court to take the unprecedented step of intervening in an ongoing military action to direct the President how to manage that action – all on behalf of a leader of a foreign terrorist organization."
Miller added, "If al-Aulaqi wishes to access our legal system, he should surrender to American authorities and return to the United States, where he will be held accountable for his actions."
In a statement, lawyers for Nasser al-Aulaqi condemned the government’s request to dismiss the case without debating its merits, saying that judicial review of the pursuit of targets far from the battlefield of Afghanistan is vital.
"The idea that courts should have no role whatsoever in determining the criteria by which the executive branch can kill its own citizens is unacceptable in a democracy," the American Civil Liberties Union and Center for Constitutional Rights said.
"In matters of life and death, no executive should have a blank check," they said.
The government filed its brief to U.S. District Judge Robert Bates just after a midnight Friday deadline, blaming technical problems, and the late-night maneuvering underscored the political and diplomatic stakes for President Obama. His administration announced last year that it would set a higher bar when hiding details of controversial national security policies.
Justice Department officials said they invoked the controversial legal argument reluctantly, mindful that domestic and international critics attacked former president George W. Bush for waging the fight against terrorism with excessive secrecy and unchecked claims of executive power.
The Obama administration has cited the state-secrets argument in at least three cases since taking office – in defense of Bush-era warrantless wiretapping,surveillance of an Islamic charity, and the torture and rendition of CIA prisoners. It prevailed in the last case last week, on a 6 to 5 vote by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit.
A senior Justice official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the administration is engaging in "a much narrower use of state secrets" than did its predecessor, which cited the argument dozens of times – often, the official said, to "shut down inquiries into wrongdoing."
In its 60-page filing, the Justice Department cites state secrets as the last of four arguments, objecting first that Aulaqi’s father lacks standing, that courts cannot lawfully bind future presidents’ actions in as-yet undefined conflicts, and that in war the targeting of adversaries is inherently a "political question."
Robert M. Chesney, a national security law specialist at the University of Texas School of Law, said that Obama lawyers would undoubtedly prefer not to stoke the state-secrets debate, or to risk judicial review of its claim to a borderless battlefield.
"The real big issue here is . . . are we only at war in Afghanistan, or can the U.S. government lawfully use war powers in other cases, at least where the host nation consents or there is no host government?" Chesney said.
"You’re trying to avoid a judicial ruling on the merits of the whole issue," Chesney said, adding, "But at the end of the day, if it’s your best argument in a case you want to win, you’re going to make that argument."
Staff researcher Julie Tate contributed to this report.