I’ve been reading quite a bit about the Jyllands-Posten Muhammad cartoons controversy, and find myself on the side of the Danish papers and others who have since republished the cartoons (including, in a rare moment of cultural arbitration, our own Philadelphia Inquirer).
My favorite piece so far is Christopher Hitchens’ incensed article in Slate, “Cartoon Debate: The case for mocking religion.” In typical style, Hitchens not only rips into radical Islam, but takes shots at most other forms of organized religion while he’s on the subject:
The babyish rumor-fueled tantrums that erupt all the time, especially in the Islamic world, show yet again that faith belongs to the spoiled and selfish childhood of our species.
For a more detached, yet equally stirring, take on the matter, there’s an article in Wednesday’s New York Times, “A Startling New Lesson in the Power of Imagery.” The article considers other instances where an image or art object has caused a religious or cultural backlash, and reflects on the meaning of all of this. Excellent reading.