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Eddie Goldman is the host and producer of the No Holds Barred international podcast, the publisher of the No Holds Barred blog, and a senior contributing editor at the ADCC News.

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    Wednesday, February 08, 2006

    The Muhammad Cartoons 

    I was sent by a boxing writer colleague an article about the escalating controversy about the publication of a series of cartoons depicting Muhammad, the founder of Islam. The article, similar to many which have appeared in the Western media, aimed its fire directly at Islamic radicals.

    You won’t find me defending any religion and you won’t find me defending censorship, let alone calls for the death penalty over some controversial cartoons. But you also won’t find me defending racism against Arabs or sweeping stereotypes of Muslims.

    Here is my response:

    Problem is, it is not only the Islamic radicals who do this. Far more Palestinians than Israelis have died in their territorial warfare. Don't forget the Crusades. The popular singing group the Dixie Chicks was run off country radio for criticizing Bush, a position now a majority of Americans agree with.

    There are also several issues here. Did you see the cartoons? Some were just weird, but the ones with the bombs in Muhammad's turban could be considered not only blasphemous, about which it is just too bad, but racist, which is a real issue. Basically, those imply that Muslims in general are terrorists.

    What would these right-wings media outlets which are now reposting or reprinting these cartoons do if the following appeared:

    A cartoon of Moses with a bomb in his yarmulke (think King David Hotel, JDL, West Bank settlers, Lebanon, etc.).

    A cartoon of Jesus with a bomb in his hand or wherever (think abortion clinics, American slavery, fascist Italy and the Vatican, etc.).

    A cartoon of the Ten Commandments tablet saying "Thou shalt kill those who won't give us their oil."

    A cartoon of Bush with bombs, torture dogs, and wiretaps on the Presidential seal.

    You see, there are many issues involved. The Islamic fanatics are stirring up people for their own ends. But so are those who oppose them. First Amendment concerns are very real, but not the only issue, just as they were not the only issue when there was a battle against anti-Black imagery in the U.S.

    And to take it to boxing, what would the BWAA do if a member wrote, say, about yesterday's Mayweather-Judah press conference using the type of language used about Jack Johnson in his day, and got fired?

    By the way, it should be obvious that I do hate these Islamic fascists. But you can't fight them with racism, unless all you want to do is occupy their countries and turn them into people without rights.

    This is also why I oppose all religious fanaticism and mythology, another issue for another place and time. So you better not say nothin' bad about MY favorite, Zeus!

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