Funny or Offensive?

Thats me.JPG

One thing that is continuously becoming more and more disturbing to me is how the West has become increasingly anti-Islam and anti-Arab based on the stereotype that all Arabs and Muslims are potential suicide bombers, national security threats, and/or backwards. Similar stereotypes of other classes of people would not pass the hyper-sensitive PC culture in the United States and would be considered offensive. Nevertheless, this does not stop popular culture and politics in the U.S. and the West from classifying everything Arab and Muslim as threatening and immune from cultural senstivity.

Now, I am not arguing that certain religious or societal practices can never be criticized. They can and should be. My concern simply deals with blind and broad generalizations that do not coincide with reality, and I believe this is the case with the new anti-Arab fascism prevailing in the media and culture today.

My question here is whether this image is offensive or funny. Does it make a difference that it was sent to me by Arab friends?

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13 Comments

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13 responses to “Funny or Offensive?

  1. ReWrite

    Offensive w/out a doubt.

  2. eric

    ReWrite,

    Does it make a difference who sends it? I think what is interesting is that it gets sent around virally by people in the Arab world. This shows that they are much less extreme than as they are portrayed in the Western media.

  3. ReWrite

    I does make a difference who sends it. If the woman (women) wearing the hijab send it then it is less offensive. And that does not mean that the receiver should feel like have been give authority to make fun of another’s culture.

    It is okay to make poke fun at your own culture, but it is disrepectful to poke fun at others.

    Did you see Bill Moyers Journal this week? One of his guests was Anouar Majid (who is Moroccan), discussed his new book: “A Call For Heresy: Why Dissent Is Vital To Islam and American”. He made some really good arguments that aren’t often discussed. He was actually very pro-America (in a lot ways) and critical of Islamic countries.

    I think he would argue, regarding this cartoon, that it is of paramount importance for Muslims to challenge authority, but it is counter-productive for non-Muslims to make seemingly disrepectful jokes… however he would go on to say that much of Islam (in the middle east) does not understand the typical American (has a false image of them), could stand to learn some American history and needs to learn more tolerance from Americans.

    I don’t know that i agree w/ him on everything, but it is interesting.

    By the way, he mentioned that Morocco was the first country to recognize the United States as its own country.

  4. eric

    ReWrite,

    I haven’t listened to the Bill Moyer’s podcast yet, but uploaded it earlier today, so I will.

    And yes, I think that I would agree with your answer to my questions here. I had purposefully left it open, but that would have been very similar to my own thoughts.

  5. ReWrite

    Word. Frontline tonight should be really good. And Frontline is not just good for their topics, but b/c they are so thorough. It is called “Cheney’s Law.” You can see a preview of it online:

    http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/

  6. When you get to the point you are so worried about people being offended by a joke, you become a joke yourself.

    Jesus, Buddha, Laotse, the Pope and any of the disciples of those faiths … all have been the butt of many jokes through the ages.

    Mohammed the pipe head/schizo effective shouldn’t be given lenience, nor should his disciples.

    People only want to talk about “fair” when it validates their pathetic ego driven agenda.

    I’ll say it again: freedom of expression also means accepting that sometimes someone else’s expression doesn’t make you comfortable, but that’s a positive, not a negative. It shows that the system is working as intended.

  7. eric

    Yep, I think freedom of expression goes both ways. The question is not whether to prohibit expression, for we should allow for all types of expression. You take the good with the bad. Not all art is a masterpiece. My question refers more to offensive, racist, or ignorant expressions.

    One of the points of this post was to show that, against what we promote in the Western media, there are “popular” voices in the Arab world that poke fun at themselves and a sector of their own cultural practices.

    I think that you are right that whenever a person or a group of people out there take themselves very seriously or hold themselves out to being holders of the truth (ie, religious figures or followers), then they are certainly opening the door to being made fun of.

  8. Offensive, racist or ignorant.

    Offensive, I’ll pull the Roosevelt card again, you are only offended when you give someone the power to offend you … which means you are weak and pathetic, and getting exactly what you ask for from others.

    Racism is hot button word for a natural animal characteristic, discrimination. Again, it’s a genetic impetus, without which, we would never have survived. The intelligent animal understands that discrimination is impossible to abate. It’s a moot point, it is driven by the biochemistry, and no amount of legislative or authoritative morality will change that fact.

    Ignorance … yes, welcome to humanity.

    I read an interesting set of posts of fox sports site regarding what a particular black sports writer consistently calls racism in the NFL. About 70% of the commenting posters made the same point: you keep crying racism at every turn, then everyone begins to see that as a speaker, you have an agenda, and a limited and uninteresting perspective.

    Cry wolf too many times … well, we all know how that story ends.

    The sad thing about the religious influence, that hopefully one day science will bury, is that there is no “truth” outside an individual, singular observer. Fact can be uniform and universal, truth is subjective and most often erroneous.

    Maybe someday the masses will find the amelioration of scientific fact to be useful … then we can stop worrying about race, ethnicity, sex, and religion and get about the business of dealing with real issues …

    Maybe.

  9. eric

    James,

    I pretty much agree with most of what you say.

    I believe that anger and being “offended” are manifestations of our own sensibilities. And even in the light of freedom of expression, this doesn’t mean that as outsiders (those not directly offended) should not be bothered by subjective and erroneous portrayals of the media or mass cultural.

    I am not sure that racism is inherent to human nature, but maybe protectionism and self-defense are (these eventually leading to xenophobia and racism). Even though these are characteristics that people use to protect themselves, it is a vicious cycle, because at the end of the day, protectionism is inevitably destructive. Trying to protect oneself come from feeling threatened and feeling threatened is when we allow ourselves to feel threatened (just like the offensive/weakness argument).

    Even if science trumps religion one day, that probably won’t do anything to save people from your “racist human nature” argument.

  10. ReWrite

    I am against most, if not all, censorship.

    However, that does not mean that something isn’t offensive.

    So, for instance, I (somewhat hypocritically) like to sarcastically talk about “baby jesus” & “sweet baby jesus” and i like to tell people to “have a blessed day ” or say “bless your heart;” and i feel justified in doing so b/c i am culturally Christian and have “dabbled in religion” (in a very hardcore way) as they said in the Big Lebowski, although i am not longer religious.

    However, i would be slightly offended (not for myself, but for Christians) if a non-Christian religious person made fun of Christians. And i get really angry at people that poke fun (or attack) the particular Christian religion i followed for 6 years, mostly b/c they attack it for the wrong reasons b/c they have been misinformed of its the belief system (or they just fear that which different= intolerance). And i get really offended when such behavior comes from so-called leftys.

    I think it would be more prudent and consistent for me to not poke fun at Christians at all, but i still am too immature to even consider stopping.

    Anyway.

  11. Eric,

    How does one deny a biochemical cursor that leads to protectionist behavior? I am not certain that is even remotely possible.

    If it is, I might start having dinner parties and serving hemlock as a cocktail … LMMFAOROTFL … I slay me …

    In all likelihood, you are correct, even if science does trump religion at some point, (fat chance), it is doubtful we’ll ever change in the overall. Our constant interference in the natural processes of selection and genetic culling have almost completely stunted evolution in our species … chimpanzees are doing well, five times our rate. [deleted string of forbidden expletives regarding idiocy of human arrogance]

    Rewrite,

    Before you get too steeped in the imbroglio of religious fanaticism and denouncement, at least give yourself credit for being honest about your position. That’s a high step up from most people.

    For myself, I toss jabs, sometimes harsh and razor edged, at everything, including atheism, for it’s blatantly stupid avoidance of admitting its own ‘religious’ dogma …

    You are going to discriminate, to varying degrees … it’s natural.

    I would have figured you for a liberal … strange you don’t like the leftys … Hilldebeast would be right up your alley, wouldn’t she … ?????

  12. Hysi

    ¿Ofensive?

    Ps; wohohooouu… 12 responses!!

  13. Randy Bergmann

    As usual, I’m late to the conversation. I see nothing offensive about this cartoon. I couldn’t stop laughing out loud when I saw it. I don’t think it mocks religion or makes a religious statement at all; it’s simply a well-conceived absurdity. Anyone know where this cartoon first appeared?
    P.S. It’s good to see James and ReWrite back in action.

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