I was 7 years old and we just moved from New York City to Bayonne, New Jersey. On 26th street and Avenue C there was an empty lot strewn with weeds and discarded glass Coke bottles. I suppose those bottles now sell on eBay for 5 to 10 dollars or more. A person could make a good living visiting the homes of old people who never throw anything away and offering to clean out their homes. You might have to wait until they die, but I'm sure their children would be more than happy to find someone to get rid of all that clutter.
It was summer in 1952 and I would come to this lot on a hot afternoon with a few bits of unfinished lunch so I could watch ants going after the food. It was very simple, look for a small mound of fresh dirt with a small hole on top, tear the lunch meat into small chunks, put them near the hole and within seconds a few ants would come out to start trucking the meat back to their home. Soon there were hundreds of ants engaged in the enterprise of removing my food to their domain. It was quite fascinating to watch the spectacle, how quickly they organized themselves, how well they spread the word.
Now here comes the brutal part. It came about quite by accident and I do not recall why I did it. I took a scoopful of these busy little insects and brought them over to another anthill a few feet away and dropped them into a small pile. It was only a matter of seconds before these "intruders" were discovered by the residents of this different anthill. Poor creatures, they were immediately set upon and eaten. How strange I thought to myself, these ants looked exactly like the strangers they attacked, same coloring, same size; I certainly couldn't tell the difference by looking, but the ants could.
In our primitive past, and I am only going back a mere few centuries, people did not tolerate other people's culture or beliefs. It was enough that you were different by only a scintilla of coloring or hairstyle or language or smell. Jonathan Swift in his novel "Gulliver's Travels", pokes fun at the citizens of Lilliput and Blefuscu who are permanently at war because of differences over the correct way to eat a boiled egg – from the rounded end according to the Blefuscudians, or from the sharp end according to the Lilliputians. Likewise wars between Christians have been fought over trivial details. But fighting over trivial differences in the same religion is brought to a fine art by Sunnis and Shia and Sufis and Kharijites.
Vaudeville made fun of dumb Polacks and Micks, Hollywood caricatured everyone: Kikes, Chinks, Wops, Nips, Krauts, everyone. We tolerate the members of wacko religions and cults like Scientologists, Jehovah's Witnesses, Raelians, and Muslims. But that means we are also free to hold ideas that are contrary to those cults and even to make fun of them. Being free to insult anyone is the most basic freedom we have in this country.
It isn't just jeans, rock n' roll, and Hollywood movies that America has exported to Europe and much of the rest of the world, our notions of freedom of the press has emboldened hundreds and even thousands of editors and newsman and women worldwide to speak their minds. Unfortunately, there are some people who cannot tolerate being poked fun at.
And so, the past few weeks have not gone well for Muslims, who are particularly humor-impaired. Here it was Mohammed the cat:
Jesus is Lord, A Worshipping Christian's Blog,
18 Sep 2007,
Yet Another [Muslim] Cartoon of Blasphemy
Authorities in Bangladesh on Tuesday ordered the arrest of a cartoonist and confiscated copies of a major newspaper's weekly supplement for publishing a "blasphemous" caricature.
"The government has confiscated the issue as the cartoon hurt the religious sentiment of the people. Moreover an order was issued to arrest cartoonist Arifur Rahman," an official statement said, referring to the weekly caricature supplement "Alpin" of the Prothom Alo newspaper.
The mass-circulated daily, however, immediately apologised and announced withdrawal of the cartoon.
A group of people torched copies of the paper after publication of the cartoon yesterday and several Islamic groups protested, saying the drawings ridiculed prophet Mohammad and his close aides.
They demanded "exemplary punishment" of the paper's editor and the cartoonist.
Predominantly Muslim Bangladesh, however, does not have any blasphemy law although it was earlier demanded by the extreme right-wing Islamic groups.
And a few weeks ago in Sweden it was Mohammed the Dog:
7 Sep 2007,
Swedish Muslims and the cartoon crisis
On August 18, the Nerikes Allehanda newspaper published a cartoon by Swedish cartoonist But Lars Vilks, depicting the head of a man the paper called Prophet Muhammad on the body of a dog.
"I personally would never intentionally act in a way that could be perceived by other religions as provocative or offensive," said the premier.
He stressed at the same time that freedom of expression is highly valued by the people of Sweden.
"Sweden is a country where people of different faiths can live together side by side.
"The willingness to provoke should not overtake the willingness for dialogue."
So the Western World moves ahead with unlimited freedom and Islam continues to promote unlimited slavery. As more and more Muslims immigrate, there will be more and more cartoons poking fun at them. It will stop when Muslims accept Western culture (unlikely) or when a few editors and cartoonists die. We will watch and see which way it goes.
Man: "Boy, what is your name?"
Boy: "My name is Babu."
Man: "It is customary to mention Muhammed before the name.
Man: "What is your father’s name?"
Boy: "Muhammed Abu"
Man: "What’s this in your lap?"
Boy: "Muhammed cat."