The populism of cartoons means that while the quiet censorship of novels and plays, conventional newspaper articles and films, goes on unnoticed-- to censor a cartoon gets far more attention. Cartoons communicate on an obvious visual level. That makes them powerful and dangerous weapons. You do not need a great deal of knowledge to understand a basic cartoon. The Democratic Party's corrupt Tammany Hall leader, Boss Tweed said it best, "Stop them damned pictures. I don't care so much what the papers say about me. My constituents don't know how to read, but they can't help seeing them damned pictures!"
But Tweed couldn't manage to stop the Republican Thomas Nast's cartoons. And when Tweed fled the country and made for Spain, he was caught by a Spanish officer who could not read English, but nevertheless recognized his obese profile from "those damned pictures" and realized that he was some sort of miscreant. Boss Tweed was hauled off to an American jail again, and the public's popular image of him today is still gathered from Nast's cartoons of the corpulent political crime boss soliciting bribes, covering up crimes and picking clean the entire state.
The Bosses of Islam also understand what Boss Tweed knew, that their followers may not be able to read, and are in any case not likely to wade through the Satanic Verses, but they are certainly capable of seeing a cartoon. The backers of the Fifth Age of Muslim Colonialism have invested too much money and effort into controlling the depiction of Islam and their followers, to let a few cartoons spoil that. It is not only that they are afraid for Mohammed's authority, but like Boss Tweed, they are afraid for their own. Because their authority derives from his.
A theocracy such as Islam apportions power not in the name of the people, but in the name of a claimed divine revelation. And all of Islam's theological claim to divine revelation is reducible to Mohammed, the final and only prophet of Islam (the rest of the prophets are simply biblical figures that Islam borrowed from Judaism and Christianity and insists on passing off as their own). The Mullahs and Imams and all the rest of that turbaned scowling crowd hold power only in the name of Mohammed. Their fatwas are purposed to be based on his revelation. If Mohammed's stock goes down, the Islam Stock Exchange crashes.
Because if there is a man you cannot caricature in a cartoon, that man and his followers have been elevated to a position of power that tramples on free speech. The freedom to caricature, is the freedom to criticize. When that freedom is taken away, you are left with naked tyranny.
In the West, Mohammed is the achilles heel of Islam. His uncontrollable satyriasis, pedophilia, hypocrisy, brutality and dyed red hair render him as more of a savage, than a spiritual leader. To the civilized mind, even the officially sanctioned Mohammedan version still shows him to be an illiterate bandit, a rapist slave owner and a mass murderer. All of them easy targets for satire. It is nearly impossible for any Western apologist to honestly defend Mohammed as a godly man. Rather than a man who used god to satisfy his own lust for power over men and women.
The Koran and the Hadiths make the sheer grossness of Mohammed completely inescapable. Consider these Koran verses, in which "Allah" allowed Mohammed to rape kidnapped women, and created special rules for him that permitted him to marry as many women as he wanted without bridal due, and to choose among them however his lust dictates.
O Prophet! surely We have made lawful to you your wives whom you have given their dowries, and those whom your right hand possesses out of those whom Allah has given to you as prisoners of war... and a believing woman if she gave herself to the Prophet, if the Prophet desired to marry her-- specially for you, not for the (rest of) believers... You may put off whom you please of them, and you may take to you whom you please, and whom you desire of those whom you had separated provisionally; no blame attaches to you
And just in case the Koran was too subtle about stating that Mohammed's Allah deity existed to service his sexual desires. The Hadith makes that point disgustingly clear.
'Aisha said, "Doesn't a lady feel ashamed for presenting herself to a man?" But when the Verse: "(O Muhammad) You may postpone (the turn of) any of them (your wives) that you please,' (33.51) was revealed, " 'Aisha said, 'O Allah's Apostle! I do not see, but, that your Lord hurries in pleasing you.' "
Al Bukhari 7:48
If anyone finds this unclear, the Hadith is quoting Aisha, the 6 year old girl that Mohammed had married, as saying that Allah rushed to "please" Mohammed by allowing him to sleep with any woman he wants.
It's not hard to see that any religion whose deity acts as Mohammed's pimp is highly vulnerable to being mocked. Which is why Muslims react with a great deal of hate and violence toward any suggestion of mockery. A response that smacks highly of insecurity. Well justified insecurity at that.
The cartoon is dangerous to Islam, because it communicates a basic idea in a way that threatens to undermine Islamic theocracy. That is why the OIC, the organization of Islamic States is working for a global ban on criticizing Islam. The Muslim world is a collection of tyrannies and semi-tyrannies, who fear what the collapse of Islam would do to their own grip on power.
But the fear of being mocked is not a new idea in Islam. Nor is the violent response to it. As with so much of the ugliness in the Dar Al Islam, it goes back to Mohammed himself.
There was Nadr bin al-Harith, who mocked Mohammed's fabulism and was beheaded for it. Mohammed ordered numerous murders of other poets who ridiculed or criticized him, including Abu Afak, Kab bin al-Ashraf, Uqba bin Abu Muayt, Ibn Sunayna and Asma bint Marwan, a female poet and mother of five children, who was murdered after Mohammed (foreshadowing Henry II) proclaimed to his followers, "Who will rid me of Marwan’s daughter?"
Naturally Muslim apologists excuse these as "self-defense". Much as they accuse all of Mohammed's murders, ethnic cleansing and rapes as being in "self-defense". This is the same theory under which they will argue that Islamic terrorists are acting in self-defense when they seize and execute Buddhist teachers or random tourists. Because in their minds, all Muslim atrocities are caused by other people persecuting them.
But where logic fails, for you cannot reasonably dialogue with people who excuse and even praise such crimes, cartoons prevail. Cartoons create a simple and compelling image of reality as distorted by the satirical pen. And they are among the best ways to expose the achilles heel of Islam.
Islam has always preferred brutality to laughter. The horrors in Saudi Arabia, Iran, Afghanistan, Somalia, Pakistan, Indonesia and elsewhere are eloquent testimony to that. The compulsion to force and control however is defied by laughter. To laugh is to declare independence from any ideology that sets its self-worship above that of the rights of all men.
That which cannot be laughed at is supreme. That which can be laughed cannot claim to reign over all men. To caricature Mohammed is to defy the violent worldwide cult that would compel obedience to his ruthless creed. Freedom comes from the willingness to defy evil. For by refusing to bow before those who would take away your freedom are you truly free.
But there are different forms of defiance. Today the simple cartoon flutters the end of the flagpole of freedom, the banner of liberty that rejects the idea that free speech is subject to the discretion of elderly Egyptian and Saudi clerics. The banner of liberty that says that all men were created equal, and that the right to laugh at the pompous power of evil is what sets them free. Because what is at stake is the deciding question of whether the Law of Islam or the Law of Human Liberty will reign supreme in this lands, and all the lands.