Cartoon riots! Who would have thought? If you ever doubted the power of visual art to have an effect on society, here is your proof. How many times was I told to stop drawing those silly cartoons and focus on a real career? Wait, that still happens. A disturbing aside for me is that the imagery doesn't even have to be good! The cartoons I saw were lame. This is of course not entirely about the drawings, but it magnifies the frustrations and perceived insensitivity of the West towards Muslims and Arabs. Not totally unjustified thinking.
In retaliation an Iranian newspaper is holding an international contest for Holocaust cartoons. It's interesting that it's an international contest. The editor of the Danish newspaper that first published the cartoons wants to publish the Iranian contest winners simultaneously. Now that's a twist. I believe it to be a better approach than violence. Have the contest, show us what you come up with, and let the discourse begin. We can assume from the start that the finalists for this contest will be hateful and unenlightened at best, but hopefully the art will be good. I envision lots of swords and blood. There always seems to be that "death to the infidels" approach. Let the contest begin! Ink not blood: blood doesn't copy well.
This also points to something that never ceases to impress me and goes in the life lesson column, and that is, You never know what’s coming next. Who could have predicted the impact that a few, really lame cartoons would have on relations between the Arab/Muslim world and the West? This is not over by any means. With the sad state of diplomacy in the world, this insignificant event could spiral out of control. Amazing! We can't excuse ourselves from this type of reaction to art either. It wasn't long ago that Rudy Giuliani made a pompous stand against Chris Ofili's painting and several others, in the Sensations show at The Brooklyn Museum.
Sharpen your pencils! There’s no turning back!