Wednesday, September 26
a. Clash of civilizations.
b. Clash in religions.
c. Clash of speech.
d. Or, all of the above.
Activist Mona Eltahawy was arrested for spray-painting over posters suggesting that Muslims are uncivilized. "Eltahawy was arrested after a supporter of Geller's initiative attempted to prevent her defacing the sign with a purple aerosol," reports Peter Beaumont for the Guardian.
Eltahawy defended her action as "free speech," too. But then she didn't pay $6000 in advertising costs for posters in 10 subway stations. In New York City, paid advertising carries more weight than activism.
The American Freedom Defense Initiative, which commissioned the posters, and Eltahawy are receiving far more publicity and attention than either paid for.
As a side note, The Color Purple is one of my favorite books about literacy.
Update, September 30: Eltahawy is on UP With Chris Hayes, and she describes the spray paint as pink - not black, so people could still read the poster. Chris asked her, why she responded to the trolls? She responded, that she felt compelled to respond to the bullies. Still like purple, not changing the art. Readers have asked who is the artist. Answer: 2-minute Paint creation.
I remembered her wisdom this morning and wrote about her for On Faith blog of The Washington Post, after reading about about ads suggesting that the beliefs of 1 billion Muslims might not be civilized:
"Early in first grade, one of the nuns advised our class not to associate with children who attended other schools and believed other religions. My teacher, a younger nun, looked uncomfortable and quickly changed the topic.
"Later that day, I asked my mother about playing with friends who worshipped at other churches.
"'Playing with other friends won’t change your beliefs,' my mother said. She was beautiful, devout and confident that her children knew right from wrong at an early age."
The ads are immature. The competition is unseemly. Great religions, great thoughts, do not have to advertise or insult the beliefs of others. Religious leaders shouldn't limit what adherents read or whom they associate with. Committing violence against nonbelievers does not convince others that a set of religious beliefs is worthy.
The guest blog concludes, "Ruthless, mean competition for adherents and power, insults and violence, give reason to Americans to distance themselves from religion and explore spirituality alone or among a diverse and comfortable group of friends."
Photo of Jeanne Marie Froetschel