“Everybody Draw Mohammed Day” Author Goes Underground

Seattle Weekly, via Althouse:

[O]n the insistence of top security specialists at the FBI, she is… moving, changing her name, and essentially wiping away her identity… in effect, being put into a witness-protection program—except, as she notes, without the government picking up the tab. It’s all because of the appalling fatwa issued against her this summer, following her infamous “Everybody Draw Mohammed Day” cartoon.

So the U.S. has its own Salman Rushdie. This is completely outrageous. If necessary, the FBI should be provided Molly Norris with 24-hour protection, not advising her to change her identity. Meanwhile, the U.S. government should be hunting down whoever is threatening her for exercising her free speech rights.

What I’d really like to see, in fact, is President Obama offer to have her stay in the White House–what could be more secure than that–to demonstrate that Americans’ free speech rights will not be subject to suppression by violence.

Yes, I recognize that such an action would be spun in the Muslim world as “President supports blasphemous artist.” But maybe this points to a flaw in the “try to make them love (or at least like) us” strategy of halting Islamist-inspired terrorism. The only way to make people with a profoundly anti-liberal worldview like us is to give up our own commitment to liberalism.

But putting aside that broader question, is the Obama Administration really so pusillanimous that it won’t offer Ms. Norris sufficient FBI protection?

UPDATE: A comment from a reader suggests an interesting hypothetical. Let’s say some extremist imam somewhere now decides that the Supreme Court must remove the engraving of Mohammed that appears in the Supreme Court, on pain of a fatwa against the Justices. Is the FBI going to advise the Justices to “go ghost?”

FURTHER UPDATE: Note that I’m not arguing that individual Muslims shouldn’t be offended by depictions of Mohammed they find blasphemous (who am I to say what they should or should not be offended by?), or that it’s especially deserving of condemnation if they advocate making such depictions illegal (I’m against such laws, of course, but it wasn’t so long ago that the U.S. and other Western countries had laws against blasphemy, and the U.S. and even more so other Western countries are increasingly making offensive speech an actionable offense), or that they shouldn’t engage in boycotts, letter-writing campaigns, or whatever other peaceful means are available to discourage what they consider blasphemous art.

The sole question here is responding to speech that offends with violence or threats of violence. And on that issue, there should be no compromise. If a cartoonist can be silenced, what’s to stop threats of violence from spreading to, e.g., Christians who argue that Islam is false religion, feminists who denounce the burqua, individuals who express support for Israel, or anyone else whose views raise the ire of extermists?

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