Let me say right here and now that even though I'm anonymous: Anchorman is not going to be drawing any pictures of the prophet Mohammed any time soon. None. Not in a bear costume, not with a turban shaped like a bomb, not in any way shape or form.
This cowardly, but entirely practical, life-affirming decision was prompted by a discussion I recently had with the Anchor-wife. Over a delicious dinner of pork chops and gravy, Anchorman was railing to the Anchor-wife about the cowardice of the bigwigs at Comedy Central who are responsible for the adult cartoon series, South Park. I had just learned that they were caving to political correctness in their decision to bleep out any satirical references to Mohammed in a bear costume in the show's latest episode. That, following the creepy threat to the show's creators, Trey Parker and Matt Stone, from an American Muslim formerly known as Zachery Chesser. On a website, revolutionmuslim.com, Chesser, who now calls himself Abu Talhah Al-Amrikee, posted a not-so-veiled threat. It read in part:
"We have to warn Matt and Trey that what they are doing is stupid and they will probably wind up like Theo Van Gogh for airing this show. This is not a threat, but a warning of the reality of what will likely happen to them."
Biting into my delectable dish of gravy-sopped pig, I mumbled to the Anchor-wife, "P.C. Cowards! Caving like that! Man, if it were me, I'd show a frickin' picture of Mohammed and I'd talk about it, too… in the most vile, offensive way possible!"
The Anchor-wife responded, "Well, if you did that, you'd also be looking for a new house and a new wife." Then, she got serious. "Life is short. Who wants to be looking over his shoulder every day wondering if someone's out to stab you or behead you, because you drew a picture of Mohammed, for Christ's sake?"
Anchorman responded, "So you favor this creeping Sharia law? Don't you see what's happening in Europe? Sarkozy wanting to ban the burqa? Honor killings? The incessant non-stop rioting in Paris' suburbs by Muslim youth? You should read, 'Londonistan.' Or, Orianna Fallacci's, 'The Force of Reason.' Western Civilization is becoming extinct. The U.S. is the last bastion! And the demographic inevitability is that they're reproducing and we're not!"
The imminently practical Anchor-wife came back with the slam-dunk, irrefutable, fact-based retort: "You'll be long-gone by the time that happens."
A few years ago, we lived in a townhome complex in Fairfax, Va., not much more than a stone's throw from the the Dar Al-Hijrah mosque. That's the place where a couple of the 9/11 hijackers worshipped, a place where Imam Anwar al-Awlaki counseled Ft. Hood shooter Major Nidal Hassan while the Army "psychiatrist" provided therapy to Iraq war veterans. A colleague of mine who researches Islamic extremism calls that mosque, "a terrorist factory." In our townhome, our very next-door neighbors were a delightful and almost always pleasant Saudi Arabian couple with two small boys. Every morning, a school bus with ISA written on the side would pick them up for school. ISA stands for Islamic Saudi Academy, a school in suburban Fairfax County whose geography textbooks, at one time, did not include Israel on the map. Over time our Saudi neighbors' family expanded. A baby girl entered the picture. Another year or two later, as we prepared to move onward and upward to a new home, we noticed the Saudi mom was pregnant with a fourth. Between childbirths the Saudi wife and the I would often supervise our children as they played together out back. Saudi wife would pull out her folding camping chair from her minivan, and I mine. We'd sit in the back, watching our respective kids, and there, the similarities ended. I often felt guilty in my chair with my evening glass of Merlot in hand. I felt like a lush in her presence. And I sometimes worried whether the odor of my evening meal, if it were barbeque, pork chops or ham, would waft out our opened French doors, and into hers.
She always wore a headscarf and an outfit down to her ankles. I'd wear gym shorts. The children played happily. They called our little boy, Alexander, "Alek-kuh-zander." One day, Alek-kuh-zander, wanted to show the Saudi children some new toy, and as he flung open our door to invite them inside our home, the Saudi mom jumped to her feet and shouted, "No!" Her children stopped in their tracks. What did she fear? My country music on the stereo? Maybe she imagined a picture of my wife in a bathing suit on the beach, or porn in the DVD player? Maybe she feared… God forbid…a ham sandwich? I don't know….
My wife had the same reaction some months later when she was shoveling snow from our front walk and scraped up a shovel-full on their side of the property line. " NO!" came the shout from the Saudi husband, peering from an opened window above. OK, OK, whatever. Quirky, I thought. But I stewed a little bit longer over another incident the previous October. Another Muslim neighbor, kiddy-corner to our townhome, shooed away our little boy on Halloween night. A knock on the door followed up with, "Trick or Treat!" was met withy an angry scowl and the words, "We don't do that here…"
President Obama has made many overtures in his attempts to ease tensions between the U.S. and the Arab world. You read about them often. No more big bad bullying. No cowboy George Bush. No "YOU ESS of AAAEEE!" No more terminology like "Islamic terrorism" or "Islamic fundamentalist." No special favors for Israel. Oh hell, no favors at all. At least, it's still on the map.
But I worry the president's strategy is the polar opposite of an effective one. What the Arab world fears is not the military strength or even the bravado of the U.S. It respects that.
It fears our culture. It fears our licentiousness. The looseness of our morals, the warehousing of our elderly, the casualness of our sex, our porn, our gratuitous violence, our 500 channels, our openly "gayness," our dress, our youth, our music and dance, and the power of our women. This is what they feel threatened by. There is rich irony that the purveyors and transmitters of this image conscious culture—the rich and exclusive liberal elite of Hollywood and New York—the movie makers, the TV studios, the music producers, the fashion designers among others, are utterly oblivious to the profound harm they have caused to the U.S. in the eyes of the Arab world. These elite blame Bush, American militarism, Republicans, conservatives, or cultural insensitivity for the Arab world's thorny relationship with the U.S. But it is a laughable argument. They need only look at themselves in the mirror.
Our Saudi neighbors, who were here for a stint at the World Bank, have moved back to Saudi Arabia. The mother, I suspect, can no longer drive her minivan from which she pulled her camp chair to watch our kids in the backyard. Their beautiful little girl, who once, at the age of two or three, drew the entire English alphabet in sidewalk chalk on our back alley, is now approaching the age at which the headscarf goes on, and her life options go off. God help the family if one of those precious little boys we knew turns out to be gay.
Surfing my 500 channels recently, I came across an interview on C-SPAN. Brian Lamb was interviewing New York Times London bureau chief John Burns. Burns is a thoughtful, excellent reporter who's spent years and years in the Middle East. I was struck by one thing he said to Lamb. In the Arab street, he said jihadists, Islamic fundamentalists, those who believe in the righteousness of suicide bombings and the death of the West, "swim like fishes in the sea."
And that's why Anchorman won't be drawing any pictures of Mohammed any time soon.
Anchorman a well-known news anchor from a top-10, big city station. The Daily Caller has elected to redact his identity to protect his anonymity.