Thank You, Mr. Trudeau

In the Name of God, the Kind, the Beautiful

This was published on The Seeker blog.

As many people in the nation eagerly participated in the “Everybody Draw Muhammad Day” – and I actively ignored it (except for praying for the Prophet) – Doonesbury published an interesting cartoon strip. It seemed to poke fun at religion in general, and a few religions in particular: Protestantism, Catholicism, Hinduism, and Mormonism. Frankly, I was surprised that he did not pick on Islam, which seems to be the religion du jour to insult and malign.

And I must admit that the cartoon made me chuckle slightly, and I feel a little bad about it. That is because I am sure this line probably offended a good number of my fellow Americans:

My Dad’s Mormon, and my Mom used to be Catholic, but she swtiched to Hinduism. I think it was mostly for the Yoga…She likes to lead stretchouts for dad’s other wives.

Now, I must also disclose that I also chuckled at one of the infamous Danish cartoons which depicted the Prophet telling a line of suicide terrorists: “Stop, stop! We ran out of virgins!” I actually thought it was pretty funny, even though the cartoon depicted the Prophet’s image.

Still, I can appreciate that the Doonesbury cartoon would be hurtful to many people, especially since my faith and Prophet has been the subject of rabid and relentless vitriol. But, maybe G.B. Trudeau wanted us to all step back and relax: maybe he wanted to teach us that we can poke fun at our own and each other’s faiths and not have the sky fall down upon us.

I do it all the time with my own friends: if someone is serving pepperoni pizza (I can’t eat pork), I say with a big smile on my face: “No, I can’t have that infidel pizza.” Once, I told a friend (who is atheist) that I need to drink decaf coffee, and he asked me: “Is that because Muhammad told you so?” He laughed and so did I. When I was in college, when the menu in the dorm cafeteria was “Barbeque Day,” the posters had cartoons of pigs on it. My friends would always tape the poster to my dorm room door, and I would get a huge laugh out of it.

In this hypercharged, hyper-vitriolic environment, when some Muslims and non-Muslims seem to be screaming past one another and racing to the bottom when it comes to interreligious dialogue, it may be hugely beneficial to be able to poke some fun at each other’s faiths in a light-hearted way. Maybe that’s what Mr. Trudeau was trying to do. And maybe we need to thank him profusely for it.

To see the cartoon, click here.


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