Monday, January 21, 2008
LOVE LETTERS: Or, When Intelligent Words Fail You, Try "Racist"
This is from a woman named Fatima. I should point out first, if you haven't seen it, that the show is actually 70 minutes in length and only 15 of those minutes specifically deal with religion. Of that number, roughly 9 minutes are devoted to Islam. Here's what she had to say:
I went to your friday show at the ny ucb and i have to say that of all the (many) shows i have seen there, this is the only time i left feeling disgusted. What the hell makes you think it's ok to bash muslims for 2 hours straight? You like to think you're a good person by putting in the ironic slavery jokes, yet it's ok to go on and on about how muslims are evil? Guess what? NOT ALL MIUSLIMS ARE EVIL! Hate to be the bearer of bad news, but someone needs to tell you what a racist douchebag you are! You brought up the crusades, but that was something that was done by the religious leader of ALL Catholics...Osama is by NO MEANS the leader of all muslims- he's the leader of a bunch of crazy people... True muslims don't follow him. There are 1.6 billion muslims in the world, so I think that fact is pretty obvious- we would be in a very different situation if they did. There are crazy extremists in every religion. Seriously- my 2nd grade students have a better grasp on reality than you do. I'm not saying you shouldn't make jokes about muslims (i love john stewart/SNL) I'm just saying you should make fun of both sides- it's different when you are making fun of everyone, instead of spending 75% of the show bashing one religion. At least have some sense of decency- slamming the Quran on the floor is a huge slap in the face to a muslim. I thought I should give you the benefit of the doubt and watch the whole show, but I can tell you I deeply regret making that decision. You just sat there making ridiculous generalizations. Being Muslim, I of course am more sensitive, but I was there with 4 friends, all of which left as horrified as I was. In conclusion- you are a racist bastard. I thought you should know that (if you don't already). And maybe just go all the way and change the title of your show to 'Will Franken: Hitler & KKK Lover.' You do them proud.
I actually do make fun of both sides in the show. I think that's her problem. Some people hate fairness. Ironically, the last time somebody complained to me about being offended was when some uptight Marin bitch got mad when I used a crucifix as a junkie's needle. Anyway, here's my response:
I appreciate your concern.
"I'm not saying you shouldn't make jokes about Muslims" (Really? That's not the impression I got from your e-mail)
The show was 70 minutes, not 2 hours. A mere 15 of those minutes were devoted to religion, 9 of those specifically dealing with radical Islam. I'd ask you to note the word "radical", but that would conflict with your contention that I just hate all Muslims.
The reason I wrote those 9 minutes (again, which you perceived as 2 hours) is because there is a drought in contemporary comedy, thanks to political correctness, when it comes to making fun of Islam. I am simply filling the gap. Your religion is no more special to me than Christianity, Judaism, etc. Please watch the video on myspace where I shoot up a crucifix if you don't believe me.
The first reference to Islam comes in the diversity seminar bit. If you remember the visual, Islam plus Judaism plus Christianity equals money. This is not a slam against Islam. It is a slam against hypocritical businessmen out for profit.
The second reference to Islam comes when I reveal one of the Danish cartoons of Mohammad. I quickly flip the cartoon to reveal a picture of a woman with a crucifix shoved up her ass. Again, not a slam against Islam. It is a slam against hypocritical artists and politically-correct purveyors of mainstream media. I'll show whatever cartoons I want. Again, your religion is not special. As you could see if you paid attention to the picture of the woman with the crucifix shoved up her ass and the words 'Fuck me, Jesus' scrawled over the top.
The third reference to Islam is during the Westminster Abbey bit when the preacher is arguing with his choir over the validity of the statement: "There is no difference between radical Islam and radical Christianity." This is an argument against postmodern relativism. Again, please note my tactful use of the word "radical". And, like it or not, there is a difference. I do not consider it racist given the worldwide death toll in places like Darfur, Indonesia, London, or even New York where murders have been committed specifically in the name of "a certain religion" when I would say honestly that I would feel more comfortable on an airline with a radical Christian than a radical Muslim. However, If you'd like to feel persecuted and think that I was saying all Muslims are evil, then go ahead. If that is your identity--perpetually offended victim--then Godspeed. However, I am not a relativist. Therefore, I argue that one is more preferable to the other at this point in time. If you're so concerned about this, don't complain to me. Complain to the murdering motherfuckers who aren't really helping your religion get any good PR. Think productively--Christianity had to go through a reformation, a renaissance and an enlightenment to get to the point where certain denominations now openly accept female and homosexual clerics, for example. What if Islam could do the same? As a Muslim, you could make a difference in your religion where it's needed most.
As to the Crusades reference in the same bit, the preacher character says "Concerning the Crusades, I was led to believe they were a reaction against Muslim imperialist expansion throughout medieval Europe." The choir answers, "That's just Christian indoctrination." However, the preacher character is historically correct. If you've studied the political and military history of your religion, you'll see that through violent conquest and enslavement of native peoples, including the imposition of the 'dhimmi' tax on subjugated non-Muslims, vast areas of land across Europe were being gobbled up by Islamic marauders at a staggering rate. The politically correct myth is that Catholics were just sitting around one day, got bored, and decided to go kill some Muslims.
The last reference to Islam is the longest, I admit. It is the terrorist bit. If you're familiar with any of the writings of Islamic dissidents like Aayan Hirsi Ali or Wafa Sultan, you'll see this sentiment echoed time and again: "Not every Muslim is a terrorist, but almost every terrorist is a Muslim." If I were to do that piece reading from a Bible, it wouldn't make any sense. As it is, I'm reading from the Koran; specific verses like: "Take neither the Jews nor Christians for friends." Am I arguing that the Bible is perfect in comparison? Not at all. However, I would argue that verses such as that one may be responsible for whiny assholes like Yassar Arafat, Hasaan Nasrallah, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Osama bin Laden (none of whom I specifically mention in the show, by the way) getting away unchallenged, say, with calling for the death of the Jews and denying the Holocaust. Who's the Hitler/KKK lovers there?
Also, please note in that same bit, the character is an American. Rather than make him Arabic, he is a convert to Islam who has only converted because he likes the idea of blowing up a plane. Furthermore, he references the keffiyeh he's wearing as having been purchased from Urban Outfitters. Simply a slam against terror-chic fashions being worn by ignorant hipsters.
Finally, yes, I do close that piece by sticking chewing gum on the Koran and tossing it on the floor. The reason I do this is because--well, because I can. It's just a fucking book to me. And, quite frankly, I don't give a shit what it is to you.
In Allah's name,
PS--I'm sure you do like Jon Stewart/SNL. That's just the sort of the tepid non-challenging bullshit overly sensitive assholes like yourself can handle. I could also direct your attention to any number of clubs in the city where you can get a steady diet of Brittany Spears jokes.
Posted by Will Franken at 4:10 PM