Saturday, February 11, 2012

Good Grief: Charlie Brown, Jihadist

Over the Christmas holiday, comedian Denis Leary – known for rapid-fire, politically incorrect standup rants – revived a several-years-old three-minute video from his production company by linking to it on the social network Twitter. The animated video, called “Merry F***ing Christmas,” is a parody of the long-running, annual Christmas special featuring Charlie Brown and his “Peanuts” gang.  In the course of it, Leary makes a couple of jokes at Christianity’s expense and even takes a potshot at Scientologist actor Tom Cruise’s well-known contempt for the psychiatric profession. But the primary target of Leary’s Christmas satire is, unusually, Islam.

The grim-visaged Ayatollah Khomeini once famously remarked that there is no humor in Islam. Many of his fundamentalist brethren have made that point abundantly clear by rioting, torching, and murdering – or at the very least threatening to do so – whenever Islam and/or its prophet Mohammed is the butt of a joke, as in the notorious Danish cartoons or the “Mohammed” episode of Comedy Central’s South Park in 2010. And the West has learned its lesson. We have acquired a finely-tuned sensitivity toward Muslim hair-trigger rage and censor ourselves accordingly now. After all, in the multiculturalist West, everyone’s religion, race, sexuality and culture are off-limits from ridicule, except for straight white Christians.  
Entertainers are comfortable taking comic jabs at the latter because they know that Christians, renowned for turning the other cheek, are a safe and easy target, and because, inexplicably, that’s what passes for “edgy” among comedians. Witness, for example, HBO’s smug atheist Bill Maher and his recent, uncalled for crudity on openly Christian quarterback Tim Tebow (in all fairness, Maher has contempt for all religions, but he reserves a particular venom for Christianity). Rare is the prominent comedian who is willing to lay into Islam these days, not only because doing so wouldn’t sit well with his or her left-leaning show biz compatriots, but because the not-uncommon Muslim response to being satirized is not cheek-turning but bomb-hurling.
In Leary’s video, a depressed Charlie Brown (here called “Farley Towne”) confesses that he is losing faith in Christianity this holiday season. Trudging downcast through the snow, he happens upon piano prodigy Linus, who says he converted to Islam in prison and recommends that Farley convert as well. Linus shares with him a volume from the popular “Idiots” series of how-to books, this one entitled “Al Qaeda’s Terrorism for Idiots” – except “Terrorism” is scratched out and replaced with “Islam.” On the book’s cover is a bearded, turbaned version of Charlie Brown’s dog Snoopy saying, “Die infidels.”
“Farley” converts on the spot, changing his name to “Farley Ahmohammed al-Farouk al-Rashid.” When we next see him, he is bearded and kneeling on a prayer rug, but naturally, because he is the hapless Charlie Brown, he is incorrectly facing away from Mecca. Next, he interrupts the other kids’ preparations for a Christmas play with a bomb in hand. “With this bomb, you infidels will taste Allah’s infinite justice!” Again, because he’s Charlie Brown, the bomb fizzles out and the other kids have a loud laugh at his expense. A bearded Linus appears, but instead of delivering his expected, true-meaning-of-Christmas speech, he announces:
It is the duty of the jihadist to bring terror to the enemy and create one global, Islamic state where there is no music, no alcohol and no Western influences.
It’s a sad commentary on our unwillingness to confront global jihad that a comedian can bluntly and accurately state the goals of Islamic fundamentalists, and yet our own government has banished any mention of Islam from official discourse about national security.
Charlie Brown’s sister Sally responds to Linus’ speech by cooing, “Isn’t he the cutest radical Islamist you’ve ever seen?” Then Linus examines Charlie’s bomb and says, “It just needs a little hate.” The kids work together to beef it up into a nuclear weapon, and when it goes off accidentally, Charlie Brown and Linus wind up roasting in Hell. Charlie rubs his palms together eagerly and asks now for his 72 virgins, but when only 72 duplicates of nerdy, bespectacled Marcie appear, Charlie falls to his knees and asks, “Allah, why hast thou forsaken me?”
Funny? No. Politically incorrect? Definitely. The video apparently hasn’t yet drawn an angry response from any Islamists themselves. It was many months after their initial publication before the Danish cartoons gathered momentum as a manufactured controversy; Leary’s video has already been out for years, but since there is no direct representation of Allah or Mohammed therein, perhaps there’s not enough blasphemy for fundamentalist outrage.
Nonetheless, suggesting a direct linkage between terrorism and Islam has apologists for the Religion of Peace up in arms. It has incurred cries of “Islamophobia!” from the totalitarian left, who revel in Bill Maher’s anti-Christian hate speech but are humorless when their sacred cows such as Islam are mocked. Islamophobia Watch, run by two non-Muslim socialists, denounced it as “a jaw-droppingly Islamophobic video…  Apparently crude anti-Muslim stereotyping is fine with Leary.” Apparently crude anti-Christian stereotyping is fine with them, though, because they don’t complain about that aspect of the video.
Someone at the more mainstream New York magazine online called it “severely offensive” and “messed up.” Another website dismissed it as a “particularly xenophobic one-note joke,” although at least they acknowledged that Leary is an “equal opportunity offender.” Indeed, an unapologetic Denis Leary’s Twitter response to the controversy was “If I produced a cartoon about a pedophile priest it wouldn't mean all Catholics are pedophiles. Just the priests.” Editor John Nolte at Big Hollywood notes that those who are offended by the video’s so-called “Islamophobia” are predictably silent about its mocking of Christianity. He denounces the hypocrites thusly:
Screaming “Islamophobia,” “xenophobia,” “homophobia,” “bullying,” or anything of the like, is just the cowards’ way of telling the satirist to shut up. Repressive tolerance. These awful people hide their desire to silence free speech with the not-so-velvet hammer of political correctness.
Indeed. The Islamists constitute our greatest threat to free speech today, thanks to Secretary of State Clinton’s accommodation of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation’s efforts to criminalize defamation of religion. But where they themselves fail to clamp down on perceived offenses like Leary’s video, the complicit left can be counted on to pick up the slack and carry on beating the drums of “Islamophobia.”
(This article originally appeared on FrontPage Mag here, 1/12/2012)