Sweden Muhammad Cartoon: What About the Poor Dog?
14 Sep, 2007
Sure, go ahead…laugh. Make fun of them—man’s best friend! Hah! Draw Abe Lincoln’s face on a St. Bernard; paint Winston Churchill’s glowering physiognomy on a mastiff; sketch Timmy’s face on Lassie. Hilarious! Like rat terriers? How about Larry Craig and Alberto Gonzalez, their faces drawn on a couple of wiener dogs, slinking out of Foggy Bottom, street urchins pelting them with rocks, tin cans and fire crackers? Think Hillary Clinton is a too young for a street urchin? Hah! What great fun—a cartoonist’s delight! The Texas Gunslinger on a schnauzer; Jacques Chirac on a French poodle; J. Edgar Hoover on a bloodhound; Karl Rove on a Spitz! Yuk it up!
But what about the poor dog—if this isn’t guilt by association what is? Doesn’t anyone have any sympathy for the poor pooch; the lovable little rat terrier with a human head attached to an otherwise magnificent canine body? What does PETA think? Sure, the cartoons can be whimsical, but to Fido who doesn’t understand the art world it can be insulting.
Looking back, one can see it was only a matter of time before someone would go too far. Some nut, some Al Capp wannabe from Catpatch or maybe the ghost of Willie Elder would cross the line. Those in the know thought it would be an American. Maybe Andres Serrano…How wrong they were. It was a Swedish cartoonist, Lars Vilks, who delivered the crowning insult to dogdom! Yes, it was Lars Vilks who drew Mohammed’s head on a dog! Imagine—the head of the Prophet on a dog! Will insults never cease? The anthropomorphic world trembles. The only thing that can be said in mitigation is that it is impossible to determine the dog’s breed so the individual mutt escapes humiliation but all dogdom suffers.
The artist appears to have been in a hurry. Maybe he was looking over his shoulder. The lines are fuzzy, sketchy. The drawing—one of three—was published in a regional Swedish newspaper, Nerikes Allehanda. The caption over the drawing said, “The Prophet as rondellhund.” A lot of good that will do the poor dog!
And just what in the Hell is a rondellhund? Ask around in Crawford, Texas, and nobody has heard of rondellhunds—or in Swaledale, Iowa, or in Minneapolis airports where the toe-tappers congregate. Well, if you must know, rondellhunds are homemade dogs. It says so right here. People make them and put them in the roundabouts (traffic circles, road junctions, traffic islands). It is a fad in Sweden. The rondellhunds are supposed to soothe jangled nerves, keep motorists from piling head-on into each other. It is something that might have appealed to Cosmo Kramer.
A rondellhund on the job. Wouldn’t you like to take one home?
Sweden’s Muslims were infuriated when they opened their newspapers a week ago and found the Prophet’s head on a rondellhund. There were demonstrations in Stockholm and elsewhere. It was the Jyllands-Posten Mohammed cartoons all over again. It was worse than a Yogi Berra déjà vu—a foul tip right between the eyes! The repercussions have spread round the worldwide.
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in Iran was outraged. It was a Zionist plot! Officials in Pakistan and Afghanistan agreed. “They do not want the Swedish government to be a friend of other nations,” said Mahmoud. “I strongly believe they (the Jews) are behind it. They thrive on conflict and war.” Pakistan intends to consult with the Organization of Islamic Conferences to determine a further course of action.
Sure, plenty of people to stand up for Mohammed but what about the poor dog—even if he is a rondellhund. In all fairness, it was the dog that got the worst of the anthropomorphic exchange.
Was Mohammed a dog lover? Not so as one would notice. The SPCA would rate him closer to Michael Vick than to W.C. Fields or Lucy van Pelt.. What do the hadiths say? Let us see.
Bukhari 490: “The things which annul the prayers were mentioned before me. They said, ‘Prayer is annulled by a dog, a donkey and a woman (if they pass in front of the praying people). (Sure, blame the dog! This is probably the origin of ‘Spot ate my homework’)
Muslim 1032: “I said: O Abu Dharr, what feature is there in a black dog which distinguish it from the red dog and the yellow dog? He said: ‘O, son of my brother, I asked the Messenger of Allah as you are asking me and he said, ‘The black dog is evil.’” (Okay…we have a problem here, mission control…the telemetry seems out of whack)
Bukhari 843: “Once Gabriel promised to visit the Prophet but he delayed and the Prophet got worried about that. At last he came out and found Gabriel and complained to him of his grief (for his delay). Gabriel said to him, ‘We do not enter a place in which there is a picture or a dog.’” (If this is true, Orthodox Christians in Transylvania can throw away their garlic wreaths and get a dog. Of course, there will be a problem with dog slobber. Not to worry though.
This is from The Shorter Encyclopedia of Islam (page 251): “Vessels, likewise which have been licked by dogs, require to be cleaned several times once with sand.” (Sounds like an excellent way to get rid of Lucy’s dog germs)
Bukhari 2839 (note): “The Prophet did not order the killing of all dogs, for some are to be retained for hunting and watching. He ordered to kill the jet black ones. They might be more mischievous among them.” (This would not have played well at the Nuremberg trials)
Ulf Johansson, editor of Nerikes Allehanda, has refused to apologize for publishing the cartoon. “I regret if many felt offended,” he said, “that was not my objective.” But he would be willing to meet with leaders of the Muslim community and listen to their complaints.
Sweden’s Prime Minister, Fredrik Reinfeldt, said he would defend his country’s freedom of expression “which is written into our constitution and…which means that we don’t make political decisions about what is published in our newspapers.” That may be true but the Salman Rushdie syndrome is already at work in Sweden. Several art galleries have refused an opportunity to display the sketches. That is little consolation for the rondellhund that was stuck with Mohammed’s head.
Sure, dogs slobber and make messes—ungodly messes—but they deserve better treatment than they have been getting lately, what with Michael Vick and now Lars Vilks.
The next time you want to draw the Prophet’s head on an animal, Lars, pick something more appropriate—like a 500-pound gorilla or, here’s a good one, Rosie O’Donnell; and then run for cover.
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Denis Schulz was prospective convert to Islam (read his testimony: How I Almost Became a Muslim?) before changing his mind after the 9/11. He actively writes on the threats of Islam and terrorism.