Molly Norris, the cartoonist responsible for “Everybody Draw Mohammed Day,” will not soon be drawing for Seattle Weekly, where she was a regular. Her departure does not stem from a dispute with management, a personal decision to change careers, or illness. Molly Norris has has gone into hiding because American-born Islamic supremacist Anwar al-Awlaki, who himself is hiding out somewhere in Yemen, has issued a fatwa, or decree calling for her execution.
Norris was advised by security specialists at the FBI to “go ghost,” as they term it. The translation: She is moving to an undisclosed location, changing her name, and wiping clean her identity.
In and of itself, the story, though sad, is not a new one. The same fate befell author Salman Rushdie after he published his novel The Satanic Verses in 1988.
What makes Molly Norris’s story newsworthy is the current emotional climate in the country and recent comments by its president. For anyone who has been asleep or inattentive for the past several months, a hot debate is underway on the planned construction of a mosque near Ground Zero. Those in opposition have been told repeatedly that they are intolerant—that the issure boils down to a question of religious freedom and that the actions of the crowd hell bent on building a mosque at any site they choose are protected by the First Amendment.
The question that arises, therefore, is what about Molly Norris’s First Amendment rights? An equally trenchant question, to quote James Taranto, author of the Wall Street Journal‘s “Best of the Web Today” column, is “Where is President Obama?”
Last month, speaking to a mostly Muslim audience at the White House, the president strongly defended the right of another imam held up as a moderate to build a mosque adjacent to Ground Zero. The next day, and again at a press conference last week, Obama said he was merely standing up for the First Amendment. As far as we recall, it’s the only time Barack Obama has ever stood up for anybody’s First Amendment rights.
Now Molly Norris, an American citizen, is forced into hiding because she exercised her right to free speech. Will President Obama say a word on her behalf? Does he believe in the First Amendment for anyone other than Muslims?
An answer from the White House would be most welcome.
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