TTLB and a fascinating art vs. religion debate

I decided to find out what The Truth Laid Bear weblog ratings (they call it an ‘ecosystem’) was all about and found the number one blog (several places above Boing Boing) was a female blogger named Michelle Malkin. Of course I clicked and started scanning through her website to see what all the fuss is about. She has published several Mohammed cartoons and promotes buying Danish goods. (It seems to all be in the name of free speech.) That’s fine, but I wonder if that controversial action is what has thrust her to the top spot… I’ve never followed The Truth Laid Bear stats before, but for a blog, Malkin’s seems to be just another political blog – albeit a well-done one – but not what I’d expect to be in the top spot.

One post on her blog I’ll draw attention to is from earlier this week regarding art curriculum in American schools with high Muslim student numbers. Evidently, it’s not just the artistic (or cartoon) representations of Mohammed that are offensive – to certain percentages of Muslims, any portrayal of humans and animals can be offensive under Islam. As an artist, this struck a nerve in me. It seems so oppressive and inexpressive to restrict what can and can’t be portrayed in art. I’m not talking about controversial, modern pieces meant to incite public response, but rather, what about children wanting to draw pictures of their mommies and daddies? I am not criticising a religion or it’s rights, just inexplicably dumbfounded by something that seems so alien to me…

In the interest of brevity, I offer a link to the post on Malkin’s blog, but will offer part of the original news story below. (Her post also included her opinions and photos – you can visit her site for that stuff.)
Here is the full, original news item from TwinCities.com / Pioneer Press
Here are some quotes from it:

Any depiction of God and his prophets is considered offensive under Islam, and disrespectful representations are even worse, as the recent worldwide outrage over the Danish cartoons has shown. But some Muslims also refrain from producing images of ordinary human beings and animals, citing Islamic teaching.
That presented a challenge for Higher Ground Academy, a K-12 school just west of Central High School on Marshall Avenue that has about 450 students. About 70 percent of them are Muslim immigrants from eastern Africa.
This fall, he [Executive Director Bill Wilson] hired ArtStart, a St. Paul-based nonprofit organization, to offer more options for about 150 kindergartners through second-graders, including visual arts and drumming. But parents were still upset that their children were drawing figures, Wilson said, and some pulled their children out of art class altogether.
Out the window right away went masks, puppets and that classic of elementary school art class, the self-portrait, said Sara Langworthy, an artist with ArtStart. Revamping the curriculum “definitely requires stepping outside of the normal instincts that you fall back on,” she said.
Second-grader Hawi Muhammed said her parents don’t mind if she draws people once in a while, but “God β€šΓ„ΒΆ doesn’t like people to draw a lot,” she said.

This post (mine, that is) is not meant to spark any sort of religious debate, but rather is just something I had to put out there for my own expressive reasons. I am not Muslim or religious, but I am an artist and can’t imagine never rendering a human or animal in my work.

The world seems to be a shrinking place but ever expanding in its complexities.

**UPDATE** Thanks to Shaula, I know a little bit more about Malkin and her political agenda. For the purposes of retaining a coherent post with relative links, I will continue to include a link to Malkin’s blog. I do not personally subscribe to ultra right-wing rhetoric myself, but did find value in her post. As an expat, I’m pleasantly detached from the US pseudo-political blog and pundit wars. But saying that, for the record, I can’t stand that Coulter woman. πŸ˜‰

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3 thoughts on “TTLB and a fascinating art vs. religion debate”

  1. Jen, have you really not come across Malkin before? (You make me want to move to England!)

    She is a right-wing mouth piece, along the same lines as Rush Limbaugh, Anne Coulter, and Bill O’Reilley.

    She came out with a book titled In Defense of Internment in 2004, highly touted in hard right circles, that not only seeks to justify the mass internment of Japanese and Japanese Americans during World War II but argues that the same procedure could be used against Arabs and Arab Americans today.

    In addition to her own blog, she writes for sites including white nationalist site VDare, which the Southern Poverty Law center tracks on its list of hate websites.

    Media Matters’ profile on Michelle Malkin provides a thorough, well-researched (and linked) overview about her.

    Thought you might want to know who you’re linking to. πŸ™‚

  2. Nope- never heard of her before the TTLB thing. Now that you put her in her proper circle of friends, it all makes more sense… (I really despise that group of right-wing political evangelist types.)

    Thanks for the info Shaula! Clearly, to keep my post coherent and cover what I was covering, I’ll have to leave her link in, but I’ll probably add a little update at the bottom of the post thanks to your information. πŸ™‚

    Andβ€šΓ„ΓΆ?Γ‘?Γ† switching gears slightly β€šΓ„ΓΆ?Γ‘?Γ† Come on over! I love it here and those right-wing jerks get so little attention that it’s as if they’re not just several thousand miles away, but rather in a different galaxy! It’s bliss! πŸ˜€ (Except when The Daily Show reminds me of reality…)

  3. I’ve visited England a few times (when I lived in France), and we’d love to visit my husband’s extended family there one day.

    For now, we have our hands full with my American immigration, though!

    How did you wind up across the puddle, Jen?

    (And, I’m greatly releived you’re not “upset” about me glossing Malkin for you. I felt like you deserved to know…who she is. You know?)

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