Humiliation. Satire. Ridicule. Political Cartoons.
Muhammad, the founder of Islam, personally used ridicule as a weapon of war early after he announced his prophethood.104 Islamic poets were not mere literary artists; they were often warriors who wrote satire and ridicule of the enemy as an important weapon of offensive warfare. Muhammad banned the faithful from drawing human images, including his own, in large part to stamp out idolatry. But he promoted the use of humiliation as a weapon and as an instrument of justice. The violence of Muslim overreactions in early 2006 to some European cartoons depicting Muhammad appear to be manifestations of the vulnerability to the power of ridicule than truly offended sensitivities.105
As we saw earlier, in Islamic tradition punishment for hirabah could include dismemberment for the purpose of humiliating the offender.106 Extreme Islamists equate ridicule with pain and even death.107 Bin Laden has said that he fears humiliation more than death itself.108 […]
In the 1980s, the Islamic Republic of Iran went so far as to assassinate jokesters abroad, even in western Europe, where the regime murdered an exiled humorist in Germany and a London merchant who sold CD recordings that mocked the mullahs. In today’s Iran, friends take taxi rides just to share jokes away from informers in their schools and workplaces.
If America, which has been the world capital of ridicule since before it declared independence from England, cannot ridicule Bin Laden effectively, then who can?
From the Conclusion
Ridicule is a powerful weapon of warfare. It can be a strategic weapon. The United States must take advantage of it against terrorists, proliferators, and other threats. Ridicule is vital because:
- It sticks;
- The target can’t refute it;
- It is almost impossible to repress, even if driven underground;
- It spreads on its own and multiplies naturally;
- It can get better with each re-telling;
- It boosts morale at home;
- Our enemy shows far greater intolerance to ridicule than we;
- Ridicule divides the enemy, damages its morale, and makes it less attractive to supporters and prospective recruits; and
- The ridicule-armed warrior need not fix a physical sight on the target. Ridicule will find its own way to the targeted individual. To the enemy, being ridiculed means losing respect. It means losing influence. It means losing followers and repelling potential new backers.
To the enemy, ridicule can be worse than death. Many of our enemies believe death to be a supernatural martyrdom. Ridicule is much worse: defeat without martyrdom, the worst of both worlds. And they have to live with it.
America’s objective is clear. Satirize the Qutbists, Khomeinists, Al Qaeda, and skinny old Colostomy-Bag Bin Laden himself.