"And coming as it did right when we, the United States of America, are really facing a time when we have to question what it is that holds us together, I can see this potentially aggravating the already-challenging times for dealing with some of these questions about cultural difference, diversity, and what kind of society we want to be," says Gordon Coonfield, director of graduate studies in communication at Villanova University near Philadelphia.
After analyzing some of the submissions to the American Freedom Defense Initiative's "Muhammad Art Exhibit and Cartoon Contest," Professor Coonfield
pointed out the similarities of some of the depictions of the prophet Muhammad to posters for "Der Ewige Jude," or "The Eternal Jew," a notorious Nazi propaganda "documentary."
In one of the cartoons, the prophet is depicted as contorted and snarling and as a hook-nosed man in a turban holding a bloody knife.
The caption reads, "When it comes to religion ... I've got the edge.
The face, Coonfield
notes, is nearly identical to the contorted face of "The Eternal Jew" poster.
"That strategy for creating a sense of 'unity' by lifting up this internal enemy is as old as human civilization and culture," he
"Free speech is about being open to listening to the ideas you hate the most, that you disagree with the most, and I feel this group in particular is hiding behind this free speech rhetoric," Coonfield