Do you remember the “Palestinian child brides” from a few months ago?
As you may recall, a sensational video and some photos made the rounds of the Counterjihad websites for a few days. They purported to show the mass wedding of Palestinian men to little girls, and there was obviously something wedding-related going on — the tiny girls decked out in white gowns, the men dressed in their best clothes.
I was suspicious from the first because there were no English translations available, and MEMRI didn’t feature the video — anything this outrageous, if authentic, would surely have been covered by MEMRI. As it turned out, the video was real, but those little girls were not brides — it was some other Palestinian custom related to weddings.
A lot of Counterjihad blogs posted the video and the photos. Those with integrity later published retractions, but others simply made sure their posts on the topic disappeared without a trace when the truth became known.
An incident such as this does a certain amount of damage to our cause. The vultures of the Left circle us continuously, waiting for mistakes like this to happen, and then they swoop down and feed on the unlucky blogs who make the errors. This helps reinforce the meme that Counterjihad bloggers are hysterical extreme right-wing crypto-fascist lunatics who care nothing for the truth and will believe any lie or fantasy, no matter how improbable, provided it supports their cause.
This is why — assuming we aspire to be effective, which I do — we need to report with the utmost probity. We must be wise as serpents and innocent as doves. We need to stick to the facts as we understand them, and label all rumor and speculation as exactly that. When we goof, we should retract our errors publicly and prominently, and post corrections. For some of us it hurts, but it’s necessary for the greater good.
I bring all this up because of the intense discussion that has emerged over the last few days about Molly Norris, the Seattle cartoonist who earned herself a death fatwa from Anwar al-Awlaki for originating the idea behind Everybody Draw Mohammed Day.
A meme has taken shape around Ms. Norris portraying her as a very young and naïve woman who stumbled into something that she didn’t expect. She then apologized. She recanted. She made a peace sign T-shirt to show that she really loves Islam and every other creature on the planet. But all to no avail. Thus she recently went into hiding.
This meme has considerable force. Just search for “Molly Norris” on Google news and look at the latest results. She is a young, naïve woman who has been forced into hiding. That’s the story that has emerged and is being handed around the web like a baton in a relay.
Yet how accurate is it?
On Saturday Dymphna posted on the topic, but a number of readers seemed to misunderstand her point. She wasn’t saying that Ms. Norris got what was coming to her for being such a clueless squishy liberal, or that the poor woman is not really in any danger. Dymphna simply pointed out all the obvious signs indicating that Molly Norris is a publicity hound.
During all this discussion, someone suggested that Ms. Norris might not be as young as she was allowing people to believe. This got me to thinking — what do we know about this woman? We know she drew cartoons for a Seattle newspaper until recently. We know she has now gone very publicly into hiding. We’ve seen one picture of her, and indeed she looks quite young. But how recent is that picture?
And who is Molly Norris, really?
When I get curious about something, it’s like a fever. I just have to keep investigating until the fever passes.
So late last night I fooled around with Google for a while, but when you search on “Molly Norris”, it’s hard to get past the hundreds of thousands of entries about EDMD. I labored for several hours with little to show for it. Then, in the wee hours, I came up with the bright idea of googling “contact Molly Norris” (including the quote marks), which led me to Gallery 110.
This revealed that someone named Molly Norris had been the director of Gallery 110 in Seattle as late as last year. How likely is it that there are two trendy Seattle artists named Molly Norris? A somewhat deeper check eventually turned up an exhibition at Gallery 110 of cartoons by Molly Norris that were obviously drawn by the same person who drew the inaugural EDMD cartoon. So this is definitely the right woman.
However, in the process of clicking through dozens of art-related websites, an interesting fact emerged: up until a year or so prior to the above-mentioned listing, a woman named Molly Norris Curtis (or Molly Norris-Curtis in some cases) had also been the director (or curator) of Gallery 110. All through the 2000s Ms. Curtis had given shows at Gallery 110 and numerous other locations. She wrote reviews (many of them in Seattle Weekly, the same paper that later published Molly Norris’ cartoons), was mentioned in magazines, and was cited as a reference in other artists’ résumés.
Back then her work was in mixed media, very postmodern and ironic. Some paintings were included, but cartoons did not really feature in her oeuvre until Molly Norris appeared in 2009. There was, however, some overlap in the exhibitions by Molly Norris and Molly Norris Curtis, in which one could see that both artists executed the same basic kind of artwork.
Occam’s razor cried out to me: these two women are the same person! Molly Norris was married at some point to a guy named Curtis. Then she reverted to her maiden name.
A lot of the catalogue entries and gallery sites link to Ms. Norris’ website, mollynorris.com, which not surprisingly has been stripped clean and had its ownership anonymized (except for the name Molly Norris).
However, during my searches I came across this Gallery 63 page describing and cataloguing a 2006 exhibition of Molly Norris Curtis’ work. Partway down the page you’ll notice that the artist says this:
My American sixties childhood was a loud colored, pre-jogging age filled with cocktail parties, night lit swimming pools, curvaceous women and seatbelt free drives — along with various and sundry Cold War terrors.
And at the bottom of the page there is a photo of someone (who may or may not be the artist herself) sitting on what appears to be a peculiar giant shoe with an enormous stuffed animal. Underneath the photo is a link labeled “Vist [sic] the web site of Molly Norris Curtis”, which leads — surprise! — to mollynorris.com, the same site that has now been stripped of content.
Thus we may safely assume that Molly Norris and Molly Norris Curtis are indeed the same woman, and that —unless she is lying about a childhood in the 1960s — she is over forty years old.
But we’re not done yet. Following the trail of breadcrumbs on her full name, I came across what appears to be a sort of cached version of her site from around 2001. It contains quite a bit of autobiographical information on her, which — depending on how you read it, the entries indicating either that she was born in 1966 or graduated from high school in 1976 — tells us that Molly Norris is between forty-four and fifty-two years old. It also confirms that she was married and divorced by 1999.
That is: if any of this is really true, and not an entirely fictional account.
The oldest of the reviews of her work (from the Seattle Post-Intelligencer) dates back to 1987. Once again, unless this newspaper article is made up (I don’t have LexisNexis to check it), Molly Norris was exhibiting her work publicly twenty-three years ago, and is thus well past the first bloom of youth.
My “line of best fit” on Molly Norris Curtis is this: she was a trendy Seattle artist (one of dozens, Seattle is full of them) working in mixed media until about 2009. Then she dropped the “Curtis” and reinvented herself as Molly Norris the Cartoonist for Seattle Weekly. A middle-aged change, trying to revive her career, with the help of a Seattle paper in which she had been publishing reviews for years.
After Parker and Stone earned their death fatwa and were censored by Comedy Central, she saw an opportunity: create a silly little ironic cartoon in solidarity with them, borrow some of their (considerable) fame, and ride their coattails to a new and brighter career.
But it didn’t work out the way she planned. She was naïve (to put it mildly) about what she was doing, and what would in fact happen to her.
Now she is trying to salvage what she can from the mess, making a big splash by “going into hiding” with a lot of free publicity orchestrated by that same Seattle newspaper, God bless them, and accompanied by that cute photo, which was probably taken twenty or twenty-five years ago — if it is in fact a picture of the same woman.
In a few months there will almost certainly be a new media splash about her somewhere, probably accompanied by artwork sold only online.
Wait and see.
I respect Molly Norris’ cartoons, although they are not to my taste. She is competent in her ability to compose images and use color, as her numerous published paintings attest. The mixed media artifacts are another matter: postmodern irony lies so far outside my range of taste that I am quite incapable of passing judgment on them.
I wish her well. I am in full solidarity with her, notwithstanding the fact that she caved immediately and completely to the violent threats of those who seek to impose sharia on us.
We must stand with her.
Intentionally or otherwise, whether she likes it or not, she has become one of us.
The whole affair makes me feel sorry for Molly Norris Curtis. I don’t think she has a clue. I don’t think she has ever really had a clue. It’s as simple (and sad) as that.
Hat tip: The G-Man.