The New York Times, as well as the Washington Post and other major newspapers, have piously condemned those who raised objections to the proposed Islamic center in Manhattan, near the site where nearly 3,000 Americans met their death at the hands of Islamic extremists. The Times, the Post, their fellow papers and many of their columnists and bloggers proclaimed that a peaceful religion was being smeared by bigoted Americans and political leaders smitten with “Islamophobia.”
Then, on October 3, a Sunday installment of the prize-winning comic strip “Non Sequitur” was censored from the pages of the Post, the Times-owed Boston Globe (the Times itself has no cartoons) and almost 20 others. The strip, you see, jokingly suggested that an image of Muhammad the Prophet, which strict Islamic principles decree must never be shown or ridiculed under threat of a fatwah, might be hidden among the depicted happy characters in the manner of the “Where’s Waldo?” children’s books. Most of the various editors responsible are mum, but it is obvious that the joke (you can see the cartoon here) was seen as too close to Molly Norris’s “Everyone Draw Muhammad” cartoon that has made her the target of an Islamic radical’s death order. In other words, they were afraid…so afraid that these celebrated champions of the First Amendment pulled a completely innocuous and funny comic from the view of its readers. They were afraid of Muslims—yes, Whoopi, Muslim extremists, but Muslims nonetheless, and no particular Muslims, either, but some unidentified Muslims whose devotion to their religion made them dangerous.
This, by definition, is Islamophobia. When Andrew Alexander, the Washington Post ombudsman, examined why the Post had pulled the cartoon, his response from his editors were evasive and disingenuous. “They were concerned it might offend and provoke some Post readers, especially Muslims,” wrote Alexander. Laughable. “Especially Muslims?” What other Post readers are going to become violent at a Sunday funny papers entry that shows one panel of people enjoying themselves? Let me see—lunatics? Maniacs? The Post editors who gave Alexander that answer knew who they were really afraid of, but knew that it revealed their cowardice and hypocrisy to explain their real reasoning. Alexander continues…
“Style editor Ned Martel said he decided to yank it, after conferring with others, including Executive Editor Marcus W. Brauchli, because ‘it seemed a deliberate provocation without a clear message.’ He added that “the point of the joke was not immediately clear” and that readers might think that Muhammad was somewhere in the drawing.”
Ah. Martel was just being considerate of all those poor, confused Catholics, Protestants, Jews, Buddhists, Hindus, Mormons and Scientologists desperately searching to find the hidden Muhammad in Non Sequitur, ruining their Sunday, searching and searching…certain he must be there, their weary eyes filling with tears of frustration!
He was afraid of that Muslims would get angry, and hurt him or somebody else. The Post’s willingness to provoke, satirize and insult other religions, especially Christianity, has never had such self-imposed limits. Martel was lying, and Alexander breached his duty as the independent Post ethics watchdog by not calling him on it in print.
The New York Times meanwhile, often points with pride to its founder’s principles:
“…to give the news impartially, without fear or favor, regardless of party, sect, or interests involved…”
Well, which is it, Times? Because you can’t have it both ways. Either you pulled the comic strip to give Islam special immunity to satire and humor that the paper denies to other religions, or you are fearful. The answer, of course, is the latter,
Yet these cowardly and hypocritical papers, who attribute to Muslims—some Muslims, not all, but they don’t know which—the willingness to use violence against those who are perceived as being disrespectful of their religion and fear the consequences of this violence—in response to a mainstream comic strip that doesn’t even show or pretend to show the prophet Muhammad!—so much that they abandon their core principles, lecture and condemn and denigrate Americans who are offended by the idea of a monument to the very same religion the newspapers tremble in fear before being erected near the place where the exact types of Muslims those papers fear killed 3000 innocent people on a September morning.
These cowardly and hypocritical newspapers accuse critics of the monument of “Islamophobia” when the critics are not expressing irrational fear of Islam, but the newspapers are. There are only three possible reasons for censoring Non Sequitur, with a panel of smiling characters enjoying the day and nothing else: complete terror at what Muslim extremists might consider offensive; total cowardice, or an inappropriately restrictive commitment to not offending any Muslims. All are at play here, and all are infuriating, coming from journalists who have repeatedly accuses others of irrational fear of the same religion and dismiss their argument that Muslims—the nice, safe, benign, peace-loving Muslims, the good neighbor Muslims, the were-all-in-it-together Muslims, not the Muslims who scare the papers so much that they’re afraid of publishing Sunday comics—should be considerate of the feelings of those who associate the religion of the murderers that killed in the name of Muhammad with a tragic and life-altering event. The newspapers can be absurdly considerate of Muslims, but it is bigotry to ask the Muslims be considerate of Americans.
The truth is that these papers do not believe that Islam is benign. Their actions prove it.
The truth is that the critics of the Manhattan Muslim Center are not exhibiting Islamophobia, but the critics of the critics are.
The truth is that the politically correct manta that all religions and cultures deserve equal respect, tolerance and trust is untenable applied to a culture and a religion that have so many elements that are incompatible with democracy, peace and civilization, with those elements passionately embraced by millions of followers, whether one calls them “extremists” or not.
If a critic of opponents of the so-called Ground Zero Mosque argues that it is unfair and irrational to associate the acts of Muslim extremists with Islam itself, and irrational to distrust Muslims because of those acts, then that critic may not then treat Islam itself differently than all other religions, even to the extent of suppressing core American rights, out of fear and distrust of some followers of Islam. By their own hypocrisy, the Times, the Post and the other cowardly newspapers have proven that they don’t believe their own words. Their denigration of the Islamic center opponents insincere, ideological and partisan, not honest and principled.
They are the real Islamophobes, and they have forfeited the right to have anyone take their positions on this topic seriously again.
8 thoughts on “Hypocrisy of the Year: The Islamophobic New York Times Company, Washington Post, Et Al.”
I think you’re too hard on the NYT and WP and all those who support the mosque/community center. I believe it was wrong to pull the cartoon, even tho the cartoon, like most political cartoons, was tasteless and offensive.
I think the censorship decision was more likely — or as likely made to avoid offending people who have taken a lot lately than out of fear that righteous Muslims would smite the people at the NYT or WP.
I know a bunch of Muslims that are no more interested in violence than you or I. Islam is no more a violent religion that Judaism, Christianity, or Hinduism. Some believers in all three do awful things in the name of God.
That cartoon was tasteless and offensive?
Jeff is right. Bob, how in the world could anyone call THAT cartoon tasteless or offensive, even under the most oppressive application of political correctness? How could you? It was even less offensive than Molly’s cartoon, which wasn’t offensive at all. It was just clever, that’s all. My God, the Times, Post and Globe print more offensive things every day, on virtually every page. This was only offensive to one group: the Muslim radicals, who now get more sensitivity and consideration of their delicate feelings than any other group—why? Because they deserve it? Because they are vulnerable? No, because they are neither of these things. The reason is because they threaten us.
You’ll have to show me a rational reason to censor that cartoon other than sheer terror, because I don’t see it.
Every now and then, a partisan chorus, if it has any integrity, has to admit that it was wrong. I think the “we have nothing to fear from Islam” group is at that point now, because they can not credibly deny that THEY fear Islam. claiming imaginary offense in an inoffensive cartoon won’t let it off the hook.
Humph. I said there was no reason to pull the cartoon. I don’t fear Islam, I just think it’s tasteless to pull their chain. But political cartoons have always been mostly tasteless.
Muslims in the USA live with more discrimination and more fear of the authorities than any other religious group. I find it harder and harder to laugh at them.
I didn’t mean to make you humph. Honest.
Well, all right then.
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