Christopher tm Herdt (cherdt) wrote,
Christopher tm Herdt

Offensive Cartoons and Our Meek Press

CNN, NPR, and other news organizations are pusillanimous phonies. In case you haven't seen the cartoons that incited protests and riots in the Muslim world, including the burning of the Danish Embassy in Beirut, here they are:

(From urbanwuff)

Sure, I'm appalled that people would set fire to a building over an inflammatory political cartoon, months after its initial publication. But human stupidity knows no bounds of geography and does not discriminate based on race, religion, or creed. (For example, vehicles were overturned and there were outbreaks of violence in Pittsburgh last night during the riotous celebrations for the Steelers.) What really burns me up here is that there is a huge hullabaloo over these comics, and major news outlets won't republish the source of the furor out of "respect for Islam" or their Muslim readers. The press ought to have a little self-respect.

Some of the comics are definitely offensive and draw no distinction between a peaceful and devout Muslim and a crazed suicide bomber. I can see how readers, particularly Muslim readers, would be offended. The comics imply a link between Islam and violence that is all-too-easily grasped by Europeans and Americans primed by news headlines. But I think a responsible news source could still present the evidence, all the while pointing out why the comics are offensive and why the readers/viewers should not conflate violence with Islam. In fact, I think that's their job. I think the real reason they aren't printing the comics is not out of respect, but out of fear—if not a fear of violence, then out of fear of boycotts and bad press.

[Edit: I just read that The Philadelphia Inquirer published one of the cartoons. Their justification sounds not unlike some of what I wrote, above: Inquirer editors explain why they published Danish cartoon.]

[Another Edit: Looks like Wikipedia has a nice entry about the cartoons and subsequent furor: Jyllands-Posten Muhammad cartoons controversy. I am particularly impressed by their inclusion of a political cartoon from a Jordanian paper that shows an editor rejecting racist and anti-Semitic cartoons, but accepts a comic offensive to Muslims and says, "this one falls under freedom of speech!"]

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