Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Muhammad cartoon fear strikes again

From Baron Bodissey at Gates of Vienna comes word that Flemming Rose, the culture editor of the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten whose publication of a dozen caricatures of Islam's prophet Muhammad touched off Muslim demonstrations against freedom of expression worldwide, has written a book on the crisis and tried to shop it to American publishers -- without success.

“They are enthusiastic about the project, but concerned about the consequences that may ensue if they publish the book,” Rose told the Danish paper Berlingske Tidende.

This is the third time -- and the third different medium -- in which the leadership of the American mass communications media has cravenly capitulated to intimidation rather than push back against Muslim demands for self-censorship. First came the near-unanimous refusal of American newspapers to print any of the relatively tame Muhammad images with their coverage of the original crisis in February 2006, despite their manifest centrality to the story and the clear imperative to show solidarity with a fellow journalist. Only three major American papers had the guts and integrity to do so: the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Austin American-Statesman, and the Rocky Mountain News of Denver. The editors of the rest (including the one for whom your correspondent then wrote) justified their pusillanimity with weasel words about "good taste" and "editorial judgment" and "respect for Islam."

Then came the capitulation of American television, in the person of the Comedy Central network that broadcasts the cartoon show "South Park." Much beloved by kids of all ages for an outrageous brand of humor that holds nothing sacred, "South Park" in April 2006 addressed the Muhammad cartoon crisis in a two-part episode on "The Cartoon Wars." The show's position, of course, was that the right to free expression is absolute and ever in need of strong defense. And "South Park's" creators did push back, by showing a cameo cartoon image of Muhammad. But Comedy Central's executives wouldn't allow that image to be shown, out of fear of reigniting "the intense and deadly reaction" of the Muslim world to the Danish cartoons. A black screen was shown instead, with a message from the "South Park" team citing corporate censorship as the reason.

And now we have American book publishers' spurning of Flemming Rose's report on the crisis, a far more egregious incidence of pre-emptive capitulation to Muslim demands than Random House's recent decision not to publish a bodice-ripper novel about Muhammad's bint. While the latter is mere entertainment, the former is critically important information of which the American people are in dire need. The American reading public should raise an unholy stink about this until some publisher reconsiders -- or at least grows a pair -- and puts Flemming Rose's book on the Muhammad cartoon crisis into print.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Omitting the lede in North Carolina

On March 3, 2006, one Mohammed Reza Taheri-Azar drove a rented Jeep Cherokee SUV into a group of pedestrians on the Chapel Hill campus of the University of North Carolina. Nine people were injured in the attack, for which Taheri-Azar, a 22-year-old UNC graduate, told police he had rented the biggest, heaviest vehicle he could find.

After his arrest, Taheri-Azar declared in open court that he was "thankful for the opportunity to spread the will of Allah.". During his incarceration, he wrote a series of letters to the student newspaper the Daily Tarheel, outlining in considerable detail his Islamic justification for the assault, quoting the Qur'an by chapter and verse. Among the Qur'anic mandates he cited were "To release anger and rage from Allah's followers' hearts: (9:14-15)," "To test Allah's followers' faith: (8:17)," "To prevent mischief on earth: (2:251)," and "To be rewarded by Allah: (2:154, 9:19-22, 9:111, 9:120-121)." He also declared that "Due to my religious motivation for the attack, I feel no remorse and am proud to have carried it out in service of and in obedience of Allah. Considering that I injured several people both physically and psychologically, who were also American taxpayers, I feel that I succeeded in obeying Allah's commandment to fight against the enemies of His followers."

This morning, after more than two years of machinations, Taheri-Azar pleaded guilty to nine counts of attempted murder, as part of a plea bargain in which the nine counts will be consolidated into two for sentencing purposes and nine counts of aggravated felonious assault will be dropped. Depsite the manifest centrality of Taheri-Azar's Muslim creed and its scripture to his motive, the Orange County News and Observer reported on this development without once mentioning Islam, Muslims or the Qur'an.

Perhaps News and Observer reporter Jesse James Deconto (or those who edit his copy) were following the "diversity guidelines" adopted by the Society of Professional Journalists on Oct. 6, 2001 (before the ashes of 9/11 had quite cooled), which admonish journalists to "Use language that is informative and not inflammatory." But frequently language that is informative -- to wit, the truth -- is inflammatory. To refuse to inform the public because the hoi polloi might become inflamed bespeaks an arrogant disdain for the people's right to know. That such self-censorship has become standard operating procedure for American journalists bodes ill not only for the integrity of their profession but for its future.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Burying the lede in New York and St. Paul

The insidious concealment of Islam's ideological jihad against Western culture, values and rights is being aided and abetted -- indeed, facilitated -- by American newspaper editors, who nearly always bury jihad-related stories in the back pages of their publications (that is, when such stories are even run at all). Examples in this morning's press are the New York Times's running of the story of Random House's abrogation of its agreement to publish a novel concerning Muhammad's child-ride Aisha -- a front-page story if there ever was one -- under the rubric "Arts, Briefly" on page B8 of the New York edition and A18 of the national edition. The role of an American academic in setting this chilling precedent for self-censorship went unmentioned.

And in this morning's St. Paul Pioneer Press, a report on a Muslim teenager's complaint that she was rejected for employment by a restaurant chain because of her insistence on wearing a hijab to work was run not on page one but in Section C, with the business news. To amplify her bellyaching, the kid has teamed up with the local CAIR chapter, which is demanding a written apology from the firm and its submission to "the group's workplace sensitivity and diversity training" -- that its owners might "feel themselves subdued," in accordance with Qur'an 9:29.