Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Grit, gutlessness and gall

With Cartoon Jihad II, prompted by the “Muhammad as a traffic-circle dog” sketches of Swedish artist Lars Vilks (now in hiding at the behest of Swedish security agencies), well under way, it is instructive to take a look at what sort of cartoonery on Islam-related issues is publishable in sundry regions of the world. First, we have a cartoon that ran Monday in the Danish newspaper Berlingske Tidende, depicting several figures at a negotiation table (hat tip to Gates of Vienna, one of whose correspondents provides a translation):

Suit at left: “Sorry, but what about your treatment of women, if I may ask?”
Turbaned ranter at right: “You little Zionist, Islamophobe racist! This is not a women-conference but a human rights conference!”
Cringer at center: “I’d just like to say ... ‘Allahu Akbar!’”

This is great stuff: edgy, uncompromsing, and accurate. It targets a chink in the victimization armor of Muslim propagandists and shows just how they react when called on such things: with name-calling and rancorous attempts to change the subject. Moreover, it gets in a dig at the lickspittles who reflexively defer to them. And this appeared in a mainstream paper! Imagine such a thing running in a stateside MSM paper. Pretty impossible, when you consider the cowardice nearly all of them showed during Cartoon Jihad I last year – and the Washington Post’s recent pre-emptive deference to Islam in spiking two recent installments of Berkley Breathed’s “Opus” comic strip that showed a flighty female character donning a niqab in a harum-scarum quest to try on one spiritual creed after another. This drew an irate reaction from many readers and a tut-tut from Deborah Howell, the paper’s own ombudsman. But, as Washington Post Writers Group Executive Sales Manager Karisue Wyson told the trade journal Editor and Publisher, many papers “won't publish any Muslim-related humor, whether pro or con,” because “They just don't want to touch that.”

Meanwhile, in the Middle East, the Palestinian Authority paper Al-Hayat al-Jadida ran a cartoon depicting Osama bin Laden making the two-fingered "victory" sign – with the Twin Towers as his two fingers, one belching smoke, the other about to be hit by a plane. That a newspaper in the Muslim world should implicitly gloat over bin Laden’s success in murdering over 3,000 completely innocent people in the 9/11 atrocity comes as no surprise, but that this should come from an organization that receives U.S. tax dollars by the boatload bespeaks a particular gall.

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