It's a rare day that you get conservative talk show host Bill Bennett and liberal law professor Alan Dershowitz agreeing on just about anything, but there's one subject that can bring even those two together -- criticizing the cowardly American media.
What has happened? To put it simply, radical Islamists have won a war of intimidation. They have cowed the major news media from showing these cartoons. The mainstream press has capitulated to the Islamists -- their threats more than their sensibilities. One did not see Catholics claiming the right to mayhem in the wake of the republished depiction of the Virgin Mary covered in cow dung, any more than one saw a rejuvenated Jewish Defense League take to the street or blow up an office when Ariel Sharon was depicted as Hitler or when the Israeli army was depicted as murdering the baby Jesus.
So far as we can tell, a new, twin policy from the mainstream media has been promulgated: (a) If a group is strong enough in its reaction to a story or caricature, the press will refrain from printing that story or caricature, and (b) if the group is pandered to by the mainstream media, the media then will go through elaborate contortions and defenses to justify its abdication of duty. At bottom, this is an unacceptable form of not-so-benign bigotry, representing a higher expectation from Christians and Jews than from Muslims.
The San Diego Union-Tribune is one of the vast majority of American newspapers who have failed in their public duty. The first excuse was "concern" for the Muslim community. The second excuse was that not enough people had died due to the cartoons for them to be newsworthy. At the time you had approximately two dozen dead from cartoon-related violence in Pakistan and Libya and another dozen in Nigeria. As of Thursday, the number dead in cartoon-inspired rioting and reprisals was up to 146. It makes you wonder if the "magic number" for publishing the cartoons is 150, or whether 200 deaths are needed.
The kicker on this whole issue is that Dershowitz and Bennett are right about the media's double standard -- and it might appear that they had timed the hypocrisy charge just right for the Union-Tribune. Why? Because on today's E4 of the Currents section, you had this article:
I'd expect the paper's phones to be ringing off the hooks at this blatant double-standard -- and as far as I've heard they are not. I'm not sure which concerns me more: the possibility that readers have come to expect this; or the possibility that no one cares.