Ivory tower cowards

Matthew Hoy
By Matthew Hoy on August 14, 2009

When a bunch of mullahs manufactured outrage a few years back over some largely innocuous cartoon depictions of the "prophet" Muhammed, hundreds died as rioting followed. In covering the violence, most American newspapers and magazines declined to publish even the most tame of the cartoons out of what they said was a desire not to disrespect the "religion of peace."

The truth is that most media outlets didn't want to have their offices picketed by "outraged" mobs -- or worse, bombed. This real explanation was understandable, but if you're going to be a coward, then fess up to being a coward.

In that spirit, this week Yale University Press announced this week that they are the biggest bunch of cowards among university imprints.

It’s not all that surprising that Yale University Press would be wary of reprinting notoriously controversial cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad in a forthcoming book. After all, when the 12 caricatures were first published by a Danish newspaper a few years ago and reprinted by other European publications, Muslims all over the world angrily protested, calling the images — which included one in which Muhammad wore a turban in the shape of a bomb — blasphemous. In the Middle East and Africa some rioted, burning and vandalizing embassies; others demanded a boycott of Danish goods; a few nations recalled their ambassadors from Denmark. In the end at least 200 people were killed.

So Yale University and Yale University Press consulted two dozen authorities, including diplomats and experts on Islam and counterterrorism, and the recommendation was unanimous: The book, “The Cartoons That Shook the World,” should not include the 12 Danish drawings that originally appeared in September 2005. What’s more, they suggested that the Yale press also refrain from publishing any other illustrations of the prophet that were to be included, specifically, a drawing for a children’s book; an Ottoman print; and a sketch by the 19th-century artist Gustave Doré of Muhammad being tormented in Hell, an episode from Dante’s “Inferno” that has been depicted by Botticelli, Blake, Rodin and Dalí.

The book’s author, Jytte Klausen, a Danish-born professor of politics at Brandeis University, in Waltham, Mass., reluctantly accepted Yale University Press’s decision not to publish the cartoons. But she was disturbed by the withdrawal of the other representations of Muhammad. All of those images are widely available, Ms. Klausen said by telephone, adding that “Muslim friends, leaders and activists thought that the incident was misunderstood, so the cartoons needed to be reprinted so we could have a discussion about it.” The book is due out in November.

It's laughable that a scholarly book on the incident lacks the images that prompted the the writing of the book in the first place. Instead, readers will have to go to the Internet to find the images that sparked the manufactured outrage from publishers braver than Yale University Press.

0 comments on “Ivory tower cowards”

  1. From the American Association of University Professors, a group that is almost achingly PC:

    "We do not negotiate with terrorists. We just accede to their anticipated demands.” That is effectively the new policy position at Yale University Press, which has eliminated all visual depictions of the Prophet Muhammad from Jytte Klausen’s new book The Cartoons That Shook the World.

  2. Couple of reports that the press arm of the U were good to go with the pix, but the admin got cold feet. Also, presumably, a lot of Saudi money.
    But the press arm is taking the flak.

  3. To follow up on what Aubrey wrote, the same reports claim that many who reviewed the text were actually fine with including the cartoons. The Yale admin came up with the story (reported by the NYT and others) that all reviewers thought it was wise to remove all pictures.

  4. This would be funny if it weren't so sad. Here is one of the premier institutions of higher learning in the US, acting with a total absence of courage. Shouldn't courage be one of those unassailable values that everyone can stand behind regardless of one's political views? We stand for nothing it seems.


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August 2009



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