To Publish or Not To Publish?

Karol over at Alarming News argues that republishing the offensive Muhammad cartoons in a show of solidarity with the Danes is “dumb.” She makes some of the same points that Ben did in my comments section when I decided to post one of the cartoons. Karol writes:

It is well-known that many Arab newspapers have featured Ariel Sharon as a bloodthirsty monster, a demon who eats children and hopes for death and destruction. Had Jews rioted at this depiction, had they set afire embassies around the world or raged in the streets, I would denounce them harshly, advise them to get a grip and to deal with real problems that face us all. But if a newspaper reprinted the cartoons in some twisted show of solidarity, I would see the paper as merely fanning the flames of conflict.

The problem with this argument is that it doesn’t reflect reality. Muslim leaders aren’t denouncing their coreligionists harshly, they are encouraging them to riot. And Jews don’t riot, set embassies on fire or rage in the streets. They behave in a civilized manner and use their free speech rights to express their anger with anti-Semitism in the Arab world by writing about it or otherwise raising awareness.

And it must be noted that this is not an isolated example. Muslim fanatics have a long history of using intimidation to silence free speech, just look at the tragedy of the murder of Dutch filmmaker Theo van Gogh. Other news outlets should republish the cartoons to show Muslims that the free world will not allow itself to be at the mercy of the most violent mob.

Even if news organizations don’t want to republish the cartoons in the name of solidarity, they should do so as part of covering the story. The U.S. media had no problem plastering the Abu Ghraib photos in magazines, newspapers and on television even though they were shocking, offensive, injurious to America’s reputation and likely put American soldiers in Iraq in greater danger. But they printed the photos as part of covering the story. If there were a controversy over anti-Semitic cartoons, I’d want to see them for myself to understand what all the fuss was about. By avoiding publication of the Muhammad cartoons, American news outlets are neglecting a major element of the story.

Muslim Rage Grows


Early Friday, Palestinian militants threw a bomb at a French cultural center in Gaza City, and many Palestinians began boycotting European goods, especially those from Denmark.

“Whoever defames our prophet should be executed,” said Ismail Hassan, 37, a tailor who marched through the pouring rain along with hundreds of others in the West Bank city of Ramallah.

“Bin Laden our beloved, Denmark must be blown up,” protesters in Ramallah chanted.

In mosques throughout Palestinian cities, clerics condemned the cartoons. An imam at the Omari Mosque in Gaza City told 9,000 worshippers that those behind the drawings should have their heads cut off.

“If they want a war of religions, we are ready,” Hassan Sharaf, an imam in Nablus, said in his sermon.

About 10,000 demonstrators, including gunmen from the Islamic militant group Hamas firing in the air, marched through Gaza City to the Palestinian legislature, where they climbed on the roof, waving green Hamas banners.

“We are ready to redeem you with our souls and our blood our beloved prophet,” they chanted. “Down, Down Denmark.”


Up to 300 hardline Islamic activists in Indonesia, the world’s most populous Muslim country, went on a rampage in the lobby of a building housing the Danish embassy in Jakarta.

Shouting “Allahu Akbar” (God is Greatest), they smashed lamps with bamboo sticks, threw chairs, lobbed rotten eggs and tomatoes and tore up a Danish flag. No one was hurt.

In the West Bank city of Ramallah, hundreds of Palestinians attended a Hamas-organised rally, tearing up a French flag and holding up banners reading: “The assault on the Prophet is an assault on Islam”.

Anti-Semitic Cartoons in the Arab World

Tom Gross has this collection of Anti-Semitic cartoons from Arab countries, many of which are from so-called “moderate” nations. Funny, I don’t see Jewish gunmen in Brooklyn threatening to kidnap or attack any person they see from an Arab country as a result of the publication of these cartoons. But then again, Judaism actually is a religion of peace.

Link via The Corner.

In Other Cartoon Related News…

The Joint Chiefs of Staff sent this letter to the editor of the Washington Post, after they printed this cartoon depicting Donald Rumsfeld and a quadruple amputee soldier.

The mere act of sending this letter has provoked various degrees of criticism. Atrios said it was “creeping close” to censorship, AmericaBlog said it was “intimidation” and Brian Doherty said, the Joint Chiefs “should have better things to do with their time and the better judgment to realize that such a letter could be read in a potentially sinister way.”

In my view, this criticism of the Joint Chiefs is much ado about nothing. The whole point of a letters to the editor section is to give readers the chance to respond to what is in the newspaper. By criticizing the cartoon for being tasteless, the letter was adding another perspective.

As for having better things to do with their time, it’s pretty understandable that the Joint Chiefs of Staff would have an interest in maintaining morale on the home front and defending the dignity of soldiers.

When I was a business reporter, I’d get complaints all the time from companies who thought my coverage was unfair or overly critical. Sometimes I thought they were being irrational, and other times they made valid points. How is this any different? If the Joint Chiefs of Staff finds a cartoon offensive, how is it supposed to voice its opinion? By calling the editor personally? By issuing a press release? How would that be any different?

And this whole idea that it’s intimidation is absurd. To intimidate, there has to be some sort of threat involved. But there was nothing close to a threat, and the letter went out of its way to acknowledge the Washington Post’s freedom to criticize.

But I encourage you to read the letter to decide for yourself. I linked to the whole thing above. Here’s how it ran in the Washington Post:

We were extremely disappointed to see the Jan. 29 editorial cartoon by Tom Toles.

Using the likeness of a service member who has lost his arms and legs in war as the central theme of a cartoon was beyond tasteless. Editorial cartoons are often designed to exaggerate issues, and The Post is obviously free to address any topic, including the state of readiness of the armed forces. However, The Post and Mr. Toles have done a disservice to readers and to The Post’s reputation by using such a callous depiction of those who volunteered to defend this nation and, as a result, suffered traumatic and life-altering wounds.

Those who visit wounded veterans in hospitals have found lives profoundly changed by pain and loss. They also have found brave men and women with a sense of purpose and selfless commitment that causes battle-hardened warriors to pause.

While The Post and some of its readers may not agree with the war or its conduct, these men and women and their families are owed the decency of not having a cartoon make light of their tremendous physical sacrifices.

As the joint chiefs, we rarely put our hand to one letter, but we cannot let this reprehensible cartoon go unanswered.


General, U.S. Marine Corps

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff


Admiral, U.S. Navy

Vice Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff


General, U.S. Marine Corps

Commandant of the Marine Corps


General, U.S. Army

Chief of Staff


Admiral, U.S. Navy

Chief of Naval Operations


General, U.S. Air Force

Chief of Staff


I Support Free Expression

Here is one of the cartoons of Muhammad from the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten that sparked anger throughout the Muslim world. Human Events Online has published more here.

I publish this image in solidarity with the Danes, as well the European newspapers that reprinted the cartoons, especially the French editor who was fired for reprinting them. I also publish this in defiance of Muslims who are trying to silence free speech, including this Islamic cleric who has called for a “?day of anger,” the Palestinian terrorists who kidnapped a German citizen in the West Bank over this issue and those who threaten further attacks. Meanwhile, Michelle Malkin has this roundup of some of the U.S. news organizations that are too chicken to run the cartoons. Sooner or later Europeans are going to realize that militant Islam isn’t just Israel’s problem or America’s problem, but a problem for the entire free world. We cannot allow civilization to cave in to every whim of these savages.