The double standard laid bare. If you’re a devout believer of whichever faith and eager to see less blasphemy in the media, as many Americans are, there’s no other conclusion to draw here than, “I need to be much, much angrier.”
The image of the prophet Mohammed, however, seems to occupy its own category, with its own rules. Last week, Baquet told me via email that as editor of the Times he had to consider “the Muslim family in Brooklyn who read us and is offended by any depiction of what he sees as his prophet.” [sic] When I replied, “I just wonder about the Jewish family in Brooklyn,” Baquet responded as follows:
“I would really do some reporting — I did — to make sure these parallels are similar for the two religions. You may find they are not. In fact they really are not.”
Baquet’s argument, if I’m reading him correctly, is that a cartoonish depiction of Mohammed is more offensive, categorically, than a cartoon that depicts, say, anti-Semitic caricatures of Jews trying to fabricate a Holocaust that, per the cartoonist, never took place.
I don’t know if it’s categorical. As I read it, he’s not saying that cartoons of Mohammed are objectively more offensive than anti-semitic cartoons, he’s saying that the amount of rage they evoke in Muslims and Jews, respectively, is evidence that the former are more offensive to the aggrieved group than the latter. If Jews want the Times to take their feelings seriously, they can prove the depth of their injury by grabbing some AK-47s and machine-gunning a group of cartoonists. This moron is actually providing an incentive to overreact to blasphemy. Which is probably the closest he’ll come to acknowledging the real calculus in all this: To the extent that Times editors have more to fear from angry Muslims than they do from angry Jews, yes, it’s quite true that cartoons that offend each group don’t parallel each other.
This isn’t the first time recently that Baquet’s supplied a justification for terrorism, however unwittingly. John Sexton of Breitbart made a smart point last week after Baquet grumbled that other papers being applauded for running Charlie Hebdo’s cartoons weren’t running the most offensive ones. Quote:
“Have you seen them? They are sexual, and truly provocative. They are not the ones a handful of papers have run. Those are mild. If you really want to understand the issue, you would have to show the most over-the-top images,” he said.
What could Baquet have meant, wondered Sexton, when he said that to really “understand the issue” we’d need to see the most offensive cartoons? It sounds like he was saying that without seeing the most provocative images, you couldn’t hope to grasp why a couple of Muslim radicals might want to shoot up an editorial room. We need, in other words, to be fair to the terrorists if we’re going to start picking and choosing which images are representative of Charlie Hebdo’s oeuvre. If that’s not what he meant, what did he mean?
Dylan Byers of Politico, who squeezed the quote up top out of Baquet, notes at the end of his piece that “it stands to reason that if a free media has an obligation to not offend one group, then it has an obligation to not offend all groups — right down to restricting profanity in order to satisfy the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.” Right — that’s exactly what the Bill Donohues of the world are counting on in joining the media’s charade that this is about “sensitivity” towards Muslims rather than fear. You can fear one group while not fearing another but you can’t be sensitive to one without being sensitive to another and expect to be taken seriously. That’s why all the media outlets refusing to show the Charlie Hebdo cover today will also think twice about images that offend Christians and Jews from now on. The anti-blasphemy ethic will grow. And we’ll have jihadism to thank for it. If you don’t believe me, just read this. Exit quotation: “[T]he academic publisher has issued guidance advising writers to avoid mentioning pigs or ‘anything else which could be perceived as pork’ so as not to offend Muslim or Jewish people.”