A nice bookend with this post. As I’ve said, the noteworthy feature of this case is that Muslims themselves didn’t object to the strip. WaPo objected to it on their behalf, which has the dual detriment of not only withholding a cartoon from an audience that wants to see it but feeding the impression of most Muslims as so exquisitely, irrationally hypersensitive about Islam that they can’t handle the mildest jokes about it. The ombudsman confirms that not even CAIR had a problem with “Opus”:

Executive Editor Len Downie decided to kill the [first] strip because he felt the language and depiction of Muslim female dress could be offensive. He consulted with other editors, one of whom talked to a Muslim staff member, who believed the strip was problematic…

Ibrahim Hooper, spokesman for the Council on American-Islamic Relations, a civil rights and advocacy group, wasn’t offended. “‘Opus’ poked fun at the strip’s characters, not Muslims or Islam. I see hundreds worse on the Internet every day,” he said.

Akbar Ahmed, chair of Islamic studies at American University, also wasn’t offended. He said there is a strong Muslim tradition of satire and self-deprecation. “I think there is a danger of us becoming so politically correct that we end up by blunting the critics’ bent and the satirists’ wit. Muslims need to be sensitive to the fact that in Western culture there is a healthy tradition of not taking things too seriously.”

Note how Hooper’s answer hints that if he had perceived the strip as “poking fun” at Islam, he would have objected.

Also worth noting:

It would be an understatement to say that Breathed and Writers Group editors were not pleased that The Post didn’t run the strips. [Writers Group editorial director Alan] Shearer was “disappointed” and argued against dropping them. Publisher Bo Jones was in the middle. The Writers Group reports to him, as does Downie. Jones worked with Shearer and Breathed on points that concerned him and approved the strips’ distribution. But he let Downie decide not to publish them in the newspaper.

She doesn’t say what those “points of concern” that they worked on were, but I’ve got a hunch they had to do with the words “struggle” and “God willing.”

Tags: Islam religion