Andrew Alexander is the Washington Post’s Ombudsman and wrote this after his paper refused to publish the cartoon to the left:
Editors at The Post and many other papers pulled the cartoon and replaced it with one that had appeared previously. They were concerned it might offend and provoke some Post readers, especially Muslims.
What is clever about last Sunday’s “Where’s Muhammad?” comic is that the prophet does not appear in it.
Still, Style editor Ned Martel said he decided to yank it, after conferring with others, including Executive Editor Marcus W. Brauchli, because “it seemed a deliberate provocation without a clear message.” He added that “the point of the joke was not immediately clear” and that readers might think that Muhammad was somewhere in the drawing.
The Post should always consider the religious sensitivities of readers. But in this case, I think editors were wrong to withhold the cartoon.
Greg Gutfeld, host of Fox News’ RedEye wrote the following:
Why is it that the media keeps reminding us that we shouldn’t exaggerate the threat of a small group of radicals – but completely changes tact, when it comes to their own personal safety?
Think about it: if the average Joe expresses fear or anxiety over Islamic fundamentalism, they are called Islamophobes. But if an editor with balls the size of electrons removes a comic in which Muhammad isn’t even present – that’s not honest-to-Allah Islamophobia?
No, that’s just being sensitive.
Look, the media can’t have it both ways. They cannot criticize the public for concerns over Islam, and then eradicate anything in their midst that they perceive might elevate their risk for getting stabbed buying a chai latte at Starbucks. If their governing principle in the newsroom is fear, then they should admit it – and get the hell off our backs for feeling the same way.
Mr. Gutfeld raises a very valid point. As the 9-11 mosque drama played out, Conservatives were painted as “Islamaphobes” and Obama (though he did a two step) was portrayed as bringing rationality to the debate.
The Washington Post and other newspapers used the old excuse of not wanting to “offend” readers even though they published a similar cartoon by the same person featuring the title of: “Caricatures of Muhammad While You Wait!”
Is this an example of cowardliness by the media, hypocrisy, or simply just concern for their readers?
Editors must have been mindful of the fact that the artist behind “Everybody Draw Muhammad Day!” has gone into hiding, changed her identity, and disappeared all because of death threats from some in the Muslim community. The man behind the Danish cartoons of 2006 is still under protection and lives in a virtual prison, fearful for his life.
If the author of Non Sequiter felt comfortable enough drawing his cartoon then the Washington Post should have published it.
Are newspapers and journalists in general only in the business to not “offend” their readers?