As a Muslim myself, I see the refusal of NYT and other sources to show the cartoon not as a kindly act of sensitivity, but as a typically pretentious and sly method of portraying Islam as dangerous and threatening. It’s Fox News all over again, except they do it in a subtle way, and has the following advantages (for them):
- Pretending that Muslims are a lot more powerful than they actually are. NYT has no qualms or fears about being a zealous supporter of Israel’s crimes, often serving as Israel’s mouthpiece in the US. But publishing a few cartoons puts it in a more dangerous position?
- Pretending that all Muslims share the same intolerance toward anti-Islamic speech and that all Muslim communities contain at least a few terrorists ready to become violent on demand. To a Muslim like myself, anti-Islamic speech is part and parcel of daily life and I honestly couldn’t care less about the cartoons.
- Causing moral indignation in those who respect these corrupt newspapers, giving them a reason to fear and dislike Muslims (“Now the Muslims can decide what I can and cannot view in my local newspaper?”).
- Creating an artificial controversy where some media outlets get to be the brave supporters of free speech by publishing the cartoons, or good and honest people too scared of Islam to publish them. Either way, Muslims lose.
Meanwhile, the media ignore the glaring fact that Charlie Hebdo fired one of its cartoonists for making a jibe at a person’s Jewish background. Since when did this anti-free speech organization become the moral capital of free speech?