Boy, those TV people are nervy, aren't they? I mean, this year's Super Bowl ads featured a man and woman simulating sexual intercourse on an airplane, and a 12-year-old girl discussed married sex with her mother. Takes guts, doesn't it?
And the newspapers -- they're just incredible, huh? The New York Times has risked its neck by revealing that the Bush Administration has been monitoring overseas phone calls. Stodgy old Commentary is comparing this to the isolationist Herald Tribune printing a story in 1942 telling the Japanese we had broken their code. Those neoconservative loonies think the Times ought to be prosecuted for divulging secrets in wartime! Well, it's a different world, brother! Our press today will go to jail en masse rather than give up freedom of speech!
And Hollywood, aren't they the same? Every Academy Award nomination for best picture tackles some red-hot controversy -- homosexuality, racism, the Israeli response to terror, McCarthyism. Why, that must be the fourth movie on McCarthyism in the last decade! As one letter to the Daily News commented, "If King Kong had been gay, he would have been nominated, too."
Yes, there's nothing our good old courageous media won't tackle, is there?
Well, yes there is. It turns out not a single TV network and only two newspapers -- the New York Sun and the Philadelphia Inquirer -- have dared publish the dozen Danish cartoons that have set off riots around the world. Even the New York Press, which once ran a whole column in which a writer described removing a boil from his scrotum, has chickened out. Four staff members quit in protest last week after the top brass backed down.
Whence this newfound humility? Well, everybody's mumbling something about "respect for religion" and "not wanting to offend anybody," but the real reason is transparent. They're scared to death. Publishing portraits of rock stars posing as Jesus or putting naked movie stars on the cover of Vanity Fair -- that's all in a day's work. Only a bunch of hillbillies down in Arkansas will be offended. But publishing a cartoon of Mohammed with a bomb in his turban -- now that's serious. Somebody might start throwing rocks or set off a bomb in the office. Best to duck our heads on this one. Trading brickbats with government officials is one thing; doing something risky is quite another.
My question is, what's the difference? Nothing we say or do will make Muslims like us any better. Islam has been beating down the door of Western Civilization since the time of Charlemagne. They conquered Spain, took Constantinople in 1453, besieged Vienna in 1529 and again in 1683. The Turks blew up the Parthenon in 1687 and fighting between Greeks and Turks continued into this century. The Balkans became the "powder keg of Europe" once the Turks invaded.
And it isn't just us. Islam is at war with every civilization on its borders. They're fighting with India, with China, with African tribes in Sudan. Nor do Muslims ever stop fighting among themselves. The whole history of Islam is a story of a group of dissidents going out into the desert, deciding the religion practiced by the elites was not the "true Islam," and crashing back upon the cities to seize power. The word "assassins" comes from a Persian cult whose members drugged themselves with hashish before carrying out suicide attacks. The Muslim Brotherhood and al-Qaeda are just the latest of a long, long line.
Islam is a culture that has never learned to curb male violence. All it can do is export it.
So what can we poor Americans to do except hold another "Multicultural Appreciation Day?" Here's what I would suggest.
In order to put some backbone in the press for the trials ahead, let's pick a day -- I nominate February 28th -- in which every newspaper in America and every TV news station in America will display the offending cartoons. For the faint-hearted there'll be safety in numbers. It will inform the public and restore our self-respect. It certainly won't ingratiate us with world of Islam, but what's the difference? At least they'll know they're facing a united front.
When the Germans overran Denmark during World War II, they immediately announced that all Jews must wear the yellow star. Instead of cowering in their homes, every man, woman and child in the country donned a yellow star, including the King of Denmark. It seems only fitting that we return the favor.
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