Can you imagine a scholarly press publishing a book about the Mona Lisa without a reproduction of the painting? Or, perhaps a more pertinent example, a book about anti-semtiic stereotypes without an ilustration of them?
The pernicious fear of offending Muslim sensibilities, now ubiquitous throughout western Europe, hit America this week with the announcement that Yale University Press will not publish images of the Danish cartoons that sparked a cause celebre in 2005.
Two dozen "authorities," according to the Yale University Press, including diplomats and experts on Islam and counterterrorism" unanimously recommended that the book "The Cartoons That Shook the World" (to be published in November) appear unaccompanied by the notorious 2005 editorial cartoons themselves. They also recommended that no other illustration of the Muslim prophet be included, pulling a drawing for a children's book; an Ottoman print; and a sketch by the 19th-century artist Gustave Doré.
Brandeis Professor Jytte Klausen was, additionally asked to sign what she called a "gag order" by Yale. Isn't publishing in enough trouble? Is this a portent of what's to come?
Helen Epstein is the author of "Joe Papp: An American Life" and "Tina Packer Builds a Theater."