One year after The Washington Post criticized Random House for doing what it did — refuse to publish a work that might incite some Muslims to violence — the newspaper's done the same to another publisher. The new target of Post editorial writers is Yale University Press.
The editorial "Self-Muzzled at Yale; A university publisher allows the possibility of Muslim reaction to alter an academic work" (August 23) properly admonishes Yale University Press for "self-censorship." According to Post editorial writers, the press has decided to strip all artistic images from Jytte Klausen's Cartoons that Shook the World. The book is said to be a scholarly inquiry into "the 12 cartoons of the prophet Muhammad whose 2006 appearance in a Danish paper ignited a worldwide controversy" including riots in which scores died. The offending cartoons and other illustrations of historic note will be deleted due to fear of more mayhem by enraged Muslims. (The Post's use of "the prophet Muhammad," rather than "Muhammad" or "Islam's prophet Muhammad," rings oddly, almost as if a religious acceptance or endorsement.)
"In effect, Yale University Press is allowing violent extremists to set the terms of free speech. As an academic press that embraces the university's motto of 'Lux et Veritas' ["light and truth"], it should be ashamed," The Post opines.
The paper similarly skewered another publisher in its Aug. 22, 2008 editorial: "Random Error: Fearing the risk of violence, a publisher capitulates." The Post excoriated Random House for cancelling publication of The Jewel of Medina, a romance novel about Mohammed and his wives. The venerable publisher surrendered not to threats from Iranian ayatollahs or al Qaeda video warnings but in reaction to a doomsday forecast from one Denise Spellberg, professor of Islamic history at the University of Texas.
To Yale University Press and Random House The Post talks the talk. But for its readers it won't walk the walk. As CAMERA noted a year ago, the paper itself — like virtually all major American news media — has refused to publish the Danish drawings: "Readers still expect The Post to publish those Danish cartoons, better late than never, and in the process of upholding the rights of free speech and a free press, show Random House the way." Not only Random House, but now Yale University Press also and, at last, itself.
The Post's amnesiac compulsion to berate others for failing to uphold freedom of the press over publication of the Mohammad cartoons suggests psychological projection — imputing to others failings one suspects in oneself. Publication would be a cure, and perhaps free The Post to report, with appropriate illustrations, the widespread use of images in anti-Jewish, anti-Israel incitement in the Middle East.