Jan 19, 2015, Vol. 20, No. 18 • By MARK HEMINGWAY
After the recent massacre by Islamic terrorists at the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, people around the world took to social media to declare “Je suis Charlie,” or “I am Charlie.” Solidarity is a nice sentiment, and journalists in particular are fond of uttering self-soothing words about their commitment to free speech at times like this. But “Je suis Charlie” is just another lie that the media tell themselves. Charlie Hebdo’s willingness to defend free speech only serves as a reminder that the magazine was a rare bastion of courage in an industry dominated by cowards.
Indeed, many in the media are in such denial they insist their cowering is brave truth-telling aimed at silencing bigots. “I hereby apologize to Muslims for the wave of bigotry and simple nuttiness that has lately been directed at you. The venom on the airwaves, equating Muslims with terrorists, should embarrass us more than you,” wrote New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof in a column on September 18, 2010. “Muslims are one of the last minorities in the United States that it is still possible to demean openly, and I apologize for the slurs.”
This simpering apologia was as unnecessary as it was untrue. It is not possible to demean Muslims openly. Among the many insulting things about Kristof’s column was its timing. On September 14, 2010—four days before the column ran—the Seattle Weekly had announced that its cartoonist, Molly Norris, had “gone ghost.” Earlier that year, Norris gained some prominence as the founder of Everybody Draw Muhammad Day, prompting none other than Yemeni-American cleric Anwar al-Awlaki to issue a fatwa calling for her murder. Norris is still in hiding more than four years later, and for good reason. After the Hebdo massacre, many news outlets noted that one of the much-beloved, now-murdered cartoonists, Stéphane Charbonnier, aka “Charb,” was recently listed by the al Qaeda magazine Inspire as “Wanted Dead or Alive for Crimes Against Islam.” Also listed, at the bottom of the page, is Molly Norris.
Few in the media have ever so much as noted that Norris was forced to disappear. The Washington Examiner, one of the few outlets that did notice, published an editorial condemning various media organizations for failing to speak out in her defense, including the Society for Professional Journalists. SPJ responded by privately emailing reporters across the country that the Examiner editorial was “misleading and was most likely written to gain headlines/SEO.” Fortunately, the Examiner editorial writer—who not coincidentally is also the Weekly Standard editorial writer you’re reading now—had recorded his conversation with SPJ’s spokesman. The transcript of that conversation made it abundantly clear who was doing the misleading.
This cowardice is bad enough. But what is beyond appalling is the fact that so many journalists are incapable of criticizing Muslim extremism without immediately offering up false equivalences with their preferred political targets. A few years back, Salon published this priceless headline: “What’s the difference between Palin and Muslim fundamentalists? Lipstick.” More recently, in October, there was a minor kerfuffle when Bill Maher said on his HBO program, “[Islam is] the only religion that acts like the mafia, that will [expletive] kill you if you say the wrong thing, draw the wrong picture, or write the wrong book.” His guest, Ben Affleck, responded disapprovingly. “It’s gross, it’s racist, it’s disgusting,” he said. “It’s like saying, ‘Oh, you shifty Jew!’ ”
And right after the Hebdo massacre, Esquire’s Charles Pierce wrote, “We can all imagine in the abstract the reaction of the American right to a French (eek!) publication that ran cartoons of masturbating nuns and of the pope sporting a condom,” as Charlie Hebdo did. But this dumb hypothetical isn’t exactly unverifiable. The Associated Press, which as a matter of policy will not display Hebdo’s offensive cartoons, sold photo prints of Andres Serrano’s infamous “Piss Christ” on its website until it was forced to acknowledge its hypocrisy after the Hebdo slaughter. Yet not a single Christian shot up an AP newsroom.
We depend on a free press to check governments that would suppress speech, so the fact that the media have neutered themselves is harming free expression throughout the West. In Canada, journalists Mark Steyn and Ezra Levant have been dragged into legal proceedings and threatened with fines for criticizing Muslims. In the wake of a violent al Qaeda attack on a U.S. embassy, the U.S. government jailed the filmmaker behind an obscure YouTube video mocking Muhammad. And President Obama himself told the United Nations, “The future must not belong to those who slander the prophet of Islam.” Let us be clear, then, in our own response: Perhaps the future shouldn’t belong to those who slander Muhammad, but it damn well better belong to people who insist on the right to do so.
The long arm of al Qaeda. Jan 19, 2015, Vol. 20, No. 18 • By THOMAS JOSCELYN
The jihadists responsible for the most successful terrorist attack in France in decades hunted down cartoonists. They did not target a significant historical landmark, such as the Eiffel Tower, or any well-known French politicians. They did not seek to maximize civilian casualties in a suicide bombing, a trademark of previous attacks. Instead, they methodically killed Stéphane Charbonnier, the editorial director of Charlie Hebdo, and other members of the French magazine’s staff. This was deliberate.
11:41 AM, Jan 8, 2015 • By JIM SWIFT
On a frigid, windy night in Washington, a couple hundred people trekked to the Newseum for a vigil for the murdered French journalists from the Parisian weekly Charlie Hebdo, the police that died trying to protect them, and those that were wounded.
A presidential succession fraught with peril.Aug 19, 2013, Vol. 18, No. 46 • By OLIVIER GUITTA
Algerian president Abdelaziz Bouteflika returned to Algiers on July 16 after three months in a hospital in Paris. His health will prevent him from running for reelection in April, and it’s unclear whether he can run the country until then. As a result, the contest over his succession is already gearing up, and the Islamists are first out of the starting blocks. The United States and the European Union—along with China, a major presence in energy-rich Algeria—are closely monitoring this latest round in the continuing struggle over the Islamists’ role in government and society.
7:21 AM, Dec 14, 2012 • By STEPHEN SCHWARTZ
On November 29, Albania was the sole Muslim-majority country in the United Nations to be counted among the 41 abstainers from the proposal to admit Palestine as a non-member observer. Certain Islamists were displeased, to say the least. In particular, Turkish prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, head of the “fundamentalist-lite” Justice and Development Party or AKP, responded with one of the tantrums that has become a hallmark of his administration.
9:29 PM, Apr 23, 2012 • By DANIEL HALPER
In the wake of the Arab Spring, the Obama administration is grappling with how to handle Islamists, radical adherents to Islam. Particularly, the issue has come to the fore in regards to Egypt, which, as Reuel Marc Gerecht notes, "is now certain" to elect "an Islamist" as its leaders the next time the Egyptian people go to the polls.
2:28 PM, Apr 17, 2012 • By DAVID SCHENKER
From failing European economies to staggering murder rates in Central America, there’s no shortage of crises on the agenda as the International Monetary Fund holds its annual spring meeting in Washington this week.
4:01 PM, Mar 27, 2012 • By JONATHAN SCHANZER
The first flotilla in 2010 ended in a bloodbath on the high seas, when the Israeli navy intercepted Islamists and activists seeking to challenge Israel’s blockade of the Gaza Strip. The second flotilla fizzled, when international lawyers prevented a second round of boats from embarking on another ill-fated mission in 2011.
8:30 PM, May 17, 2010 • By JOHN MCCORMACK
Quoting the Koran in a 2006 email, Times Square bomber Faisal Shahzad wrote that "those who believe" should "fight in the Cause of Allah." Shahzad expressed anger over the cartoon drawings of Mohammed, conflicts that pitted Muslims against non-Muslims, and democracy.
Islamists run loose in the nation's capital.3:20 PM, Apr 29, 2010 • By STEPHEN SCHWARTZ
Yesterday in Washington, the Center for the Study of Islam and Democracy (CSID), a think-tank dedicated to warm ties between the United States and so-called “moderate Islamists”--mainly in the Muslim Brotherhood--held its 11th annual conference.
The conclave was titled “U.S. Relations With the Muslim World--One Year After Cairo,” a reference to Barack Obama's "speech to the Muslim world." CSID president Radwan Masmoudi crowed that Obama’s Egyptian discourse ended “the era when U.S. policy [toward Muslims] was defined by the anti-terror war.” To also epitomize this rupture with the administration of George W. Bush, the conference celebrated the arrival in the U.S. of Tariq Ramadan, the Swiss-born academic denied a visa under the Patriot Act in 2004 and 2006. A federal court decision last year, reversing the ban on Ramadan’s entry, has become, like the Cairo speech, another over-praised item in Obama’s new dispensation.
3:45 PM, Apr 23, 2010 • By JOHN MCCORMACK
Kurt Westergaard, the Danish cartoonist who depicted Muhammad as a suicide bomber in 2006, tells AFP that he has been placed on indefinite leave "for security reasons." Just a few months ago, Westergaard was attacked by an axe-wielding Islamist in his own home. Thankfully, in America the media are resolutely standing up to such vicious attacks on free speech.
12:45 PM, Feb 11, 2010 • By RACHEL ABRAMS
New York Times “public editor” Clark Hoyt searched the conscience of the New York Times the other day and found it wanting. (His own came up clean as a whistle, though.) Is retaining the services of Jerusalem bureau chief Ethan Bronner moral, he wondered—spurred by protests from Electronic Intifada and FAIR—when Mr.
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