A New Yorker essay by David K. Shipler titled "Pamela Geller and the Anti-Islam Movement" opens thus:
The winning cartoon in the contest to draw the Prophet Muhammad, early this month in Garland, Texas, which two gunmen attacked, depicts a fierce Prophet waving a scimitar and saying, “You can’t draw me!” The artist, whose hand and pencil are visible, replies from outside the frame, “That’s why I draw you.”
Note: This word-picture is the only "picture" New Yorker readers get. The prize-winning political cartoon by Bosch Fawstin (above) is nowhere to be found -- surely an extra irony for a magazine whose existence depends in large part on the thousands of social and political cartoons it has published through the decades. Come to think of it, Fawstin's sharp cartoon-commentary on Islam's death-penalty prohibition on drawing (also critiquing, even factually discussing) Mohammed is itself the perfect New Yorker cartoon.
So why doesn't the image appear?
The New Yorker, like practically every other "free press" print publication and media outlet, has traded the Western jewel in the crown, freedom of speech, for the prohibitions of Islamic law (sharia). They have closed their Western eyes to shield readers from violations of Islamic law, abjuring all news sense, all curiosity, to submit to Islamic death-penalty speech codes in the process. To complete their submission to sharia norms, they then attack Geller for holding an event that violates Islamic law.
"Hey, Jack, which way to Mecca?"
A New Yorker cartoon from pre-Islamic times
But see how Shipler now rationalizes with fantasy apologetics:
And so the principle of free speech confronted American society’s unwritten code of restraint on contemptuous stereotyping.
What "unwritten code" is that? Of course! How does the old thing go?
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press -- but you better uphold society's unwritten code of restraint against contemptuous stereotyping (or else a sharia-enforcing jihadist will come after you with axe or AK and you won't ever win a Pulitzer Prize).
More slippery, however, is Shipler's transformation of intelligent commentary, of an opinion about Islam's laws against freedom of speech, also freedom of religion, into "contemptuous stereotyping."
It is no act of "stereotyping," contemptuous or other, to react to Islam's stated, authoritative and thoroughly mainstream prohibitions on free speech.
Mocking Islam’s ban on images of Muhammad, the contest’s organizer, Pamela Geller, of a crusading anti-Muslim group called the American Freedom Defense Initiative, invited cartoonists to compete for a ten-thousand-dollar prize. The winner, Bosch Fawstin, an Albanian Muslim who had renounced Islam, went into hiding.
Freedom of expression suddenly looked like two overlays on a map, the legal landscape and the cultural landscape, each with its own boundaries. The First Amendment protects the legal right to almost all expression, on the understanding that the best answer to offensive speech is more speech. Culturally, however, Americans have generally limited what they say out of respect for the dignity of others.
Another note: Until recently, New Yorker offices were just a few blocks away from evening and matiness showings of this nine-Tony Award-winning "contemptuous steretyping":
Must have missed Shipler's New Yorker essay, sans photos from the show, on the "unwritten code of restraint" re Mormons. Or is it the case that Shipler's "respect" and restraint extends only to those wield the axe, the AK-47 in their sharia-legal response to code violators?
Sounds like a case of selective respect.
Now consider what it is that Shipler seeks "respect" (read: self-censorship) for: Islamic slander law, Islamic blasphemy law, Islamic apostasy law. The specific prohibition on drawing Mohammed is inextricably linked to these Islamic "crimes" of freedom of speech, religion and conscience. In response to such "crimes," mainstream, not "extreme," Islamic law sanctions the violence that we (still) call terrorism. Is religious totalitarianism and religious violence something Americans should be compelled, "culturally," to "respect"?
Shipler thinks so, writing:
People who violate the limits can suffer opprobrium, damage to their reputations, and even the loss of their jobs. Let us hope that they cannot also lose their lives [sounds really sincere, dw].
No such opprobrium exists in the subculture of anti-Islam activists that has developed since 9/11.
The silliness of the argument becomes wearisome. (Really? "Anti-Islam activists" in their "subculture" don't hurl opprobrium at one another for objecting to the Islamic death penalty for apostasy? For highlighting that it is legal under Islamic law to kill a cartoonist? Etc.? Etc.? Well, tsk, tsk.)
He continues (me not much longer), segueing from Geller to others who track Islamic law in the West and the Muslim Brotherhood in America, including colleagues and co-authors of mine from Shariah: The Threat to America.
They work to convince the public that the Muslim Brotherhood is pursuing a grand plan to infiltrate and subvert the United States, facilitated by Americans’ complacency, and in the process earn ample profits, judging by the flourishing cottage industry of books, videos, Web sites, and training courses for police departments
Virtually all the alarm over the coming Islamic takeover and the spread of Sharia law can be traced back to an old document of questionable authority and relevance, “An Explanatory Memorandum on the General Strategic Goal for the Group in North America”...
It is no hardship now to hand off The World According to Shipler to Patrick Poole at at PJ Media, where he has ably refuted Shipler's New Yorker attack on the the case against the Muslim Brotherhood in America, an iteration of a chapter in Shipler's new book, Freedom of Speech, that is quite poisonously titled, "Protocols of the Elders of the Anti-Muslims Movement."
There is a final point to make, however, concerning Shipler's world view. It could hardly be more narrow. Shipler has just written: "Virtually all the alarm over the coming Islamic takeover and the spread of Sharia law can be traced back" to what he calls "an old document," meaning the Muslim Brotherhood document known as The Explanatory Memorandum.
I have older documents in mind, starting with the Koran and its incitement to jihad, also including the canonical hadiths that set Mohammed's example, Islam's perfect man, for beheadings, child rape, and terror. Then there are the Islamic law books that codify the above. Shipler, however, seems oblivious to them all -- and, therefore, to the centuries of Islamic conquest and obliteration of peoples, cultures, religions that is the history of Islam, and which is repeating itself all over the Western world, most vividly in Europe, today.
But he sure sees the threat to civilization posed by a cartoon.