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January 8, 2015 6:38 pm

New York Times Hit With Fresh Double Standards Accusation Over Prophet Muhammed Cartoons

avatar by Ben Cohen

While the New York Times refused to publish the cartoons of the Prophet Muhammed, it did run this anti-Semitic caricature from Iran in 2010. Image: Wikipedia

Media double standards concerning items deemed offensive to Muslims and those deemed offensive to Jews and Christians were graphically on display on Thursday, as the executive editor of the New York Times offered further justification for the paper’s refusal to publish the controversial cartoons of the Prophet Muhammed that appeared in Charlie Hebdo, the French satirical magazine attacked by Islamist terrorists in Paris yesterday.

Times public editor Margaret Sullivan reported that the paper’s executive editor, Dean Baquet, decided against publishing the cartoons “because he had to consider foremost the sensibilities of Times readers, especially its Muslim readers. To many of them, he said, depictions of the prophet Muhammad are sacrilegious; those that are meant to mock even more so. ‘We have a standard that is long held and that serves us well: that there is a line between gratuitous insult and satire. Most of these are gratuitous insult.'”

Among the voices cited by Sullivan in defense of her paper’s position was Glenn Greenwald, the left-wing journalist who is principally known for his collaboration with Edward Snowden, the fugitive spy currently living under the protection of Vladimir Putin’s regime in Moscow. Greenwald, who regularly baits pro-Israel Jews in his columns and social media feeds, declared on Twitter, “When did it become true that to defend someone’s free speech rights, one has to publish & even embrace their ideas? That apply in all cases?”

In an email to POLITICO, Baquet said, “We have a standard that is pretty simple. We don’t run things that are designed to gratuitously offend. That’s what the French cartoons were actually designed to do. That was their purpose, and for that publication it is a fine purpose. But it isn’t ours.” At no point did Baquet address the contention that the publication of the cartoons was a reaction to the self-censorship practiced by Yale University Press, which had planned to publish the cartoons in 2005 before threats of Islamist violence led to a change of heart.

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In a further email to POLITICO, Baquet added, “let’s not forget the Muslim family in Brooklyn who read us and is offended by any depiction of what he sees as his prophet (sic.) I don’t give a damn about the head of ISIS but I do care about that family and it is arrogant to ignore them.”

However, as POLITICO pointed out, “in August 2010, the Times published this item about a Holocaust-denying Iranian cartoonist with an image of a cartoon that featured, in the Times’ words, ‘anti-Jewish caricatures.’ Four years earlier, in 2006, the Times published this article about an Iranian exhibition of ‘anti-Jewish art,’ which featured a photograph of three anti-Semitic cartoons, one of which included a swastika.”

POLITICO also noted that in 1999, “the Times ran a report with a photo of Chris Ofili’s ‘The Holy Virgin Mary,’ a 1996 painting of a black Madonna ‘with a clump of elephant dung on one breast and cutouts of genitalia from pornographic magazines in the background.’ Per the report, John Cardinal O’Connor called the show an attack on religion itself. The Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights said it found Ofili’s painting offensive, too.”

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