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Cartoon Fracas Part III

By Roland Lara on Feb 16, 2006 4:07PM

The student paper at NIU has jumped into the controversy by running the cartoons this week. black_box.gif

So has ISU.

And Harvard’s conservative alt-paper.

Only two major U.S. newspapers have done so: the Philadelphia Inquirer and the American-Statesman in Austin, Texas.

And the two editors apparently mainly responsible at the Daily Illini and U of I have been bounced from the paper. One of the editors has hired “Chicago-based Muslim-American civil rights attorney, Junaid Afeef[.]” because Afeef’s client was referred to as a “renegade editor" in a retraction editorial run by the other Daily Illini editors.

[Sidebar: are we using this hyphenation now? “Muslim-American”? We’re unfamiliar with Christian-American, Jewish-American, Jain-American, or any other hyphenation with a religion.]

The most cogent argument against running the cartoons we’ve heard so far is found in the Trib article:

"We discuss pornography in papers without showing images," said Ahmed M. Rehab, of the Council on American-Islamic Relations in Chicago. "We discuss violent acts of war and terror without showing graphic images of maimed corpses. We discuss anti-Semitism without reprinting vile anti-Semitic depictions. So this editor's argument that we had to print the racist cartoons just to understand the situation really was paper-thin, and a lot of people saw straight through it."

Fair enough. And, as we’ve been covering here and here, reasonable people disagree on publication of the cartoons.

But who truly understood what went on at Abu Ghraib without seeing Lynndie England smiling and pointing? And pornography and images of gruesome violence are explicit and viscerally offensive across nearly all world cultures. And even then they are often published when circumstances warrant.

Here, for many non-Muslims, having seen the photos the reaction is often, “Is that all there is?” The fact that the cartoons seem almost benign to non-Muslim eyes but are clearly not so to so many others is the story. Can you really understand what the issue is without Exhibit A?