I honestly don’t much about Pamela Geller or her organization’s ‘Draw the Prophet’ Muhammad contest. Since I have been busy I heard about this story, Texas officer saved lives in shooting outside Muhammad cartoon contest, police say, belatedly. So when I finally got around to reading this editorial, “Extremists collide in Texas: Our view (www.usatoday.com),” I was just barely able to put the controversy in its proper context.
A terrorist slaughter was narrowly averted in Texas on Sunday by a combination of sound planning and blind luck. But the circumstances point to a deeper and sure-to-recur problem — a collision of extremes that can’t be completely controlled in a free society.
On one side in the harrowing incident was the American Freedom Defense Initiative, an anti-Muslim group based in New York with a history of provocation. It invited trouble in the most transparent way possible — by staging a high-profile event to draw cartoons of the prophet Mohammed. The group knew, of course, that such cartoons — gravely offensive to most Muslims — have repeatedly caused mayhem in Europe, most notably in the slaughter of 12 people, including cartoonists and journalists, at the Paris offices of satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in January. But AFDI went ahead anyway. (continued here)
Perhaps I have not been paying enough attention, but the reaction of some folks puzzled me.
- Why do journalists equate the “extremism” of drawing pictures of someone who started pushing daisies over a thousand years ago with machine gunning real, live, unarmed citizens?
- When did the corporate news media start considering it extremist to draw pictures that might antagonize anyone?
- The point of the contest was to demonstrate that Muslims have no right to suppress free speech. Nevertheless, two Muslims tried to suppress free speech. So why did so many editorials pretend that is not the core of the problem?
- Instead of linking to American Freedom Defense Initiative‘s website, USA Today linked to the Southern Poverty Law Center‘s hate map. The Southern Poverty Law Center calls organizations who just dare disagree with its policies extremists and hate groups. Why is it okay for that organization to be so provocative?
It use to be that we often spoke of journalistic crusades, but that term, “crusade,” no longer gets much use in the news media. Ostensibly, they don’t want to be insensitive (except to polite folk, who don’t consider it proper to terrorize other people). Are the folks in the corporate news media actually that cowardly? Have we seen the last of the true crusades from the American news media?