Ostracized by Cowardly West, Charlie Hebdo Faced the Islamists Alone

The politicians and media lit the fuse. Then -- though several European newspapers have reprinted cartoons from Jyllands-Posten and Charlie Hebdo -- most of the West’s major news organizations refused to do so. They offered high-handed but paper-thin excuses about not causing needless offense. Their cowardice ensured that publications like Charlie Hebdo and Jyllands-Posten stood alone and exposed, lightning rods for Islamist violence. But many others were targeted anyway -- some 200 people were killed around the world in protests after Jyllands-Posten published its cartoons in 2005.

Yesterday, much of the traditional media doubled down on its shameful behavior by again refusing to show the cartoons. Many web outlets, including The Daily Beast, Buzzfeed, and PJ Media, did publish them. One of the first newspapers spotted keeping its head below the parapet was the UK’s Telegraph -- its website pixellated out a drawing of Mohammed in a photograph of a Charlie Hebdo cover. The New York Daily News  followed suit. CNN ordered its staff not to show the cartoons. The major networks refrained from doing so. The Associated Press claimed its policy was to “refrain from moving deliberately provocative images,” a policy which, it was quickly pointed out, hasn’t prevented it from selling photos of Andres Serrano’s Piss Christ.

Those organizations that bothered to offer an excuse fell back on the “offense” line, but it hardly needs saying that they’ve never felt compelled to extend the same courtesy to Christians or Jews.

The double standard can in part be explained by the fact that the liberals who dominate the U.S. media, and Britain’s globally influential BBC, believe that Islam is to be respected because it’s broadly the religion of brown people and victims of Western oppression, while Christianity can fairly be ridiculed because it’s the religion of white people and Western oppressors. And don’t, of course, get them started about the Jews.

But mostly, it comes down to the fact that journalists of every political hue have long been wary of provoking Muslims because they fear they’ll be murdered, while they know they have nothing to fear from Christians or Jews beyond strongly worded statements and perhaps a boycott.

Yesterday's horrific events have borne out that calculation. While the talk now is of solidarity, it’s notable that in those self-regarding newsroom group shots that were doing the rounds last night the journalists were holding up “Je Suis Charlie” posters, but not Charlie’s cartoons. Because the next news organization to take a high-profile stand against Muslim extremism will find themselves every bit as alone and unloved as Charlie Hebdo did.