While everyone (well, not quite everyone) has been scurrying around worrying about not-so-gradual government take over of health care and other large swathes of the economy, the sinister pas-de-deux of Islamism, on the hand, and Western capitulation, on the other, proceeds under the radar in its slow but seemingly inexorable dance.
The latest news from this front comes to us from the ivy-covered eyrie of Yale University. The venerable Yale University Press had contracted to publish a book called “The Cartoons That Shook the World,” i.e., the cartoons of Mohammed published in September 2005 in the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten.
I’d like to second the desideratum expressed by the British journalist Charles Moore at the time: “I wish,” Moore wrote in the Telegraph, “someone would mention the word that dominates Western culture in the face of militant Islam — fear. And then I wish someone would face it down.”
Is Yale stepping up to the plate? “Good idea!” you say. “About time someone had the courage to investigate that episode of insanity. I mean, really: you publish a handful of satirical cartoons and then adherents of the ostentatiously misnamed ‘religion of peace’ go postal, start burning down Danish embassies across the globe, issuing death threats to the cartoonists, etc.”
Dream on. This is contemporary academia, after all. No, after consulting “two dozen authorities, including diplomats and experts on Islam and counterterrorism,” that great bastion of intellectual light, the Yale University Press, decided to publish a book about the Danish cartoons without the Danish cartoons.
As the web site Hot Air put it, this is “the scholarship equivalent of Yale donning a burqa to suppress the temptations its immodesty might otherwise inspire.” What’s more, the “authorities” they consulted (I wish they’d asked me) advised them to refrain from including any representations of Mohammed, in particular Gustave Doré’s illustration of an episode from Dante’s Inferno that describes Muhammad being tormented in Hell.
According to a piece in The New York Times, John Donatich, the director of Yale University Press, said that the decision not to include the cartoons was “difficult.”
Really? Why was it difficult? Mr. Donatich presides over part of an academic institution whose motto is “lux et veritas,” “light and truth.” His “difficult” decision announced to the world that his motto timiditas et deditio: “cowardice and surrender.” He told the Times that he bravely published an unauthorized biography about Thailand’s current monarch, but when it came to publishing representations of a 7th-century religious fanatic — there he drew the line: “when it came between that and blood on my hands,” he said “there was no question.”
Mr. Donatich’s capitulation takes its disgraceful place in an increasingly long line of Western capitulations to Islamic intolerance. Earlier this year, the British government decided to deny Geert Wilders, the Dutch politician and critic of radical Islam, entry in the the UK. Why? Because his film Fitna, which is critical of Muslim extremism, might upset the Muslim population of Britain. Perhaps the single best question about this shameful episode was posed by the British comic Pat Condell, “How much more of your freedom needs to be whittled away to defend this intolerant, misogynistic, homophobic, antisemitic ideology from the robust and frank and open criticism that it so richly deserves?”
How much indeed? John Donatich has just demonstrated that Yale University Press can be bullied into bowdlerizing its books to suit Muslim sensibilities. How much further, given a little push, a little nudge, a timid recommendation from some “expert,” would he being willing to go? Aristotle was right when he observed that courage is the most important of the virtues because without courage we cannot practice the other virtues. This is a lesson Mr. Donatich has yet to learn.