Danish Cartoon Affair
Because there can be no fear check on a free and open press, and because of the self-evident newsworthiness of the cartoons, the editorial staff of New York Press collectively resigned when ownership decided to kill the images and several thousand words dedicated to them just hours before the paper was to go to print on Tuesday.
Here is the editorial that was to have run on the issue’s cover and their letter of resignation and here are four of the essays on the cartoons that were to have run inside the paper.
If you lived in a society in which people routinely “disappeared” and where even the “anti-government” parties must first be approved by the government, you might also be susceptible to chatter about the Protocols of the Elders of Zion or of elaborate, non-existent CIA plots.
At a time like this, the concept of a free Civil Society needs strong defenders, not intimidated advocates.
It’s hard to avoid the conclusion that the Bush administration has gone at least a little soft on radical Islam—and that everyone is still scared stiff of it.
The cartoons themselves are self-congratulatory and smug, drawn and propagated with the intent to incite controversy—although perhaps not the sort of “controversy” engendered by petrol bombs tossed through embassy windows.
Those hoping for insight from Middle East Studies specialists, however, will be sorely disappointed. Last year’s events at Columbia, which featured credible allegations of anti-Israel bias in the classrooms of several Middle East Studies professors, provided only the highest-profile example of a field whose faculty too often seem to view demonizing Israel as an academic responsibility. Israel can’t be blamed for the current controversy. But that hasn’t stopped many of the academy’s experts on the Middle East from using the controversy to recycle their customary critiques.
New York Press editors (and New Partisan founders) Harry Siegel, Tim Marchman, Jonathan Leaf and columnist Azi Paybarah resigned yesterday, rather than compromise their journalistic ideals, when the paper’s ownership censored content, including the infamous Danish Muhammed cartoons.Their courage, principles and integrity are admirable. More importantly, they are sorely needed at a time when other journalists and publications lack these qualities and publish fear-inspired and inflammatory screeds rather than providing an honest exploration of important issues. The fact that the Press’ ownership is stopping editors from running content out of cowardice, business concerns or no, betrays a serious lack of integrity.
These fellows, now formerly of the Press, have shown their commitment to authentic journalism not only by taking this morally upright stand, but in the hard work and long hours they’ve devoted to improving the Press during their short tenure. New York Press will suffer because of the loss of these gentlemen, but we at NP and the public at large will only benefit from their actions and their continued contributions.
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