Monday, August 27, 2007

Infantilization Watch

Here's the abridged version of the Bloom County Islam flap:

A popular comic strip that poked fun at the Rev. Jerry Falwell without incident one week ago was deemed too controversial to run over the weekend because this time it took a humorous swipe at Muslim fundamentalists.

The Washington Post and several other newspapers around the country did not run Sunday's installment of Berkeley Breathed's "Opus," in which the spiritual fad-seeking character Lola Granola appears in a headscarf and explains to her boyfriend, Steve, why she wants to become a radical Islamist. . . .

The Washington Post Writers Group syndicates "Opus," and the Post is the cartoon's home newspaper. The syndicate sent out an alert about the two strips in question, according to Writers Group comics editor Amy Lago.

Sources told that the strips were shown to Muslim staffers at The Washington Post to gauge their reaction, and they responded "emotionally" to the depiction of a woman dressed in traditional Muslim garb and espousing conservative Islamic views.

There was also considerable alarm over the strip at the highest echelons of The Washington Post Co., according to the sources. . . .

"The strip came in and I knew we would have to send out an alert to all the newspapers," Lago said. "I do that fairly regularly with materials that might pose issues for local areas. ... We knew that because it was a sex joke, it could raise issues. And there is another client that has issues with any Muslim depiction whatsoever."

The Aug. 19 "Opus" ended with a joke about the late Jerry Falwell. . . .

Lago said she didn't flag newspapers about that strip because she didn't think readers would misunderstand the humor. . . .

But she did alert newspapers about the Muslim-themed cartoon because there was a question about whether Muslim readers would be offended.

"I don't necessarily think it's poking fun [at Islam]," Lago said. "But the question with Muslims is, are they taking it seriously?"

The "Opus" strip in question takes swipes at Islamists — a term used for radical Muslims — as opposed to moderate Muslims, she pointed out, but there was concern that the distinction wouldn't be clear.

Why wouldn't it be clear? Are Muslim readers--like the "emotional" Muslim staffer at the Post incapable of making such distinctions? That sound an awful lot like prejudice?

Unless, of course, it's true. The story continues:

As far as whether the Post and the Post Writers Group syndicate treated content about conservative Christians differently than it did content about conservative Muslims, it certainly could be taken that way.

"It appears on the surface to be a double standard," Burford said, "but at the same time, the climate of the world probably informs their decision with how to go forward with it."

Delicately put, no? So either Muslims really are incapable of making rational, reasonable distinctions, or there is a cultural double-standard created by Western secularists to protect Muslims and assail Christians. Either case presents an enormous set of problems for the West.

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