Friday, February 10, 2006

Not All Cartoons Created Equal

Andrew Sullivan has heaped nothing but scorn not only on the violent anti-cartoon protesters, but on anyone who would dare be offended by what he calls the "banal" Muhammad cartoons. (For my take on Sullivan's blog in real time, scroll down. Keep scrolling. Yep, I wrote that many posts about it.)

He's certainly quite blithe about the Danish cartoons, but he wasn't always such a good sport—not when the subject matter hit a little closer to home. Back in January of 2005, Sullivan was up in arms over derogatory cartoons that ran first in the right-wing Weekly Standard and then in the leftist Nation. The cartoon published by The Nation, titled "Babe Lincoln," depicts the former president in a bustier and culottes and was drawn in response to historical research suggesting that Lincoln may have been a homosexual.

Sullivan inveighed against the cartoon, calling it "tasteless" and condemning it for "playing to stereotypes" (sound familiar?). He was unsurprised that the Standard ran an anti-gay cartoon, but he was particularly upset at the second publication. "The editors of that allegedly 'progressive' magazine won't offer anything but a weasel apology....More proof that prejudice knows no ideology."

Clearly, Sullivan wanted more than an apology from The Nation, although it's not clear what redress he sought. In the current cartoon crisis, apologies from the European newspapers that printed and reprinted the images of Muhammad are entirely out of the question. Here he is on Sunday: "...the violent demonstrators owe the West an apology, not the other way round." Certainly the violence is appalling, but why no sympathy for the vast masses of Muslims who had their religion stereotyped as a "terrorist" religion by the broad brush of an ever-so-smug Europe? Sadly, I think it's because Sullivan's not a Muslim and was therefore not personally offended.

Funny how hypocrisy and righteous indignation so often go hand-in-hand.
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