THE PRESS DEFAULTS ON ITS DUTY
Unfortunately, the recent spectacle of worldwide mindless Muslim riots—supposedly caused by a Danish newspaper’s publication of the Muhammad cartoons—has obscured a phenomenon even more dangerous to this nation than the rampages themselves: the capitulation of America’s free press, which almost universally has declined to publish any of the drawings.
The issue is not that the press has a right to publish the cartoons. That’s undeniable. It’s Constitutional Law 101.
No, the issue is the duty of the American press to publish the Muhammad cartoons. It’s not a social or political duty, but rather a moral duty, rooted in the legacy of the Founders and the self-generated principle the press has wrapped itself in for over two hundred years: "the public’s right to know"—about such stories as the Pentagon Papers, Watergate, looting of Iraq’s museums, Abu Ghraib, NSA surveillance, alleged torture of terrorists, secret CIA prisons, and much more.
Indeed, it was the perceived moral duty of the press in service of the public’s right to know that brought us editorial cartoons like Joe McCarthy climbing out of a sewer carrying a bucket overflowing with slime, and of Richard Nixon dressed like a plumber.
Now, in the matter of the Muhammad cartoons, virtually all of the American press has suddenly done an about face— in the name of "restraint," "sensitivity," "respect," "tolerance," and other out-of-context bromides. Yet there was none of this, or any reluctance to "offend," when the media showed a South Vietnamese policeman shooting a Vietcong killer in the head, or allowed Jews to be caricatured by making them look like Shylock, or depicted Christ immersed in urine, or in publishing other stories that were, certainly as to some members of the public, unrestrained, insensitive, disrespectful, intolerant, and, yes, even offensive.
But then, the press had no reason to fear the South Vietnamese, the Jews, or the Catholics. And therein lies the explanation of what has happened to the media in the United States.
The American press that has ignored the Muhammad cartoons—cognizant of the fatwas against Rushdie and others, the murder of van Gogh, the burning of diplomatic enclaves, and the rash of death threats—has cut and run for at least two reasons.
One, much less important than the second, is that most journalists in America today believe, or at least purport to believe, in the "multiculturalism" gobbledygook that all cultures are equal, that they all deserve respect, etc. ad nauseam.The more important reason is because they are cowards
The compliant American press has shamefully, and dangerously, reinforced the belief of Osama bin Laden and his minions that—like Nixon’s pullout from Vietnam, Reagan’s retreat from Beruit, Clinton’s flight from Somalia, and Bush 41’s failure of will in the Gulf War—Americans can’t take casualties.Now, despite the sagacity of the Founders and the many First Amendment battles to keep America’s press free, the guardians of that legacy have left the field—not because of atual harm to them (which, had it occurred, they should have proudly accepted and soldiered on), but because of the mere risk of danger. They have capitulated to mere threats from political zealots who worship nihilism, and who in millennia have contributed little to the civilized world but hatred, destruction, and death.
Throughout American history, the principal enemy of a free press has been government. Now, sadly, it is the press itself.