Culture Vulture: The Cartoons That Still Shake The World
Can you imagine a scholarly press publishing a book about the Mona Lisa without a reproduction of the painting? Or, perhaps a more pertinent example, a book about anti-Semitic stereotypes without an illustration of them?
Brandeis professor and author Jytte Klausen was asked to sign what she called a “gag order” by Yale University Press.
The pernicious fear of offending Fundamentalist Muslim sensibilities, now ubiquitous throughout western Europe, hit America this week with the announcement that Yale University Press will not publish images of the Danish cartoons that sparked a cause célèbre in 2005.
In an email to TheArtsFuse, Professor Klausen confirmed that she refused to sign a confidentiality agreement requested by Yale U. Press. Meanwhile, Cary Nelson, president of the American Association of University Professors, insists that the publisher infringed on academic freedom when it removed previously published images depicting the Prophet Muhammad from “The Cartoons That Shook The World.” He writes that the action has “the potential to encourage broader censorship of speech by faculty members.”
The controversial cartoons are posted here.
Two dozen “authorities,” according to the Yale University Press, including “diplomats and experts on Islam and counter terrorism” unanimously recommended that the book “The Cartoons That Shook the World” (to be published in November) appear unaccompanied by the notorious 2005 editorial cartoons themselves. They also recommended that no other illustration of the Muslim prophet be included, pulling a drawing for a children’s book; an Ottoman print; and a sketch by the 19th-century artist Gustave Doré.
Isn’t publishing in enough trouble? Is this a portent of what’s to come? Professor Klausen addresses some of these issues here.
Helen Epstein is the author of “Joe Papp: An American Life” and “Tina Packer Builds a Theater.”