Commentary Magazine


Good Thing He Didn’t Draw the Crescent Moon

The UN resolution on religious “defamation” has been rightly criticized as an abominable attack on free speech and a pathetic attempt to shut down discussion of the role of fanatical Islam in terrorism (the only religion specifically mentioned as deserving of protection in the resolution.) But the language of the text is intriguing in one respect: why wouldn’t Pat Oliphant’s Israel=Nazi Germany cartoon fall within some of it prohibitions?

Resolution 7/19 does after all express “deep concern at the negative stereotyping of all religions and manifestations of intolerance and discrimination in matters of religion or belief” and more concern about “recent serious instances of deliberate stereotyping of religions, their adherents and sacred persons in the media and by political parties and groups in some societies, and at the associated provocation and political exploitation.” We are told to be on the lookout for “the dissemination, including through political institutions and organizations, of racist and xenophobic ideas and material aimed at any religion or its followers that constitute incitement to racial and religious hatred, hostility or violence.” And then we can’t be too careful about “emphasiz[ing] that respect of religions and their protection from contempt is an essential element conducive for the exercise by all of the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion.”

Certainly depicting the Star of David in the service of a headless Nazi-like figure with teeth enveloping trembling Gaza would qualify under one or more of these, right?

I raise this of course not to defend the UN resolution or to recommend it be taken seriously, but only to point out that the language the “world community” invokes to shield radical Islam from scrutiny is never meant — not in their wildest dreams — to condemn, let alone question, vilification of other religions. They aren’t concerned in the least with hateful depictions of  other religion’s symbols. And certainly not Judaism. Other than Islam, everything else is fair game for the likes of Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Cameroon, China, Cuba, Djibouti, Egypt, Indonesia, Jordan, Malaysia, Mali, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Pakistan, Philippines, Qatar, Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, South Africa,  and Sri Lanka. Yeah, Cuba preaching about religious defamation. That’s rich.