Following on from the recent (prideful!) admission of the BBC’s director-general that the network has a double-standard when it comes to religious criticism (Islam is no go, but Christianity is fair game), it seems the New York Times is pursuing the same policy.

Having published an anti-Catholic advertisement by the Wisconsin-based Freedom From Religion Foundation, execs at the Times have opted, at least for the time being, not to publish an anti-Islam ad that mirrors the very same language of the anti-Catholic one:

Why send your children to parochial schools to be indoctrinated into the next generation of obedient donors and voters? Can’t you see how misplaced your loyalty is after two decades of sex scandals involving preying priests, church complicity, collusion and cover-up going all the way to the top…Join those of us who put humanity above dogma.

And compare:

Why put up with an institution that dehumanizes women and non-Muslims … [do] you keep identifying with the ideology that threatens liberty for women and menaces freedom by slaughtering, oppressing and subjugating non-Muslims… Join those of us who put humanity above the vengeful, hateful and violent teachings of Islam’s ‘‘prophet.’’

The Catholic League’s Bill Donohue commented that the double-standard was based on ‘‘either [anti-Catholic] bigotry or fear [of Islamic violence], and they’ve painted themselves into that corner.’’

The Times preferred instead to paint a more patriotic picture: ‘‘the fallout from running this ad now,’’ the newspaper claimed, ‘‘could put U.S. troops and/or civilians in the [Afghan] region in danger.’’

Firstly, this seems to confirm Donohue’s conclusion – that, as with the BBC, the threat of violence (literal Islamophobia) ultimately wins the day. Secondly, the Grey Lady doth protest a little too much: this defense will perhaps fall on deaf ears coming from a newspaper that so willingly published the Wikileaks’ cables, apparently without much concern for how they might imperil ‘‘U.S. troops and/or civilians’’ in Afghanistan and elsewhere.

It’s not clear whether it’s more or less noble that the BBC now readily admits its double standard, whereas the Times prefers not to. Either way, the conclusion is the same: there is a reasonable debate to be had about whether these sorts of ads are appropriate, but, like the BBC, the New York Times cannot have it both ways.

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