Martin Kramer’s post about the decision by Yale University Press to remove the Danish Muhammad cartoons from a book about the Danish Muhammad cartoons is very much worth your time. Hugh Fitzgerald’s post is also excellent.
As Martin reveals, one of the central figures who ensured the censorship of the cartoons is Prof. Marcia Inhorn, the head of Yale’s Middle East Studies department, which I wrote about for this website last year. Martin links to a piece Inhorn wrote in 2006 that is really a model of the genre:
I recently returned from a trip to Lebanon, the UAE and Iran—what most Americans would consider a journey into the heart of darkness, a veritable “axis of evil”. In fact, the trip was far from perilous, and I was treated as an honoured guest in every setting. . . .
I have travelled widely and lived with my family for extended periods of time in Egypt, Lebanon, and the UAE. It saddens me that so few Americans will ever come to know the delights of the Middle East as my family and I have.
What saddens me, by contrast, is how important it is for leftist world travelers to be treated as royalty by their hosts, and how they respond to Potemkin Village–style tours of repressive and dysfunctional countries with hoary tropes about the nobility of the Orient. Because she was treated as an “honoured guest in every setting” in Iran, the fact that the regime promotes war and terrorism around the globe is irrelevant; the fact that it strings up homosexuals from cranes in downtown Tehran doesn’t matter; the fact that it brutally tortures its own dissenters is barely of any concern and neither is the prison rape of young girls before their executions.
Inhorn is not simply agnostic on the question of the Iranian regime—she actually admires it because the mullahs allow in vitro fertilization and birth control:
These developments convince me of the need to recognise the “high-modern” nature of Iran, which is currently on the “cutting edge” of developments in reproductive science and technology. It also bespeaks the need to de-vilify—indeed, de-demonise—the Shiite Muslim clergy, who are condoning these various innovations, but who are generally represented as backward and fanatical in the Western media.
This isn’t scholarship, diplomacy, basic politeness, or even Radical Chic. It is something else entirely. If you’re some variety of terrorist, thug, or authoritarian and you want to get good press in Western academic circles—well, give some lavish toasts to the timorous professor at your table, make her feel important, and then watch the apologetics and accolades pour in. This is the petty narcissism of mediocre academics who are desperate for the celebrity and adulation that they are so deservedly denied in America.