Skip to main content

The Cartoons That Shook Yale

Nina Shea

On October 1, Yale University is scheduled to host Kurt Westergaard, the Danish cartoonist who drew the iconic caricature of Muhammad wearing a turban-bomb. The invitation to Westergaard is no doubt a response to the backlash that Yale and Yale University Press (YUP) have suffered for dropping the Danish cartoons from YUP’s new scholarly book The Cartoons That Shook the World.

Yale cited a fear of stoking Muslim violence as its reason for censoring the depictions of Muhammad. But the seriousness of that threat now is being thrown into question, given the on-campus speaking engagement of the most prominent of the cartoon “blasphemers.” It would appear that, in its decision to remove the cartoons from the book, Yale traded off freedom very lightly. None of the experts consulted by Yale were in favor of publishing the Muhammad cartoons, and none articulated a persuasive defense of freedom of speech in public statements explaining their rationale. When asked in an interview to describe the circumstances in which “concern about possible violence” should “be outweighed by the obligation to protect free speech,” even John Negroponte, former director of national intelligence and currently a senior fellow at Yale’s renowned Grand Strategy program, could give no real response beyond saying that it is a “judgment call.“ Here is an insight into why the West is losing the contest of ideas with Islamic extremism.

Related Articles

Behind the PEN American Center Brouhaha

Lee Smith

They’re protecting the sources of their professional and political power, symbols drawn not from the Constitution but identity politics....

Continue Reading

The State Department Responds to NR's Report on Sister Diana Momeka

Nina Shea

The State Department is apparently trying to cover up an embarrassing, politically damaging, and possibly discriminatory act....

Continue Reading

With Malice Toward Nun

Nina Shea

Sister Diana wants to tell Americans about ISIS persecution of Christians in Iraq, but the State Department won’t let her in. ...

Continue Reading