“A commitment to press freedom is in my blood,” Lawrence Pintak insists in Islam for Journalists, which has been heartily endorsed by Hamas-linked CAIR. Then he proceeds to qualify his commitment to press freedom right out of existence. Referring to the Muhammad cartoons and the Muslim riots that followed them, he says that “many Muslim journalists simply couldn’t understand why Western news organizations would republish the offensive images just because” of a legal right, for “journalism is not supposed to be a weapon”; it is meant “to inform, not inflame.”
This amounts to an endorsement of the idea that Western journalists should censor themselves in accord with Sharia restrictions on criticism of Islam, so as to avoid using journalism as a “weapon” that might “inflame” Muslims. And many eagerly do censor themselves. One university held a seminar on the Muhammad cartoon controversy, they wouldn’t show the cartoons themselves. A publishing house put out a book about the controversy — without reprinting the cartoons. This is not “informing” rather than “inflaming”; it is abject surrender to Sharia blasphemy restrictions.
“Islam for Dummies: A Journalist ‘Guide’ Whitewashes Islam,” by Andrew Harrod in The Blaze, April 8:
Unfortunately, Pintak’s remedy to this problem, the online guide “Islam for Journalists” edited by Pintak, betrays an absurdly benign understanding of an Islam whose apparent only fault is being slandered by others.
“Across the Muslim world today,” Pintak’s introduction notes, “extremists are wielding their swords with grisly effect, but the pen…can be just as lethal.”
The 2012 “lewd cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad” in the French satire magazine Charlie Hebdo, for example, receive Pintak’s censure while, like many journalists today, he uncritically applies the honorific “Prophet” to Islam’s founder. Charlie Hebdo’s editor had condemned the weapons used in violent reactions to the anti-Muhammad “Innocence of Muslims” internet movie trailer preceding his cartoons. Yet the “weapon he controlled can do far more damage,” Pintak warned in equating speech with the violent reactions of others, then “evident in the conflagration…erupting across the Muslim world.”
“A commitment to press freedom is in my blood,” Pintak qualified against suspicions of censorship. Yet speaking of the 2005 Danish Muhammad cartoons and their violent response, Pintak showed sympathy for those who refused their publication.“[M]any Muslim journalists,” Pintak related in denying these “Motoons” any news value, “simply couldn’t understand why Western news organizations would republish the offensive images just because” of a legal right. Yet “journalism is not supposed to be a weapon” but rather “to inform, not inflame; to understand, not distort,” in contrast to “propaganda.”
The Danish cartoons exhibited “in our increasingly interconnected world,” writer Jonathan Lyons similarly relativized, “a number of central issues.” These included the “proper extent of press freedoms; minority rights; the shifting landscape of blasphemy laws and prohibitions; and the history of Muslim grievance toward the West.”
Rather than criticize Muslim rioters, Lyons complained that “almost no one reported on…the Danish media and its supporters as cynical provocateurs motivated by domestic political concerns.”
Beyond free speech controversies, “Islam for Journalists” favored Islam with numerous biased and false statements.
After discussing how Islam “roughly translates as ‘surrender’ or ‘submission’…to the will of Allah,” Pintak noted that Muhammad in Islam, “although he is not divine, he is considered ‘the Perfect Man.’”
“By imitating him,” Pintak stated without any critical questioning of Muhammad’s example, “Muslims hope to acquire his interior attitude—perfect surrender to God.” Pintak also takes an uncritical approach towards Muhammad’s migration or hijara to Yathrib (Medina) in order to escape his pagan opponents in Mecca.
“Muslims interpret Muhammad’s decision to embark on this exodus as a teaching that they should not live under tyranny,” Pintak proclaims, omitting any controversial discussion of the Islamic law Muhammad developed.
Western “notions of Islam,” meanwhile, Lyons dismisses without explanation. These include “irrational; spread by the sword and maintained by force; and sexually perverse and abusive toward women” as well as “unsuited to democratic institutions, science, and modernity.” Such views “had their origins as wartime propaganda, dating to beginning of the Crusades,” Lyons asserts, ignoring Western hostility towards Islam originating in centuries of pre-Crusades Islamic aggression.
“Innocence of Muslims” “drew on Crusades-era propaganda to slander the Prophet Muhammad,” Lyons further claims, even though canonical Islamic accounts underlie this poorly-made film.
In all, the “West had had no direct experience or knowledge of Muslim beliefs, practices, and lifestyles at the time that it established its comprehensive vision of Islam as a deadly, existential, and essentially immutable threat.”
Apparently for Lyons, ongoing Muslim invasion and subjugation of Christian societies dating from Islam’s beginning is not direct enough….
In the West, meanwhile, the real threat is apparently an often “lucrative…anti-Islam movement” whose “goal is to prohibit the free exercise of Islam,” journalist Bob Smietana warns….