WashPost's Post-Hebdo Cartoonist Roundup Whacks 'Islamophobia' More Than ISIS

On the front of Friday’s Style section of The Washington Post, writer Michael Cavna asked editorial cartoonists to “mull what’s changed” since the terrorist shootings at Charlie Hebdo magazine in Paris a year ago. What resulted was more outrage against “Islamophobia” than radical Islam.

Somehow, while Cavna and his interview subjects discussed how ISIS must be separated from the everyday Muslim, they did not discuss comparing Republican candidates to ISIS, like this recent “Jihadi Don” outrage from Steve Benson at the Arizona Republic, imagining terrorist Trump as beheading innocent Muslims with a knife:

Cavna’s roundup often sounded like a liberal talking-point club:

NICK ANDERSON (Houston Chronicle):

We make a very big deal out of Islamic terrorism, and it is a big deal. But we need to keep the threat in perspective. Statistically, I have a far greater chance of being shot by an American with a gun than a Muslim radical with a gun.

PAT BAGLEY (Salt Lake Tribune):

....A year on from the Hebdo killings, and I am much less likely to whine about how tough I think I have it. I do wonder a bit about all the guns out there, and the psychedelic Kool-Aid acid trip that the GOP seems to be on, but I don’t worry much about my personal safety, especially when our armed religious loonies tend to sequester themselves in bird refuges in the middle of nowhere.

MIKE LUCKOVICH (Atlanta Journal Constitution):

We become numb to terror, and for those of us not directly impacted, it becomes something of an abstraction. [The massacre of] fellow cartoonists personalized it. That said, nothing has changed for me except for feeling an even stronger obligation, in this political climate of fearmongering, to advocate for tolerance. (Ahem.)

JIMMY MARGULIES (King Features):

Unless I have somehow been hiding under a rock, or walking around with blinders on, I honestly cannot see any substantial change — either personally or in the political cartoon field as a whole — since the Charlie Hebdo attack. And that to me is a very good thing....Yes, I know that there was violence at the Draw Muhammad event in Texas last May, but I would rather not consider that related to editorial cartoonists practicing graphic opinion journalism. That was an anti-Muslim bigot using a “cartoon contest” to further [an] intolerant agenda.

JEN SORENSEN (Austin Chronicle et al.):

I know others have had to worry about security at certain events and such, but I can’t say I’ve noticed a huge change as a cartoonist. Speaking for myself, probably the biggest difference has been a spike in ugly Islamophobic comments and hate mail. After years of relative calm in my inbox, things are starting to feel more like the post-9/11 years. This is undoubtedly not only due to the Charlie Hebdo attacks, but [also] news throughout the year.

Just [this week], I was called a “disgusting human being” for my cartoon attempting to differentiate ISIS terrorists from ordinary Muslims. If anything, the past year felt like part of a larger continuum of increasing extremism, violence, bigotry and abject stupidity. Unfortunately, I don’t see any of this changing in 2016.

This is what Sorensen ACTUALLY wrote next to her cartoon, as if she’s an innocent lamb making fine religious distinctions:

The GOP is demanding that the Democratic presidential candidates use the term “radical Islam” to refer to ISIS. Yet it’s hard to imagine them making similar demands that various acts of homegrown terrorism be called the work of “radical Christians.” Many would argue that simply committing such an act means one is not a true Christian. By the same token, ISIS is not Islamic, as Islam is understood and practiced by the overwhelming majority of the world’s Muslims. So why insist on the label, unless you have an axe to grind about a faith you deem inferior? Why add to the Islamophobic backlash that has already led to a Texas mosque having its front door hit with feces?

ISIS thinks in terms of a “clash of civilizations,” and (surprise!) so do American right-wingers. Anyone framing this issue as The West vs. Islam is playing right into ISIS’s hands.

Cavna began with Philly.com cartoonist Signe Wilkinson:

“My line on religion is that when a religious group starts asking for special favors from the state — whether it’s tax privileges for their schools or exemptions from regulations everyone else must abide by — or acting in ways that affect others: abusing kids, cutting off apostates’ heads — they become part of the political process, and should be treated as the political players they are,” added Wilkinson, who — alongside Pulitzer-winning Post cartoonist Ann Telnaes — will appear Saturday afternoon at the Newseum for an Inside Media talk titled, “Charlie Hebdo: One Year Later.”

Telnaes was not quoted for this article -- maybe still a little quiet after cartooning Ted Cruz's daughters as monkeys just before Christmas? The Post has never acknowledged that this ever happened in the newspaper. Telnaes cartoons are largely online (unlike the Post's Tom Toles in the regular paper), but it's odd the paper would never notice. Or maybe not.

Tim Graham
Tim Graham
Tim Graham is Executive Editor of NewsBusters and is the Media Research Center’s Director of Media Analysis