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Jewish World Review Feb. 13, 2006 / 15 Shevat 5766

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Get the picture? | So here's my question, and it's a simple one because I am a simple man: The New York Times will not print any of those Danish political cartoons that mock Islamic violence, but it will publish a picture of Mary, the mother of Jesus, covered with dung. What's up with that?

Here's what the Times wrote about the cartoons: "(We) and much of the rest of the nation's news media have reported on the cartoons but refrained from showing them. That seems a reasonable choice for news organizations that usually refrain from gratuitous assaults on religious symbols "

OK, fine, I agree with the editorial that appeared on Feb. 7. But the next day, the newspaper ran a picture of the dung-covered Mary accompanying an article entitled: "A Startling New Lesson in the Power of Imagery."

So we can't see the prophet Mohammed with a bomb in his turban in the Times, but we can see a sacrilegious "gratuitous assault" on Mary that came from a shameful Brooklyn Museum exposition in 1999. Do I have that right?

Once again we have a huge double standard in play in the secular-progressive press. In 1989, the Los Angeles Times and the Boston Globe, among others, published a picture by photographer Andres Serrano that showed the crucified Christ submerged in urine. Serrano was also featured in a New York Times fashion spread, according to reporting in The Washington Post.


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And then there was the play "Corpus Christi," which featured a gay Jesus who had sex with some Apostles. The New York Times opined that folks who protested the play had "contempt for artistic expression."

Maybe I'm wrong, but dung on Mary, Christ submerged in urine, and a gay Jesus just might be "gratuitous assaults on religious symbols." But, again, I'm kind of dense when it comes to "artistic expression," so I could be way off here.

The real question is this: Do the editors of The New York Times intentionally want to denigrate Christianity? I don't know. I can only go by the best available evidence, and the case I just made seems airtight. Religious minorities in the USA seem to be given much more respect by the Times than the religious majority. Remember, 84 percent of Americans identify themselves as Christians.

If you read The New York Times and the other secular-progressive papers, you know they often see the Christian majority as "oppressive." And it's easy to see why. Many Christians oppose unfettered abortion, euthanasia, and gay marriage — just to name three issues that the S-P's champion. Resistance to "progressive" change in America is strong in quite a few Christian communities. So they have become "dangerous" to some in the S-P press.

Therefore, any denigration of Christian symbols is far more acceptable than the negative depiction of minority religions. Would The New York Times print a picture of Mohammed covered with dung? If you think so, I have a condo in Baghdad I'd like to sell you.

The cold truth is, it is open season on Christian symbols in much of the American press. That was demonstrated during the Christmas controversy, which the S-P press denied even existed. Insulting Christian icons is wrong, just as mocking the prophet Mohammed is wrong. The difference might be that Christians are taught to turn the other cheek, while militant Muslims might react a bit differently. And The New York Times knows it.

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JWR contributor Bill O'Reilly is host of the Fox News show, "The O'Reilly Factor," and author of, most recently, "Who's Looking Out for You?" Comments by clicking here.

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